Another thing I didn't understand about Rowling's portrayal of James and Sirius is that there is such a difference between what is told and shown. In OOTP everyone assumed James to have matured because that is what is told. Many people assumed that this is because of the Werewolf prank. But she contradicts this in DH. He apparently bragged about what happened knowing Snape had to be silent and attempted murder was not enough for him to stop the bullying.
Yeah, I totally agree. I waxed lyrical on this a while ago (actually, I think I have some responses still in my drafts folder which I forgot about until now, ugh).
…but yes, I think it’s such a curious stance because I totally understand the narrative decision to knock James from his Hero perch that Harry had (understandably) installed him on. I think it’s a beautiful twist that the James vs Severus war wasn’t a Draco vs Harry style disagreement as Dumbledore had led Harry to believe, but that James was someone who Harry himself would’ve reviled.
I think that’s really interesting, and a brave departure by JK for the character. It would’ve been all too easy to make James a saint, but by explaining Severus’ extreme revulsion instead of accepting Remus’ explanation that ‘Severus was jealous of his Quidditch ability’ or whatever other nonsense, it adds a depth to the Marauders era that didn’t exist previously, and it has the consequence of making James et al as problematic as Severus himself is.
What I find utterly bizarre is the fact that she doesn’t make James’ redemption arc explicit, and it’s all too easy to go, “Hmm, but show me how he changed?” It’s almost as if we’re supposed to accept that he changed because Lily married him, but that’s ridiculous; one character is not the barometer of all that is good and evil in the world.
It would’ve been so much more powerful had James changed due to the werewolf incident. Unfortunately, as canon stands, James has no such crisis of confidence, and his efforts as a hero (which he undoubtedly was) are marred by the truth that he saved Severus because of Sirius and Remus, not because of doing the right thing - because nobody who saves a fellow human from death for ‘the right reasons’ then decides to randomly attack them ‘for fun’ or because their friend is bored.
As someone pointed out the other day (@delphi-lestrange ?), if James had been given a clear redemption, it doesn’t damage Severus’ arc; even if James grew up, unless he actively apologised to Severus for his previous behaviour, he doesn’t get to go, “No, I’m good now, you need to stop hating me,” as if that erases the previous 6/7 years.
I just think it’s a shame.