The Harry Potter/Glass Family Connection

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29 Responses to “The Harry Potter/Glass Family Connection”

  1. john aguirre says:

    Is this meant to be satire?  Otherwise, you are basically saying: “Harry Potter is JUST like this obscure imaginary character from a story almost no one has ever read because he has black hair, green eyes, no freckles, and once held a sword”.

    • Eliezer Pennywhistler says:

      Leaping from YOUR ignorance to a blanket statement about who in the world has read what reflects poorly on you.

      “9 Stories” has been a best-seller since the year it came out.  MILLIONS of people have read it.

  2. Ashley Coats says:

    Hmm okay?

    More importantly didn’t I read once that JD Salinger intended that selling the movie rights after he died would essentially be part of his families inheritance? He just didn’t want to be a part of it.

  3. Bodhipaksa says:

    There are not many colors of hair (blond/black/brown/red/gray — although not usually the last of those in children). There are not many colors of eyes (blue/brown/gray/green would account for the vast majority). The chance there being two characters having black hair and green eyes is therefore very high. Not having freckles is a very common condition, and would scarcely reduce that probability.

    How many objects does Harry handle over the course of the six books? Very many, I should imagine (I’m not going to go count). But given that he handled many objects, it’s not surprising that one of the objects he handled was also in the possession of another character.

    On how many points does Harry’s character differ from Jimmy’s? Let’s not talk about that, in case it makes the “similarity” of the two characters look even more absurd!

    I’m baffled at the point of this article. It seems like a waste of pixels, unless it’s regarded as a way of demonstrating how prone human minds are to seeing significance where none exists.

    • Eliezer Pennywhistler says:

      The combination of black hair and blues eyes is rare.

      • Bodhipaksa says:

        Actually it’s very common in Scotland (where I come from) or Ireland for people to have black hair and blue eyes. See, for example: http://www.bing.com/search?q=celtic+black+hair+blue+eyes. 

        But the perception that it’s a rare combination could actually encourage authors to choose that look for their characters.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          But the perception that it’s a rare combination could actually encourage authors to choose that look for their characters.

          Green eyes are a standard trope for magical/powerful/alluring/special characters.  And everybody knows that redheads are more magical.  It’s no different than evil people and those pesky facial warts.

  4. LinkMan says:

    Isn’t Igby Goes Down essentially an adaptation of Catcher in the Rye?  Maybe a little looser than, say, West Side Story vs. Romeo and Juliet or The Lion King vs. Hamlet.  But still…

    • semiotix says:

      Igby Goes Down definitely is a loose adaptation, and a pretty good movie–almost certainly as good or better than whatever authorized adaptation might be made.

      I’d like to think that this was wise old Mr. Salinger’s final lesson and gift to us–that we had the magic in us all along, that we never needed his silly old book as a crutch, etc. But of course in reality it boiled down to 

      (a) superhuman crotchetiness
      (b) inability to give a damn
      (c) fuck you, that’s why.

      Not that I’m complaining! I was kind of hoping that when he died, he’d left instructions to be cremated on a pyre of unpublished masterpieces that he’d been hoarding all this time just to spite us.

      • Eliezer Pennywhistler says:

        Making up stupid stories about Salinger’s unpublished works (which still reside in a file cabinet, according to his daughter Margaret) is obnoxious and cruel, and adds noting whatsoever to human civilization.

  5. ZikZak says:

    JD Salinger is fascinating enough all by himself…no need to bring Harry Potter into it ;)

  6. Dr. Drang says:

    Did you know that Rowling had a secretary named Salinger? And Salinger had a secretary named Dumbledore?

  7. mellowknees says:

    In addition the the other brilliant points already made here in the comments, I feel compelled to draw attention to the fact that a very high number of characters in young adult fiction are either orphans or their parents are so lackadaisical that they may as well be.  Just look at the entire body of work by Roald Dahl. 

  8. pencilbox says:

    … not to mention the original title of another Glass Family favorite, “Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters (By, Y’know, Pointing Your Wands At It)”

  9. semiotix says:

    Also, can I just say that I was very disappointed that this wasn’t about the connection between Harry Potter and the Glass family that includes Ira and Philip. Ira Glass really does (arguably) look like a grown-up, slightly more hipsterish Harry Potter. At the very least, you could see the boy from the illustrations growing up into him.

    HARRY POTTER: …So I’m standing there in Hagrid’s shed, I’m drenched in centaur blood, I’m late for the Yule Ball, but there are two healthy newborn centaur colts gamboling around the yard. And that’s when I had this epiphany. I was like, wow, magic isn’t something you do… magic is something that does you

    IRA GLASS: Well, from WBEZ Chicago and Public Radio International, it’s This American Life. Each week on our program we choose some theme, invite a variety of writers and performers to tackle that theme. This week’s theme… orphans. Act one, the story of one of the spider hatchlings left to fend for itself after Aragog’s death in the Forbidden Forest. Act two, we talk with a Hogwarts student about being raised by a grandmother who can see through walls. And in act three, we are once again joined by Sarah Vowell.

    SARAH VOWELL: As I sat in the Hogwarts Library, reading the sanitized copy of the diary of one Mr. Tom Marvolo Riddle, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I might finally have found a teenager who listened to even more Depeche Mode than I did.

    IRA GLASS: All that and more when we come back. Stay with us.

    (“Koyaanisqatsi” theme plays)

  10. Anastasia Schnittke says:

    That’s just ridiculous, everybody knows that Jimmy Jimmereeno’s looks were based on Dmitry Shostakovich.

  11. Jerm says:

    Ouch! While I may or may not agree with the overall points in the comments here, I think you’re all being a bit harsh. It’s easy to critique when it isn’t your ass in the hot seat.

  12. Palomino says:

    Sounds like Edmund from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Edmund’s “eye color” is not mentioned, but “he” is described as “green with envy”. Both stories deal with WWII also.  Is Harry Potter really Edmund? There’s a wardrobe in the book and movie too! And, technically, their parents “are not there”, they “have no parents” at their Uncles home. A ton of bible twitching good and evil stuff too. 

    Can I write a BB Article about this? I think I’m on to something.

  13. AirPillo says:

    I really don’t see anything wrong with your reasoning, even if the connection isn’t very meaningful, but I am kind of curious what the point is if you end the analysis without having taken this connection to any kind of destination. The article would honestly feel less incomplete if the comparison to Potter was omitted entirely and this was limited simply to the comments about Salinger, which were interesting to read.

    … was this whole thing just an excuse to talk about Salinger? I totally support that endeavor, if so.

  14. Hi all. I’m grateful for your comments and criticisms, even the super-negative ones. Feel free to come over to my Twitter, @Nathan_Pensky to discuss more, if you’d like. Don’t hold back, I can take it!

  15. angusm says:

    I think you’re reaching, here.

    Orphan-heroes are ten a penny in fairy-tale and children’s stories; a sword is more use for fighting monsters than a tennis racket (and note that Jimmy’s attribute is a sword, while Harry’s is a wand; sure, Harry _wields_ a sword from time to time, but it’s not his main identifier). All the other ‘connections’ seem even weaker. In some ways, Harry Potter has almost as much in common with Luke Skywalker as he does with Jimmy Jimmereeno.

    If Rowling had really been inspired by Salinger, the moat and fountains of Hogwarts would be full of bananafish.

  16. Buzz Stoner says:

    Uhm……… Is this a joke? Having read “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” I feel inclined to call this post complete bs.

  17. spuggie says:

    isn’t there a dinner party axiom which states if someone says ‘i think it’s an interesting coincidence’, it almost certainly isn’t?

  18. Hi again, commenters: Thought I’d chime in. Because I know people can be protective of their favorite writers, I just wanted to reassure you all that in no way did I mean to suggest that this coincidence “means anything.” I didn’t include a conclusion to this observation, because as far as I’m concerned there isn’t one. The connection is pure whimsy.

    That said, I do find five common attributes striking. I would be very happy if someone could find another character from literature with all five of these attributes in common, especially one so famous as Harry Potter. That’s not me being snarky or whatever, I’d really like to know if there is another one. Thanks.

    • Bodhipaksa says:

      I accept your challenge, sir.

      A few seconds on Google Books with the search term ["black hair" "blue eyes" orphan sword] brought up a few possibilities. Some of the results are snippet view only, so it’s not always easy to get full information. 
      Tarzan is a near miss: he has black hair, *gray* eyes, no freckles, and held a sword (in “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar”). He is of course an orphan. 4/5.In a book called “The Chains of Fate” there’s the sentence “And I beheld a boy, small for his age, but already breeched, in a black suit with a miniature sword and black-plumed hat: an astonishingly beautiful child, with his father’s black hair and large vivid blue eyes.” I don’t know if he’s an orphan, but that’s 4/5 in one sentence.A Jules Verne character, Captain Hector Sarvadac, is described as an orphan, “thin, graceful, black hair in natural curls, handsome hands, handsome feet, moustache gracefully turned up, blue eyes.” (No freckles are described). And the story seems to center around a duel — involving swords. Given that one page of results from a very incomplete sampling of world literature turned up one five-point match and two four-point matches, I think that it’s safe to say that there’s a high likelihood of there being several (perhaps many) fictional orphans with black hair, blue eyes, no freckles, and swords.

      • Hi, Bodhipaksa. Thanks for that. Interesting stuff, though I wasn’t “challenging” anyone. Very combative, you Boing Boing commenters… Also, both Jimmy and HP have “green eyes,” not blue. Green eyes are less common than blue. I tried your method and there were only seven hits, one of which was Jimmy, none of which had anything like 4/5. But like you say, Google Books is not a good representation of all of literature. There may be more, though perhaps none so famous.

        Of course, one of the difficulties with the HP comparison is that Harry’s most iconic features (glasses, forehead scar) do not correspond. Then again, he is obviously a much better developed, much more completely described character than Jimmy J. There are seven long books about Harry, and only one very brief description of Jimmy. It’s actually fairly hard to get a mental picture of Jimmy, as these five points are the only descriptions of his appearance that we are told. And yet every single one of them correspond with HP. That’s where the interest was for me. Then again, I like coincidences.

  19. princeminski says:

    Superman, but no sword. Batman, everything BUT a sword. Yeah, guess you’re right.

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