Living in the shadow of a more illustrious brother is never easy. Just ask Jesus’s baby brother James of Nazareth. Sibling rivalry is one thing but try being in competition when your brother is the Son of God – “Hey mom, here’s an ashtray I made at school.” “That’s very good Jimmy.” vs “Behold Mother Mary, here are 5000 loaves of bread I made out of thin air.” A brother could develop an inferiority complex living in the shadow of such an overachiever.
Sibling rivalries run deep – sometimes even into the lives of fictional brothers. Case in point; Harry Potter’s younger and less publicized brother, Clarence. This black sheep wizard of the family was no miracle worker. The best he could do was transform a loaf of bread into 15 pieces of toast. It was difficult following in the broom exhaust of his high-flying brother Harry. For example Clarence was not admitted to Hogwarts due to low test scores on his WAT (Wizard Aptitude Test), so instead of Hogwarts, he attended Hogwash. Whereas Harry took advanced classes in Charms and Potions, Clarence took remedial classes in Pull-my-finger and Got-your-nose. It was very demeaning. At one point he even blew-up the Alchemy Lab trying to transform ice into water. This kid was limited. He couldn’t get a Bunsen burner straight. Some even suspected he was a Muggle and had no magical powers at all except for writing his name in the snow with his magic wand.
Clarence was Mr. Ed to Harry’s Secretariat. The only book written about him was Clarence Potter and the Chamber Pot of Horrors. Whereas Harry had a cool lightning scar on his forehead indicative of past battles, Clarence had several scars on his tongue from tearing it off frozen flagpoles.
The headmaster at Hogwash was Albert Dumbledumb. He recognized early on that Clarence was one wand short of a set of chopsticks and recommended the boy pursue less challenging activities like broom making or writing short stories about fictional sibling rivalries. Whereas Harry excelled at Quidditch, Clarence shied away from sports. He refused to play Quidditch and instead played a nerdy game called Quit-it which later morphed into C’mon, Cut it Out. Clarence’s spells usually misfired like befuddled Aunt Clara’s did on Bewitched. One time he tried to raise the dead and ended up lowering the living. For 5 weeks everyone within 50 feet of the spell walked around stooped over until Dumbledumb figured out a way to make the little wizards upright again.
Fortunately Clarence made friends easily. In a How to Operate a Seatbelt class taught by retired flight attendants, he met and befriended Juan Measly and Hermione Stranger – all black sheeps of their families too. The three bonded like Superglue and roomed in the Hogwash House of Scuttlebutt where gossip was king and facts were ignored. Juan and Clarence would actually play the multiplication game “Buzz” with the number 1 as the multiple. Invariably one of them would lose track of the constant buzzes and blurt out “78” or “129”. Hermione, on the other hand, had mastered a magic trick of her own where, just by standing very close to Clarence, she could make his pants rise. Other classes they attended included Weight Guessing and Pimple Popping.
If Clarence had a nemesis it was probably Darko Flyboy of Blitherin House. Although a serial underachiever, Darko was not a black sheep – just a dark one. He menaced Clarence with seat tacks, but just as often got it wrong and sabotaged his own chair. While making invisible ink once, he accidentally drank some and disappeared for a week. Thinking he was still invisible, he reappeared in the girl’s locker room and was sent to all male Hogslop School for Wayward Wizards.
All in all it was an inferior education for Clarence. His academic deficiencies weren’t his fault though. It’s just the way he was written. And in time he grew to be a very successful fictional character. Upon graduation from Hogwash, he took a good shower and then caught the Eco-wave in corporate England and amassed a great fortune supplying both Hogwarts and Hogwash with specialized wizard supplies like ethically-sourced Eye of Newt, sustainably-harvested Toe of Frog and tree-farmed wands. He worked his magic alright and soon became the richest man in all of the Shires and many of the Hams.
Not all fictional characters end so happily – particularly black sheeps. However with a little bit of imagination, the right pinch of narrative and a few strategically placed adjectives, you can transform almost any fictional creature into a goldmine – just ask JK Rowling.