Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Ron Weasley:
Finding His Place in the World

"It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts."
Harry Potter Book I, pg. 213

In the Harry Potter books, Ronald Weasley is not famous. He is not rich, and he is not an only child. Lost somewhere in the shadows of his many siblings, Ron does not know his purpose in the world. Perhaps the largest truth about Ron is that he has no clue how special he is. At 11-years-old, he defeated a chess game designed specifically to keep grown wizards out. Every year he has helped Harry to solve a number of riddles and has never failed to fight by Harry's side when he is needed. Like the side kick in almost any novel, Ron in under-appreciated by many, including himself.

This is why, in the first book, Ron sees himself in the Mirror of Erised as head boy and Quidditch captain. This is why he sees himself holding the House Cup. Each of these items holds its own special place in his heart, but they all represent the two things Ron desires most in the world, to be special and to be recognized.

"Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible."
Albus Dumbledore, Book I, pg. 213

Part of what is so special about Ron is his willingness to take a back-seat to Harry. He may not like it, and there are times the jealousy gets between their friendship, but Ron never fails to help his friend when needed. Perhaps no scene shows this greater than when Ron is willing to sacrifice himself in the chess game so that Harry can move on to fight the bad guy. As a skilled player, Ron knows the game. In order to succeed, one has to make sacrifices. In order to succeed, not everyone can take the spotlight. As early as Book I, Ron recognizes what Dumbledore waits to tell Harry in Book V, Harry alone has the power to defeat the bad guy. Ron and Hermione are true friends always there to assist, but in the end the spotlight belongs to Harry.

In Book IV, Ron's loyalty is proven once again. Although, he is jealous of Harry enough to stop talking to him for a substantial time, Ron immediately returns to his friend when he realizes that Harry might be in danger.

"Harry," he said, very seriously, "whoever put your name in that goblet --I --I reckon they're trying to do you in!"
It was as though the last few weeks had never happened -- as though Harry were meeting Ron for the first time, right after he'd been made champion.

Book IV, pg. 358

It is because of Ron's willingness to work in the shadows, that he does not feel the same affects of the mirror that Dumbledore warned Harry about. Harry continues to come to the mirror night after night. Ron recognizes that this is not okay and something is wrong.

I know what you're thinking about, Harry, that mirror. Don't go back tonight."
"Why not?"
"I dunno, I've just got a bad feeling about it..."
Book I, pg. 212

Ron looked into the mirror just as Harry did, but because he reluctantly accepts the shadow, the mirror is unable to trap him as it does Harry and other wizards. He may not be happy about the lack of recognition but he doesn't let the desire for the spotlight control him.

There is also another difference between Harry and Ron and their experience with the mirror. Harry cannot achieve his desire in this lifetime. Though it seems improbable, Ron can. While Ron may not realize his abilities to become Quidditch captain or head boy, someone else does. Someone who saw Ron look into the mirror. I'm not talking about Harry, but Dumbledore. Dumbledore understands many of the kids at the school, and I believe he understands Ron's desires as well. Perhaps this is why Dumbledore made Ron a prefect in the fifth book.

As wise as Dumbledore is, surely he knows that Ron is a capable person who suffers from a low self-confidence problem. By giving Ron the prefect position, Dumbledore was showing faith in Ron. He was doing more than granting him recognition, he was giving Ron the first steps necessary to reach his goals. I wouldn't be surprised if Dumbledore had a hand in Angelina not letting Ron quit Quidditch.

For a person with a self-confidence problem, it might take a while to prove oneself good at something. Often, as is the case with Ron, one might worry about making a fool of himself so much that he can't do anything right. Yet, eventually something clicks or changes, suddenly he realizes he can do it. From that moment on he excels.

Well I mean, I'd already let in that one of Davie's, so I wasn't feeling that confident, but I dunno, when Bradley came toward me, just out of nowhere, I thought--you can do this!"
Book V, pb. 703-704

When Ron's brothers left the school, Ron was suddenly a capable Quidditch player. By Rowling's description, one believes him to be more than okay at the game. Notice, he didn't let any Quaffle in once he started believing that he could play. All Ron ever needed was confidence. The same is true with his inability to perform his prefect duties. He lacks the confidence to face his brothers. Yet, one wonders if things will be different in the next book. Now that Fred and George are gone, Ron may be an excellent Prefect.

Here is my theory. I think that Ron is going to make his dreams come true. He is going to find his spot in the world by finding that he is a capable young man. He will likely be Quidditch Captain in the next book; he know tactics, is a capable Quidditch player, and Keeper is a good position for someone who needs to keep attentive to what's happening in the game. In Book VII, Ron will become head boy. Dumbledore gave him the prefect title in order to give him a chance to prove himself; Dumbledore will grant him head boy because Ron has worked for it. What is the message in all of this? "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live," but it does do to work on making your dreams come true. Accept the shadow when it is your turn to take it, but don't settle to be less than you are. Dreams can come true.

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