Monday, September 05, 2005

Our Harry Potter musings

Hi all,

I have finally figured out how to post -- welcome to the 21st century! -- so I am uploading the notes from our Harry Potter disscussion last month. Below please find all of our wild theories! It was so fun to brainstorm all of these, with ideas flying fast and furious. I know I've forgetten some, so please add what you remember.

(The disclaimer is that I haven't edited the notes or made them pretty in any way. You have been warned.)


Snape: Snape is a good guy whose final loyalty is to Dumbledore and the good side. Here's a possible scenario for the night James and Lily were killed: Snape overhears the prophecy. Now Snape is torn. He hates James, but admires and possibly loves Lily. He might have done the half-blood prince thing just to impress her. He doesn’t know where the Potters are. He finds out that Pettigrew is the secret-keeper, plays up on his cowardice and promises that Pettigrew will be V’s right-hand man. Snape learns where the Potters are and goes to the Potters to warn them.

James doesn’t believe him, and they’re having a huge argument about it when the knock comes and it’s V. James does the brave thing and stupefies Snape and throws the invisibility cloak over him. Snape is humiliated by this – he never had the chance to choose to be brave, which is why he explodes so insanely when Harry calls him a coward in book 6. So Snape is forced to watch as James is killed. After James’s death, the immobilization spell is lifted, and Snape has the chance to show himself and save Harry and Lily. He chooses not to, and watches while Lily dies and Harry is attacked. Snape sees the whole thing from under the cloak.

Now Dumbledore – who had rec’d an owl or something from Snape, telling him that the Potters were in danger – comes in. He has those special vision powers where he can see people under invisibility cloaks, so he sees Snape and removes the cloak.

And at the end of book 6, what happens on top of the tower is that Dumbledore mentally/telepathically tells Snape that Snape must kill him to prove his loyalty to Voldemort. The hatred and revulsion that crosses S’s face is self-hatred for what he has to do. Dumbledore sees that having Snape retain his identity as a double agent is far more valuable to the cause than his individual life.

BTW, this theory that Snape and Dumbledore were at the Potters’ house that night explains how D got James’s invisibility cloak to save for Harry and eventually pass down to him.

We know for sure:
• The book (destroyed)
• The ring (destroyed) – technically Slytherin, but really represents V's own family
• The locket – Slytherin -- stolen from Voldemort by Regulus Black; then re-stolen by Mundungus Fletcher when he pilfered lots of stuff from the Black house –it was in that roll-top desk but no one could open it
• The Hufflepuff cup – we have no idea where this is

The Ravenclaw horcrux: Whatever it is, we think that Luna Lovegood and her dad will be the key to finding this. Like, maybe the Ravenclaw fondue pot or chafing dish has been in their family for years. :-)

Dumbledore believes Nagini is a horcrux, which would explain the psychological connection b/w V and the snake. But if that is true, we don’t get the full 4 houses of the school, do we? If Nagini is NOT a horcrux, then we’re looking for a Ravenclaw thing and a Gryffindor thing.

Ideas for other horcruxes:

Harry’s scar – we can’t figure out the mechanism by which this could happen. But H is mentally connected with V through the scar. Scar is going to be the last word of book 7. Did V imprint a part of his soul in Harry when he tried to do the curse? This would explain the last line of the prophecy, that neither can live while the other survives. A small part of Harry will have to die when he kills V.

Harry’s wand – This is the only companion wand to V’s. Was the wand left in trust with Ollivander? Interesting that O disappears almost immediately after V realizes that there’s a campaign afoot to find and destroy the various horcruxes. This theory fits V’s own ego. V would never have suspected that another wizard could possibly be great enough to handle that twin wand.

Peter’s new hand: The one that V created for him in the graveyard. Now, Peter is pretty unreliable, so this doesn’t quite make sense, but bear with us. Here, Cedric’s murder would be the death that made the horcrux creation possible. What’s cool about this theory is that Peter may finally get a chance to prove why he was once in Gryffindor. Dumbledore once predicted that the fact that Harry had saved Peter’s life will come back to haunt Voldemort sometime in the future. Maybe Peter will decide to cut off his own hand for Harry to destroy it (like he cut off his old hand for V). At any rate, Pettigrew has to show some reason for his Gryffindor ID before the end of the series.

The tapestry in the Black house.

Misc thoughts: we think that Dumbledore’s memories are in the Pensieve for Harry, including his memory of that night his parents were killed. Maybe he leaves the Pensieve to Harry in his will, along with several bottles of memories – maybe Fawkes as well.

Jacob’s theory is that each time you make a horcrux, it gets more and more difficult, b/c there’s less of a soul to work with.

Possible idea -- has Harry saved six people's lives? It would be neat if, by the end of Book 7, Harry will have saved as many lives as Voldemort made horcruxes. Ultimately, the magic that is generated through saving the magic # of lives would be more powerful than the magic created by splintering a soul the same # of times. We know that Harry has saved the lives of Ginny Weasley (Book 2); Peter and Sirius (Book 3); Arthur Weasley (Book 5) and Ron Weasley (Book 6). That's five. Who might we be forgetting? Wait, there's Fleur's sister and Ron in Book 4. Hmmm.

At some point at the end of book 7, Harry will have to make a choice to trust Snape despite all his personal feelings and mistrust.

Dobby will reveal important info about the Malfoy family. (Like maybe that they’re vampires!)

We think that V sent Snape as the lackey to kill Regulus Black. But Snape couldn’t do it, and he gave sanctuary to Regulus. Maybe Kreacher went with RB to get the locket, because only one fully grown wizard can cross the lake at a time. This would explain Kreacher’s secrecy and protectiveness about certain objects in the house. Maybe RB had ordered Kreacher to bring the locket back into the house and keep it safe.

Dawn thinks that Ludo Bagman drank too much of that lucky juice (Felices whatever) during his Quidditch days, which is why he’s always gambling too much now.

Hiding Places for Horcruxes:

That scene in book 6 where V goes to D for the DDA job. They both know there’s no future there and V doesn’t even really want the job, so why did he come all that way? Maybe he came all that way to hide a Horcrux in D’s office somewhere. It’s not Godric Gryffindor’s sword, but could it be something else?

Another horcrux may be hidden in the secret chamber at Hogwarts. It’s well-protected from outsiders, and it extends all the way back to the school’s founders.

Another hiding place could be V’s father’s childhood home, where he killed the Muggle man Frank.

We think that after all their travels in Book 7, Harry, Ron, and Hermione will have to return to Hogwarts at the end for a final showdown. Armageddon with wands.


Ron Rienstra said...


Thanks for doing all this! Inspired again by this discussion, I've been surfing the net in my 'spare' time to find out if anyone else out there is as brilliant as our gang in guessing at the last horcrux.

Here is an interesting series of speculations I found:

About the "murder": Dumbledore tells Draco that if he turns to the "good side" he can make it seem as if he died, so that Voldemort can't take vengeance on him.

Then, when Snape is about to cast the fatal spell, Dumbledore speaks to him pleadingly. This is, of course, pure theatre: Dumbledore is the quintessential Gryffindor, which means that courage is most important to him. He would not cower and whimper. He only acted that way to make it more convincing to the Death Eater witnesses, who would expect (and savor) such an attitude.

Dumbledore did indeed fall from the tower and seems to be dead -- and everyone believes it. But there's magic in this world. He is buried in a magical sarcophagus perched on magical catafalque, and his familiar is a phoenix, which rises from the dead.

There may have been hundreds of weeping witnesses at the funeral, but what we don't have is any serious proof that Dumbledore is completely, irrecoverably dead.

What we do have are plenty of indications that he might very well be alive, and that it suited his purposes to have Voldemort absolutely believe that he was dead.

Furthermore, to have Snape be the killer seems believable, but Dumbledore trusted him and he was not an idiot. Note that Snape never actually strikes against any of the Order of the Phoenix, and that he rushes Draco out of the place without harming anyone.

He has every opportunity to strike Harry down. The excuse is that Voldemort wants to kill Harry himself, but then why not take him along? Snape had the power to do it, certainly.

Instead Snape does something else. He teaches Harry what he needs to do to prepare for his final confrontation with Voldemort; he must learn to hide his thoughts (occlumency) and to subvocalize all his spells so his enemy can't anticipate his every move.

Snape is not a murderer; Dumbledore is not dead. Instead, they pulled off a scam to convince Voldemort absolutely that Dumbledore is dead and Snape is a loyal Death Eater. No one can doubt Snape now. Which means that Voldemort won't be looking for Dumbledore to oppose him any more, and he will hold Snape as his most trusted lieutenant.

So when Harry faces Voldemort in the final battle, he will not be alone.

It's even possible that Dumbledore stayed alive using his own horcrux. We heard much about how it took a murder to tear your soul in pieces in order to save bits of yourself in various artifacts. But Dumbledore might have been able to bring off a similar feat using other means.

(He might even have killed his phoenix -- harmlessly, but no less wrenchingly, in order to do what Voldemort would believe to be impossible to anyone who was not committed to evil.)

As for Voldemort's horcruxes, I fully expect that the final horcrux will turn out to be the lightning-bolt scar on Harry's forehead, inadvertently created when Voldemort killed Harry's mother and father. That's why Voldemort can't let anyone else kill Harry -- it would kill a part of himself. That's why the scar throbbed so whenever the disembodied Voldemort was near.

So in the final battle, when Harry thinks there's still one horcrux left, he realizes that the only way to kill Voldemort completely is to kill the bearer of the last horcrux -- himself.

Perhaps Rowling is planning on having Dumbledore rush out of the bushes to save Harry magically at the last moment before he offs himself (for the good of mankind).

But personally, I hope she has a huge battle inside Harry and that Harry finds a way to subdue Voldemort's soul-fragment within him through love, which has been established as the most powerful magic of all.

Isn't that really why we've been shown so much of Tom Riddle's past in this volume? So that when push comes to shove, Harry can overcome his enemy with compassion for his tortured past?

Meanwhile, Rowling has set Harry free from the confines of Hogwarts. He will doubtless go to the school from time to time -- indeed, where but at Hogwarts can the final confrontation with Voldemort possibly be?

But it will be a depopulated Hogwarts, with only the ghosts, centaurs, merfolk, Finch, and Hagrid still in residence. Oh, yes -- and Dumbledore's sepulchre, where he may just be waiting for his phoenix to revive him.

So the final volume, while it will have the same characters and the same settings, will be a whole new quidditch match -- much more freedom of action for Rowlings' all-growed-up heroes, and everything in place for a bangup climax full of surprises.

Ron Rienstra said...

More musing...

A friend of mine pointed out that in a deck of Tarot cards, the 4 suits are Swords, Cups, Wands and Coins. We have 4 houses at Hogwarts. Gryffindor was a sword. Hufflepuff was the cup. The locket of Slytherin’s is kind of a coin shape (plus Malfoy uses coins to contact the death eaters). Finally, Ravenclaw’s could be a wand. Now, if you read the 1st book carefully, you will see that in the window of Ollivander’s shop sits a wand on a purple cushion. Purple is the color of royalty. Also, Ollivander is an anigram. If you change it around it spells AN EVIL LORD. And, his shop isn’t damaged, he’s just gone. The wand in the window was a horcrux and Ollivander is in league with Voldemort.

Ron Rienstra said...

One last notion: the dementors are going to have some role in removing LV's soul from either a horcrux, or perhaps from LV himself - a physical death won't do for him. Gotta get every last bit of soul and flush it down the tubes. This will also prevent Harry from being a murderer at the end, even in defense.

Dawn B said...

whoa, that's a lot of musing!
Thanks for making such a complete catalogue, Sister Jana!
Only one thing I remember that wasn't there--Dumbledore didn't have to tell Snape telepathically to kill him. They had prearranged just such a scenario--that was the content for the argument they had at the edge of the forbidden forest, the one Hagrid overheard and related to Harry. In the argument, there was something Snape very much did not want to do and Dumbledore was pretty stern with him about following through.
No other musings for now. :-)

Jana Riess said...

Wow, I'm amazed and reeling. This is fantastic, Brother Ron. Must read all six books over again immediately for clues. No wait, I would have done that anyway.

I had not allowed myself to consider the possibility that Dumbledore might still be alive. You build a very compelling case, especially as concerns Fawkes. And we've already discussed the fact that Dumbledore is a Christ figure . . . Hmmmm.

Just so you know, though, if you get my hopes up that Dumbledore is alive, and you turn out to be wrong, you will have to bake me cookies for years to earn my forgiveness.

Sister Jana

Jana Riess said...

Oh, and I wanted to add one more thing. In addition to the other clues that the Malfoys may be vampires (pale aspect, the name Draco, the "blood-red" wine they drink, their ability to identify people by the smell of their blood), I noticed in Book 6 that the description of the vampire at Slughorn's party is similar to the description of Malfoy, who crashes it a few minutes later:

Sanguini is "tall and emaciated with dark shadows under his eyes." (p. 316) Malfoy looks "a little ill . . . Malfoy had dark shadows under his eyes and a distinctly grayish tinge to his skin." (p. 321)

I'm just sayin' . . . .