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A wizard who doesn’t yet know how powerful he is, a genius witch who does, and a poor, often befuddled redhead. One of these people is not like the others; can you guess who it is?
I have been rereading (and rewatching) the Harry Potter series lately; inspired in part by a friend of mine who has never seen the movies and by the lack of fiction in my life since beginning my academic studies a few years ago. As I travel through this narrative again, I feel much more attached to the Weasleys, especially Ron, than to any of the other characters.
I was a bit surprised when I began feeling this way. In the past, I’ve liked Harry’s personality. I’ve admired his bravery, his dedication to develop himself in his craft, and—later in the narrative—his humble leadership. As well, I naturally connect with Hermione, particularly her drive for academic achievement and her ability to problem-solve.
Ron doesn’t shine. He doesn’t stand out, except for his flaming red hair. His family is poor and generally looked down on by the magical community. His academic achievements are all thanks to Hermione, and he’s consistently brought along kicking and screaming with Harry and Hermione on their adventures.
When you stand him up beside Hermione, the muggle-born witch who is top of her class, and Harry, the Chosen One, Ron doesn’t seem very heroic. He’s not much to aspire to. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that Ron is the very kind of person I want to be.
Imagine for a moment that Ron and his family never existed, a world without Weasleys. Harry still gets collected by Hagrid from his dreadful vacation and brought to Diagon Alley. He still purchases his school supplies and makes it to the train station, but having been left behind by Hagrid, he simply never finds his way to platform 9¾. This places a significant stress on our hero’s story, but suppose that Hagrid, realizing his mistake, retrieves Harry from London and brings him personally to Hogwarts.
By Christmastime, Harry has struggled through a long term at Hogwarts and experiences yet another Christmas without presents and without a sense of family. Tired of being seen only as a celebrity and not as a fellow student, Harry seeks separation from his peers and realizes that, perhaps, his life in the magical world will be no better than his life with the Dursleys.
The end of the year is fast approaching. Harry has found himself wrapped up in the plot to steal the Philosopher’s Stone, but without the help of others, he’s defeated by this strange giant chess game—or worse—he still confronts Quirrell/Voldemort and finds a sense of kinship with Voldemort. Maybe Voldemort would pull a Vader speech: “Join me, and we can rule the world as murderer and would-be victim.”
Without Ron, the story of the first book, not to mention the next six, changes drastically. Harry and Hermione, for all their intelligence, skills, and abilities, would never achieve alone what the trio could accomplish together.
Growing up as one of the youngest siblings in a large family with little means taught Ron a valuable lesson. Life is not all about him. He readily accepts (most of the time) being Harry’s sidekick because that’s what Harry needs. He pulls Hermione away from her books to remind her that there’s more to life than knowledge because that’s what she needs.
Ron’s strength is in being a servant. He’s more than willing to put himself second to others and to do all that is within his power to help them. Ron’s character is unremarkable because he allows himself to be unremarkable. He uses his abilities in wizard chess to propel the people that need to move ahead. He knows that that is where he is needed most, and so he gives all he can. Ron isn’t unintelligent. In fact, he is often Harry and Hermoine’s guide through the wizarding world. He isn’t a wizard lacking in skill or ability, but he allows himself to be second to Harry and Hermoine for their benefit.
Harry may be “the Chosen One” and Hermione might be the brains, but Ron is the remarkably unremarkable hero that I want to emulate. And, I mean, I do already have the hair.