Tag Archives: Deathly Hallows Read-Through

The Epilogue

Note: Hogwarts Professor John Granger explains the Epilogue’s context, alchemy, symbolism, and themes, in his book The Deathly Hallows Lectures, and also in a great wrap-up essay that’s a must-read. This post concludes our Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows readthrough.

“All was well.”

When the story ended with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, triumphant, exhausted, filthy, and grieving with their loved ones in the rubble at Hogwarts, I had questions.

Were they ultimately okay?  Did they just survive or did they thrive?

When we first meet Harry Potter, he’s a friendless, abused orphan forced to live on the periphery of the only family he knows, and his only experience of love is seeing what passes for it demonstrated in excessive and harmful ways in the spoiling of his cousin. His heritage is kept from him, and his emerging and mysterious abilities mystify him and enrage his aunt and uncle. No one cares for Harry, influences him for good, or shows him how to negotiate his way in the world in a positive or healthy manner.

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Chapter 36: The Flaw In The Plan

Note: I apologize for the very long wait for this chapter read-through.

The final chapter starts off with Harry “lying facedown on the ground again” (724). The word “again” here relates to the start of the previous chapter where Harry “lay facedown, listening to the silence” (705). There is commotion around Voldemort because he seems to have passed out. What happened to the Dark Lord? This question relates to what exactly was that thing at King’s Cross that “had the form of a small, naked child, curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flayed-looking…” (706)? One theory is that it was the piece of Voldemort’s soul that was in Harry. This would make sense if not for the fact that Voldemort destroyed the Horcrux by using Avada Kedavra on Harry. Why would the soul fragment be at King’s Cross when it was destroyed? The other theory, one that is supported by the novel, is that it is actually Voldemort himself, de-souled and grotesque because of his dabbling in that dark, macabre magic of making Horcruxes. Continue reading

Chapter 35: King’s Cross

This chapter is the crux of the entire series, answering the most important questions that remain, summing up a lot of what the series is about, and packing just about as much symbolism as Rowling could possibly fit into so many pages. It all starts with the title.

King’s Cross: The Name and Place

From Rowling’s Bloomsbury chat post-DH release:

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Chapter 34: The Forest Again

Don’t cry for us, we’re free and we’re young
Our troubles are behind us, and our journey’s done
The moon doesn’t burn, there are no scars to conceal
And Azkaban’s a nightmare that was never real

What goes through your head when you know you’re about to die? Rowling gives us Harry’s thoughts as he takes ‘this cold-blooded walk to his own destruction’—which phrase, we might suggest, is a reasonable metaphor for mortal life.

For him it is imminent. He doesn’t get a sudden death like Hedwig, a quick hit in battle; he doesn’t even get to make a split-second jump in front of a wand to save a friend. He has time to consider his own life, time to consider running away—but he doesn’t consider that. He doesn’t even consider breaking faith with Dumbledore, who, in his “Finally, the truth” moment (partly wrong, as Harry not infrequently is) he thinks has betrayed him. The love he learned in Dobby’s grave is still there, and lives depend on his choice. He puts on the Invisibility cloak and walks out of Hogwarts toward the forest.

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Chapter 33: The Prince’s Tale, View 2

This chapter was originally scheduled to be written by Red Rocker. Red has graciously agreed to write anyway, even though I mixed up the schedule and gave it to Mr. Pond. The result: Two views of one of the best chapters Rowling wrote!

Cast your mind back to the time just before Deathly Hallows came out. It’s more than 3 years ago, now, but try to remember: what were you expecting? What did you think would happen? Did you suspect that Harry was the seventh horcrux? Did you know that he would die? Did you know that Dumbledore had planned it all out ahead of time? Did you know that the body count was going to be so great? Continue reading

Chapter 33: The Prince’s Tale

Moderator note: This chapter had been posted out of order. Further, its summary was originally scheduled to be written up by Red Rocker. Mr. Pond’s post will remain up, and discussion can continue. Tomorrow, Red Rocker’s write-up on the chapter will also be posted!

“You have used me.”

“Meaning?”

“I have spied for you, and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter–”

“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”

“For him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto Patronum!

From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe; she landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.

“After all this time?”

“Always,” said Snape.

The counter-melody that has run throughout all seven books now crescendos, overriding the other harmonies and dissonances of the series. What has lurked in the background now steps up center, into the spotlight. The voice of the narrator falters, recedes. Harry is a spectator, not a protagonist.

Snape is a consummate artist. In this chapter, we read his memories as he gave them to Harry. We encounter, in other words, his greatest creative work, his magnum opus, his self-portrait. This is the Prince’s Tale, a story of Snape’s knightly quest from profane to sacred love.

This is the last and greatest of Harry’s artistic and creative encounters with life-beyond-death–an unbroken thread through the series from the Man with Two Faces to Godric’s Hollow. But without hearing the Prince’s Tale–without encountering Snape himself though the medium of art, he would never had succeeded in his quest.

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Chapter 32: The Elder Wand

Rather than go through all the events of this chapter, which continues the events of the previous one, I’ll hit on some highlights, because I know that Severus Snape will be the biggest focus of discussion.

We have a tour down Memory Lane, with the anguished and tearful Percy laying “across Fred’s body, shielding it from further harm,” refusing to let go of it, just as Harry refused to let go of Cedric’s body when he returned it from the graveyard.  The chapter also includes spiders again, this time carrying Hagrid off to the Forbidden Forest, and Dementors and Voldemort in communion with Nagini in the Shrieking Shack.

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Chapter 31: The Battle of Hogwarts

The Battle of Hogwarts is perhaps the most action-filled chapter in the entire series. Professor McGonagall is mustering students together to organize an evacuation. Voldemort’s voice rings through the grounds, offering a deal: “Give me Harry Potter…and none shall be harmed.” The first time a read this, I was puzzled. Really? The Dark Lord stopping at this point in some sort of cliche, action-movie bartering stunt? I’m sure many of you reached the conclusion (long before I did) that this is the absolute clearest indicator of how much Voldemort fears Harry’s power, especially if he has an army behind him. Continue reading