|sistermagpie (sistermagpie) wrote,|
@ 2004-10-07 11:34 am UTC
|Entry tags:||characterization, hp, meta, peter|
It's something I think recent H/D discussions have got me thinking of, because there's lots of reasons for liking different characters and those recent discussions kept making me think of Peter. I think it's got to do with what seems to be the most popular assumption that Harry is learning to ignore Draco by OotP, that he's beyond him, has bigger things to worry about, is growing out of him, and that this is part of his maturation.
That just makes me always think about Peter. Because of course it's good, as we grow up, not to allow ourselves to be distracted by things that will ultimately, you know, distract us from our real goal. But that doesn't seem to really ever be a problem Harry and Draco, whom he's felt above and beyond since book 1. More importantly, it's not what was going on with Peter. I guess a lot of people are really turned off by Peter's obvious fawning, but I think what appeals to me about it is that James falls for it and takes it for granted, and so what some people see as Peter being a big betrayer is more James being done in by his own flaw.
I guess this is a thing with me because I'm rather paranoid about the idea that you never know who is going to be the psycho. I mean, I trust my friends but I also tend to choose friends based on feeling they are trustworthy. And even then I don’t immediately think I should share everything vulnerable about myself just because we're friends-neither do they. Also, while on the one hand I think it's pointless to hold a grudge that keeps you yourself from being happy, I do adore stories where someone has a weak spot because they assumed only certain people deserved much thought or consideration. More than once people have told me I seem to "remember everything," and while I wouldn’t go that far I am often surprised at stuff other people forget about their lives...I also tend to not always make clear how I feel about somebody, so you can't always tell from the way I act. That is, if I run into somebody that I don’t like, I would probably still be polite and pretend to not have any bad associations with him or her. If I learn something they’ve done against me, I probably won’t tell them I know.
Of course, sometimes you can do something to someone without knowing it--like where you say something you think is completely normal and somehow the other person thinks you're picking a fight with them. At least once in my life somebody decided they absolutely hated me and I couldn't figure out why--I guess I don't strike myself as being someone to bother hating. Finally a friend of mine asked this girl (this was in high school) exactly why she hated me so much and she claimed it was because I--ahem!--told the whole school she was a slut! I was completely stunned--wtf? I had never said such a thing. It was just so bizarre, something I would never say about anyone. I might think somebody made a stupid decision about sex, but I'm about as non-Puritanical as I can get. I was probably more offended by the false statement about me than anything else. Ironically, I had in fact *defended* this person against that rumor because it just sounded like a dumb thing people say in high school that wasn’t true. I didn't do this to personally defend her against charges, understand, but merely out of my obsession with not turning speculation into fact. I defended her just like I'd defend a character whose actions were described inaccurately, even if I didn't like the character. Anyway, you can imagine my shock when it turned out I'd started the very rumor I didn't believe! But I was still glad I *knew,* because even if I did generally ignore her, I didn't dismiss her.
But back to Peter.:-) Maybe it's because I get so obsessive about these things myself, but I do always feel a certain satisfaction when a character gets it from somebody not because they were outright mean to them but because they were casually dismissive, especially when the character is "strong" and considers themselves so far above the other person. (I tend to draw a subtle distinction between somebody who bullies from a slightly different perspective, not because they are "better" but just that it doesn't give me the same satisfaction when they’re brought down.)
So that's why, in my twisted way, I just can't help but have a soft spot for Peter. The other Marauders scream about how he's scum, how he just sniffed around until he found somebody powerful to hide behind and then betrayed him. Well, yeah, he did hang around with more powerful people--but obviously you guys knew he was doing that too, only you enjoyed him looking up to you when you thought he was harmless. I guess there's just something in me that appreciates it when the characters designated as useless and worthless (I would not put Neville in that group, btw) trip somebody up. There's even the extra bonus of how ignoble it all is. Sirius Black taken down by the house elf who's been alternately ridiculed and pitied throughout canon--nobody took him seriously, and they paid for it (I, meanwhile, suspected something as soon as they couldn't find him at Christmas). Just because they sound ridiculous to you, doesn’t mean their less powerful. Dumbledore's final speech about Kreacher doesn't even really challenge this view, imo.
We don't know exactly how it went down with Peter. Whatever his reasons for throwing himself in with the Dark Side (and becoming perhaps the most effective Death Eater ever), I do like to think about how he framed it in his mind regarding James. Was he overcome with guilt, or was he secretly satisfied that the person everyone agreed could amount to nothing would be the one to change everything? Not only that, but once he gets James killed everybody thinks Sirius did it, because who could suspect Peter? Isn't he just useless? If their places had been reversed, I suspect Peter would have had a much better chance of convincing people he was innocent. James and Sirius were always the stars—even in the end. I guess this is also why I tend to like spies--people think of spies as being like Sean Connery or Tom Cruise, but of course real spies need to be the opposite. If people notice you, it's harder to spy. Much better to be a "grey man" who makes little impression and comes and goes invisibly. (George Smiley, for instance.)
Draco's obviously far louder than Peter...but I guess I would like to think this worm will turn in his own way, just as Kreacher and Peter did. The more confident the characters and fans are that this character's all figured out and can't possibly be any harm or help to our hero because Harry is stronger and smarter and better, the more I think, "La-la-la, nobody’s paying attention, you could do ANYTHING." Especially since this disdain colors interpretation of all of his scenes, just as I'm sure it would have colored Peter's scenes had we read MWPP-era canon. It's that lovely misdirection. Not the Snape kind, which broadcasts BADDIE when he's really good, or like Fake!Moody who tricks people into thinking GOODIE when he's really bad, but that wonderful assurance that this person's a joke, is harmless, is simple and weak and should be ignored, especially when at the same time there are often hints of him when he's not present, or roads lead to him, even if they're dead ends.
Turn, little worm, turn!