I firmly believe that the reason many Slytherins were easily convinced to join Voldemort was because they were treated like shit by the rest of the houses while they were growing up. Imagine spending seven of the most important years of your life being told that you were part of the bad house and therefore bad yourself. Everyone boos your quidditch team. All the houses will hang out with everyone except you. You grow up being hated by your fellow students and many of your teachers.
Now imagine someone comes along and tells you that you’re not worthless and bad. That you’re invited to join a family where you will right the wrongs committed against you. You have the opportunity to be wanted and powerful instead of a hated outcast. Several of your former classmates are telling you how great it is. How you’re welcomed and needed. These are the kids you grew up with. The classmates who went through all the same things you did. Being a Death Eater sounds pretty good now.
I’ve been waiting for a post like this.
BLESS THIS POST
I was always bothered by the scene at the end of book 7, when the students are asked whether they want to fight the incoming Death Eater army. The Slytherin students are all like, “Uh. No?” And they’re treated like terrorists for it. In the movie, they’re even locked in the school dungeons while everyone cheers.
Did nobody stop to think and realize that if the Sytherin students had stood and fought, they would have been facing their own parents on a battlefield? Even if some of them weren’t really on board with the whole Death Eater thing, expecting them to fight was just cruel. They were children. The oldest of them were seventeen. Babies. And their own professors were asking them to shoot illegal killing spells at Mum and Dad.
Imagine you are a Slytherin and you are staying behind to defend your school and maybe restore some honor to your House. The other students are all giving you mistrustful glares. You know they’re waiting for you to start hitting them in the back with stunning spells. You consider doing it, too, because you’re already starting to regret the choice you made.
Then the battle begins, and you are up against a crowd of strangers who aren’t strangers at all. You recognize voices, muffled behind masks but still piercingly familiar. Your uncle. Your cousin. Your best friend’s big sister.
And then you see a tall man in expensive grey robes. A moment later you notice the small, curvy woman next to him, wand ready. They are guarding each others backs.
You recognize their shoes.
See, I think that’s exactly the reason they were removed from the fight. But I think that the Slytherins being removed from the fight is a good thing.
In fact, I think that there are two points above, and both of them relate to why they weren’t allowed to be there, and both of them show why it was a really excellent idea to not have the Slytherins be there.
One is the prejudice and mistrust of them coming from the other students. If the students from the other houses are expecting a Slytherin to stun them in the back when they’re not looking, they can’t fight well together. In fact, they may even take preventative measures to ensure that they don’t get stunned in the back, and that leads to infighting among the students, which is the opposite of what you need during a fight.
Is the prejudice right, or even okay? No, of course not. But it was still there, and right before Voldemort attacks your school is not the time to deal with it.
The second point is the fact that, if the Slytherins had been allowed to stay and fight, it’s true that they would eventually have probably run into a family member or family friend. And having to fight someone like that is terrible, and can be completely traumatizing. Imagine deciding to fight for your school, and then accidentally hurting or even killing your father, or your aunt, or someone who was like family to you while growing up. No one should ever have to go through that, and the Slytherins were by far the ones with the highest risk of that happening if they had been allowed to stay.
And then, beyond any of that, imagine having to choose. Having to choose whether you’d rather be traumatized from the things you would have to do in a fight, or being seen as a traitor and a coward for not fighting. Having to choose between potentially having someone who is supposed to be an ally get nervous and hex you, and abandoning those allies all together. There’s no way the Slytherins could have won if they hadn’t been forcibly sent away.
So yes, it’s unfortunate that it had to happen. And it’s unfortunate that all Slytherins were seen as sympathetic to the Death Eaters for it. But I’m just sayin’. It’s a good thing that the Slytherins were forced out of that fight. It was an act of kindness and mercy. It wasn’t a good situation, but it was the best thing they could have done with it. And true healing can begin afterwards.
…And in the epilogue, you see that there is some healing. When Harry talks to Albus, and he asks about “what if I’m in Slytherin?”, it’s more about how he’ll be separated from his friends and family in Gryffindor. And Harry responds only that Slytherin will then have gained an excellent new student.
It’s not perfect. But it’s not that terrible.