Book Ron was an interesting, attractive and relatable character, and I feel that the movies really unfairly relegated him to the position of comic relief. The dynamics of the trio had to be simplified into hero + heroine + mascot, and that robbed us of a truly fascinating character. So here are a few things you should remember:
1. He really is poor and it matters. HP may have huge issues when it comes to representations of race and sexuality, but deserves a round of applause for having a character come from a low-income background, with the fact of their poverty not glossed over but made into a plot point. JKR is really consistent about this – about the things Ron eats and wears and buys and doesn’t buy, the way he reacts when Harry unwittingly flaunts his own wealth. Poorer kids who have to go without brand name clothes will see themselves in Ron, and richer kids will learn that poverty isn’t something you deserve. Kids who empathize with Ron because he can’t afford to replace a broken wand are less likely to grow up to be assholes who complain about the extravagant lifestyle of people on welfare.
2. He has knowledge about the world. Out of the trio, he is the only real insider in wizarding society. Hermione is the one who knows magical theory and basically everything that can be found in a library. But when it comes to wizarding society and all of its habits, rules and unspoken assumptions, he is the one who can fill the other two in. Throughout the course of the septology, he does almost as much exposition as Hermione.
3. He is actually quite intelligent. Despite what the movies would have you believe, he is not dumb. He is mediocre in most of his schoolwork, and lacks Hermione’s booksmarts, but he is an excellent chess player, meaning he possesses good strategic abilities. He is the one who keeps a calm head while throttled by Devil’s Snare, and he talks Hermione through saving both their lives. He has decent observational skills, after all he was to one to spot inconsistencies in Hermione’s third-year time table. Seeing his common sense and social insight as less valuable than Hermione’s academic knowledge betrays an inherently flawed definition of intelligence. (Especially since academic knowledge tends to be gendered as male, and social knowledge as female, think of Poirot and Miss Marple.)
4. He is loyal. He is the embodiment of loyalty. The movies erase some of the most poignant moments proving this, and hand some of them over to Hermione. But it is Ron who stands in front of Harry, daring Sirius Black to kill them both, despite his broken leg. It is Ron who repeatedly defies Malfoy and even Snape to protect Hermione from verbal abuse. When his mother believes tabloid lies about Hermione, he takes Hermione’s side. When his brother tells him to stop being friends with Harry because of the political risk, he is so furious at the suggestion that he tears up the letter. He is unthinkingly loyal to his friends, this is why it is such a big deal that he leaves in the seventh book – because it contradicts who he really is.
5. He is genuinely funny. In the movies we are more likely to laugh at Ron than laugh with him, and the jokes he makes tend to be somewhat juvenile. But in the books his sense of humour evolves with him and with the reader, leading to this dry, snarky, irreverent tone that is genuinely very enjoyable. Ron is fun to read, and he sounds like someone who would be lots of fun to be around. He jokes a lot, but it is rarely spiteful, and often meant to comfort or distract someone – a proof of emotional intelligence.
6. He is kind. I don’t really how to put this, other than the fact that if Ron was a girl, he would be immediately defined as a caretaker. He stays in Hogwarts over Christmas so that Harry doesn’t have to be alone. He often acts oblivious and selfish on the surface, but ultimately he really obviously pays attention to the wellbeing of his friends. From his words and actions and body-language we can piece together the sort of person who can make life suck less just by showing up, who is always there for his friends even if he cannot do anything specific to help.
7. He has a huge inferiority complex. The movies hardly touch on it but in the books it is his main character arc. He feels inferior to his brothers’ achievements, to Harry’s chosen status, to Hermione’s intelligence. It is explicitly stated in book four that he doesn’t understand how can someone not want to be chosen. The books are far more clear in implying that he gets together with Lavander because he’s insecure about romance. The Horcrux doesn’t get to him through his love for Hermione like it does in the movie, it gets to him through the nagging suspicion that he has never been good enough for anything or anyone ever, including Hermione. And the movie laughed off the scene after the destruction of the Horcrux, when Harry finally gets how much Ron suffered of this fear of being second best and Ron gets that Harry never chose to be chosen. But fear of being inadequate is the primary driving force of Ron throughout the septology, and the movie fails to see value in Ron just as Ron fails to see value in himself: his caring, his loyalty, his wealth of non-academic knowledge and his awesome sense of humour are not tangible achievements, and they are not something somebody notices about themselves.
Movie Ron is the person book Ron is afraid of being in his lowest moments, an incompetent oaf who makes rude jokes and chews with his mouth open, somebody their friends only keep around out of pity and habit, somebody Hermione would have to settle for out of a lack of better options. But book Ron, for all his flaws, is a loyal, funny and warm person with many valuable practical skills. Also: I can imagine Hermione regularly thanking her lucky stars for ending up with someone as amazing as him.
nobody hates glee more than people who have sincerely loved glee at some point in their lives