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A Case of Survival:
Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny in "Deathly Hallows"

Much has been written in Harry Potter fandom regarding the ultimate destiny of the Major Trio (Ron, Hermione, Harry) plus the Romantic Interest of the Lead Character (Ginny) in the final book of the Harry Potter series. It is my belief that Ron and Hermione will both survive the final battle(s), and this essay is designed to set out the reasons I see within canon why this might be so. This essay will also address possibilities for Harry and Ginny, though there is less hard evidence in canon for these two characters' final fates, making them correspondingly difficult to predict.

To begin with, I will organize this essay into two parts- the first to deal with Ron and Hermione's fate and the second to cover Harry and Ginny. Although this is not intended as a relationship essay, it should now be obvious that these are the designed romantic couplings between the major characters in the series. For that reason, I am pairing them as Ms. Rowling herself has done- Ron with Hermione and Harry with Ginny.

Ron & Hermione

The basic problem with killing either Ron or Hermione is structural. Again, I state this is not a shipping essay, but in order to understand the ultimate fate of Ron and Hermione, we must examine their relationship, as this is what holds the key to their ultimate destiny as it relates to the final battle with Voldemort.

The relationship between Ron and Hermione, which came to fruition at last in Book Six, has been slowly building for the better part of at least three books. We see signs of this relationship dating all the way back to Book Four, and there have been arguments that the signs were there even earlier.

Be that as it may, my concern is with the relationship itself. Why would Ms. Rowling, who is a writer of considerable skill, build up a relationship this long and this intricate, only to destroy it with the death of one or both of the participants? She has stated that she knows the fate of every single character in the series, having built up formidable back-stories for each one. Therefore, what would be the point of this relationship if one or both of Harry's sidekicks are not intended to survive the final book? One possible answer may be that the effect upon Harry would be devastating, possibly causing him to take the final necessary step to destroy Voldemort.

Very well, let us consider this idea. Ron and Hermione have been Harry's best friends since he started at Hogwarts. They are the two people closest to him, and are his designated sidekicks throughout the series, though they have occasionally been separated from him while he performs his various tasks. His friendship for both is very deep, and the death or injury of either of them would affect him very strongly. But does the romantic relationship between Ron and Hermione further this definition of Harry's sidekicks? No, it does not. They are already his friends, and the fact of their relationship with each other does not affect Harry's reaction to losing one or both. And it is Harry's reaction that is the vital one. We saw in Book Five that the effects of Ron's and Hermione's injuries in the Battle of the Ministry did not further drive him to battle Voldemort. Sirius' death did affect Harry, and did drive him into desperate and possibly foolhardy ventures, but only to try to kill Bellatrix- it did not deepen his hate for Voldemort, though in Book Six he does use the fact of Sirius' death as yet another reason why he must go after the Horcruxes. As he says to himself as he watches Dumbledore's funeral:

And Harry saw very clearly as he sat there under the hot sun how people who cared about him had stood in front one by one, his mother, his father, his godfather, and finally Dumbledore, all determined to protect him; but now that was over. He could not let anyone else stand between himself and Voldemort...
As this scene clearly shows, Dumbledore's death in Book Six had brought Harry's determination to go after Voldemort to a point where action could no longer be deferred, and it was that event that served to finally force Harry to realise that he must finish the task of destroying the Horcruxes alone. Therefore, both Sirius' and Dumbledore's deaths did serve the plot- they moved Harry closer to the moment when he must finally face Voldemort to decide things once and for all.

Harry is the main character and it is his point of view from which the series is written. Therefore, everything in the series must be considered from that viewpoint- in other words, how it affects Harry. And there are some aspects of the Ron/Hermione relationship that do affect him. We see this in his fear of their potentially breaking up when Ron and Hermione hilariously argue over the "Slug Club" party.

"'Slug Club'" repeated Ron with a sneer worthy of Malfoy. "It's pathetic. Well, I hope you enjoy your party. Why don't you try hooking up with McLaggen, then Malfoy can call you King and Queen Slug-"

"We're allowed to bring guests," said Hermione who for some reason had turned scarlet, "but if you think it is stupid, then I won't bother!"

[snip]

It was not as though he was really surprised, thought Harry, as he wrestled with a thorny vine intent upon throttling him; he had had an inkling that this might happen sooner or later. But he was not sure how he felt about it...

[snip]

Harry remembered the few weeks when they had not been talking in their third year; he had not enjoyed trying to bridge the distance between them. And then, what if they didn't split up? What if they became like Bill and Fleur, and it became excruciatingly embarrassing to be in their presence, so that he was shut out for good? (HBP, Chp 14, pg 282 )

This is an amusing scene, and forces Harry to engage in anxiety over his best two friends potentially breaking apart, leaving him once again alone. But that is the only emotion that crosses Harry's mind, and his primary fear is that he might be "shut out for good". Otherwise, how does Ron and Hermione's romantic relationship affect Harry? The answer is that in the main it does not affect him in the slightest. When Ron and/or Hermione are in danger of injury, the fact of their relationship does not even register. They are his best friends, and this is the point. We see this both in Book One, where Ron is incapacitated by the chessmen and in Book Five, where both Ron and Hermione are injured and put out of action in the Battle of the Ministry. In both cases, Harry is already engaged, and the injuries to his best friends, while it does affect him, is relative to the fact of their friendship, not whether they are romantically engaged. Harry's worry during the battle of Hogwarts in Book Six is unrelated to the relationship between Ron and Hermione- it is utterly colored by his worry for his best friends. The romantic angle is not even mentioned. His reactions are the same whether Ron and Hermione are together or not. The romantic entanglements are irrelevant to his feelings for them as his best friends. So why did Ms. Rowling put so much effort into the relationship? The answer must be that Ron and Hermione will survive the final book and Ms. Rowling is preparing them for their post-Hogwarts life.

Based on the reasons presented in the preceding section it would seem that killing Ron and/or Hermione will not increase the emotion felt by Harry- they are already his best friends, and the romantic relationship between Ron and Hermione does not otherwise affect him. Killing one of them will potentially make the survivor react in a more forceful fashion, but will otherwise affect Harry no more than the fact of one of his friends being murdered. Therefore, while there could be an argument made for both dying, I still believe that were that the case, they would not have had a relationship built up so carefully through the series as has occurred. The weight of evidence thus still points to Ron and Hermione's survival.

In conclusion, let us remember that both of these characters- and they are characters, not real people- are sidekicks. Their love life, while it is amusing, sometimes stressful and important to them, is not really a factor for Harry aside from his fears of losing them as friends due to breakups. And once again it is Harry who is the point of emphasis. He is the main character, around whom everything ultimately revolves. Ms. Rowling herself stated in her August 15, 2004 interview at the Edinburgh Book Festival that,

Harry. He really is the whole story. The whole plot is contained in Harry Potter; his past, present and future―that is the story. Harry came to me first and everything radiated out from him. I gave him his parents, then his past, then Hogwarts, and the wizarding world got bigger and bigger. He was the starting point.
Therefore, why would an author spend so much time on a relationship that will not materially drive the plot forward, or really further affect Harry? The relationship that matters from Harry's point of view is their friendship- everything else is irrelevant. Therefore, I think we must conclude that Ron and Hermione are meant to survive the final book, or Ms. Rowling would not have spent so much time and effort building a relationship that neither advances the plot, nor enhances Harry's reactions should one or more of his best friends be killed prior to or during his encounter with Voldemort.

Harry & Ginny

While we can say that the relationship between Ron and Hermione, when taken together with the care and time with which it has been built up through the series practically precludes them from being amongst Voldemort's victims, the same cannot be said of Harry or Ginny.

Harry is the main character. While I believe, based upon what I perceive to be the main thrust of the series, that Harry will ultimately win, the form of that victory has yet to be determined. There are Pyrrhic victories after all. Harry may well vanquish Voldemort, only to lose his own life or someone near and dear to him in the process. This is why neither Ginny nor Harry can be judged as safe. In addition, unlike the Ron/Hermione relationship, the Harry/Ginny relationship is vital to the book because Harry is the main character, therefore, it makes complete sense to give him a mate. This also further advances the story and gives Harry's a reason to react more violently if said mate were injured or otherwise put in a position of danger. We have already seen in Book Two how Harry reacts to Ginny being in danger, and that was before they became romantically involved. It does not take much effort to deduce that he would be even more affected now by any injury to Ginny. This also means that their relationship could be used to support either an argument for survival or for death. However, though we cannot use the nature of Harry and Ginny's relationship to forecast their fate, we can make a few guesses.

First, should Harry survive, we can say that Ginny almost certainly will as well. The reason for this is simple. In her 2005 interview with MuggleNet, Ms. Rowling stated that,

...because the plan was, which I really hope I fulfilled, is that the reader, like Harry, would gradually discover Ginny as pretty much the ideal girl for Harry. She's tough, not in an unpleasant way, but she's gutsy. He needs to be with someone who can stand the demands of being with Harry Potter, because he's a scary boyfriend in a lot of ways.
Along those lines, if an author creates what she considers the "perfect girl" for her hero, the chances of that perfect hero being forced to survive without her are slim.

However, in the very same interview, Ms. Rowling also says that,

Well I always knew that that was going to happen, that they were going to come together and then part.
Therefore, this would lead us to the idea that one or both of them might not survive. And on balance, I think this is more likely to refer to Harry himself than to Ginny. My theory is based on the reasons advanced in the previous paragraph, in short that Harry is unlikely to be left without his "perfect girl" should he survive. We know that Ginny has the capability to go out with other people, and she has proven herself to be a popular girl. Harry, on the other hand, is not nearly as socially skilled, and as Ms. Rowling herself says, "he's a marked man". This would lead to the conclusion that if Harry survives, so would Ginny. However the reverse is not necessarily true.

If Harry himself does not survive the series, then the prognosis for Ginny becomes much more difficult to divine. As she is Harry's perfect girl, so we must assume that Harry is Ginny's "perfect boy". And there is some impressive canonical evidence to support this. Certainly we know that Ginny has been romantically "very taken with" Harry since Book Two, and has been fixated on him since the very beginning. But does that mean that she must share his fate? Not at all. In fact, there is very little evidence that would help us to determine whether Ginny will live or die in the final battle. Without the privilege of Ms. Rowling's knowledge, we can only say that her fate is tied to Harry's, one way or another.

Conclusion

We have seen in the previous section that the slowly building relationship between Ron and Hermione is not one that is relevant to the showdowns with the Death Eaters and/or Lord Voldemort, as it does not enhance how Harry will react should his best friends fall victim either to injury or death. Therefore, the relationship is separate from the battle against evil, and the only possible purpose it could have, based on this reading of canon is to be a foreshadowing of the post-Hogwarts life of Ron and Hermione. This would seem to be fairly strong evidence that Ron and Hermione will both survive the final book.

Harry and Ginny's possible futures have been briefly examined as well. While their relationship is more relevant to Harry, and thus can be used as evidence in either direction (death or life), we can draw from Ms. Rowling's comments that Ginny is Harry's true mate. Therefore, if Ginny were being set up to be killed, it would only be logical for her death to incite Harry into whatever final step or action he needs to take to defeat Voldemort, at whatever the cost to himself. In short, it does not make sense for Harry to survive without Ginny. However, the reverse is not yet divinable. Ginny may survive where Harry does not, though on balance, I feel that the evidence points to a both-or-neither scenario. I cannot see Harry surviving without Ginny, and it is unlikely that Rowling would make Ginny survive without Harry. Therefore, I am opining that if Ginny dies, so will Harry, and if Harry survives, it will be with Ginny. I expect both Ron and Hermione to survive the final book, though possibly with great sorrows in the friends and/or family they have lost.

I would be the very last to presume to any inside knowledge of Ms. Rowling's ultimate intentions. That being said however the evidence in the canon, some small part of which I have laid forth in this essay would seem to support the following prediction: Ron and Hermione will survive, Ginny will survive if Harry does and Harry's fate can go either way, though I would be disappointed to see Ms. Rowling allow him to die- he has already lost so much that death would almost be superfluous. And with Ginny, assuming that they both survive and renew their romance after the battle, he has so much to live for.

About the Author

gankomon (頑固者) is an appreciative reader of the Harry Potter books and an interested observer of the varied hypotheses put forward regarding the events and characters in the series. This essay constitutes his first contribution to the world of HP fandom. In gankomon's Muggle life, he is a former professional musician who now serves as a corporate knowledgebase administrator and forums moderator.


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