The Impact of Fiction?

In mid-July of 1998, when Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (London: Bloomsbury) was delivered to our home from amazon.co.uk my daughters were 5 and 7.  I had read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to them that spring, and I wasn’t entirely sure how much Kevy, the five year old, was taking in.  But she was engrossed, and based on the first book, the HP series seemed reasonable fare for such a young one.  Rather than risk a spoiler I am going to assume you are familiar with Harry, Hermione and Ron’s encounter with Aragog in Chamber of Secrets.

With that as setup, this is from a recent [gated] blog post by Kevy, now 20 (and teaching English in a small village in Sri Lanka):

Sri Lanka is supposed to have some of the largest arachnids in the world but lucky for me, most of those variety are in the north. I have seen a few small to medium ones in Colombo and the village but nothing that made me scream or cry yet. For those of you that don’t know, I am deathly afraid of these creatures. So much so that I cannot kill them for fear that their families will come after me.

I recall when reading that Forbidden Forest passage thinking that this might be a bit intense, and can picture in my mind’s eye that little girl, sitting to my side, almost too gripped in fear to breathe.

Chels & Kev with their mom, fall 1997

Chels & Kev with their mom, fall 1997

think I suggested that we stop, and you can imagine the impassioned protests (esp from Chelsea, the 7 year old). Needless to say, I sallied forth, and we met Aragog.   Ahhh, moments in parenting!

That said, she is making progress confronting the inevitable encounters one has with spiders:

Today though, a found one crawling on my chest while reading and I jumped up and brushed him off just like a ninja. I was so proud that I hadn’t made a single noise.

She closes with a reference to a movie I remember watching with the two of them many times (she references the remake, which is an incredibly well done film):

About a week ago, I was reading in the living room while my sisters and brother were watching tv…  I looked down to find a large gecko on me. I couldn’t help shrieking and jumping a little but I was still quick as lightening and I brushed him off of me and onto the coffee table with one fluid motion. Everyone was looking at me and laughing, Hansi had seen the gecko so she understood but Tharindu just looked up at me annoyed by my interrupting his show, and said “What?” Hansi explained and they all laughed with/at me for a few minutes. I was reminded of The Parent Trap and very glad that he wasn’t on my face instead.

Go Kev!

About Will H. Moore

I am a political science professor who also contributes to Political Violence @ a Glance and sometimes to Mobilizing Ideas . Twitter: @WilHMoo
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