Sunday, October 26, 2003

Slightly edited for clarification.

The Mysterious Mark Evans

If you only read book five once, than it is unlikely that you noticed the ghost character named Mark Evans. If you were, however, reading carefully or on your second or third time, the name sticks out like a black eye. It's a quick sentence or two in the book, nothing more. The question is whether or not it is a red-herring or a mysterious piece in solving the enigma that is the Harry Potter books.

(Harry to Dudley)
"So who've you been beating up tonight?" Harry asked, his grin fading. "Another ten-year-old? I know you did Mark Evans two nights ago-"
Book Five, Page 13, US Edition

While this may be a short sentence, it does contain a lot of information. First, a kid that lives close enough for Dudley to beat up, shares Harry's mother and aunt's last name. Second, the kid is ten-years-old. Third, (we learn a few lines later)the kid has enough guts to insult Dudley, a fifteen-year-old wrestling menace. The question that now must be tackled is What implications does the introduction of this character have on the remaining story line?

Examining each item in detail may help shed more light on the conundrum.

Why Mark Evans

The first possibility that comes to mind is that this name is a wild goose chase. Rowling has admitted to putting red-herrings in her books and Evans is a common last name. The greatest evidence for this in the books is Harry's non-chalant way of saying his name. He is angry, concentrating mainly on Dudley and Dudley's aggression. He doesn't even think about what someone living close to him, with that name, could mean. If Harry thought this might be important, the question should have haunted him. Then again, this assumes that Harry already knows that his mom's last name was Evans. I can't recall if he learns her maiden name at any earlier point in the books. However, one would think that since he lived with the Dursley's for fifteen years, he would know his aunt's maiden name. Yet, we also know that Harry's knowledge of the Dursley's is limited and he might not have picked up on this important piece of information. It is more likely that Harry knows the last name, but that still makes us wonder why he doesn't question who Mark Evans is at any point. Maybe we just missed him going over the necessary thought processes. (Convenient for Rowling anyways.) Another large piece of evidence against Mark Evans being a relative, is that Dumbledore has said time and again that the Dursley's are Harry's only living relatives.

From now on, let's assume that the name "Evans" is important. Now where does this lead us to? Logicaly, a close or distant relative of Harry's has entered the books.

Since Harry can hear his mom's death at times, we can be 98% sure that Lily is dead. Since Mark is five years younger than Harry, it is extremely improbable that this is a child of Lily's. Petunia had changed her last name to Dursley long before Mark's birth, so it is also improbable that he is Petunia's child. However, he might be a grandchild of Petunia. Did Petunia have any kids before her relationship with Vernon? A child that would have kept the last name of Evans? This seems more probable. Petunia might have given this child to the care of the real father, her own parents, or someone ele, and not have thought about him since. Meanwhile, the kid retains her last name and goes on to have another child, the famous Mark Evans. It is doubtful that the same can be said for Lily, but Dumbledore would be knowledgeable if Lily had another kid. He would have put Harry in his sibling's care instead of his aunt's. Instead, Dumbledore has told us time and again that the Dursley's are Harry's last living relatives. Either Dumbledore is purposely holding something back, which I doubt, or the child would have to be someone Dumbledore didn't know about. This makes it much more likely that the child was Petunia's, making Mark Evans her grandson. This might shed light on why Petunia knows so much about the wizarding world. I don't give this theory too much credit, however.

Other possibilities include that there was a sibling of Petunia and Lily that had a child. We are never told that Petunia and Lily didn't have any other siblings. This still leads us to the same problem, however. Dumbledore would probably have known about the other sibling, and not have retained that the Dursley's are Harry's last living relatives. Still, maybe the Evans' family kept the secret of this sibling to themselves. Was it a first sibling that was given to the care of someone else, when Lily's mom couldn't handle a child? Was there something about the child that made them have to hide him/her?

Another possibility is that Mark Evans is a distant relative spawning from Lily's father's (maybe mother's) side of the family. In this case Mark Evans would be a distant cousin. This sounds the most probable to me.

(If I missed any possibilities, put it in the comments section.)

Now let's assume that Mark Evans is a distant cousin of Harry's. So what?

Mark Evans is ten-years-old

If the name isn't suspicious, the age is. Mark Evans is ten-years-old in August. This means that next year, he will be eleven-years-old, the age of acceptance into Hogwarts. I would not be surprised if we actually see this ghost character enter the story in book six at the sorting hat ceremony. As an Evans, he may have some magical blood in him. This suggests that he might have a stronger link to either Lily or Lily's parents, as Lily is the only Evans that entered Hogwarts for at least a while. Remember Petunia, "We have a witch in the family," in book one. Also, Dumbledore has stressed the importance that Harry is only a half-blood because his mother was muggle-born. (Book Five, Page 842, US Edition)

One problem against this, is that the ministry has been keeping close tabs on Little Whinging.

"We have no record of any witch or wizard living in Little Whinging other than Harry Potter," said Madam Bones at once. "That situation has always been closely monitored, given. . .given past events."
Book Five, Page 143, US Edition

Assuming the ministry hasn't fowled up, this means Mark Evans either is not a wizard, or lives outside of Little Whinging.

Assuming he is a wizard, however, let us move on.

If Mark Evans does show up in the next book, his plight with Dudley already gives the reader sympathy to the character. Will he be a Gryffindor, a Hufflepuff, a Slytherin, or a Ravenclaw? Will he be an ally to Harry, or turn out to be a bad guy? Will he be part of uniting Slytherin and the other houses? The possibilities are endless and nearly impossible to conjecture. We will just have to wait till book six to find out.

Mark Evans has guts

"So who've you been beating up tonight?" Harry asked, his grin fading. "Another ten-year-old? I know you did Mark Evans two nights ago-"
"He was asking for it," snarled Dudley
"Oh yeah?"
"He cheeked me."
Book Five, Page 13, US Edition

It can be conjectured from above that Mark Evans has courage. It could also be that Mark Evans is extremely stupid to bother Dudley, or Dudley had taken something as "cheeking" that wasn't. However, if we assume that Mark Evans did insult Dudley, this gives us some insight into his character. Maybe he has guts to stick up to Dudley, a large wrestler with five years up on him? Maybe he has a death wish? Maybe, Mark Evans is a strong kid with a lot of courage (a future Gryffindor?). If Mark Evans is a distant relative and a courageous child, I am inclined to think of him as a future ally to Harry. Still, it may be smart to watch him carefully. Maybe Rowling wants us to think well of him, when indeed he is undeserving of this assesment.

Bascialy, Mark Evans may be a distant relative of Harrys that we will see much more of at Hogwarts. He may or may not be an ally. Now, we just have to wait to read book six to see whom Mark Evans really is.