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Anatomy of a Rift

Anatomy of a Rift

by Dicentra

Post date: January 8, 2005

Originally posted on Harry Potter for Grown-Ups (HPfGU), and is reprinted here with Dicentra's permission. Please note that Dicentra is not an R/H SHIPper, or any kind of SHIPper for that matter.

***********************

We're always expressing awe at the skill with which JKR hides the truth until the end of a book, until the Great Revelatory Scene turns the entire story on its ear, and we sit there, jaw in lap, remembering that the clues were there all along — we just failed to put two and two together (we can't all be Snape).

But even more amazing than that is the skill with which she misleads us about more subtle matters and doesn't explicitly Reveal The Truth. Because in those cases, the truth can be uncovered only by performing a close reading. Almost inevitably, the truth about the subtle matter is not what we thought it was, even after a few (dozen) readings.

The cause of this disparity between what we initially think is true and what is true is JKR's narrator: a third-person limited narrator who for the most part sits inside Harry's head but occassionally flits off to narrate something outside of Harry's direct perception, such as Vernon's noticing strange things at the beginning of Book 1, Ron and Hermione during Harry's first Quidditch match, and the Riddle House at the beginning of Book 4.

Because the narrator is privy to Harry's perceptions, the narration itself is colored by Harry's interpretations; as has been stated often on this list, if it's not important to Harry, it usually doesn't get narrated.

However, there are a few things that happen around Harry that he fails to interpret correctly for the simple reason that he's Harry. That's no excuse for us, though. Sometimes we need to question Harry's evaluation of events to come to the truth.

I'm going to attempt to demonstrate that a conclusion that Harry came to and that we accept without question (mostly) isn't the right one, and that JKR deliberately presented us with a misleading explanation — via Harry — and never "corrected" it.

It is accepted canon here at HPfGU that Ron is jealous of Harry, and that he has jealousy problems in general. (I should say now that I'm not going to deal with SHIPping jealousy: Ron being jealous of Krum because of his attraction to Hermione is an entirely different, er, affair.)

Let me show you some of the examples of this assumption that I've gleaned from the HPfGU archives (the numbers listed refer to the HPfGU message number):

"So the real irony of Crouch's encouragements to Harry and Hermione, and his implicit playing on Ron's envy, may be that really his compliments are no compliment at all." — David 39001

"I started to wonder if these could be hints of a 'fatal flaw' that could render him corruptible, particularly when added to his unrecognised jealousy (unrecognised by himself that is) of Harry and his fame, and his psychological need (revealed in the mirror of Erised) to gain status in his own right." — Mercia 34660

"On a related note, Ron _assumes_ that he wants what Harry has. Wouldn't it be a hoot if he wished for it, and got his wish...and had to spend the summer holidays at the Dursleys' residence, _as Harry?_" — Eric Oppen 33373

"Ron is not terribly likeable in GoF (though to me he is extremely empathize-with-able); he is jealous, overly eager to impress, quick to judge, and hot-tempered..." — Amy Z. 32231

"Also, I think you guys take Ron's jealousy too seriously. RON IS NOT THE EVIL ONE! He doesn't talk to Harry for a while, but I can sort of understand him." — Simonen 30770

"Ron may struggle with jealousy but that does not make him destined for evil. He ends his 'feud' with Harry after watching the first [task] and seeing that Harry is indeed endangered. This shows he cares more for Harry than the fact that Harry is richer or more talented." — Jamie 30894

"Ron may be prone to jealousy, but I don't think that necessarily means he'll turn evil." — lipglossusa 30736

"I have a gut feeling that Ron is going to turn bad. Ron is a very jealous person, and he is becoming more so as he grows up." — ktchong73 30721

"Ron lets jealousy swamp him, but that again makes sense in the context of his 'lifetime' of emotional candour." — Riv 26710

"He still struggles with feelings of jealousy towards Harry .... He has made his decision, that Harry's friendship is worth more than his own warped perception of ideal humanity (to be the focus of attention — how JKR lambasts this desire as unmitigatedly destructive at every turn!), and that, if held to, will be far-reaching for his character." — David 32605

"I really, really don't want this to be headed in the direction of Ron getting increasingly jealous as his two best friends continue to outstrip him while he remains 'average ol' Ron,' and finally turning to the Dark side and betraying Harry in the process." — rohit 37517

(Just for the record, those examples go back to August 2001. That's as far back as I could get for, um, technical reasons.)

These and other examples I've seen cite Ron's jealousy as an established fact, like Neville's forgetfulness or Snape's nastiness. That's interesting. Because the words "forgetful" and "nasty" are used in conjunction with both of those characters on a regular basis, but "jealous" in conjunction with Ron? I've not seen it, except in one occasion, to be discussed below.

It's also accepted that Ron's jealousy manifests itself most forcefully in GoF, right after Harry's name is spit out of the Goblet. And why shouldn't we believe that? After all, we are told that Ron isn't speaking to Harry out of jealousy.

"Oh Harry, isn't it obvious?" Hermione said despairingly. "He's jealous!"

"Jealous?" Harry said incredulously. "Jealous of what?[....]"

"Look," said Hermione patiently, "it's always you who gets all the attention, you know it is[....] I know you don't ask for it... but — well — you know, Ron's got all those brothers to compete against at home, and you're his best friend, and you're really famous — he's always shunted to one side whenever people see you, and he puts up with it, and he never mentions it, but I suppose this is just one time too many...."

Her explanation is reinforced later by Hagrid's remark that

"everythin' seems ter happen ter you, doesn't it?"

Harry didn't answer. Yes, everything did seem to happen to him ... that was more or less what Hermione had said as they walked around the lake, and that was the reason, according to Hermione, that Ron was no longer talking to him.

It is the obvious answer, isn't it? After all, Hermione says it is. And yet when we're told the "obvious explanation" it's couched in terms that tell us we shouldn't accept it at face value. Hermione uses the phrase "I suppose," and the narrator makes it clear that Ron is upset by Harry's fame "according to Hermione." Those two phrases fairly demand that we look deeper for the real cause of The Rift between Harry and Ron.

So what say we roll up our sleeves and go?

**********************

Hermione predicates her assumption that Ron is jealous on the fact that "this is just one time too many." That Ron has been stifling his feelings of jealousy all this time and finally the last straw touched the camel's back. But what about this chronic jealousy? Can you find examples of Ron's jealousy in Books 1–3? Has it been mentioned at all?

Frankly, no it hasn't, as some list members have observed:

"I also think, while Ron shows some jealousy toward Harry, he's, in my opinion, amazingly non-jealous for a long time about many things, or at least doesn't show his jealousy. I don't know if I could have done it." — Suzanne 44941

"For a character who many think is pathologically jealous, Ron seems downright saintly in books 1-3." — Jo Serenadust 44968

Yeah, he does, doesn't he? Especially if we compare Ron to other characters whom we know to be driven by jealousy. Let's start with Draco: he's extremely jealous of Harry's fame, and as a result he does everything in his power to make Harry look ridiculous; that is, when he's not accusing Harry of being a fame-hound. His attitude is that if he can't have Harry's fame, he's going to spoil it for Harry.

And Draco's generational parallel, Snape, has a textbook case of jealousy of James Potter. (In this case, the textbook is Merriam-Webster, which tells us that "jealous" means "intolerant of rivalry" or "hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage." Its synonym, "Envy" is "painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, coupled with a desire to possess the same advantage.")

Jealousy (envy) is not one of the seven deadly sins for nothing: look at what it's done to Snape — his envy of James's advantages caused him to hate James's guts, and he spent his time trying to get James and his friends expelled. Snape's soul is so badly damaged by his jealousy that he continues to hate James years after his death — a hatred that extends to his son. If Ron is experiencing jealousy toward Harry, he should be reacting to Harry's good fortune the same way Draco and Snape do, at least in some degree.

And yet, as Jo Serenadust explains in 44968:

"When Harry got the Firebolt from his anonymous benefactor in PoA, I was expecting at least a whiff of normal envy from Ron. Instead, his spontaneous reaction is (after speculation about who sent it) to be thrilled at what a great broom it is '...This is an *international* standard broom, this is!' and delighted at the prospect of Malfoy's reaction.'"...Wait till he sees you on this! He'll be sick as a pig! Probably cost more than all the Slytherins' brooms put together," said Ron happily.' (chapter 11, PoA).

"Now this seemed a bit much to me. This would be like your best friend (who is already independently wealthy) getting a Ferrari from an unknown benefactor, while you can't afford anything better than a second-hand bike. No matter how strong the friendship is, it's just abnormal IMO, for Ron to not say anything to the effect of 'gee Harry, I wish that just once someone would give *me* the best broom on the market!' (this is the SECOND time this has happened!)"

And then Jo returns to the old assumption:

"I was actually relieved when he finally blew up in GoF, although I felt horrible for both of them during their fight. It just would not have been realistic for him to continue behaving as if all the incredible things falling into Harry's lap don't *ever* get to him."

You all really think Ron is jealous of Harry? Let's take a look at that.

First, let's see if Ron is jealous of Harry's fame. We know that Ron is a bit, um, "fame-impaired," and that he's not entirely happy about it. As he tells Harry on the day they first meet:

"I'm the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I've got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left — Bill was Head Boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy's a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first."

Oh, and he was looking gloomy when he said it. It doesn't sound as if Ron has much hope of living up to all of these expectations, and his behavior at Hogwarts confirms it: he doesn't display any ambitious tendencies, nor does he go out of his way to be noticed. He doesn't even try to earn top marks. Why should he? It wouldn't matter anyway.

So when he looks into the Mirror of Erised, he sees himself as having achieved everything his brothers did. Becoming Head Boy won't make him stand out, but being Head Boy and Quidditch captain and winner of the house cup and the Quidditch cup might do the trick. Dumbledore observes that he "sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them."

Does that mean that Ron wants to be Head Boy and Quidditch captain? Not necessarily. He just wants to have his own personal type of greatness, and at the time he looks into Erised, being all those things is the only way he knows to achieve that.

So does he resent Harry for getting what he's always wanted? Well, let me put it this way: it's one thing for your older brothers to be "famous"; it's quite another thing if the famous person is your best friend.

Ron sees his brothers as rivals, as the measuring sticks against which he is measured and inevitably found wanting. That's a drag.

But Harry isn't his rival. Ron isn't in Harry's shadow; he is Harry's shadow. He's got Harry's back. He's his right-hand man. He rides shotgun. He's his second.

His second. Remember in PS/SS when Draco challenged Harry to a duel and Harry had no idea what he was talking about?

"What's the matter? Never heard of a wizard's duel before, I suppose?"

"Of course he has," said Ron, wheeling around. "I'm his second."

And to Harry's query "What do you mean, you're my second," Ron explains:

"...a second's there to take over if you die."

::Pauses to consider what this means in the Larger Scheme Of Things. Decides not to go there::

Frankly, being the second of the Boy Who Lived is no small potatoes. I'm guessing that Ron wouldn't trade it for all the prefect's badges and Quidditch cups in the world.

Jealous? No way. He's ecstatic when Harry succeeds. When Harry makes the Quidditch team, "Ron was so amazed, so impressed, he just sat and gaped at Harry." When Harry wins the game, Ron is one of the first to rush onto the field and dogpile him. Harry takes Ron along on all his adventures unless Ron is conveniently taken out of commission (gangrenous dragon bite, sacrificed at the chess game, pile of rocks, broken leg). He got recognition during the infamous Point Award and is credited when Ginny is rescued. He might not be as famous as Harry, but "famous Harry Potter" has chosen him as a friend—nobody else in the world can say that. Especially not his brothers.

No, he's not jealous of Harry's fame; he's basking in it.

But you're still not convinced, I see. You think Ron is jealous of Harry's money.

You're thinking about times when Ron actually expressed jealousy of Harry's wealth. Specifically, you're thinking about the Niffler Scene, when Ron says "Must be nice to have so much money you don't notice if a pocketful of Galleons goes missing." And you're thinking of it because it sounds for all the world as if Ron were taking a dig at Harry, that he's trying to lay some kind of guilt trip on him. That he resents him.

But I think you're mistaken. This is why:

It is true that Ron is frustrated by his poverty, and he wishes he had more money, but he never directs his frustration at Harry. As it turns out, the disparity in wealth between Harry and Ron doesn't cause resentment, it causes embarrassment. Discomfort. On both sides. It embarrasses Harry to extract his gold from his vault in front of the Weasleys because he doesn't want them to feel bad about being poor, and it really bugs Ron that the flow of material generosity always goes from Harry to Ron. He'd really like to reverse that flow for once, which is why he was psyched about paying Harry for the Omnioculars. When he found out that he hadn't, he was terribly disappointed.

When he says that "it must be nice..." he's not taking a shot at Harry—he's frustrated at not ever being able to give Harry something in return for Harry's generosity. If he had been taking a shot at Harry, Harry would have become angry or defensive; instead, he's impatient at Ron's inability to just accept the gift and move on. As one list member observed:

"Harry learns his lesson, and the next time he wants to buy Ron something expensive, he gives the money to Fred and George and tells them to tell Ron it's from them." — jklb66 34660

The fact is, regardless of what Ron wants (money, to be out of his brothers' shadows), he has no reason to be jealous of Harry because Harry shares everything with Ron to the extent that he can. Since the day they bonded on the train over that load of candy Harry bought, Ron and Harry have been joined at the hip — mugre y uñas, as they say in Spanish — "dirt and fingernails" (bringing to mind dirt wedged under the nails, which is almost impossible to remove). Share and share alike.

Think of it this way: Imagine that your friend who lives across the street is rich. Her family has much nicer things than you have, and every time a new gadget comes out, her family is the first on the block to get it. She and her family are always going up the canyon on weekends with their speedboat to waterski, and in the winter they're always on the slopes. They take vacations to Hawaii and Disneyland every year, and sometimes to even cooler places, while you rough it in a tent 50 miles from home. And at Christmas...! man, does she score big. When you go over to her house to see what she got, her pile makes yours look skimpy indeed. Are you going to be jealous of this friend? You better believe I wa...

Heh.

Well... um, let's just say that you never got to be such close friends. She had all this cool stuff and you didn't. You found yourself resenting her and frequently sniped about her behind her back. That's what it's like to be jealous of a friend.

Now imagine the same situation, only the nature of your relationship is different. You and the rich girl are always together, and she has a "what's mine is yours" attitude about her stuff. As soon as she gets something cool, she lets you play with it, even take it home if you want. She invites you to go waterskiing and snowskiing all the time, and she takes you to Hawaii and Disneyland and all those exotic places.

Is there room for jealousy in such a relationship? No, there really isn't. And the nature of Ron and Harry's relationship is the same. Harry's got a "what's mine is yours" attitude about his good fortune. He shares everything with Ron.

And that's why we don't get any indication of Ron's jealousy in Books 1–3. There isn't any.

**********************

So. Back to The Rift. What is the cause of that, if not jealousy?

The clues, as usual, are in the text, hidden as background noise. If we look at the events between the time the Tournament is announced and when Harry's name comes out of the Goblet, something interesting shows up.

As they leave the hall after the announcement, Fred and George are incensed at the age limit:

"They're not stopping me entering," said Fred stubbornly, also scowling at the top table. "The champions'll get to do all sorts of stuff you'd never be allowed to do normally. And a thousand Galleons prize money!"

"Yeah," said Ron, a faraway look on his face. "Yeah, a thousand Galleons...."

Harry says nothing. Then on the next page, Fred says:

"Hey Ron, what if we find out how to get 'round Dumbledore? Fancy entering?"

"What do you reckon?" Ron asked Harry. "Be cool to enter, wouldn't it?"

Harry doesn't respond. Then as they're going to bed that night:

"I might go in for it, you know," Ron said sleepily through the darkness, "if Fred and George find out how to ... the tournament ... you never know, do you?"

"S'pose not..."

Some days later, they run into the twins and Lee Jordan in the Great Hall. Harry asks if they've given any more thought to entering the tournament.

"Wonder what the tasks are going to be?" said Ron thoughtfully. "You know, I bet we could do them, Harry. We've done dangerous stuff before...."

Fred interrupts, and Harry doesn't respond to Ron.

So here we see that Ron is gung-ho about entering, but Harry doesn't seem to be. We know from Harry's thoughts that he wouldn't mind winning, but from Ron's PoV, Harry isn't up for it.

Or is he? The day after the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students arrive, the Trio see the Goblet inside its Age Line. Ron asks a third-year girl if the other students have put their names in yet. She says the Durmstrangs have, but no one from Hogwarts.

"Bet some of them put it in last night after we'd all gone to bed," said Harry. "I would've if it had been me ... wouldn't have wanted everyone watching. What if the goblet just gobbed you right back out again."

Then the twins and Lee Jordan show up, having taken a drop of Aging Potion each.

"We're going to split the thousand Galleons between the three of us if one of us wins," said Lee, grinning broadly.

And so here we have another set of friends that are almost as inseparable as Harry and Ron. They've made a pact to try to enter the tournament anyway and split the winnings among themselves. They fail, of course, but what the hey. They gave it a try.

This is the context in which The Rift begins: Ron interested in trying to get into the tournament, Harry not appearing to share Ron's enthusiasm, and Fred, George, and Lee working together to get in so they can split the winnings.

And so Harry's name comes out of the Goblet, inexplicably. Right out of the blue. Harry is of course stunned, but so is Ron, along with everyone else.

"I didn't put my name in," Harry said, blankly. "You know I didn't."

[Ron and Hermione] stared back just as blankly.

What is Ron supposed to think at this point? How could Harry's name come out of the Goblet unless Harry put it there? Ron must have gone back over the events leading up to that moment, just as we have, to try to make sense of it all. He might not have noticed Harry's lack of enthusiasm, but he does know that Harry never proposed a plan for fooling the Goblet. Not to him, anyway. Not the way the twins and Lee did. The only conclusion that makes sense to him is that Harry was planning to go for it all along, and he deliberately cut Ron out of his plans.

Suddenly, Harry must have seemed like a very different person to Ron. Harry had never left Ron out of anything before. Mugre y uñas, remember? And yet the "evidence" that Harry ditched Ron this time is right there in his face. Is Ron feeling jealous of Harry because "everything happens to him"? I doubt it. Instead, he has to be feeling deeply betrayed. And given what he and Harry have been through together, that's gotta be a serious knife twist to the heart.

Ron's also gotta be wondering why. Why would Harry do such a thing? As he casts about for an explanation, only one seems to make sense: Draco's been right all along; Harry really does seek the spotlight. The proof's right under his nose. And the events that follow seem to bear that out.

Let's examine exactly what happens. Harry comes back to find the Gryffindor common room in an uproar. Everyone is celebrating, and no one wants to hear him say he didn't enter. He's trying to push his way through the crowd but can't. Lee Jordan ties a Gryffindor banner around him. It takes him about a half-hour to get to the stairs. He gets into his room and finds Ron lying on the bed, still fully dressed.

"Where've you been?" Harry said.

"Oh, hello." said Ron.

He was grinning, but it was a very odd, strained sort of grin. Harry suddenly became aware that he was still wearing the scarlet Gryffindor banner that Lee had tied around him. He hastened to take it off, but it was knotted very tightly. Ron lay on the bed without moving, watching Harry struggle to remove it.

"So," he said, when Harry had finally removed the banner and thrown it into a corner. "Congratulations."

"What d'you mean, congratulations?" said Harry, staring at Ron. There was definitely something wrong with the way Ron was smiling: It was more like a grimace.

"Well ... no one else got across the Age Line," said Ron. "Not even Fred and George. What did you use — the Invisibility Cloak?"

"The Invisibility Cloak wouldn't have got me over that line," said Harry slowly.

"Oh right," said Ron. "I thought you might've told me if it was the cloak ... because it would've covered both of us, wouldn't it? But you found another way, did you?"

Freeze picture. Here we see Ron, who refused to participate in the festivities, but who "knew" that Harry had been part of it because he had that banner tied around him. He might have even been aware of when Harry came through the portrait hole by the way the crowd reacted, so he might have known how long Harry was down there. This would confirm his suspicion that Harry really does crave the spotlight.

What Ron says is telling, too. He remarks on Harry's apparent secret plans for getting his name in the Goblet and how he'd left Ron out of them. But Harry doesn't catch on to this subtlety; he only knows that Ron is calling him a liar. Resume action:

"Listen," said Harry, "I didn't put my name in that goblet. Someone else must've done it."

Ron raised his eyebrows. "What would they do that for?"

"I dunno," said Harry. He felt it would sound very melodramatic to say, "To kill me."

Ron's eyebrows rose so high that hey were in danger of disappearing into his hair.

"It's okay, you know, you can tell me the truth," he said. "If you don't want everyone else to know, fine, but I don't know why you're bothering to lie, you didn't get into trouble for it, did you? That friend of the Fat Lady's, that Violet, she's already told us all Dumbledore's letting you enter. A thousand Galleons prize money, eh? And you don't have to do end-of-year tests either...."

Freeze. So not only did Harry leave him out, he's still leaving him out. He won't at least share with Ron how he did it. And as for the prize money, Harry didn't exactly offer to split it with Ron, either, the way the twins and Lee had agreed. So Harry's not in it just for the fame — he's also in it for the money. Resume:

"I didn't put my name in that goblet!" said Harry, starting to feel angry.

"Yeah, okay," said Ron, in exactly the same skeptical tone as Cedric. "Only you said this morning you'd have done it last night, and no one would've seen you.... I'm not stupid you know."

"You're doing a really good impression of it," Harry snapped.

"Yeah?" said Ron, and there was no trace of a grin, forced or otherwise, on his face now. "You want to get to bed, Harry. I expect you'll need to be up early tomorrow for a photo-call or something."

He wrenched the hangings shut around his four-poster, leaving Harry standing there by the door ....

And there's the accusation of being a fame-hound — Ron's parting shot. On this remark hang most of the Jealous!Ron theories. But I don't think that Ron is revealing jealousy here; I think he's going for the jugular. Harry has hurt him tremendously, he believes, and when Ron hints around at why he's feeling hurt, Harry doesn't catch on. That must have meant to Ron that Harry really had betrayed him and didn't care how he felt. Harry's anger didn't help either: instead of asking what Ron's problem was, he just reacted to being called a liar. Understandable, sure, but it was still gasoline on the fire. Ron's accusation of seeking the spotlight was therefore meant to hurt Harry back and it was meant to let Harry know that Ron was on to him and he wasn't impressed in the least.

If, as Ron had hoped, he and Harry had put their heads together, figured out a way past the Age Line, and put their names in the goblet, and the goblet still spat out Harry's name, do you think Ron would have been upset about it? If past actions are any indication, no he wouldn't. He'd be cheering Harry on, hoping he'd win that bag of Galleons they would have agreed to split.

No, Ron isn't jealous, he's hurt. He's deeply, deeply hurt.

**********************

Because we see the scene from Harry's point of view, it's easy to see Ron as the jerk and Harry as the victim, but we have to be careful when assigning Ron his motives based on what Harry thinks. Or on what Hermione thinks for that matter.

Let's go back to Hermione for a minute.

The sequence of events the next morning are that Ron goes down to breakfast before Harry wakes up and so does Hermione. She has a conversation with Ron. She might have asked him where Harry was. We don't know exactly what Ron said, but I'll bet the farm he didn't say "I'm not speaking to Harry because he hurt my ickle feelings." As bboy_mn observed,

"The wound, the pain, in my opinion, were all inflicted by his perceived betrayal, but Ron isn't going to talk about his deep emotional wound, so externally it is expressed as statements of jealously and anger." —43919

No, Ron's not going to articulate his hurt in so many words, is he? But I wouldn't put it past him to say something like, "Harry's upstairs getting his beauty rest. Gotta look good for all those photos, you know" or "I wouldn't know; champions don't interact with low-lifes like me." In a bitter tone of voice, of course. What choice did she have but to interpret his remarks as evidence of jealousy?

And yet, Hermione seems to interpret any bad reaction to accomplishment as jealousy. In Order of the Phoenix, she interprets the twins' negative reaction to Ron's prefect's badge as jealosy, too.

"Those two!" said Hermione furiously, staring up at the ceiling, through which they could now hear Fred and George roaring with laughter in the room upstairs. "Don't pay any attention to them, Ron, they're only jealous!"

"I don't think they are," said Ron doubtfully, also looking up at the ceiling. "They've always said only prats become prefects...."

Ron's right: the twins had no desire to become prefects. They'd always had other types of achievement on their minds. But Molly doesn't accept their brand of talent the way she accepts outward honors, and that's what the twins are jealous of, not the prefecture. Go back and read the scene where Molly finds out about the badge and note the twins' response.

Besides, Hermione is probably sensitized to jealosy because she's undoubtedly been the target of it in both the Muggle and Wizarding worlds. We don't know how Hermione responded to Ron that morning, but it's fairly certain that Ron left no doubt that he was serious about he and Harry not being friends anymore.

Hence her interception of Harry at the portrait hole and their walk around the lake. She's trying to prevent a blow-out between the two, but look at what actually happens. When Harry woke up, "He sat up and ripped back the curtains of his own four-poster, intending to talk to Ron, to force Ron to believe him — only to find that Ron's bed was empty..."

Harry isn't mad at Ron at this point; he's just hoping to clear the air. But when Hermione tells him that Ron is jealous, Harry hits the roof.

"I'm not running around after him trying to make him grow up!" Harry said...

Yeah. Pippin noticed it too:

"I don't know that Hermione helped any by sticking her oar into the Ron/Harry dispute. If she hadn't given Harry a handy explanation for Ron's behavior, he might have been motivated to find out first-hand what was on Ron's mind and they could've settled their differences a lot sooner." —39252

Poor Hermione, bless her heart. She really does try to help. But this time she made things worse by jumping to conclusions and then sharing them with Harry. It's evident from Harry's reaction that he didn't read jealousy into Ron's reaction, but because Hermione is so often right, and because she'd just spoken to him, Harry believes her.

And it really ticks him off. How dare Ron be jealous of him? Ron knows that Harry derives no enjoyment from his accidental fame. Suddenly, Ron must seem like a very different person to Harry, too. Jealous? All this time? How stupid is that? Harry's disgust over Ron's apparent childishness prevents him from wanting to deal with the situation directly.

And so we have The Rift. Ron won't talk to Harry, Harry won't talk to Ron, and Hermione's in the middle, making polite conversation.

*********************

Oh please. You still think that jealousy is an element in The Rift.

Well then, let's compare Ron's comportment during The Rift to a time when we know he was jealous: the infamous "Yule Brawl."

I'm not going to go over Ron's behavior point-by-point — Ebony already did that in Message 50156 — suffice it to say that Ron had a bad case of "hoof-in-mouth disease." He just wouldn't shut up. He pesters Hermione about who invited her to the ball, and during the ball it's one cheap shot after another. He pushes Hermione's buttons, insults her, insults Krum, insults his date, all the while escalating the conflict until Hermione storms off, infuriated, which is exactly what Ron wanted. (Interestingly, while he is consumed by jealousy, he accuses Hermione of betrayal.) Later, Ron and Hermione end up screaming at each other, and the Krum doll ends up busted into pieces.

That is how Ron acts when he's jealous: he won't shut up, and he destroys things. If he were jealous of Harry, we could expect Ron to become something of a Draco clone: taunting Harry every chance he gets, pushing his buttons, wearing "Potter Stinks" buttons, and perhaps destroying some artifact that Harry had given him. The Omnioculars come to mind.

So it's significant that during The Rift, Ron gives Harry the silent treatment.

When you give someone the silent treatment, you're usually communicating two things:

1) You've hurt me badly, and if I interact with you again I risk getting hurt.

2) The ball's in your court.

I say usually, because the silent treatment can also be a childish way of punishing someone. This is exactly what Harry thinks Ron is doing, and it ticks him off so badly he pays Ron back by not talking to him either. Which must reinforce Ron's belief that Harry is rejecting him, thus discouraging Ron from exposing himself to more rejection, thus ticking off Harry some more, and around and around it goes.

But if Ron is hell-bent on punishing Harry, he sure passes up on some prime opportunities to stick it to him good.

The first is the "I See No Difference" episode, wherein Malfoy first shows up with the "Support Cedric Diggory/Potter Stinks" badges outside Snape's dungeon. "Ron was standing against the wall with Dean and Seamus. He wasn't laughing, but he wasn't sticking up for Harry either."

That's Harry's way of seeing it. You could just as easily say, "He wasn't sticking up for Harry, but he wasn't laughing, either." Ron can see that Harry's having a rough time of it; a good sneer from Ron at this point would be a good way to get in a jab or two. And yet he refrains.

After they get into Potions, Ron sits by Seamus and Dean, leaving Harry alone. Harry sees it as Ron punishing him; Ron is likely protecting himself from more rejection. When Colin rushes in to tell Snape that Harry is wanted for a photo shoot, Harry looks over at Ron, who is "staring determinedly at the ceiling." This really should have been Ron's cue to shoot a dirty look at Harry that says "well, you're getting what you wanted, fame-boy." But he doesn't.

Ron does finally speak to Harry when he encounters him in the dormitory, after the photo shoot.

"You've had an owl," said Ron brusquely the moment [Harry] walked in. He was pointing at Harry's pillow. The school barn owl was waiting for him there.

"Oh — right," said Harry.

"And we've got to do our detentions tomorrow night, Snape's dungeon," said Ron.

He then walked straight out of the room, not looking at Harry.

Harry passes on the opportunity to go talk to — or hit — Ron because he knows the letter is from Sirius. The next night when they do their detentions, they both pass on the opportunity to talk it out.

Harry had half hoped they would make things up during the two hours they were forced to pickle rats' brains in Snape's dungeon, but that had been the day Rita's article had appeared, which seemed to have confirmed Ron's belief that Harry was really enjoying all the attention.

Seemed, yes, but Harry doesn't know for sure what Ron thought of the article. Maybe Ron did think that Harry was having a good time, but that would only deepen his conviction that Harry had ditched him on purpose.

This all brings us to the scene which, IMO, is one of the most powerful scenes between Ron and Harry in the whole series. In fact, this whole essay derives from meditations on this scene and what it might mean.

**********************

Harry has just gone to see the dragons, and now he's talking with Sirius in the fireplace. Sirius is just about to tell Harry how to handle dragons when Harry hears someone coming down the staircase.

It was Ron. Dressed in his maroon paisley pajamas, Ron stopped dead facing Harry across the room, and looked around.

"Who were you talking to?" he said.

"What's that got to do with you?" Harry snarled. "What are you doing down here at this time of night?"

"I just wondered where you —" Ron broke off, shrugging. "Nothing. I'm going back to bed."

"Just thought you'd come nosing around, did you?" Harry shouted. He knew that Ron had no idea what he'd walked in on, knew he hadn't done it on purpose, but he didn't care — at this moment he hated everything about Ron, right down to the several inches of bare ankle showing beneath his pajama trousers.

"Sorry about that," said Ron, his face reddening with anger. "Should've realized you didn't want to be disturbed. I'll let you go on practicing for your next interview in peace."

Harry seized one of the POTTER REALLY STINKS badges off the table and chucked it, as hard as he could, across the room. It hit Ron in the forehead and bounced off.

"There you go," Harry said. "Something for you to wear on Tuesday. You might even have a scar now, if you're lucky ... That's what you want, isn't it?"

He strode across the room toward the stairs; he half expected Ron to stop him, he would even have liked Ron to throw a punch at him, but Ron just stood there in his too-small pajamas, and Harry, having stormed upstairs, lay awake in bed fuming for a long time afterward and didn't hear him come up to bed.

Ron just stood there. Ron. Hot-tempered, easily-provoked, always-have-to-grab-his-robes-to-hold-him-back Ron. Harry has just vented a significant amount of wrath his way, including a physical attack, but Ron just stands there.

Why?

And for that matter, why did Ron go downstairs in the first place? If JKR simply needed someone to interrupt Sirius, she could have used anyone in Gryffindor tower. And yet it's Ron, who is supposedly punishing Harry out of jealousy.

It was to see where Harry was, he almost admits. It's well after 1 a.m., and Ron knows that Harry's not in bed. You might think that Harry's conversation with Sirius in the common room awakened him, but I doubt Harry and Sirius were talking very loudly. It's entirely possible that Ron had already been awake, or at least half-awake, waiting for Harry to come up to the dorm the way you do when you worry about someone. It gets later and later. He hears a conversation in the common room, possibly he recognizes Harry's voice (but not Sirius's), and comes down to see what's up.

You don't do that when you're punishing someone. You don't let them see that you give a hang about where they are at one in the morning. And yet Ron did.

::pauses to remove dust particle from eye::

Harry was already angry enough at Ron, but now he's stopped Sirius from telling him how to deal with dragons. He goes volcanic all over Ron, who gets defensive and lobs back another "fame-boy" accusation. And then Harry chucks the badge and accuses Ron of wanting to be famous, too. Of wanting to be him.

I don't know for sure what Ron thought of that. It's the first time that Harry has voiced his suspicions about Ron's motives. (I don't know that Hermione said "Oh Ron, you're just being jealous," because he probably would have defended himself in such a way as to let Hermione know that he wasn't. He might have told her the real reason he was mad, or at least alluded to it. Or not.)

Either way, Ron's reaction to this particular bit of Harry's vitriol isn't defensiveness; it seems more like shock. Harry's earlier angry words would have fit in with the "I've ditched you" paradigm, because he's telling Ron to butt out. Yet "here, have a scar; that's what you want" might have come out of nowhere from Ron's perspective, and he's too stunned to react.

So when Harry goes up to the dorms, he has to pass right by Ron, giving Ron ample opportunity to give Harry a good punch, or at least pop off a smart retort. But again, Ron passes on the opportunity to lash out at Harry, even though Harry has flat-out attacked him.

This absence of vindictiveness is something that gets overlooked when analyzing Ron's character. Vindictiveness is another petty tendency, belonging in the same category as jealousy and often accompanying it. It's really not likely that Ron would indulge in jealousy but not in retaliation — not when he's forced to be in the same room with Harry so often. It would have been more than easy for him to make bitter little remarks, ostensibly when speaking to Hermione, that were really directed at Harry. Ron certainly has the capacity to wound with words, and sometimes he uses it, but not with Harry. Because has no intention of punishing him.

There is an indication of some melting of the ice on the day before the First Task. In Divination, Trelawney predicts that

"people born in July [are] in great danger of sudden, violent deaths."

"Well, that's good," said Harry, loudly, his temper getting the better of him, "just as long as it's not drawn-out. I don't want to suffer."

Ron looked for a moment as though he was going to laugh; he certainly caught Harry's eye for the first time in days, but Harry was still feeling too resentful toward Ron to care.

I don't know if the Badge Chuck did anything toward changing Ron's beliefs, but it's possible it did, given that Ron reacts positively to Harry for a moment. I tend to believe that Ron altered his perspective on the situation slowly, not suddenly during the First Task. Hermione must have told Ron that Harry thought someone was trying to kill him, and given Harry's propensity for attracting that kind of danger, Ron had to at least put it in the back of his mind as a possibility. He might even have been entertaining the idea that Harry was telling the truth. But if he was, why did Harry refuse to speak to him, too? Why didn't Harry try further to persuade him?

I'm guessing that by the time Harry tackled the dragon, Ron was still hurting but for a different reason. I have no canon to back that up — it's just a hunch that's based partly on the fact that what Ron says to Harry after the First Task doesn't make much sense to me.

"Harry," he said, very seriously, "whoever put your name in that goblet — I — I reckon they're trying to do you in!"

Unless I'm much mistaken, the general assumption here is that once Ron saw how dangerous the First Task was, he figured that Harry wouldn't have put himself in that kind of danger; ergo, someone else put his name in. However, even if no one were trying to kill Harry he'd still be tackling dragons. Even if Ron had managed to become a champion he'd still be tackling dragons. So it must be something else about the First Task that prods Ron into making the first move toward reconciliation.

I imagine that Ron pretty much knew that Harry had been telling the truth: he was privy to how much "fun" Harry was having with his "glory," and it was exactly the same amount of "fun" Harry always had — none. Yet he was still waiting for Harry to apologize, because from his perspective, Harry had still been acting beastly towards him. Yet as he watched Harry risk his life, swooping in the air around a 50-foot, fire-breathing, nesting dragon like a mosquito looking for bite, he had to be awfully worried. Before he says anything to Harry afterwards, "Harry [looked] at Ron, who was very white and staring at Harry as though he were a ghost."

Nothing like risking losing someone through death to make you set aside all your differences, is there? How many TV movies rely on this principle? Parent argues with child, child gets into danger, parent nearly loses child, parent anguishes that the last words between them were harsh, parent gains new appreciation for child, and the old argument is forgotten.

I think this is what happens with Ron. During the First Task, he doesn't suddenly realize that Harry was telling the truth; he realizes that he could lose Harry, and the hurt that would result from that would exceed his current hurt tenfold. It just wasn't worth it anymore for Ron to perpetuate the silence. It wasn't worth it to see Harry every day and have that stupid tension pass between them. It wasn't worth it to not be the best friend of Harry Potter any more.

It's a credit to Ron's character that he went ahead and apologized (or at least tried to) for not believing Harry even when he saw himself as one who was wronged. It's a credit to Harry's character that when he saw that Ron was sincere, he forgave him instantly, and forgot about it. Neither of them raises the issue again, and they go back to being mugre y uñas as if nothing had ever happened.

So. Should Ron have trusted Harry to not cut him out of something so important? Yeah, he probably should have. Should Harry have been less stubborn and tried to find out what Ron's real problem was? Yeah, he probably should have. Should Hermione have refrained from jumping to conclusions and telling them to Harry? Yeah, she probably should have.

But the mistakes they all made are honest mistakes — indicative of being flawed humans rather than of having flawed characters. Rather than a case of Ron or Harry being at fault, The Rift appears to be a Big Misunderstanding more than anything, which makes it impossible for me to demonize either of them in this matter.

It's funny, though. Harry never does learn the real reason why Ron was upset. After the Second Task, the narrator, using Harry's thoughts as fodder, says:

One of the best things about the aftermath of the second task was that everybody was very keen to hear details of what had happened down in the lake, which meant that Ron was getting to share Harry's limelight for once.

I'm sure Ron enjoys the attention every bit as much as Harry thinks he does, but I'm just as sure that what really makes Ron happy is knowing that the great Harry Potter would sorely miss him.

 

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