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Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?



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  #1  
Old September 16th, 2006, 6:55 pm
blaqlives  Female.gif blaqlives is offline
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Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Discussion of the editorial Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James? by Carol Grizzard (Shewoman).


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  #2  
Old September 16th, 2006, 7:22 pm
abbeyroad  Undisclosed.gif abbeyroad is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Interesting and well-written editorial, but I do have a problem with the last paragraph:
Quote:
James was basically a good guy and I’m sure he didn’t want a fellow student murdered -- but, even more, he didn’t want his best friends to be murderers. Saving Snape was a way of achieving these goals. I believe his complex motives are why Snape doesn’t have an “official” life-debt towards him. James saved his life, but he did so to save people about whom he cared far more.
When Harry stops Lupin and Sirius from killing Wormtail, doesn't this fall under the same category?
Quote:
"Get off me," Harry spat, throwing Pettigrew's hands off him in disgust."I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing it because - I don't reckon my dad would've wanted them to become killers - just for you."
(PoA, pages 375-376, American hardcover)



Last edited by abbeyroad; September 16th, 2006 at 7:35 pm.
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  #3  
Old September 16th, 2006, 7:26 pm
Harry_Man_9009  Male.gif Harry_Man_9009 is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

In your editorial you said "In Goblet of Fire, Buckbeak was sentenced to death for far less." I have a problem with this, I think you mean Prisoner of Azkaban because as far as I know Buckbeak doesn't appear in Goblet of Fire.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 7:28 pm
mweasley721 mweasley721 is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

I was just about to post exactly what abbeyroad did. Thanks!

I agree - a well written editorial despite some confusion in that last bit. Definitely interesting and brings out some good points.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 7:41 pm
Lady_Sirius  Female.gif Lady_Sirius is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

I agree with abbeyroad! I was thinking the exact thing... But then I thought that maybe Snape does have a life-debt, and that Dumbledore (as with all things Snape-related) just wasn't particulalry forthcoming with the details.. as Harry gets older and more involved with the wizarding world and Sirius, can't you imagine how he'd need a better explanation to placate him and comfort him about his decision in poa? Whereas in ps/ss he knows/is less aware of his past and people related to it....

LS


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Old September 16th, 2006, 7:43 pm
Shewoman  Female.gif Shewoman is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Excellent question, abbeyroad! I don't think Sirius and Remus would have suffered any ill effects if they'd killed Pettigrew in the Shack; I don't think anyone other than those in the Shack that night knew he wasn't already dead, so they'd face no punishment. It would mean that Sirius could never prove his innocence by revealing Pettigrew's Animagus status or getting a public confession from him. And Sirius, of course, could have gotten in trouble if he were caught and identified . . . but that's a risk he's been running throughout PoA. Remus and Sirius would have presumably split their souls by killing him, but no one in the Shack knew about that, as far as I know. Harry didn't really save them from anything except the soul-split he didn't know about.

There was far more at stake for Remus and Sirius in James' day than there was in Harry's; they had more to lose in the Werewolf Incident than they did in the Shack (and Remus, presumably, faced the soul-split here as well). James very clearly did save his friends from serious trouble in this scenario; Harry didn't.

Harry Man, you're right: Buckbeak's not in Goblet.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 7:44 pm
Erika  Undisclosed.gif Erika is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Hi,

Great editorial, very well thought out, but I agree with abbeyroad's point. It seems like Harry also had noble motives that went beyond saving Peter only for his (Peter's) sake.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 8:43 pm
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

I was just going to post what abbyroad said, but she beat me too it. Oh well.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 8:47 pm
hermioine hermioine is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Quote:
Originally Posted by abbeyroad View Post
Interesting and well-written editorial, but I do have a problem with the last paragraph:

When Harry stops Lupin and Sirius from killing Wormtail, doesn't this fall under the same category?

(PoA, pages 375-376, American hardcover)
well i guess it does fall under the same category but i think wormtail doesn't care

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sister_Snape View Post
I was just going to post what abbyroad said, but she beat me too it. Oh well.
but if snape is a goody why did he kill dumbldore after it was only his protection that cept him out of askaban


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Old September 16th, 2006, 8:51 pm
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

I could go on for hours about why snape is good, and why he killed Dumbledore, but sadly I do not have hours.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 9:24 pm
lafemmenissa  Female.gif lafemmenissa is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady_Sirius View Post
I agree with abbeyroad! I was thinking the exact thing... But then I thought that maybe Snape does have a life-debt, and that Dumbledore (as with all things Snape-related) just wasn't particulalry forthcoming with the details.. as Harry gets older and more involved with the wizarding world and Sirius, can't you imagine how he'd need a better explanation to placate him and comfort him about his decision in poa? Whereas in ps/ss he knows/is less aware of his past and people related to it....

LS
I agree with you! Also, this explanation would make sense if you apply the "Snape-Lily Unbreakable Vow" theory. Dumbledore would obviously use the most simple, and not unaccurate reason behind Snape's actions to answer Harry's question rather than telling him about the UV.

Great editorial btw!

all the best,
la femme


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  #12  
Old September 16th, 2006, 9:24 pm
vlasiou  Female.gif vlasiou is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

I don't buy that. Harry said to Sirius that his dad would not like his best friend to become a murderer. I have the feeling that Harry's mind was also kept busy with thoughts about Sirius and Lupin. Remember, he had said to Lupin earlier in the year that Sirius (the supposed traitor of his parents) deserved the Kiss for his actions. He was not at all worried about the soul of the person that lead to his parents' death.

I don't believe that in any such case one can possibly have his mind set 100% only on one goal, such as "I worry about Sirius and Lupin, but I don't give a damn if Snape or Peter die". I believe that both Harry and James had feelings that were a mixture of both goals. So I see their cases kind of parallel.

Perhaps Snape does not have a life debt in magical terms because he has already repaid it? The magic contract is satisfied but his feelings are not because eventually he led to James' death, and therefore he continues trying to prove that he is not such a ******* after all (for those endorsing the "Snape is good" theory).

Or perhaps it has to do with the same thing that happened with Lily's and James' sacrifice: they both sacrifised their lifes to save the ones they loved. However, only Lily's death offered a protection. JKR's explanation was that it was the fact that Lily was offered a clear and explicit chance to save her life that made the difference. So perhaps with the Snape/Peter analogy the difference is that Peter had a wand towards him and a guy counting down the seconds until he'd through the killing curse. He had a direct thread and an explicit claim to his life was claimed. However Snape was facing only a potential death. It could be the case that Snape gets in, Lupin bites him badly, James transforms and manages to keep the werewolf away, Lupin escapes (they had been out before), James brings Snape to safety. Perhaps that is the difference in the story.

It was my opinion that James' sacrifice was of the same caliber as Lily's. He knew that fighting LV meant certain death, but he stood to his ground to save his wife and child. JKR answered my question by saying that this is not quite right, as he was never explicitly offered the chance to live. I think that this is also how it works with life-debts. You need a direct, confirmed and explicit claim to your life, and then a direct and concious action of a third party preventing your certain death. With Snape, there was no such direct claim to his life... Lupin could always decide to skip such vermin


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Old September 16th, 2006, 9:36 pm
MTMFan  Female.gif MTMFan is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shewoman View Post
Excellent question, abbeyroad! I don't think Sirius and Remus would have suffered any ill effects if they'd killed Pettigrew in the Shack; I don't think anyone other than those in the Shack that night knew he wasn't already dead, so they'd face no punishment. It would mean that Sirius could never prove his innocence by revealing Pettigrew's Animagus status or getting a public confession from him. And Sirius, of course, could have gotten in trouble if he were caught and identified . . . but that's a risk he's been running throughout PoA. Remus and Sirius would have presumably split their souls by killing him, but no one in the Shack knew about that, as far as I know. Harry didn't really save them from anything except the soul-split he didn't know about.

There was far more at stake for Remus and Sirius in James' day than there was in Harry's; they had more to lose in the Werewolf Incident than they did in the Shack (and Remus, presumably, faced the soul-split here as well). James very clearly did save his friends from serious trouble in this scenario; Harry didn't.

Harry Man, you're right: Buckbeak's not in Goblet.
I like this explanation of Harry's motivations in POA. I also think we don't know everything there is to know about the Werewolf Incident yet. Jo implied in the Mugglenet/TLC interview that there was more to it than what we've been told so far. I think this editorial may be on the right track as to what that is.

Of course, we all will have to wait till book 7 comes out to see if we're right. *Sigh* hehe.

Kristen


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  #14  
Old September 16th, 2006, 9:51 pm
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vlasiou View Post
You need a direct, confirmed and explicit claim to your life, and then a direct and concious action of a third party preventing your certain death. With Snape, there was no such direct claim to his life... Lupin could always decide to skip such vermin
I was about to say something very similar! Great minds think alike!

My thoughts are that the situation with Peter became a magical life-debt when Sirius and Remus basically said to Harry, 'it's up to you, Harry, whether or not we kill this guy.' I think that's what invoked the life-debt. Whether Snape lived or died from the prank was not in James' hands. What James did was brave and noble, but it wasn't in his hands whether Snape lived or died. With Peter, Sirius and Remus didn't ask Harry's permission to kill him, but Harry stopped them and stepped in - I don't think the act of stopping them caused the life-debt, but rather the statement from the 2 grown wizards that they would do whatever Harry wanted in this situation. In that moment, Peter's life was in Harry's hands and Harry granted Peter his life. That action, regardless of motives, is what I think invoked the life-debt of Peter to Harry; and it's why I believe the basic premise of the editorial is true: Snape did not have a magical life-debt to James, but rather a personal score to settle.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 10:01 pm
Rettop01 Rettop01 is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

I think a life-debt is more to the response of the person whose life has been saved. Than to the circumstance of the situation or saving of someones life.

For example: In POA (US HB Page 375) "Harry!" gasped Pettigrew, and he flung his arms around Harry's Knees. "You -- thank you --- it's more than I deserve -- thank you --"

If Snapes did not thank James for savings his life as PP had done, then maybe that is the difference in a life-debt.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 10:16 pm
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Peter Pettigrew may well owe Harry some sort of Magical Life Debt like justaHPfan says, but there's no gaurentee that Pettigrew will honor that debt. Pettigrew is a low down scum bag. He betrayed one of his best friends along with the friend's wife and infant child. He killed 13 people to cover up his escape. He put the bag on Bertha Jorgins and got her murdered or maybe Pettigrew killed her. He was involved in the senseless murder of Cedric Diggory, either by casting the fatal spell or by holding Babymort so the Dark Lad could cast the killing curse. Why should he risk his neck to save Harry? If Pettigrew betrays Voldemort, he's dead meat. Wormtail does not have a history of standing up against Voldemort, he's seriously into self-preservation. Just how strong is the Magic of the Life Debt? If Wormtail let's Harry die, does he die? If so then why didn't Wormtail die in the Graveyard in GoF? Voldemort was going to kill Harry and Pettigrew did nothing to stop it and nothing bad happened to him.

Harry was feeling down on himself for letting Pettigrew get away and Dumbledore said some kind words that helped Harry to feel better. Dumbledore had a lot of hope in the ability of people to redeem themselves. Dumbledore believed Draco Malfoy could be saved. Dumbledore believed Snape's redemption was genuine. He was the kind of guy who would have hope for Pettigrew. Dumbledore was right about giving Hagrid and Lupin a chance. He was wrong about Draco and Snape. But Dumbledore was brave enough to hope for the best in people. As for me, I'm not so optimistic that Pettigrew will ever rise above the level of being Voldemort's boot-licking slave.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 11:00 pm
Wafaa  Female.gif Wafaa is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

I don't know, I don't think having a life debt has something to do with liking the person you're saving or not, there has to be something else.
Either way I think Snape does have a life debt to James, even if dumbledore didn't emphasize it since Harry was only in his first year then, whereas with peter he was already well into the magical world and older.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 11:23 pm
Beatriceblake  Female.gif Beatriceblake is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

If Snape does have a life debt to James and is evil then that may explain why he does not attempt to harm Harry at the end of HBP.


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Old September 16th, 2006, 11:48 pm
Shewoman  Female.gif Shewoman is offline
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Vlasiou, justa, I like your idea about someone else's life having to be in your hands in order for that person to have a life debt to you. I like the way it's similar to Lily's death saving Harry because she had a choice (as vlasiou pointed out). It could also explain the Ginny situation: with several assists from Fawkes, Harry had the power to destroy Riddle, the Diary, and the bailisk, but he didn't know until after he'd done it that that would save her.

If Snape and Wormtail have the same kind of debt, why does Dumbledore express Snape's "debt" to James as existing only in Snape's mind? "Professor Snape couldn't bear being in your father's debt . . . I do believe he worked so hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and your father even" (Bk 1, "The Man With Two Faces," p. 300). Dumbledore does not mention magic being involved, nor does he indicate that he thinks this debt is real--that it exists outside of the convoluted maze that is Snape's mind. There's no sense of anything or any person other than Snape himself causing him to act on behalf of Harry as he has.

But where Wormtail is concerned, Dumbledore is quite clear: he says not one word about what Wormtail might believe about the situation but affirms that this is a real, magical debt, one that Dumbledore considers to be genuine (POA, "Owl Post Again," pp. 426-7). Nothing about this is hard to understand or frightening, as is the Prophecy that Dumbledore withholds from Harry for so long. I can't see any reason why Dumbledore couldn't have said the same thing (minus the parts about Voldemort) to Harry in Book 1 if he thought it was relevant. And JKR is a careful writer . . . where math is not concerned. I doubt that she wrote two such different descriptions without meaning to do just that.


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WHY DUMBLEDORE TRUSTED SNAPE: PoA 204-5, 285, 361; GoF 588, 590-91; 709-10; OotP 363, 841-3; HBP 549 (American hardbacks). It's not because he said he was remorseful, it's what he did about it.

Last edited by Shewoman; September 16th, 2006 at 11:58 pm.
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Old September 16th, 2006, 11:53 pm
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Re: Did Snape Really Have a Life-Debt to James?

Quote:
Originally Posted by abbeyroad View Post
Interesting and well-written editorial, but I do have a problem with the last paragraph:

When Harry stops Lupin and Sirius from killing Wormtail, doesn't this fall under the same category?

I second that. (Oh, and I love the name, by the way....)

Also, don't cite anything by RedHen: that person never gets anything right about Potterverse!


Still, there does seem to be a difference: Harry had to make a "hard" (but right) choice to let Pettigrew live. This is the unifying theme of the stories, after all. James' choice was more selfish: he was trying to save Sirius from Sirius' own foolishness. Snape might not be far from the truth when he suggests that James was saving his own neck, too: given the well-established enmity between Snape and Potter, and the well-established friendship between Potter and Black, Potter would have been guilty by association. Indeed, James seems to have been a headstrong youth: he probably would have stood up for his friend and damned himself in doing so.

Finally, there is the Lily card to consider: there is substantial evidence (really, a simple deduction) that there was a friendship of some sort between Snape and Lily (after all, Dumbledore was convinced that Snape cared about someone at Godric's Hollow: and Dumbledore knew that it was not Potter!). If James and Lily were dating at that time, part of him would have done it for her.


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Last edited by Wimsey; September 16th, 2006 at 11:58 pm.
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