Harry Potter. Percy Jackson. Books like these are beloved by many as a result of their role of making children and teenagers feel validated and seen, especially with the added context of finding familiarity in another world. This form of escapism has been a vital tool for them to get through trivial aspects in their lives, like the prospect of growing up, for example.
Some may argue that fictional institutions like Hogwarts and Camp Half-Blood romanticize growing up in the strict education systems we live in, however what matters is the purpose and intentions behind this work - as this is what fuels it to be what it is today. An example of this is Rick Riordan’s Camp Half-Blood. CHB is a thriving environment for demi-gods to train and reside in, a safe place free from the monsters that plague the world outside the Long Island Sound, and one of the main settings we see throughout the series. Within the song ‘The Last Day of Summer’ in The Lightning Thief Musical, a particular line in Luke’s verse is as follows: “Chiron always says our parents made camp as this safe magic space, the truth is they don’t have to see us, they won’t bother to show their face”.
Lines like this interpreted from the books and influenced by other media help show how truly wondrous and captivating these fictitious environments can be, by demonstrating how entwining myth and the demographic of a child’s mind can work so well and be so compelling - which is what makes the books, musical (and Disney+ Show) so utterly perfect and relatable. The characters in the books and musical are portrayed as proper children, thrust into a world of burden and responsibility - defending themselves from monsters, going on quests, forming friendships and bonds, all the while knowing many may not make it past age 18. This grim notion represents many things; how many children dislike the thought of growing up, or even how others may struggle to the point of such loneliness they may not get through teenagerhood.
Personally, I feel that this idea Riordan presents us with is representative of keeping the target demographic of his books in mind, as well as a particularly pessimistic reminder to cherish childhood as much as you can, and at least by being in a safe space like CHB, demi-gods are able to increase their odds by having that support system in place for them to grow and improve. It’s also known that Riordan wrote the series in order to validate his young son who has adhd & dyslexia, which many know is a demi-god trait in the books. This not only enhances the sense of community between the wayward children, but it also goes against the stigma surrounding mental illness (especially at the time of which the books were published).
Secondly, albeit arguably the most monumental contribution to this “found family”-esque institution is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, typically found within the Harry Potter universe, and countless fanfiction aus, including the popular ‘All the Young Dudes’ by @MsKingbean89 on ao3. What makes Hogwarts so special is how it breaks away from the mundane, how the magical aspects such as moving staircases and talking portraits can be so estranged from the norm in “muggle” establishments. As well as this, the popular characters in the series are relatable in their own right, allowing for us to see ourselves in these characters and in this universe; in certain situations and how we may or may not deal with them. The series explores maturity, and how it can develop as determined by the situations around you - no matter how bizarre and outlandish they may seem.
It also emphasizes the importance of the values of loyalty, love, and sacrifice. Groups such as the Death Eaters and Dumbledore’s Army pose two different ideas of loyalty, once more forceful and binding whereas the other is more lenient and supportive. As the story progresses and the stakes arise, the characters battling with various casualties, losses, Rowling never fails to emphasize that there is support available for the characters, that no matter how alone and isolated they feel in a world that’s turned against them - Hogwarts will always be home. The prospect of sacrifice is one of vital importance. With characters such as Lavender Brown, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, etc. dying at every turn, sacrifices are made in the notion of “the greater good” or even bringing the plot forward, with little time for grieving. This lack of development dehumanizes the characters in a sense, as they barely grieve for what they’ve lost, which is contradictory to how the concept of sacrifice is important as it’s not dealt with in a more sustainable way.
In terms of tropes, the fatal flaw of Gryffindor house students is their obsession with honor, which can often lead to overzealous attitudes, and their overall boastful presentation in the eye of other houses, many of which describe them as show-offs.
Hermione, a fan favorite and portrayed by Emma Watson in the movie series, can be characterized with the ‘insufferable genius’ trope which is subverted by Hermione’s raw determination to see things through, regardless of setting aside her pursuit of knowledge.
(she/they) is a blogger for TYWI. She mostly writes about fantasy, screenwriting, and representation. She's from London, England and is happy to be writing about things they're passionate about.