The Cursed Child Questions (Spoilers Abound) Part 2
Once again, you have been warned. There are spoilers in this post for JK Rowling’s The Cursed Child. Okay, this particular post doesn’t really contain a huge, plot-revealing spoiler, but if you’re sensitive to spoilers of any kind, SKIP THIS POST.
I mean it.
Really, click away if you haven’t read the play. This is your last warning…
Okay, coast is clear.
So… Professor McGonagall’s childlessness is finally addressed. I’ve always wondered why the professors weren’t married, and why none had children. Really? It seems very strange in the modern world (and a quick Google search tells me that British schools are like American schools in the sense that many boarding school teachers today are married, and often times both people work in the school) to not have one married teacher in an entire school.
Anyway, it was addressed in the worst possible way. Harry (on page 122) shouts at Professor McGonagall that she doesn’t understand what it means to parent a child because she doesn’t have children.
We don’t have to talk about all the ways that Ron and Harry and Hermione sort of suck in adulthood. But that moment was such a slap in the face. While Harry later apologizes for the overall outburst, that line is never addressed again.
I have been on the receiving end of that type of comment, back when I was teaching, before I had kids. I’ve also been on the receiving end of unsolicited (and, frankly, unhelpful) advice from teachers on how to best parent twins. So I’ve had it both ways.
And I still sucked in my breath with that line.
Here’s the thing: Until recently, I had a male OB/GYN. He had never experienced a period or had a pelvic exam, but he still knew more than I did about my reproductive organs. He was the expert on bodies in general, and I was the expert on my body in particular. We worked together to best understand my body based on what he knew about everyone else’s body. No different, in reality, than what a female OB/GYN brings to the table. Again, she only knows bodies in general, and I still know my body in particular. It never bothered me to have a male OB/GYN, and I didn’t think I would get anything different out of having a female OB/GYN.
Teachers know children, in general. Parents know their children, in particular. Together they bring the macro and the micro together to best reach that individual child. Both roles are invaluable, and while both can try to do their roles without the other, I think that there is strength in observing the child up-close as a parent as well as far-away as a teacher.
So Harry’s comment is doubly crappy because it not only shits on Professor McGonagall, it dismisses the vital role that teachers play in helping the parent reach their child, as well as dismisses the vital role that parents play in helping teachers reach the very same child. Two important people coming at the same child from two different angles, with vital information about the child in particular and children in general.
This play, in general, changed how I felt about Harry Potter. There was just enough space for Rowling to do a lot of damage, but not enough space to clean up that damage and make me love his imperfect self again. There was no Snape-like redemption. Just a hollow feeling that we all grow up to become assholes.
Your thoughts? What did you think about that moment with Professor McGonagall? Or Harry’s behaviour throughout the play — was he ever redeemed for you?