“Well … it is amazing,” said Bagman, rubbing his smooth chin and smiling down at Harry. “But, as you know, the age restriction was only imposed this year as an extra safety measure. (…The rest is omitted.) (p274, Harry Potter 4, US edition)

NB – Before Triwizard Tournament, underage Harry Potter was chosen one of the representatives of three schools. No one knew the reason. Everyone was confused. Bagman is an organizer of the tournament.

The author has described Bagman's features a lot since he showed up. However, as far as I know, she refers to his chin in this sentence for the first time. I felt a little bit strange with its suddenness. How come she says smooth chin, not chin? Is smooth chin associated with his character? What’s the meaning of ‘smooth chin’ in the first place? Beardless? I might read too much, but I need your help to know whether I’m hairsplitting or not.

Let me straighten it out. I’d like to know

  1. what 'smooth chin' is.
  2. if 'smooth chin' is related to Bagman's character.

I’d be happy if you could help me.

  • Not wanting to interrupt your discussion, but I’m now just wondering(wild guessing), is it, by any chance, an opposite concept of a cleft chin?
    – user7493
    Jun 28, 2011 at 6:11
  • No - one might very well have a smooth, cleft chin. (Says I, with my uncleft, hairy chin.)
    – MT_Head
    Jun 28, 2011 at 6:22
  • 1
    I believe @drm65 is right, and JKR is drawing your attention to how fresh and clean he is now, in contrast to how disheveled he becomes later on. (It's a CLUE!) In other words, she is foreshadowing the five o'clock shadow he will have later. ;-)
    – MT_Head
    Jun 28, 2011 at 6:36
  • @MT_Head - I really enjoyed this slow chat. And it’s very nice of you to show me the dictionary. You are a lifesaver. Thank you.
    – user7493
    Jun 28, 2011 at 6:48
  • @totoro - My pleasure. Hope you're enjoying EL&U (and Harry Potter!)
    – MT_Head
    Jun 28, 2011 at 7:06

1 Answer 1

  1. It means he doesn't have a beard, and is very likely clean-shaven.

  2. Though initially it might seem that the expression is not related to his character as much as to his appearance, clean-shavenness does indicate fastidiousness and cleanliness, which has much to do with one's character. (Thank you for your input, Stan!)

  • 3
    I'd go beyond "beardless" to "clean-shaven", indicating a certain habitual fastidiousness on the part of the character. Not wanting to spoil the plot or anything, but Bagman's appearances later in the book have him looking a little haggard and careworn for various reasons.
    – bye
    Jun 28, 2011 at 4:36
  • 1
    You might go so far as to call this a bit of fore(five-o'clock)shadowing...
    – MT_Head
    Jun 28, 2011 at 4:46
  • It could also mean that he does not yet have a beard to shave, indicating his age or physical maturity.
    – JeffSahol
    Jun 28, 2011 at 4:59
  • @JeffSahol - It could, but the character in question is a retired athlete. JKR doesn't ever nail down his age (as far as I remember) but given that he had a long and glorious career as a Quidditch star, and has now been retired for some years, he can't be younger than mid-40s, and (given that he's a wizard, whose life and youth might be magically extended) could be much older than that.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 28, 2011 at 6:20

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