Then . . . . . . and now
Everyone's favourite convicted murderer!
Yes, he's tall, handsome (at least in his old pictures), recently escaped from prison, wanted by the Ministry of Magic, the Muggle please-men, and the Dementors, and can change into a big shaggy black dog at will. No wonder everyone loves him.
Through at least half of the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry (and nearly everyone else) believes that the big black dog following him is a death omen. In fact, for those who didn't know, a big black spectral dog with glowing eyes has been considered a death omen in areas of Britain for centuries. Sometimes it's supposed to be an incarnation of the devil, as when a large ominous black dog entered a church and left scorch marks where his paws pushed on the door, if I remember the story correctly. In some superstitions, when you see this dog, that doesn't necessarily mean you will die, as long as you don't tell anyone about it for a year and a day. However, in not one of the compilations of British folklore that I've read is it ever referred to as the Grim – but it some parts of Britain it is called Padfoot.
While the dog never ended up being a death omen for Harry, I can't help wondering if he just might be such an omen for himself. Wouldn't that be the plot twist. While we can hope this won't happen, he certainly does put himself in life-threatening situations.
His first name, "Sirius" (pronounced "serious"), is, as most of you probably know, the name of the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere's sky. It's also the principal star in in the constellation Canis Major, meaning "Big Dog." It's a super hot, whitish-blue coloured star, which means it's burning up most of its fuel supply furiously, and therefore very short-lived, as stars go. (A couple billion years' life span, perhaps.) The first part fits Sirius's personality rather well – he's extremely passionate about killing Peter, for instance. The second part is another cause for concern as to his well-being. Is his zeal going to foretell an early end? We can only hope not.
Scientists have theorized that Sirius (the star, not the character) is actually a binary star, but the other star in the pair is actually a black hole. Extract from that what you will. (Not that you can really extract anything from a black hole – sorry, dry humour sneaking in there. You can ignore that if you'd like.)
If you want to see this star, find the constellation Orion, the one with the three stars in a row that make up his belt . . . Anyway, look down and a little ways to the left from the bottom left star in the rough rectangle shape of Orion's body. The first really bright star you see is Sirius. This is a star that can even be seen in bright cities, as long as the sky is clear and there's isn't a crazy amount of smog. Sirius can also be seen in The Prince of Egypt, after the last plague sweeps back up into the sky. It disappears to a spot in the proximity of Orion, and there's Sirius, properly positioned down and to the left.
After reading the third book, it seemed that all of a sudden everyone was using the word "serious" a lot more. I'm sure this is just a perceptual thing, that I'd just never paid attention to it before. But it certainly changes the way you hear the phrase "I'm SERIOUS!" Because . . . well, they're not.
It's also an interesting fact that the name "Sirius Black" has the same number of syllables as "Winnie the Pooh," with the emphases in the same places, too. This makes a Winnie the Pooh song parody virtually inevitable. You can rest assured that as soon as I can come up with one, it'll be up. And who knows, maybe even a Flash animation music video. Oooh, now that would be scary.
In the Apostolic allusion (better explained on James's page), Sirius is Peter. How's that for confusing? What I mean is, Sirius is the best friend/confidant type person to the central figure, just as Peter was to Christ.
||First, I found this picture in the
newspaper. Someone told me this is a picture of Kenny Wayne Shephard. Until
someone else corrects me, that's what I'm going with.
But the fact that it looks so much like a younger, better-fed prisoner of
Azkaban, caught my eye rather forcefully.
This song struck me as particularly Sirius-ish, but I didn't know quite why. There was the one line, obviously, but everything else only revealed itself after a line-by-line analysis. If you don't like that sort of thing, I recommend you leave now, because I have felt it my duty to humanity to post that analysis up for the world to see!
by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, on the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
|The night set softly, with the hush
of falling leaves
Casting shivering shadows on the houses through the trees
And the light from a streetlamp paints a pattern on my wall
Like the pieces of a puzzle, or a child's uneven scrawl.
|This is mostly just scene setting.
It doesn't really apply to Sirius at all. Though one very observant
person did email me her excellent interpretation, in that this is
about when Sirius appears to Harry the night he leaves the Dursleys, in
the Privet Drive neighbourhood where there would definitely be streetlamps
and shadows of trees. The "child's uneven scrawl" could
apply to Peter's handwriting – I doubt it's very tidy – but that's really
|Up a narrow flight of stairs, in a narrow
As I lie upon my bed, in the early evening gloom
Impaled on my wall, my eyes can dimly see
The pattern of my life and the puzzle that is me.
|I see the beginning of this denoting the
Shrieking Shack. To be a called a shack, it'd have to be small, even
thought it has two stories and several rooms. But the rooms, in
have to be small. I know Sirius was supposed to have spend his time
in hiding around Hogwarts in the Forbidden Forest, but I'd imagine he'd
nip into the Shrieking Shack during some of the colder winter months.
And this verse takes place there.
|From the moment of my birth, to the instant of
There are patterns I must follow, just as I must breathe each breath
Like a rat, in a maze, the path before me lies,
And the pattern never alters until the rat dies.
The whole thing about this stanza is in the last two lines. Does that not scream Sirius? As for the rest, well, that's just about his obsession with getting revenge on Peter. It's driving him. That's all he's living for, basically. Kill the rat.
|The pattern still remains on the wall were
And it's fitting that it should, for in darkness I must dwell
Like the colour of my skin, or the day that I grow old
My life is made of patterns that can scarcely be controlled.
|This obsession haunts him day and night, which is why the pattern (code for his drive) remains after the shadow was cast. For all we know it haunts him in his sleep. In darkness he must dwell because he's in hiding, it's a metaphorical (and probably literal) thing, y'know. The colour of his skin is that vampirish waxy colour, which makes him relatively easy to spot. He has aged unnaturally in Azkaban (anyone would), hence the "day that I grow old" line. As for the last one: Sirius couldn't control being put in Azkaban (where he aged and got that waxy skin), nor can he really control his obsession with getting back at Peter.|
Okay, okay, enough boring text and rambling on my part. You want pictures, right? Then direct your clicker in this general direction . . .
Well, that's all for Sirius. If you want to check out his friends' pages, follow the guide below. If you want to go somewhere else on my page, go back to Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs's main page and follow the guide at the bottom of that.
~ James Potter | Sirius Black | Remus Lupin | Peter Pettigrew ~