This article had been modified from the way in which it was originally published in the Star-Telegram and on Star-Telegram.com to correct the year in which the final novel was published.
She should have killed Harry Potter in the end.
That was the only way to bring J.K. Rowling's phenomenally successful series to a proper literary close, my 18-year-old son insisted.
We started debating the end of the final novel, which came out in 2007, when the hype began for the last of the movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
This film is the cinematic rendition of what Rowling was building to all along: the inevitable climactic confrontation between the boy-wizard and the pure-evil Voldemort.
Harry survived when Voldemort murdered his parents. The scar on Harry's forehead signaled his destiny as the one wizard powerful enough to take on he-who-must-not-be-named.
Me: No matter how brutal the ultimate war of wizards, how could Rowling possibly have killed Harry, a character beloved by millions?
Kirby: By simply having Harry and Voldemort die at the same time. Harry would have to realize and cope with the fact that, if Voldemort is to die, he himself has to die as well. They are connected in far too many ways. Voldemort lost his powers because of Harry (technically Harry's mother's love, which kept him alive) and regained his powers because of Harry.
The only thing stopping Voldemort from taking over the entire wizarding world after Dumbledore's death is Harry. There is no other wizard powerful enough to defeat Voldemort.
Me: I think it was bad enough she killed off Dumbledore, the Hogwarts headmaster. He was Harry's teacher and protector. It seems straightforward that Harry has to triumph, the classic good that defeats evil.
Kirby: Harry has to understand that he must be the one to kill Voldemort. Because inside Harry's scar is a piece of Voldemort's soul, Harry must also understand that he has to die, too. There is no other choice. To save the wizarding world, and defeat Voldemort, Harry must die.
Throughout the HP saga, Harry is extremely unselfish, has strong moral values and does the right thing. He is the spitting image of a hero. Therefore, he would die a noble, hero's death for the sake of the entire world. It's like when Beowulf is killed by the dragon; he dies a noble death because he is a true hero.
Me: But that's asking fans who've invested their hearts in Harry's fate to look at it logically. They've embraced the characters: Harry's friends Hermione and Ron, the whole Weasley brood, the nonwizard muggles, Hagrid and even Professor Snape. They've camped out for hours awaiting each new book and immersed themselves in the Hogwarts world. They'd never accept Harry's demise. The book reads as though she struggled with the idea but couldn't make herself do it.
Kirby: If Rowling's fans had any common sense, they would all realize these facts: Harry is a hero. Therefore, he must die. He is not normal. He's not a muggle. He is not a Weasley. He is Harry Potter, the most famous wizard in the whole world.
He is the poster boy for what is good and right and for whatever hope anyone has against Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
There is no way Harry could grow up to have a normal life after killing Voldemort; everyone would be all over him, and one of the Death Eaters would surely kill or torture him. The only plausible conclusion to the HP saga is for Harry to die. With the protagonist and antagonist both dead, neither side would have anyone to support or despise. The wizarding world would eventually settle back into a normal state of being.
Harry would be revered even more in death than during his life, and everyone would know that The Boy Who Lived was also the only one brave enough to give his life to save the rest of the world.
It is truly a poetic ending to the saga, a biblical allusion in its simplest form: The chosen one dies so that life elsewhere may continue for all eternity. Harry finally gets to be with his parents and his mentor Dumbledore. He gets to be at peace, without anyone asking about his scar or Voldemort or Quidditch. Eventually, all HP fans would realize that this was the only way for the series to end, and they would appreciate the harshness and reality conveyed by it. Not everything ends happily ever after, even in the wizarding world.
Me: True, but that's why we have movies.
Linda P. Campbell is a Star-Telegram editorial writer.