Today’s prompt is:

What is the saddest or most effective character death you’ve ever read?”

Well, I talked about the death of Fred Weasley in an earlier post, which I’ll repost here. It’s an effective death for multiple reasons. Fred and George Weasley are just side characters to be sure, but as a unit (the Twins), they are much beloved. Rowling sets a series-long pattern by having the Twins lighten up every scene they are in, so Fred’s death scene is all the more poignant because readers’ expectations aren’t met.

A loud THUD was heard on July 22nd, 2007. Multiple loud thuds, actually – the sounds of my reading displeasure as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows flew across the room to hit my bedroom wall yet again. This particular thud, however, was in response to the absolute worst part of the book.

J.K.Rowling had just murdered Fred Weasley.

My outrage was pretty instantaneous, and even now, mentioning that instance will get me riled up. But, even I have to admit that there seems to be very little logic behind my attachment to Fred. He was, after all, a rather under-developed minor character.

It’s been five years since that day, and I’ve only just discovered why that particular death hit me so hard.

Today, in my Rhetoric class, we talked about Repetitive Forms in literature – meaning, basically, that the same idea is presented multiple times in different ways. We used Hagrid and his crazy animals as our example. Each time we see Hagrid, he has a new, whacky pet. This is a repeated theme, and if  Hagrid were ever to appear without an outlandish new pet for any length of time, we, as readers, would feel confused or jipped (even if we couldn’t pinpoint why).

That got me thinking about the Twins. Whenever Fred and George are on the scene, readers know that we will laugh at least once and that the world will be a little brighter while they’re onstage. This is a repeated theme throughout the series. So, when we see the Twins after the battle, we expect some humor to lighten the mood and to spur us on as we continue to resist Voldemort. Instead, we find George in mourning and Fred is dead.

Beyond feeling upset at the death of one of my favorite characters (the death of the Twins – since now there is only a much more somber George), I think I also felt some betrayal that the plucky, comic relief that had kept me afloat through so much of the series (especially the ever-angsty fifth book) had been taken from me right when I needed it most. The Repetitive Form had been violated, so to speak, and I knew it.

So, while I’ll always maintain that Percy should have bought it instead of Fred, I now know that the depth of my outrage stemmed from an unmet expectation, as well as the sadness of losing a friend.