Neville Longbottom, the Boy Who Bounced (and other awesome secondary characters)
This week at the PLC our topic is major minor characters. In other words, supporting characters that stand out among the crowd. Here’s my pick, and a few honorable mentions.
Neville Longbottom, The Boy Who Bounced.
Neville Longbottom, one of Harry Potter’s tertiary friends, starts out a hopeless case. The kid only made it in to Hogwarts in the first place because his uncle dropped him head-first out of a second story window. First year Neville is a big fat dork who is not very good at anything. He even sucks at Herbology initially. Professor Sprout encourages him out of kindness and pity, because someone needs to encourage him in something.
But as the story continues, Neville grows and changes in ways Harry is not capable of, because Harry starts out a bright, inquisitive, brave, rebellious boy and grows into a bright, inquisitive, brave, rebellious man. In fact, if we’re measuring by character growth alone, Harry is one of the least dynamic characters in his world. He does change a skosh, he gets darker (puberty), angrier (PUBERTY), and more determined(P.U.B.E.R.- okay okay I’ll give him that one). But he doesn’t blossom the way his friends do.
Neville, on the other hand, suffers the same bereavement as Harry without any of the sympathy or sops. Everyone knows Harry’s parents are dead, and they mother him or tiptoe around his feelings. Harry’s mother even appears as a spirit on more than one occasion, both to help him fight Voldemort and to tell him she loves him.
Neville’s mother tells him she loves him by giving him a gum wrapper.
Harry doesn’t even know his friend’s parents are insane until OotP, where he at least has the grace to be ashamed of himself for never asking. Good friend there, that Harry. Yup.
Ultimately, Harry abandons Hogwarts. It’s a choice he has to make, but it doesn’t leave the other students any less bereft of a leader just when they need one most. Who steps in to lead the rebellion? Neville.
Harry might be the Chosen One, but Neville is definitely the BAMF.
Finnick Odair, the dashingly handsome trident-wielding Hunger Games contestant. What makes Finnick memorable is not that Finnick changes over the course of the trilogy- he doesn’t. What changes is Katniss’s understanding of him as a person. The initial, unflattering assumptions about Finnick are slowly shed as Kat gets to know his character. In the end, Finnick is more noble and sympathetic to this reader than heroine Katniss or either of her beaus.
Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. Everyone knows that when you play the Game of Thrones, you don’t trust Littlefinger. And yet, everyone trusts Littlefinger. Born to nothing, rejected by his only love, no one knows what Petyr truly wants, even as he works inexorably towards his goals.
So there you have it, three of my major minor characters- a schemer, a dreamer, and a BAMF.