“He dies protecting them, and then Lily dies protecting Harry, but because of her love, Voldemort’s killing curse backfires and irreparably damages him, leaving Harry with the famous lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
The primary message is that love is stronger than hate. The secondary message is a mother’s love is more powerful than a father’s, and a mother’s death more profound.”
Thanks for the interesting article, Nikita! However, the Harry Potter fan in me can’t help but point out that I don’t believe JK Rowling ever intended to imply that Lily’s death was more profound and her love was more powerful. The protective charm borne from her love was because Voldemort offered to spare her life, (thanks for trying, Snape…) but she chose to sacrifice herself. When Harry chose to die at Voldemort’s hand, he protected his peers, but when Cedric was killed at Voldemort’s hand, the same was not true, because Cedric and James never had a choice.
Quote from JK Rowling on this very issue many years ago; scroll down to the very bottom to find: “Don’t you want to ask me why James’s death didn’t protect Lily and Harry? There’s your answer, you’ve just answered your own question, because she could have lived and chose to die. James was going to be killed anyway.” http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2005/0705-tlc_mugglenet-anelli-1.htm
Hopefully this explains why “few readers took issue with the fact that James and Lily’s actions had the same consequence yet her sacrifice was worth more” — little to do with the gender of the person, and far more to do with “our choices that show who we truly are,” as Dumbledore tells us.