When I had a Star Wars club at school, one of the things we talked about was Luke’s friends, and the role friends play in a hero’s journey. We talked about different kinds of love and that the Greeks had many words for love, instead of just one. I wanted them to understand that its ok to philia/love your friends. Another aspect of this that we discussed is why one of the friends needs to be a girl. Why not a trio of boys? Why Luke, Han and Leia? Why not Luke, Han and George? Why Harry, Ron and Hermione? Why not Harry, Ron and Neville?
You know what my kids said? They said there needed to be a girl because girls know what you should wear to everything. Also, they agreed that girls are really good planners, as in planning parties and such. The truth is, they hit the nail on the head.
You see, girls are good at appreciating the details. Ask guys to host a party, they’ll order a keg and some pizza. Ask a girl and she’ll make sure that there is a nice assortment of beer to suit everyone’s taste plus diet and regular soda for people who don’t drink. There will be some pizza without pepperoni in case someone is a vegetarian, and some chips and pretzels for people who don’t like pizza, not to mention a vegetable plate for the health conscious. Etc, etc, and so on…
Harry has the heart of a hero. He has courage and determination in spades, not to mention a well-developed sense of honor and devotion to the triumph of good over evil. What he is not is careful. What he is not is organized. What he is not is a planner. And Ron, bless his heart, is a priceless brother-at-arms, a stalwart friend, the family that Harry has never known, but he is just as clueless as Harry when it comes to details. Enter Hermione.
Hermione has everything Ron and Harry need to give all of their testosterone-driven actions relevance and meaning. Her encyclopedic knowledge of all things wizardy bails their trio out of a bad spot more than once. Take for example in Prisoner of Azkaban when she uses the time turner to save Buckbeak and Sirius. Or her proficiency with the polyjuice potion, which takes a tremendous amount of patience, by the way. Or her discovery of Nicholas Flamel and the importance of the Sorcerer’s Stone. Give Hermione a problem and she will fuss over it until she solves it, leaving almost nothing to chance. She also recognizes Harry and Ron’s strengths and adds those into the equation so that everything works, and they can save the day. She can ‘plan the party’ as it were.
There is also the fact that for all that they are men, and men don’t talk about their feelings, they really only don’t talk to each other. One of the reasons men are attracted to women is because a woman understands feelings since, of course, feelings constitute about 75% of our being. Harry needs someone to talk to, someone who has the ability to step outside of herself and understand what he is going through in a way that Ron just can’t do. I think often of the different times we see her standing or sitting with him, her hand covering his, simply being there so he doesn’t have to be alone. When he doubts himself, she offers encouragement; when he is disheartened, she offers comfort; when he is alone, she offers love.
If you are a hero and the world is falling apart around you, and you have to find the courage to face enemies of unspeakable power, and everyone you know is depending on you to save their lives, keep your friends close. If you are really smart, make sure one of those friends is a woman. And if you are Harry, don’t go anywhere without Hermione.