In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron take Polyjuice Potion to transform into Crabbe and Goyle. Ron turns into Crabbe and is described as having long, gorilla arms:

Ron's door opened. They stared at each other. Except that he looked pale and shocked, Ron was indistinguishable from Crabbe, from the pudding-bowl haircut to the long, gorilla arms.

Chamber of Secrets, chapter 12 (The Polyjuice Potion)

Later, though, in The Prisoner of Azkaban, Goyle is described as having long, gorilla-ish arms:

Crabbe was taller, with a pudding-bowl haircut and a very thick neck; Goyle had short, bristly hair and long, gorilla-ish arms.

Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter 5 (The Dementor)

Was this just a mistake on JK Rowling's part, or are they both supposed to have the same kind of arms?

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    Why wouldn't they have similar types of arms? – Kevin Sep 5 '14 at 22:05
  • It's just that it's a very specific description, identical except for the "ish" – forgivemymoccasins Sep 5 '14 at 22:11
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    My interpretation of the second passage is that Goyle walked in carrying severed gorilla arms. That seems to be the intended meaning, IMO. – TenthJustice Sep 5 '14 at 23:52
  • Because they do have long gorilla arms – CHEESE Nov 28 '16 at 11:43
  • Would I be correct in interpreting the root of your question being the fact that the second passage seems to be describing differences that distinguished Crabbe and Goyle, which would imply Crabbe did not have long gorilla arms, despite him having been described as such in the earlier book? (As opposed to simply "why is the same term used to describe both?") – RDFozz Mar 22 '18 at 20:02

It's what's known as "archetype", or trope.

They are both brute enforcers (moreover, their fathers served the same role), and very frequently such kind of bodyguards/enforcers come from somewhat similar type of person (very strong and large physically, not too bright mentally) and very often are dubbed "gorilla" both for their size, ferocity and mental abilities.

Heck, in many cases (both fictional or even real) they are even nicknamed "Gorilla" (e.g. Carsac's "Gorilla Joe" from "Lions of Eldorado").


Because they have similar builds - including their type of arms.

Saying that Crabbe and Goyle have “gorilla arms” is basically a more creative way of saying they have very thick arms that look like they’d be good for physical violence - like actual gorillas’ arms would look. It’s logical that this description would apply equally as well to both of them - they’re similar both in build and role at Hogwarts. They’re both described as being very large and thuggish, and their role as Draco’s physical protection is made clear from the first time they’re introduced.

“Yes,’ said Harry. He was looking at the other boys. Both of them were thickset and looked extremely mean. Standing either side of the pale boy they looked like bodyguards.

‘Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle,’ said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Harry was looking.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)

Their main defining characteristic throughout the series is that they’re really big, and basically serve as Draco’s bodyguards. There are very few described differences between Crabbe and Goyle - they’re usually treated as a unit.

“Loud and scathing, Draco Malfoy’s voice echoed around the courtyard. He had stopped right behind Colin, flanked, as he always was at Hogwarts, by his large and thuggish cronies, Crabbe and Goyle.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6 (Gilderoy Lockhart)

Therefore, it makes sense that the same description would apply to both of their arms - they likely have very similar types of arms, so the description would work equally as well for both of them.


It’s more likely than not that this was just an oversight . As is mentioned in the comments above they do serve the the same role in the books. Seems reasonable that in 7 books One minor error will be picked up. Books and to a lesser extent the movies were awesome.despite it.

Haven’t found the comments regarding James Potter (big fan of him and Sirius) being mentioned by Hagrid as Head boy in the Sorcerer’s stone and then noted that Lupin was the only prefect amoungst the group of friends when Harry enters the Snape’s memories in the 5th. Could you become head boy if you weren’t a prefect? Just wondering.

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