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Does the canon sufficiently indicate Harry Potter as being right or wrong? Does Harry Potter himself feel he was wrong, and does Lupin think that way too?

because

“I know I shouldn’t have called him a coward.”

Deathly Hallows - page 215 - Bloomsbury - chapter 11, The Bribe

and

A mixture of gratitude and shame welled up in Harry. Had Lupin forgiven him, then, for the terrible things he had said when they had last met?

Deathly Hallows - page 441 - Bloomsbury - chapter 22, The Deathly Hallows

and

“I’d tell him we’re all with him in spirit,” said Lupin, then hesitated slightly. “And I’d tell him to follow his instincts, which are good and nearly always right.”

Harry looked at Hermione, whose eyes were full of tears.

“Nearly always right,” she repeated.

Deathly Hallows - page 441 - Bloomsbury - chapter 22, The Deathly Hallows

I bring this question up because I want to know if the book provides enough explanation of this situation, and enough evidence to prove whether if Harry Potter and Lupin themselves thought if it was right or wrong? I want to know what exactly was the message in the book, and should the reader be allowed think that it is good and proper to yell at your friends and call them cowards? Or does the text clarifies otherwise?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Rogue Jedi, Jason Baker, Valorum, Rand al'Thor May 22 '16 at 1:19

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    Whether Harry was right or not in calling Lupin a coward is completely subjective. The title of your post, though, asks Why did Harry call Lupin a coward, which is easily answered within the same passages of Deathly Hallows that you're quoting from. Could you clarify what you're really asking? – Slytherincess Jun 2 '12 at 9:19
  • Hi @Slytherincess, as usual. My reading and interpretation of the book was that Harry Potter and Lupin BOTH felt that it was wrong of Harry to call Lupin a coward. I wanted to find out the book did indeed provide enough evidence to support this. Forgive me for having to rephrase the question. :) – Manik Sethisuwan Jun 2 '12 at 11:01
  • Let's see what Lupin (as recalled by the Stone) says in DH chapter 34. ‘I am sorry too,’ said Lupin. ‘Sorry I will never know him … but he will know why I died and I hope he will understand. I was trying to make a world in which he could live a happier life.’ – Nah, this doesn't seem to decide your question in either way. – b_jonas Jun 2 '12 at 13:33
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    @Manik This would be reading too much in between the lines and too deeply. Leave it for a literary analysis class. It's just plain silly here. – Daniel Bingham Jun 2 '12 at 14:47
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    @Manik I'm voting to close this question as not constructive. It relies on extreme literary over-analysis and it is clear that you've already made up your mind and will only accept answers that reinforce your own view. This can only turn into a protracted argument or debate from here, which doesn't fit the SE format. – Daniel Bingham Jun 2 '12 at 15:08
15

Harry called Lupin a coward in the chapter The Bribe in Deathly Hallows because Lupin asked to join Harry, Ron, and Hermione on their mission to hunt Horcruxes, while indifferently sloughing off the issue of his wife Tonks who was by that time pregnant with Teddy. Essentially, Lupin wanted to avoid his wife and child because of his own doubts about having fathered a child and fearing that Teddy would be a werewolf. It was an escape -- mental and physical -- for Lupin. Harry found this highly offensive and was vehemently against Lupin's idea.

‘Harry, I’m sure James would have wanted me to stick with you.’

‘Well,’ said Harry slowly, ‘I’m not. I’m pretty sure my father would have wanted to know why you aren’t sticking with your own kid, actually.’

Deathly Hallows - page 175 - Bloomsbury - chapter 11, The Bribe

‘My father died trying to protect my mother and me, and you reckon he’d tell you to abandon your kid to go on an adventure with us?’

Deathly Hallows - page 176 - Bloomsbury - chapter 11, The Bribe

‘Parents,’ said Harry, ‘shouldn’t leave their kids unless – unless they’ve got to.’

Deathly Hallows - page 177 - Bloomsbury - chapter 11, The Bribe

Whether Harry was right, nearly right, or wrong in calling Lupin a coward remains a subjective question. But it can at least be said that Remus himself came to believe that Harry was possibly correct, as the quote in your question states:

‘I’d tell him to follow his instincts, which are good and nearly always right.’

Deathly Hallows - page 358 - Bloomsbury - chapter 22, The Deathly Hallows

  • You know, I specifically asked this question because after reading a lot of reader's comments on this particular chapter, I felt they all felt that Harry was right in calling Lupin a coward. I was surprised because JKR wrote in a very clear manner that Harry was ashamed of calling Lupin a coward and hoped for forgiveness. Ron was against it too. And even Lupin believed it wasn't entirely correct. I don't believe that JKR would want to encourage teenagers to yell at their most loyal friends and call them cowards. – Manik Sethisuwan Jun 2 '12 at 12:36
  • @ManikSethisuwan But would JKR want parents running away from their responsibility to their loved ones? I'll also note in response to one of your comments on DVK's answer that I think the last quote that Slytherincess has here shows fairly clearly that Remus thought Harry was right in chastising him. – Dason Jun 2 '12 at 17:51
  • Hmm. Maybe Harry was too harsh then. A lot wizards when into hiding at that point. Muggle-borns (like Dean, Ted), and goblins too. I never once thought Lupin was leaving his family forever, but just simply going away in order to keep them safe from prosecution because he was a werewolf until Voldemort was defeated. If Harry thought Lupin was running away from his responsibilities however, then he surely has a right in pointing that out to Lupin. Calling him a coward outright and yelling at him was just taking it too far. Well, if Harry was older perhaps, but it was quite insensitive and harsh. – Manik Sethisuwan Jun 3 '12 at 0:55
2

As Slytherincess noted, it's pretty clear that Remus came to believe that Harry was right. Aside from Chapter 22 quote, remember that Lupin wanted Harry to become Teddy's Godfather

“Yes—yes—a boy,” said Lupin again, who seemed dazed by his own happiness. He strode around the table and hugged Harry; the scene in the basement of Grimmauld Place might never have happened.

“You’ll be godfather?” he said as he released Harry. “M–me?” stammered Harry.

“You, yes, of course—Dora quite agrees, no one better—”

...

“I can’t stay long, I must get back,” said Lupin, beaming around at them all: He looked years younger than Harry had ever seen him.

  • Nope, I don't agree that Lupin believed Harry was right in calling him a coward. The evidence clearly suggests that Harry himself thought he was wrong, and Lupin too believed so (Always nearly right). Of course, Harry had great many virtues and was a great person, that's why Lupin named him Godfather. But, as far as the incident at Grimmauld Place goes, I think the evidence shows that both felt that Harry was wrong to call Lupin a coward. – Manik Sethisuwan Jun 2 '12 at 12:31
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    @ManikSethisuwan if you've already made up your mind, and it's closed off to other ideas, why did you bother to ask the question? That's a bit disingenuous. – David Stratton Jun 2 '12 at 12:56
  • I've made up my mind about the fact that at the very least it was harsh, insensitive and inappropriate for Harry to yell at Lupin and call him an outright coward. I hadn't made up my mind to whether Lupin was actually running away from responsibilities like a coward, or else going into hiding to save his family from prosecution until Voldemort was defeated. I thought it was the latter. Either ways, Harry could have pointed out to him his thoughts firmly but kindly. For a Gryffindor I supposed accusations of cowardice were a big insult. Lupin has always been brave, friendly and loyal, hasnt he? – Manik Sethisuwan Jun 3 '12 at 1:06
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    @ManikSethisuwan - basic psych. You find a weak point (in this case, as you said, accusation of cowardliness), and use that to jar the person out of their current train of thought. Harry's instinctively done that. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 3 '12 at 10:39
  • Why -1 on both answers? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 4 '12 at 5:18
1

I'm surprised so many people are rallying around Lupin and defending him. Lupin proved in book 3 that he had cowardly tendencies (maybe not to the extent of Pettigrew, but still). Fact: Lupin admittedin POA that Snape was correct in suspecting him of helping Sirius Black. This was BEFORE anyone (including Lupin) knew that Sirius was innocent. When Black broke into the castle, Lupin didn't want to admit to himself that Black might have used his animangus powers to do it. Instead Lupin tried to convince himself that Black was using Dark Magic, so he wouldn't have to face the truth (Lupin says this outloud, so it is canon). Even if he thought Sirius was using Dark Magic, shouldn't the responsible thing to do would be to at least mention the fact that Sirius was an animangus to Dumbledore, especially while everyone is scrambling around trying to figure out how a serial killer broke in? But no, Lupin keeps his mouth shut because (and he admits it), he didn't want to admit that he broke Dumbledore's trust all those years ago when he was a teenager. He was afraid of the reaction he would receive if Dumbledore found out that he willingly put other students in danger so he could run around the Forbidden Forest as a werewolf with his friends. So instead of admitting that he made a mistake all those years ago, and that now they had to reap the consequences of said mistake, Lupin preferred to shut his eyes and feign ignorance, which could have easily wound up killing Harry Potter. God forbid Sirius really was a psycho killer, Lupin's inability to take responsibility and fess up could have cost his best friend's son his life! But to Lupin, being liked and trusted by everyone was more important to him than doing the right thing as a guardian and teacher. For that reason alone, Lupin should have resigned his post even before his condition was revealed to the students.

Then in the later books, we find out that Lupin was made a prefect in his 5th year. Do people realize what that means? A prefect is just a step down from a teacher. A prefect has responsibilities to make sure that the students are following the rules and to enforce discipline when they witness rule breaking. They are supposed to be leaders for their house and set an example for others to follow. Lupin was made prefect in the hopes that he would contain the Marauders, but when he witnessed three students ganging up on one, hexing and harassing him (it doesn't matter if Snape may have done something nasty in the past, he was minding his own business on that day, and there really is no justification), Lupin pretended not to know what was going on and allowed a blatant example of cruel bullying to occur. It would be one thing if he was just an ordinary student supporting his friends, but this sort of behavior is inexcusable since as a prefect, it was his responsibility to look out for ALL students, not just his friends. He neglected his duties because, once again, his own desire for friendship was more important than doing his job and protecting students. (anyone who rails against Snape's horrible behavior towards Harry in the books, should have little tolerance for Lupin's allowances here either. Lupin is just as bad, but it seems he gets a pass because he's not so actively nasty; he just allows nasty things to happen to others).

Honestly, I'm glad Harry called Lupin out on his behavior in book 7, because someone needed to show him what a coward he truly was being. I don't believe a word that Lupin says that he thought that thought he was protecting his family. Here's a direct quote from Lupin.

"Don't you understand what I've done to my wife and my unborn child? I should never have married her, I've made her an outcast! And the child - the child...my kind don't usually breed! It will be like me, I am convinced of it! How can I forgive myself when I knowingly risked passing on my own condition to an innocent child?! And if, by some miracle, it is not like me, then it will be better off, a hundred times so, without a father of whom it should always be ashamed!"

So Lupin admits that Tonks WILL (not may, will) be shunned as an outcast because she married him and was carrying the child of a werewolf. How would abandoning her to raise the baby alone have changed that? So Lupin was willing to let Tonk be an pariah without support from her husband. Lupin also was convinced that child would end up a werewolf. Well, shouldn't that be even more of a reason for Lupin to stay? To help his child when it's too young to understand what is happening? But here's the clincher for me: Lupin says that if the child is not a werewolf, it would be better off to not have a father at all than one whom he would be ashamed of. That to me shows that Lupin wasn't really trying to protect his family (he pretty much admitted that it was too late for them anyway), but he couldn't stand the thought that his child might possibly resent him, so he would rather take himself out of the picture entirely. This is just selfishness on Lupin's part, and is consistent with his characterization from the previous books. Lupin was looking for an excuse to run, and the hunt for the horcruxes was the perfect opportunity to run away while still look like he was doing something noble in the eyes of everyone.

Look, I'm not saying that Lupin is a bad guy, he's obviously not, but he does glaring personality flaws that I see too many fans like to overlook or gloss over. Everyone likes to remember Lupin as this brave, mature, kind, sensitive teddy wolf who just needs a hug because of his "furry little problem". In canon, he's really more like Snape or Sirius: he's a somewhat selfish overgrown sixteen-year-old who never really grew up.

Kudos to Harry for calling Lupin out finally on his bull. It had to be done, even if Harry did feel bad about it later.

-1

Okay, all... Several things. I apologize for any offense to anyone, but many of the ideas in this thread are completely off. To answer the basic question: yes, Harry /did/ call Lupin a coward. While I agree that it wasn't entirely right of him to say it as he had, but imagine if he hadn't? What was Harry supposed to do, tell Remus to just come along and make him forget about the fact that he had a pregnant wife that needed him? Harry felt guilty about his outburst almost immediately after Remus had left, but by then, it was too late to do anything. And, Manic, the reason Remus had left Tonks was for neither of those reasons. In short, he had left because he felt insecure of himself and his own parenting abilities, as well as afraid for the futures of his wife and child. While many of us can agree that his methods of coping aren't exactly the best, it is easy to see that, psychologically, this is Remus trying to deal with it to the best of his ability. He knows exactly what it feels like to go through the painful transformations of lycanthropy each month, and understands more than anyone what being an outcast because of his condition causes (his extreme poverty, for one). Harsh as they were, Harry's words were, essentially, what caused Remus to return to Tonks.

Also, the interpretation of Lupin's character is not only a bit inaccurate, but many of the claims have no evidence throughout the series to support them. Remus never once hid his lycanthropy from Dumbledore; in fact, Albus knew from the start about his affliction. This is precisely why the Whomping Willow was planted, and why Remus only had three other roommates when their dormitory allowed him four. Also, Dumbledore is intelligent enough to not hire someone willingly who he knows little about (taking into account that Dolores Umbridge was forced into the school by Minister Fudge). Also, nowhere in the series does Lupin state that he "broke Dumbledore's trust." The only thing even remotely close is in OOTP, when Remus jokes with Harry about his position as Prefect; he states, in a rather teasing manner, that he was almost certain that Dumbledore gave him the position in an attempt to control James Potter (though this obviously failed to work).

Also, Remus is not the one who aids Sirius into the castle; it was Crookshanks, Hermione's cat. The movie, however, is misleading, as in the film adaptation, Hermione exclaims, "You've been helping him into the castle!" In the novels, Remus was not aware of the fact that Sirius was attempting to break in or why; the only information he got concerning Sirius was what he learned from the Daily Prophet and the rumors and speculations which floated throughout the wizarding community. He only found out about Sirius after drawing a conclusion that Peter was in fact alive. As he attempted to track down Peter, he ended up finding Sirius, too. While Lupin's actions are certainly questionable, each character in the series--and any truly believable one, for that matter--makes mistakes, and has flaws of any degree. Fans of characters such as Remus Lupin, James Potter, and Harry Potter can pretty much agree that while all of these individuals have several character flaws, we all love them for their principle actions and those which make up the main aspects of their personalities.

  • Hello and welcome to the Stack Exchange. I'm unsure as to what exactly is your answer? – Meat Trademark Dec 30 '13 at 7:47

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