Donovan Roberts Witmer '97
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Orphan grows up to face his foe
As a 12-year-old girl in the summer of 1999, I remember sitting in my living room, nestled into the curve of our family’s couch. I ignored the warm sunshine outdoors, immersed in my newest discovery from the library: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. While the outside world around me pulsed with the popularity of the Internet and a strong economy that most people took for granted, I immersed myself in Harry’s mystical fantasy world.
An orphaned infant, Harry Potter is the sole survivor of a murderous attack by the evil Lord Voldemort. The only evidence of the child’s ordeal is a lightning bolt scar on his forehead.
Ten years later, Harry finds out that he is a wizard and is invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once at school, Harry befriends a wizard and witch his own age, Ron and Hermione, and learns valuable lessons through their adventures together.
The underlying teachable moments in the book are precisely why I love it. Harry and his friends — through challenges like flying keys,
logical riddles, and Wizard’s Chess —learn about how to assess not only personal strengths but also about how to allow others to help in times of weakness. As Harry learns, so, in turn, does the reader.
The book also reveals genuine humility and loving sacrifice—traits bestowed by Harry’s mother—that give the young wizard the strength to face off against Lord Voldemort at the conclusion.
At the end of the school year, Harry returns to the “human” world to live with his relatives. And, by closing the book, I also returned to reality, back to the time when Bill Clinton was president and when Forrest Gump was a hit at the box office.
However, I’ve always looked forward to the times I could revisit Harry’s world again. And, five readings of my favorite book later, I still do.
—Leanne Tyo ’09 is
an English major with a concentration