Arguably, ‘Halloween’ is one of the most important chapters in Philosopher’s Stone. It is the chapter in which the trio is formed, the trinity, a triad. While the Ron/Harry duo is fun, we don’t see much growth out of the characters Harry and Ron roll through classes, and not a whole lot happens.
J.K. Rowling’s initial character development is weak. Harry and Ron are more cardboard cut outs than real people. Perhaps, the simplicity of the characters can be attributed to the “children’s book” cubby hole, but it seems almost in part, something that all of us novice and newer writers struggle with.
And then “Halloween” happens. It is an interesting scene. Up until this point, Harry and Ron are comfortable. They complement each other. Its a bit of simple living. We see that both Harry and Ron dislike Hermione. Its not hard tok see why. Hermione separates herself from others by putting herself above them. Shes smarter, better at memorising facts. She rolls her eyes at them, considers them useless.
And yet Harry feels the need to go looking for her when the Troll is announce. He must save her like any other good hero does. He pulls his sidekick friend along and they go battle the troll. Harry does stop the troll, Hermione is saved. What a great day for the quintessential boy hero. Obviously Hermione will now be in his debt forever. Their friendship will bloom because she will forever owe him her life.
Can the basic foundation of this gang be as simple as indebtedness? Is their relationship built from a construct in which a female is once again bound to her male counterparts because she owes them? Is it the other way around? Do Harry and Ron really owe Hermione? Must they pay Hermione for the tears they’ve caused her, for the names they’ve called her?
It is in this dynamic that we begin to see the trio jot merely as the sum of its whole, but the arms of its parts. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Maiden, Mother, and Crone, the Ra, Khepri, and Atum, not to mention the thousands of other trios both spiritual and literary which have come before these three. Each part gives the whole its shape. Each arm provides balance and depth to the whole so that neither truly rises above the other, but offers a helping and balancing hand.
And so does it feel strange that Hermione suddenly, with little forewarning from her character, takes the blame for the bad behaviour of two boys? Absolutely because she takes her agency back. It is no longer about two boys playing knight, risking their lives tok save the damsel in distress. The damsel has saved them. Hermione will continue to save them, over and over again she will demonstrate that she provides balance, that her branch in the trinity is equally as important as Ron or Harry’s.
So do Harry and Ron actually owe Hermione? Are they bound to her? Must they put up with a swotty know it all because she has saved them? Does Hermione forever get to lord over these two? The intuitive answer is no, but why? Is it because males do jot have to demonstrate their own agency for readers to know it’s there? Do we automatically recognise them as autonomous beings merely because they are boys?