It’s seventeen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, and Harry Potter’s son, Albus, is nervous that he might end up in Slytherin. Harry, however, sees no shame in being in Slytherin, but, he says, if you really don’t want to be in Slytherin, the house will listen to your suggestions. After all, he was nearly put in Slytherin himself – or was he?
Approximately twenty-four years earlier, a timid Harry had been set up in front of the entire student body to be sorted. He knew next to nothing about the houses, except that Slytherin was presumably bad. So he asks the Sorting Hat not to be put into Slytherin – before the hat itself even says anything about the house.
The Sorting Hat does reply that Harry would be great in Slytherin – and many fans took that to mean that the Sorting Hat wants him in Slytherin. However, to me, that sounded more like the hat didn’t appreciate Slytherin being put down. It’s almost like it was asking What’s your problem with Slytherin?
However, it can be easily interpreted both ways, but I think what furthers my point is that Harry wouldn’t fit into Slytherin at all.
Slytherin is the house of ambition and cunning. Harry has none of those traits.
Ambition – Up until he’s directly asked in Order of the Phoenix, Harry doesn’t show any plans for after Hogwarts. When forced to choose, he goes for the first thing suggested to him – auror, suggested in an earlier book. He also shows no want for good grades or much power. The only time he showed any ambition to be anything but a Hogwarts student (minus the whole saving the world thing) is when Ron is prefect and he isn’t. Other than that, he’s just trying to get through the day.
Cunning – Harry is horrible at talking his way out of things. Or lying. Or anything that requires that specific type of thinking. He is sassy, but when it comes to crafting a response that could be labled “cunning”, he falls falt.
Harry isn’t Slytherin material, and the hat knows this. It was just responded to Harry’s attitude against the house.
Image from Pottermore