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Why Slytherin?

September 28, 2005

I’m still knitting away on my PoA-style scarf. Some days, like yesterday, I get only a few rows done, but at least I haven’t given up out of frustration or boredom like I feared I might. I’ve been asked why I chose to make mine Slytherin–isn’t that house bad and evil and generally not likable, full of sneaky schemers? I like to think that it comes up because the people asking don’t see me as any of those things and wonder at the disconnect. So why did I decide to go with the green and silver?

In part, because I’m just being contrary. Slytherin is the only house I haven’t been sorted into by any of the tests and quizzes I’ve taken. (Current score–and yes, I’ve been keeping track because the accountant in me demands it–is Ravenclaw 8, Hufflepuff 5, Gryffindor 2, and Slytherin 0, with one result indicating I do not belong at Hogwart’s at all.) Sure, I’m smart enough to know how to answer the questions to get sorted into Slytherin, but those answers are not really true for me. Though I am skeptical that Slytherin is really full of badness like the quizzes seem to imply–yes, the Slytherins we know best from the books are not particularly admirable, but surely they can’t all be like that.

In part, because I have a fascination for the dark side. This dates back to at least as early as 1977, when I saw what is now Episode IV of Star Wars and immediately decided Darth Vader was my favorite. He was powerful and unconflicted, which was very appealing to the insignificant and self-doubting 15-year-old me. Lucius Malfoy is the same way. I’m no longer the timid girl I was, but still I can only imagine how it would be to be so very self-confident. Lucius wouldn’t worry about the kind of petty crap I fret over, like whether I should have made more of an effort to use that frequent buyer coupon at the grocery store before it expired. (Not that Lucius would go grocery shopping in the first place, of course.)

In part, because I like the underdog. Many people do–it’s so much more satisfying to see someone win who wasn’t supposed to than to see a juggernaut roll over an opponent. What, Slytherin, the underdog? Surely not, with so many ambition-fueled students from influential families. But let’s look–their head of house was distracted all year by other responsibilities (death eating, order of Phoenixing, and who knows what all) and thus unable to give the Slytherins much attention, whereas Mr. Potter and the Gryffindors get all sorts of guidance and assistance from the headmaster on down. So many people are rooting for Harry–who’s rooting for Draco Malfoy besides Pansy and Crabbe and Goyle? And now there’s a rumor going around the internet that he’s a werewolf–if that’s true, that’s another strike against him (we’ve seen how Lupin is treated by the greater wizarding world, and it’s not kindly).

And finally, in part, because I graduated from Michigan State, where I got green in my blood. Though once I get done with the 400-some rows of green on this scarf, I may have gotten quite enough green for a long while. I’m thinking maybe I’ll do a Ravenclaw next, in book colors of blue and bronze. I still haven’t been able to find a definitive answer to why they were changed to blue and silver for the movies. I’ve seen speculation that the costumers couldn’t find bronze yarn, that changing to silver made for a better warm/cool balance among the four houses, that bronze doesn’t look good on camera. My theory is that the blue/bronze didn’t have enough value contrast compared to the other houses and the filmmakers wanted the stripes to stand out equally for all combinations. Maybe I’ll discover the actual reason at some point–surely it’s out there on the web somewhere; I just haven’t found the right search terms. In the meantime, it’s green and green and silver and more green for me.

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