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Two Questions about the Only Loved Boy in the World

The twins and I started reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which meant that one child ended up in my bed from 2 am until 6 am claiming nightmares.  Perhaps I didn’t need to make Voldemort’s voice quite so raspy and creepy.  But we’re past that now!  Onward and upward towards the Quidditch World Cup.

As I was reading one of the opening chapters, an odd thought occurred to me.  Harry mentions that he is the only person to have survived a killing curse.  And what is the reason given for his survival?  He was protected by his mother’s fierce love.  Uh… so the fact that Frank Bryce drops over dead from Avada Kedavra… does that mean he isn’t protected by love?  No one loves him?  All those other people that Voldemort or the Death Eaters kill.  Hundreds of thousands of people… no love?  Not one other person in the world has enough love in them to make a killing curse rebound on the caster?  Are you seeing the problem here?  Is Harry Potter the only loved boy in the world?

But the ChickieNob had an even better question.  Why does Voldemort call Peter Pettigrew “Wormtail.”  That’s the affectionate nickname used by Lupin, Sirius, and James.  Everyone else calls him Peter Pettigrew (or “that little lump of a boy”).  So why does Voldemort call him by his childhood nickname — a nickname that isn’t a logical diminution of his given name.  It would be understandable if his schoolmates and Voldemort both called him Pete.  But they don’t.  His school friends called him Wormtail, the rest of the adult world called him Peter, and… Voldemort apparently thinks he’s part of the in-crowd.  Dude, it’s Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs.  Not Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, Prongs, and Snakey.

So, is Harry Potter the only loved person in the world?  And why is Voldemort using the name Peter’s old friends called him?  Any thoughts?


1 EmHart { 12.03.12 at 8:01 am }

The way I have always read it is that his mother was going to be spared, she could have lived. Snape had asked Voldemort not to kill her and so Voldemort was not gong to bother. It was only Harry he really cared about killing, but Lily would not move out of the way, and so she sacrificed herself for Harry, her love for him was in her sacrifice and that was what made the magic. Although, I agree it seems unlikely that in 50 or so years only one person died to protect another. But perhaps no one else was going to be spared, so they would have died anyway. But don’t get me started on the actual bloopers, like Harry not seeing the Thestrals at the end of goblet of fire or Hermione boasting in the first book that she practiced spells at home….

2 Carla { 12.03.12 at 8:11 am }

I am on the verge of re-reading all the books again, and from what I remember, it is because Harry’s mother sacrificed herself trying to protect Harry. She threw herself between Harry and Voldemort, and that was the intense love that caused the curse to rebound. All those other folks probably did have people who loved them, but maybe there was no one there (or no one willing!) to die protecting them.
No idea why Voldemort would call Peter “Wormtail”, I’ll have to think about that one!

3 Chickenpig { 12.03.12 at 8:43 am }

He is not the only loved boy in the World, but his mother was there IN THE ROOM when V. tried to kill him. That is what saved him. I think it was actually her love/sacrifice/power bouncing around the room. As for the Wormtail thing, I just assumed he read his mind. Like Darth Vader reading Luke’s thoughts and knowing he had a sister. Calling him Wormtail probably pisses him the Hell off…so why not.

4 knottedfingers { 12.03.12 at 9:47 am }

I think the reason Harry lived wasn’t because he’s the only one loved but because his mom was in the room. As the mom of a child who passed away when you know one of you is going to leave shortly you focus all that love on your child. You are completely focused on your baby. I think THAT is what Lily did. She poured all of her love out and focused it and her magic on Harry because she knew one of them wasn’t going to make it out of there

5 dspence { 12.03.12 at 9:48 am }

I always thought that Harry’s protection was directly related to the immediately preceding sacrifice of his mother. Is there another record in the books of the killing curse being directed at a person immediately after their loved one sacrificed their life for that person? I ask because I honestly don’t know.

As for calling Peter “Wormtail,” I think it is Voldemort’s way of twisting the knife for Peter. He is calling Peter by the name his friends gave him – those same friends which he betrayed and who, then, died because of his actions. Calling him Wormtail is Voldemort’s way of keeping Peter shamed and subservient.

Just my two cents!

6 KeAnne { 12.03.12 at 1:14 pm }

I agree with dspence about why Voldemort calls PP “Wormtail.” I also think it may make PP believe a false sense of camaraderie or closeness with V.

7 electriclady { 12.03.12 at 1:23 pm }

Agree with the others on the sacrifice explanation. And remember in book 7 how Voldemort’s spells were bouncing off in that final showdown? (trying not to write that in a spoileriffic way just in case someone here hasn’t read!)

8 crabby appleseed { 12.03.12 at 1:28 pm }

I always thought the same, that his mother was there specifically to take his place.

Having said that, I also always thought it was kind of a hackneyed explanation.

9 a { 12.03.12 at 3:24 pm }

It always amuses me when people do this. My answer is always…because that’s how the story goes! 🙂

10 A.M.S. { 12.03.12 at 3:55 pm }

Hear Voldemort saying “Wormtail” in your head. Is it said in a drawn out, sneering, sing-songy tone of voice like it is in mine? First of all, Wormtail? Pads, Prongs, Moony…kinda cool names for cool kids/animals. Wormtail. He’s the one the cool kids let tag along. He turns into a rat. It isn’t a glamorous name or alter existence. I think Voldemort uses it to constantly dig at that sore spot in Peter that KNOWS he wasn’t one of the gang, really and never will be. It keeps Peter’s anger going and is another sign of the bully that Voldemort is.

As for the rebounding curse. Yeah, what they said! Lily was right there. She could have saved her life, but she gave it willingly for her son. You have to figure that all the other times Avada Kedavra has been cast, there wasn’t someone present who was able to intervene out of the pure motivation of love. Just being loved isn’t enough. It’s the sacrifice made without thought of consequence because of that love that caused the spell to rebound. There is also the possibility that it worked because Voldemort cannot possibly conceive of anyone loving that deeply. Remember, you have to MEAN the killing curse or you won’t cause more than a nose-bleed according to Barty Crouch when he was masquerading as Mad-Eye Moody in book 4 (I am so geeky) . In our world, many people believe that magic works because the spell caster believes it will. If Voldemort is so surprised by Lily’s ultimate sacrifice that it allows the tiniest break in his concentration or in his belief in his curse, it could cause the spell to go wonky. Just the opinion of your friendly, neighborhood Good Witch! 😉

11 A.M.S. { 12.03.12 at 4:02 pm }

Padfoot, not Pads. I hate autocorrect.

12 Ladyblogalot { 12.03.12 at 5:32 pm }

Hmmm I think yes it was his mother’s love for him in her sacrifice that had the effect of protection, but I think also the prophecy was linked in, wasn’t the prophecy kind of giving him a leg-up in surviving? by saying that he couldn’t die until Voldemort tried to kill him, therefore chucking a bit of his soul into Harry, then creating the rest of the prophecy so that neither could die while the other lives? Or something.

Agree re wormtail too, I think Snakey was just being an arsehat about it. And probably trying to engender some kind of friendship with PP too in the beginning when he first found him in the forest and saved him.

em, are you serious about the Cestrils? I didn’t even pick up on that! I’m going for a re-read now.

13 Stupid Stork { 12.03.12 at 6:40 pm }

OMG you’ve ruined my life… Ruined!

Agree with everyone – it’s the love but also the in-the-room, unafraid sacrifice thing… and the wormtail thing seems a bit odd but I think it’s a way to eff with his head (and keep him constantly running on a severely low self esteem seeing as how that very name reminds him he’s a traitor).

And Em.. damn you you lovely woman you have ruined Thestrals for me.

Leave Harry alone! I will cry. I. WILL. CRY.

14 Keri-Ann { 12.03.12 at 10:15 pm }

hahahaha “snakey” I like it! And I agree, I’ve always wondered why he got to use the name “wormtail” when that was his nickname from his friends…

15 N { 12.04.12 at 1:29 am }

I have nothing new to say that wasn’t said above – it wasn’t JUST love, but the love in the sacrifice, because he was going to kill Harry, and she stepped in the way. That’s about the biggest love there is.

And also agree with the person above who said that Voldie calling him Wormtail was about digging the knife in about his “friends” and his betrayal of them; keeping him in his place, as it were.

16 marion { 12.04.12 at 10:26 pm }

The reason that Lily’s was able to protect Harry through her sacrifice is that the scenario in question was unlike every other scenario in which Voldemort was trying to kill someone, in a very important way that ties directly to one of the major (though rather hidden) storylines running through the entirety of the books. Can’t say more without involving spoilers. But, to put it another way…you’re supposed to be thinking that the explanation given as of _Goblet of Fire_ might be somewhat…incomplete.

17 Tiffany { 12.05.12 at 6:38 pm }

I read this snarky piece a few years ago, and I don’t get to reference it often enough in real life, so I am happy to leave this here: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/assessment/2002/11/harry_potter.html

My favorite part is, “Did your mom love you? Good, maybe you deserve to be a hero, too.” I really do love the books, but I appreciate the way this article points out how much Lily Potter kicked ass.

I need to go back and re-read the series, because I don’t even remember what the Thestrals are!

I’ve never commented here before, but I am a long-time lurker, so I would like to add: Thank you for providing such a wonderful resource in your blog. It has been a place of knowledge and comfort for me, and I very much appreciate the work that you do.

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