[Show music begins]
Michael Harle: This is Episode 175 of Alohomora! for January 30, 2016.
[Show music continues]
Michael: Welcome back, listeners, to another episode of Alohomora!, MuggleNet.com’s global reread of Harry Potter. We’ve torn ourselves away from the recently returned Sorting Hat quiz and wand quiz on Pottermore to join you for our reread. I’m Michael Harle.
Caleb Graves: I’m Caleb Graves.
Alyssa Jennette: I’m Alyssa Jennette. And this is our special guest, Sarina.
Sarina Dorie: Hi! I’m Sarina Dorie.
Caleb: Sarina, tell us a little about yourself.
Sarina: I’m a fantasy and science fiction author. I’ve sold over 100 stories to science fiction and fantasy magazines. I have a couple of novels out right now, Silent Moon and Dawn of the Morning Star. And tomorrow, Ghosts, Werewoves and Zombies, Oh My! is coming out on Amazon, and next month, The Memory Thief, a steampunk romance novel, is coming out and that will be released. I’m also a schoolteacher and I’ve taught a class called “Myth, Magic and Muggles,” and we dressed up as witches and I got to teach kids about Harry Potter, and that was a lot of fun.
Caleb: Very cool.
Michael: Teachers teaching kids about Harry Potter.
Sarina: Yeah. [laughs]
Michael: Indoctrinating the next generation. Good job, Sarina. [laughs]
Sarina: It helped that it was a very liberal school and they allowed me to do that, because I’ve also taught at schools where certain communities are just not okay with Harry Potter. And so, it always surprises me because there [are] some really good things, good lessons, in Harry Potter.
Michael: Yeah. Absolutely.
Caleb: And we do, even though I feel like the Alohomora! listeners, the true, dedicated fans and listeners, are familiar enough with Alyssa by now. She’s been on quite a few times, but we do want to thank her for jumping in at the last minute to sub in as a host.
Alyssa: Oh, thanks. And also shout-out to Eric who very graciously let me take over his spot this week. [laughs]
Caleb: So, we are going to be… this is a unique chapter because we just did the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 movie viewing this past Saturday. So it’s a little weird when we were getting ready – when I was getting ready for this episode, thinking about it – because obviously we’ve never had a movie in the middle of the book. So when I was rereading getting ready for this, I was like, “Oh, we just talked about so much of this in the movie.”
Caleb: Deathly Hallows is such a fun way to tackle things now because of the split in the movie, but we do want to remind everyone that this week we are going to be discussing Chapter 24 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “The Wandmaker.” And we want to take a brief moment to thank one of our Patreon sponsors. This episode is sponsored by Jasmine Harris on Patreon, and if you’re not familiar with Patreon, it’s a way for our listeners to support what we do. You can check out our page at Patreon – that’s patreon.com/Alohomora – and you can check out some really cool things that you can get for supporting us, [which] we’re going to talk about a little bit more at the end of the show.
Alyssa: Okay, great. We’re going to move on to recap comments from the Chapter 23 episode. There was a lot of discussion about wand allegiance. That was the topic of the whole comment section, and I felt like there was one comment in particular that cut through the debate, and that was by ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy – I know, right? Good name.
Alyssa: And there was basically a lot of talk about how if wands are based entirely on allegiance, why doesn’t stuff like Dueling Club where kids are disarming each other all the time, how does that factor in to wand allegiance? And this user said,
“I think that in most of these instances, wands changed hands but not necessarily allegiance. I somehow think that kids disarming each other in stupid school fights probably isn’t enough to force a change in allegiance. I think intent really matters; one must truly desire to completely overpower their opponent, not just hex the bully and grab his wand. Ollivander as good as says this in the next chapter…”
Which we will discuss.
“… that the manner of taking and the wands themselves make a difference in the laws of wand ownership/allegiance.”
Also to add in there, I don’t think it’s just grabbing wands. I don’t think it’s purely physical, even though that’s a main turning point that’s pointed out in the last chapter between Draco and Harry.
Caleb: Yes, so it was interesting thinking about it backwards, because we get Ollivander starting to talk about it this chapter. I had really forgotten that Harry gets the wand because … there’s more physical force, and for some reason I always had it in my mind that it had to be magical, but that’s clearly not the case. There’s a lot going on here.
Michael: I would assume it would have to be intent, because I always… and it’s pretty much this in the book too, but I immediately picture that shot in Deathly Hallows – Part 1 of Harry and Malfoy having their little petty, “No, it’s mine! No, it’s mine!”
[Alyssa, Caleb, and Michael laugh]
Sarina I never got the idea that Harry was taking the wand from Malfoy because he wanted to own his wand. I always got the impression that he just wanted the wands to get out of the way so Malfoy couldn’t use it on him. It’s just a weapon like a gun…
Sarina … like trying to get the gun out of the way so no one can shoot you with it. So there’s this idea that they have an intent to… or the person who’s stealing the wand has this intent to use the wand, and in that case Harry didn’t intend to use the wand. I think he was just defeating Malfoy. He was the one who… like Ollivander said, I think the ownership really had to do with the act of defeating him more than the act of wanting ownership over the wand, if that makes sense.
Michael: Yeah, you’re saying that the intent was to disarm, not to steal.
Sarina: Yeah, the intent was to disarm. Yeah.
Alyssa: Well, I think also Harry needed a wand. [laughs]
Michael: He did.
Sarina: It did work out well.
Caleb: So do you think… that’s an interesting idea, Alyssa, because maybe it’s this deep innate feeling that he really desperately needs a wand. So whatever action magic is leading him to do is actually working towards capturing another wand. Does that make sense?
Alyssa: It’s also interesting that wand allegiance is transferable. Because Harry gains ownership of the Elder Wand by stealing Draco’s wand purely because Draco has ownership of the Elder Wand at this point.
Alyssa: So it’s a little bit more of a spiritual, I guess, ownership rather than purely physical.
Sarina: I do wonder, if Harry had his own wand at that point and he had taken Draco’s wand to disarm him but he didn’t need the wand, would it have worked? Or because he would have already had a wand, then he would have had two wands, so which wand would have been his true wand then?
Michael: Can you have more than one true wand?
Sarina: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s ever been brought up.
Michael: Well, because there’s a few people who we know… I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anybody who’s… other than people who are in ownership of the Elder Wand… well, okay, because that’s the case, I suppose, with Malfoy because he’s technically at one point the master of the Elder Wand, but his wand still works for him.
Caleb: And the same would be true for Dumbledore before he lost the Elder Wand to Malfoy.
Alyssa: I mean, people have multiple wands all the time. First of all, Ron has a hand-me-down wand at the very beginning and then gets his own, so wands will work for you. I think that’s kind of the whole point of the allegiance. Wands will work for you whether they’re allegiant to you or not, but when they are, that makes it that much stronger.
Caleb: You know what the deeper metaphor that Jo is really trying to do with all this is, right?
Alyssa: What’s that?
Caleb: If you have a soulmate or not.
[Michael and Sarina laugh]
Caleb: I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I’m not trying to get heavy or anything.
Sarina: Yeah. As someone who writes paranormal romance, in the worlds I write, wand magic would be something romantic. It would be a euphemism for something else. In a kid’s book though, I don’t know if it would necessarily be the same thing.
Caleb: Yeah. No, I’m totally kidding.
Alyssa: All right, cool. That’s a good thing to keep thinking about as we go on through the chapter. And I really liked this particular comment from HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis, regarding the interaction that Harry is privy to between Grindelwald and Voldemort, and he says here,
“From the few lines we get, I get the impression that Grindelwald is regarding Voldemort as foolish and kind of unimportant. When you’ve spent more than half of your life alone in a cell as a result of your crimes and murders, the rest of the world becomes unimportant, and a tyrant and murderer who drops in to kill you is not frightening, but pitiful and maybe even a little bit ironically funny. Grindelwald, as far as he knows about Voldemort’s doings, regards them as inefficient and taunts him for that.”
I’ve always wondered at the juxtaposition between Grindelwald’s international fame and Voldemort’s relatively local infamy. The international wizarding community really doesn’t see Voldemort as terribly much of a threat. They don’t offer to assist the British Ministry of Magic with defeating him. It’s very much like a local problem, and I find that really interesting.
Caleb: Yeah, I totally agree.
Michael: Even though Voldemort’s ideals and the way he carries them out are very much easy to compare to Hitler, Grindelwald is a more direct comparison just because of the time period.
Michael: And so I think with that, you get the idea that maybe more of Europe knew what Grindelwald was up to. Which is interesting because I believe it’s stated earlier in the book, possibly by Hermione, that Grindelwald didn’t really get much power outside of his direct area. He didn’t really succeed in going too much further. He wasn’t like Hitler where he spread over multiple countries over a period of many years from the sound of it.
Caleb: See, I always thought that he did. He just never came to Britain.
Michael: Maybe that’s it. Maybe Britian just didn’t care.
Alyssa: I mean, he was afraid of Dumbledore.
Alyssa: The implication is that Grindelwald is considered, up until Voldemort, to be the greatest Dark wizard who ever lived. And even after Voldemort, Dumbledore is still referred to as the one who beat the greatest Dark wizard.
Sarina: He was a big enough villain that someone outside of his own country defeated him and had to be there in the fight. It does seem interesting how you have two different villains, and one villain is interrogating the former big bad guy. And so it kind of does seem like maybe Grindelwald doesn’t see Voldemort as a threat because he used to be the big bad guy. So maybe to him he is unimportant, but also after being in Azkaban for however long…
Caleb: He was in Nurmengard.
Sarina: Oh, yeah. Okay.
Michael: In prison.
Sarina: In prison.
Sarina: But I imagine the situation after being imprisoned for a long time… what would you be afraid of? Your life is already pretty horrible. Maybe he was wanting death at that point. Maybe he didn’t care about anything.
Michael: I think that’s what makes Grindelwald so interesting in the book and such a disappointment in the movie.
[Caleb and Sarina laugh]
Michael: Because he seems to know that Voldemort was going to kill him and he doesn’t care. Of course in the movie, Voldemort spares him for no discernable reason. But the fact that Grindelwald has embraced that he’s ready to die, to me suggests that he’s definitely had a period of reflection during his time in prison. Because somebody who was seeking the Deathly Hallows in the way that Grindelwald was, was not seeking them to be the Master of Death in the way that, say, Harry becomes. They’re seeking to defeat Death, to conquer Death by not dying, in a way, and a more juvenile simplistic view of conquering Death. So the idea that Grindelwald is accepting of death to me says that he kind of reflected over the years, and certainly that’s why he sees Voldemort… what he’s saying to Voldemort in the prison cell isn’t too dissimilar to some of the things Dumbledore has already said to Voldemort in personal encounters about death, that there are much worse things and so on and so forth.
Alyssa: Yeah, absolutely. I think that the point that Grindelwald has kind of come to accept death after all of that struggle is very poignant and is very understated. So it’s cool to be able to talk about it. Okay, and finally, I’m definitely going to be pulling a total Alyssa here.
[Caleb and Michael laugh]
Alyssa: RoseLumos made a great comment here saying,
“I always wondered if Wormtail was the first death Ron ever saw. I know a Death Eater is killed in the Battle of Hogwarts in HBP, but there is no indication that Ron or Hermione actually saw it. I always wondered if by the end of ‘Deathly Hallows’ if the entire trio could see Thestrals. I know it’s a grim thought, but Harry has seen half a dozen deaths already (both in real life and through Voldemort’s visions) and it seems a little unbalanced if Ron and Hermione end the war not seeing a death. However, as I’m writing this I’m thinking about the big final battle, and everyone was watching Harry and Voldemort duel, so now can everyone who was watching now see Thestrals if Voldemort died? Did he die, considering he only has 1/7th of a soul?”
And there’s a lot to unpack there, but…
Caleb: There’s a lot to think about there.
[Sarina and Michael laugh]
Alyssa: So I thought that was a fantastic comment. But I was particularly taken by the first sentence because I’m a Peter [Pettegrew] fan, all right?
Alyssa: I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I appreciate Peter and I dig him.
Caleb: I think it’s interesting that you’re subbing in for Eric…
Caleb: … so no matter what, we would have had the defensive Peter, so it’s super appropriate.
Alyssa: Oh, that’s funny because Eric and I have talked about that, just he and I, and he was very like… maybe he was playing Devil’s advocate, but he was very like, “Peter sucks.” And I was like, “How dare you say that to me.”
Caleb: Wait, hold up, I thought Eric was pro-Peter. Michael, correct me on this if I’m wrong.
Michael: I’m not sure, Eric can be very easily swayed if you present a good argument… [laughs]
Alyssa: But I just thought that was a really cool thought because of Ron’s history with Peter through Scabbers. Just to have that be the death that enables you to see this otherworldly creature, it’s like a weird rite of passage. Like he’s your first pet and…
Alyssa: … in a lot of ways, your pet is like the first death in your life…
Alyssa: … for a lot of people. And I just find that really, really cool.
Caleb: That’s a great point. I never thought about it that way, but it’s so real.
Michael: I would imagine this would probably be a pretty striking death for Ron, just because he witnesses the whole thing and it’s so horrific.
Michael: I think it’s guaranteed that literally everybody in Hogwarts sees Thestrals now after the Battle of Hogwarts.
Michael: There’s no person who doesn’t see Thestrals after that night.
Alyssa: Yeah, except maybe for the babies who were shuffled off…
Michael: [laughs] Little first years, yes. The thing too is Ron is present when Fred dies, so yes, he does see Thestrals.
Alyssa: That’s true.
Sarina: Didn’t they see Mad-Eye Moody die?
Sarina: Or did not everyone travel to see him die?
Caleb: No. No, only… who was with him now? I’m forgetting.
Alyssa: Bill and…
Caleb: I think it’s just Bill.
Alyssa: Oh, okay… or Fleur – Bill and Fleur.
Caleb: Because he walks up and says, “Mad-Eye’s dead,” right?
Alyssa: Yeah. Bill and Fleur must have been together.
Michael: Yeah, because Ron is with Tonks.
Caleb: Yeah, so was it Dung that was with Mad-Eye?
Sarina: Yeah, Mundungus was with him.
Caleb: So he probably saw him.
Alyssa: [laughs] Because he had peaced out. [laughs]
Alyssa: And that’s how he ended up dying.
Caleb: Right, Bill and Fleur. Yeah.
Michael: Yeah. I think Harry, Ron and Hermione have seen plenty of “ish” to guarantee by this point…
Alyssa: Oh, yeah. Definitely.
Michael: They all see Thestrals.
Caleb: So now that we’re thinking about Ron and Wormtail here, I’m really wondering if Jo thought about this. Because I haven’t thought about this in depth, but now I’m really surprised – I mean, it’s a very fast scene [and] there’s a lot happening – that we didn’t see Ron react to it, at least a little bit more. I mean, he despises Pettigrew for who he is, who he thinks he is and who he wants to perceive him as, but that’s still his pet and someone who was a part of his life. I’m kind of surprised we don’t see a little bit more.
Michael: I think the noteworthy thing in that scene for Ron is that, like Harry, he tries to save Pettigrew.
Caleb: Yeah. That’s fair.
Michael: He’s not necessarily doing it because Pettigrew is a good person or anything, he’s doing it because Ron and Harry have a sense of what’s wrong and what’s right.
Michael: So I just think that’s their innate nature jumping in.
Alyssa: I also tend to think that Jo did not intend for this to be a terribly significant death. Because strangely, having created such a fascinating character with such an amazing arc, she really underestimates Peter. Like she for real underestimates him all the time. And I’m like, you wrote him, he’s fascinating…
Alyssa: But she wrote his death literally less than ten pages before Dobby’s death, which is really the most significant “celebrated” death in the whole of the book. He’s the only one who actually gets a funeral that we see.
Alyssa: So it’s immediately overshadowed by this other character who is immediately paralleled with Dumbledore. I don’t necessarily know if she intended to overshadow Peter in that way, but it wouldn’t really surprise me.
Michael: Yeah, I think in terms of Harry and Ron’s thinking, as horrific as the event is, it’s like Pettigrew is kind of the scum of the earth to them.
Michael: He’s a Gryffindor who’s the opposite of all their feelings on what a Gryffindor should be, and he’s completely within Voldemort’s circle and does his bidding. I think at this point there’s really not much… Ron has already had his moment to express his disgust towards Pettigrew as far as the rat thing in Prisoner of Azkaban. He makes that pretty clear; he cuts those ties right away. So I think there’s not really that much confusion on their part. Too, Pettigrew played such a major role, as Harry remembers in this moment, of bringing Voldemort back to life.
Michael: Which I think Harry definitely also has issues with – takes umbrage with.
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Alyssa: Although, if he hadn’t, there would have been no real way to kill him.
Michael: That’s true.
Alyssa: Just saying. Just saying!
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Michael: So thanks, Pettigrew.
Alyssa: Okay, cool. Well, those were all the recap comments I grabbed. So thanks so much to RoseLumos, HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis, and ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy.
Alyssa: Great thoughts, you guys.
Michael: And we’ve got some more thoughts from you listeners from the Podcast Question of the Week responses. As a reminder, the question from a few weeks ago, since last week was our movie discussion, the question was,
“In this chapter, Bellatrix panics when she thinks that the trio has broken into her vault at Gringotts. We speculated that Voldemort might have instructed Snape to put the sword into the vault, and that his reasoning for this might be that he wants to make the last relic of a Hogwarts founder into his final Horcrux. But as Hermione tells us, the sword is impregnated with basilisk venom. Of course, basilisk venom destroys Horcruxes. Therefore, would you be able to make the sword into a Horcrux? Or would it backfire on Voldemort?”
So you guys had some very interesting responses to this. There were a lot of additional side questions that were brought up from this question. This question incited a lot of other discussion. We’re going to try to keep the focus on this particular question with these comments. First one comes, fittingly, from Voldemort’s Lost Nose [laughs], who has an opinion on this. Voldemort’s Lost Nose says,
“Basilisk venom destroys Horcruxes, but I don’t think the Sword would destroy itself, just like a snake can’t die from its own venom. Snake venom (which I suppose is comparable to Basilisk venom) is proteins – if you swallow snake venom, you won’t die because the proteins will be broken down and turned into harmless amino acids in the digestive system (though I don’t suggest you try).”
And for the record, Alohomora! does not recommend drinking snake venom.
Michael: [laughs] Drinking snake venom.
“The venom is only dangerous if you get it in the blood circulation. Snakes have their venom in special compartments where it can’t get into the veins, thus preventing the snake from being poisoned by its own venom. Similarly, I think that the Basilisk venom and the piece of Soul would be separated in the Sword. Maybe not necessarily physically separated, but perhaps by some magical force.”
So do you guys think that that’s a possibility, that the sword is magical enough to actually keep the venom and the Horcrux separate, if it had both inside it?
Sarina: It seems like either it would repel the Horcrux and it just wouldn’t work, or it would be a Horcrux in the way that Harry Potter is sort of a Horcrux. Well, he is a Horcrux, and it sort of fights with itself. Harry fights with himself because he has Voldemort in him, but he also has his own nature and his own qualities in him. It’s an interesting idea. I didn’t assume that the sword was going to be made into a Horcrux. Maybe at one point I did, so I had some other thoughts, or reasons why I thought the sword was in the vault.
Michael: Was even in the vault. Yeah. And a lot of the listeners were debating about that on the site, because some people were saying Voldemort already had seven if you include the one in his own body. And some listeners were saying, since that was his original soul, maybe he wasn’t counting that as number seven, and that he still had one more that he wanted to do. So it’s hard to say. It depends on if you count that first one, Voldemort’s original soul, the original piece that is still in him as a piece of the seven, or if it’s just in addition to that because it is the original piece. But yeah, going off of the assumption that it is, of course, if they can live side by side in the sword, how does that affect the sword if it’s being used as a Horcrux destroyer? If it has got a Horcrux in it, would it even be able to destroy Horcruxes anymore?
Alyssa: That’s a good point.
Caleb: See, I would think if the sword does take in a part of the soul and becomes a Horcrux, I don’t think it can destroy other Horcruxes. I think it’s almost like the locket trying to choke Harry to avoid the sword in the pond.
Caleb: I think it would be repelled somehow.
Michael: Yeah. I mean, to me it seems… because I really like the idea of equating the sword with how a snake works, basically that the venom can be stored in a separate part so they don’t interact. But then if you’ve got the issue where the sword is still ostensibly being used to destroy Horcruxes, but it can’t because it’s got the Horcrux in it, but it’s also still got the venom in it… how is that even going to be possible?
Alyssa: Yeah, I think I tend to fall on the side of it repelling it, almost like a magnet. They’re just anathema to each other.
Michael: They just don’t work. Yeah.
Michael: Well, and we had another comment from DoraNympha, who said,
“The question is also what the sword regards as something that makes it stronger and what it registers as dirt. Does it see a piece of soul as something that will make it stronger or weaker? Any ordinary object will become indestructible by normal ways once it houses a piece of soul, so you could argue that the sword thinks that becoming a Horcrux will do it good, an extra wall of protection. OR, the Sword repelling anything that’s ‘dirt,’ that which defiles it, maybe it would see the soul or the prospect of becoming a Horcrux as something undesirable so it would repel the soul even without the venom inside it first.”
So the idea that the sword can actually sense that the Horcrux isn’t good for it.
Caleb: Yeah, I mean, we have all the proof that we really need to know that the sword… I don’t know if we want to go so far as to say it is sentient, but it definitely can recognize different things. It recognizes who to reveal itself to.
Sarina: The sword definitely presents itself to those who are in need, or a Gryffindor who deserves it. And so it seems like the sword does have some sort of distinguishing – I don’t know if sentience is the right word – but it does have something that tells it, “Okay, this is a Gryffindor, and this is someone who needs me right now.” And I just wonder, would the sword disappear if someone had it who was going to use it for evil? Would it appear to someone else instead? Because it seems like the sword does have that power.
Alyssa: Maybe it would pull a silver hand thing and just stab the person trying to use it.
Michael: Backfire. Yeah, I don’t know. Well, I mean, that even brings up, too… I’m assuming, I don’t know what would happen. What if Harry put the Sorting Hat on and was like, “I need the sword!” and he got it, and then he looked over and, I don’t know, say Hannah Abbott is over there and he is like, “Here, Hannah Abbott, take the sword for a minute!”
[Caleb and Michael laugh]
Michael: The sword, ostensibly, would disappear, since it is not meant to be used by anybody but a Gryffindor.
Alyssa: But is that explicitly said?
Michael: Well, I suppose. I don’t know. I guess that is not true, too, because Snape handles the sword, so…
Caleb: Right. I think we’ve talked about this in the past. I feel like we have.
Michael: Other houses can touch the sword.
Caleb: Yeah, we talked about it, definitely at some point, whether other people, and we brought up the specific example that Snape had to have held the sword at some point.
Michael: Or actually touched it, yeah.
Alyssa: Well, I think there is a difference between being able to touch it and having it reveal itself to you.
Caleb: Right, sure. Or use it, for that matter. Effectively. Because it could be like Thor’s hammer. Or maybe something in between. Like, you can pick it up but maybe you can’t wield it? I don’t know.
Sarina: Well, Griphook keeps it…
Caleb: I’m also being possessive over Gryffindor relics, so…
Sarina: … but isn’t it… I mean, Griphook has it for a while, but for how long? So other people can handle it.
Alyssa: Then of course, that calls into question the conversation I’ll have later about who really owns the sword, Gryffindor or the goblins?
Caleb: Oh, yeah.
Michael: Well, and as far as Griphook goes, the only thing we know… the movie kind of tries to give its own answer, and Rowling kind of implies it in the book. That once the sword is called upon, Griphook loses it.
Michael: So he doesn’t get to keep it. So since we were talking about Snape, we actually have a comment from SnapesManyButtons.
Caleb: Who knew?
Michael: Who knew? So… who says,
“I believe it is not that the Basilisk venom kills the soul fragment, but rather it penetrates the Dark spells that protect the container that houses the soul fragment and then destroys the container so completely that it cannot be repaired. Without its container, the soul fragment dies. If exposure to Basilisk venom is what kills the soul fragment, then the fragment in Harry would have been killed when he was pierced by the Basilisk fang in the Chamber. But Rowling has said that the bit of soul in Harry wasn’t destroyed when he was pierced by the Basilisk fang because the Horcrux container (in that case Harry) has to be destroyed beyond repair in order for the soul to be killed. So the impregnated Basilisk venom wouldn’t affect the bit of soul housed in the sword if it became a Horcrux and I believe Voldemort could have made a Horcrux out of it if he’d wanted to.”
Alyssa: That’s a great answer.
Sarina: Yeah, wow.
Michael: I really enjoy that this kind of used that example from Chamber. Which the basilisk venom hearkens straight back to, to clarify that. And Rowling was, I remember, Rowling was asked about this on Twitter, and she was very adamantly clear that this is why that wasn’t a plot hole. Because a lot of people thought it was. So…
Sarina: I am now convinced that the sword could become a Horcrux.
Caleb: Well, I think… at the same time though, I think I totally agree with what Snape’s Many Buttons is saying, that we can now accept that that has to happen. Like the container has to be destroyed. I don’t think that necessarily negates that the possibility that the sword could not take in the soul…
Alyssa: Yeah, I agree…
Caleb: … because those aren’t mutually exclusive. And I think there’s a) the possibility that the basilisk fang still repels it, and b) maybe just like the nature, no, I don’t want to say that because all the other founder stuff are able to be made into Horcruxes. So I think there’s still a possibility the basilisk fang can repel the bit of the soul.
Michael: Yeah, it’s kind of hard to say. Well, and the thing too is if the sword can in fact become a receptacle for a Horcrux, it’s really a good thing that Voldemort didn’t do it just because the sword would have been extremely hard to destroy at that point.
Caleb: Maybe with something like Fiendfyre? Do we think Fiendfyre could have destroyed the Sword of Gryffindor?
Alyssa: I think so.
Michael: I’d hope so. Of course, that’s the issue again of it takes in what makes it stronger. I don’t know if you put a sword in fire after it’s already been made.
Caleb: Well, then we’re getting into some forgery stuff right?
Caleb: Like, swords being forged.
Michael: Yeah, so. But, it’s one of those questions that Rowling will maybe someday answer officially.
Michael: But, because I’m sure she’d have a lot to say about that.
Michael: But, you guys, the listeners did a great job in the meantime. And I wanted to make sure and shout out to those of you whose thoughts I wasn’t able to include here in the comments. Shout-out to Al, Crimson Snidgit, Dream Galleon88, Hermione Eyown P, How Am I Going to Translate This, Ravenclaw Forever, Rose Lumos, Slythinpuffdor, and Sweeds Fly Fords, I like that username, especially to you Sweeds Fly Forbes, that was your first comment this week. Also, shout-out maxima to a few of you who made some really great bigger conversations, and some comments I was hoping to actually use, but didn’t have the space for, unfortunately. So shout-out to… shout-out maxima to Casey L., Crimson Phoenix, Dis Kid, and then there was a great Hogwarts founders conversation with the Horcruxes that was started by Felix Scamander, continued on by Dobby’s Many Hats, Martin Miggs, Regulus Blackout, and Willconchutido, I believe is how you pronounce it. So if you guys want to check out those conversations, head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com. All of the comments you did hear were actually truncated versions of the full things, so you can read the full things over at our main site. Also, before we go into our main discussion, we want to mention once again that we have a Patreon page. I believe it’s patreon.com/alohomora, right?
Caleb: That is correct.
Michael: You can also find that through our main site, alohomora.mugglenet.com. If you donate to our Patreon, as little as a dollar, you can actually get access to some really cool stuff and help fund out show beyond the ending. And speaking of that, we have determined our post Hallows plans. And for those Patreon sponsors in the coming weeks, we will have our announcement of those plans for you guys on Patreon who donate a little earlier than we give to the general public. So make sure and donate on Patreon. You will also be able to get an exclusive reading of “The Tale of the Three Brothers” which was done by me, back a few weeks ago when my voice was much better than this, I promise. A very theatrical reading of that story. So make sure and head over to patreon.com/alohomora to check it out.
Caleb: All right, we are going to move into this week’s chapter discussion.
[Deathly Hallows Chapter 24 intro begins]
[Ocean waves in background; scraping and digging sounds]
Olivander: Chapter 24.
[Continued sounds of ocean waves in background with scraping and digging]
Olivander: “The Wandmaker.”
[Continued sounds of ocean waves in background with scraping and digging]
[Deathly Hallows Chapter 24 intro ends]
Caleb: So a quick summary of Chapter 24. Harry has to face burying Dobby. The group sends Dobby off, and then Harry quickly takes authority over the group again. He faces a troubling dilemma with his future journey, and before he leaves Shell Cottage he has very important conversations with both Griphook and Ollivander for info and help along the way. And towards the end of the chapter we soar back to Hogwarts – but not with Harry, but with Voldemort. So this chapter was… it is a really interesting chapter, now especially because… for a couple of reasons. One is being a law school student, now I’ve read this chapter thinking about so many contracts and personal property issues which we started to talk about property issues in the recap comments.
Caleb: But we start off with something much more somber and emotional as Harry has to face the fact that Dobby is now dead and preparing to send him away. So Alyssa mentioned this in the recap comments, but it is something that really screams out as you start reading this chapter is how Harry likens Dobby to Dumbledore. The first paragraph opens up with Harry recalling the scene of losing Dumbledore and Dumbledore dead. But it’s also different; Harry distinguished it as Dobby being such a small figure that he just seemed…The body in front of him. The thing that really got me this time, and I hadn’t thought about it, is the fact that Harry has to pull the knife out of Dobby’s lifeless body.
Caleb: Which is such a… the thought of ever having to do something like that is just… it’s devastating.
Alyssa: Yeah, man.
Sarina: I think that was almost worse than seeing Dobby die for me because it was really tragic seeing him die, but the turmoil and everything that Harry goes through… because it’s not just Dobby’s death now that he’s seeing and feeling. He’s really… he has experienced death again, and he is seeing every experience of death that… and it’s so much more visceral because it is in Harry Potter’s hand. It’s very powerful and horrible.
Alyssa: I have to say, I was never terribly… I mean, I was definitely sad that… I think I was more sad that Harry was sad.
Alyssa: I was never a huge Dobby fan. Not that he’s not an important character and does cool things, but he is very irritating to me.
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Alyssa: So it’s kind of like, this is what he did. He died doing an awesome thing, and that’s fine. [laughs] But obviously, the fallout of that is a really important moment for Harry to kind of… it’s a little bit easier… obviously, Harry has had people risk their lives for him in the past and even die for him, but I think that this is the first time where it has explicitly been “I am dying for you.” Because Dumbledore, even though you could say he died for Harry, he knew ahead of time he was going to die; that was never… that was not an explicitly “for Harry” kind of thing.
Michael: Well, and at the beginning of the book when they get to the Burrow, the characters all say, “This isn’t all just for you, Harry.”
Michael: “This is bigger than you.” But I think you’re right in this case, Alyssa, that Dobby’s death is purely to – and Dobby makes that so clear – is to protect Harry.
Michael: He is sacrificing himself for Harry. I’m also with you, too, Alyssa, on feelings on Dobby’s death.
Michael: I was never struck… I’m struck by the writing of Dobby’s death and I’m struck that she chose Dobby to be this momentous thing for Harry because it really… Harry does… I think that’s what makes the SPEW subplot so important and really kind of why it’s sad that… David Heyman has said before… when they took it out of Goblet he said, [in a British accent] “Oh, we took it out of Goblet because it was a Hermione issue and that’s why we removed it from the films; it wasn’t about Harry.” [back to normal voice] I think that’s… and that’s another one of those things that is kind of so damaging to the plots.
Alyssa: Heavy sigh. Yeah. [laughs]
Michael: Well, yeah. And that’s what I was trying to say during the movie watch is why I don’t care about Dobby’s death at all in the movies. Everybody gets so choked up about it. I understand why, but from just purely a film’s standpoint, there’s no reason to get upset about Dobby’s death in the movies because the movie works so hard to make you care because it knows that you don’t.
Michael: Which is unfortunate, because for me it kind of cheapens Dobby’s death even more. I think what’s interesting here with what you said, Caleb, about how… because I never really noticed it until this read that Harry so likens Dobby’s death to Dumbledore’s and he starts making these comparisons, and I think in the book Dobby’s death is so important because it’s this epiphany moment. Harry has so many realizations about what death really means to him and what it means on his journey. In terms of comparing Dobby to Dumbledore, Harry is starting to see Dumbledore as less of a… this whole book, Harry has been so frustrated with Dumbledore and what he has asked him to do, and this is the first time in a while that Harry is full of these realizations where he is like, [in a British accent] “No, no, no, Dumbledore did this because he knew this was going to happen, or Dumbledore did this because he knew it was the right thing for me to do.”
Caleb: Absolutely. This chapter is a turning point in the way Harry thinks about… he will kind of reset a couple of times throughout the book, but I think this is a real turning point in him starting to shift back towards “Dumbledore gets it” mindset as opposed to where, like you said, he has been so frustrated for most of the book.
Michael: Mhm. Well, and he feels this overwhelming love for what Dobby did and he realizes that that’s allowed him to access the ability to perform Legilimency in a way that he never was before.
Michael: So he can actually close off… the funny thing is he has accessed this ability by the point where he doesn’t want to use it anymore because now he needs to peek into Voldemort’s head all the time.
Michael: So he can’t really… he doesn’t really end up using it. But he knows how now, and it’s kind of fitting when you really think about it that of course… if the way to perform Legilimency is love, kind of no wonder that Snape was probably not the right teacher for that, as far as Harry goes.
[Alyssa, Michael, and Sarina laugh]
Caleb: Yes! So actually, I think I’m going to read that quote because there is a lot just packed into three sentences when he talks about Snape and being able to shut Voldemort out.
Caleb: So it says, “His scar burned, but he was master of the pain; he felt it, yet was apart from it. He had learned control at last, learned to shut his mind to Voldemort, the very thing Dumbledore had wanted him to learn from Snape. Just as Voldemort had been able to possess Harry while Harry was consumed with grief for Sirius, so his thoughts could not penetrate Harry now, while he mourned Dobby. Grief, it seemed, drove Voldemort out… though Dumbledore, of course, would have said that it was love…” And I totally really hadn’t made the connection between this is something he experiences both with Sirius and Dobby, but this is also just so different because he’s making the connection to Sirius because of what the grief did for him but also the monumental level of what it is just… on so many different levels in the way he keeps likening it to Dumbledore.
Sarina: It’s interesting because in the text it’s likening this to Dumbledore, but as a reader I kept getting, “This is like his mother’s love for him.”
Sarina: This is like every experience of grief that he’s had. And these people who sacrificed him; it all ultimately boils back down to that very first experience of someone sacrificing themself for Harry and that was his mother. So he’s saying, “Oh, it’s like Dumbledore…” or, “Dobby’s death is like Dumbledore,” but in my mind, I kept saying, “Oh, and it’s like his mother. Everyone’s death for him is like that first time.”
Alyssa: I agree. I think that’s a great note.
Michael: I think Dobby’s death is almost the death of the series that is the most like his mother’s because it’s the most self-sacrificial and the most… there’s no thought for Dobby behind it. It just is in his nature to do it. So yeah, I can definitely see that. I think that may be, again, why this is such a turning point for Harry’s way of thinking about what this all means. And that really helps. Sarina, I’m glad you said it that way because that helps put it in context for me just because to this day, I still don’t cry. I don’t tear up. My heart is as cold as ice when I read this section. [laughs] I just… it’s sad and I know it’s sad but there are so many other deaths that affect me personally, as a reader, throughout the series. There [are] so many other characters that I’m more attached to than Dobby and I think part of that, unfortunately, comes from… and maybe another reason why Harry is so sad about this is Harry does treat Dobby with such derision whenever he encounters him in the previous books. He’s like, “Oh, Dobby sure is annoying but he’s a nice guy to have around.”
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Michael: And the listeners will say, “Oh, that’s a little cruel,” but I mean, read the passages.
Alyssa: I mean, really.
Michael: Harry doesn’t really find… he finds Dobby hard to tolerate even after Chamber of Secrets. I think Dobby does… through our reread, I’ve really seen how important Dobby is to the series and I can see why this death works the way it does, but it’s a very interesting choice. I think Eric really said it well, too, when we were talking about the movie in terms of that Dobby is this representation of a very pure kind of innocence. He’s never done anything wrong and he’s like a child and it’s basically like a child dying in that way, too.
Alyssa: I feel like there’s also a great thing here since… this is purely self-sacrificial as we’ve said, and it’s also sort of the combination of Dobby’s life as a free elf.
Alyssa: He makes this final choice to serve Harry as a person and as a figurehead and as a messiah, obviously, like a messiah figure.
Alyssa: It’s a little bit like John the Baptist, almost, preparing the way.
Caleb: Hmm, that’s real.
Michael: [laughs] That’s a good comparison.
Sarina: Dobby the Baptist.
Michael: Well, and we know those religious parallels are going on here.
Alyssa: Oh, yeah.
Caleb: True, yeah.
Michael: Rowling is definitely… we know she’s doing that intentionally, so yeah, that totally makes sense.
Caleb: And so Harry gets… he digs the grave manually, which just is always something that’s really striking to me because this is not really something both that Harry ever has the opportunity to really deal with, and you never, also, just see this sort of side come out of him.
Caleb: Because it also has to do with what we’ve been talking about; this is a very unique death because it’s the only one that he really has the time… that impacts him so much to deal with. Sirius never has a funeral. Dumbledore does but Harry has so much still going; he’s just learning about the Horcruxes and he’s thinking about his next steps. And here, he really suspends a lot. He really internalizes it, pushes everyone away, everything away, and just… this physical labor of digging the grave that he wants to do alone.
Michael: Yeah, there’s that great passage where it’s mirroring his thoughts and saying, “Horcrux, Hallows, Horcrux, Hallows…”
Michael: And then it’s basically him being like, “I keep hearing that in my head but I don’t care.” Like he’s lost his obsession with both completely in this moment and it’s all about this manual labor, which is another great moment… another one of those moments from Hallows where it’s that a moment without magic is so much more impactful and important. There’s no magical Harry Potter stuff going on here. This is just plain, old reality of digging a grave and going to a funeral. There’s nothing particularly Harry Potter going on here.
Caleb: Right. Harry also, as he’s thinking about some of these things that have been going on in these last few moments, he recognizes that Voldemort has killed Grindelwald. So even though he’s able to shut out Voldemort, he’s basically touching on Voldemort a little bit. He knows that Grindelwald is dead but he doesn’t care right now. Where these deaths that Voldemort has inflicted in his search for the Elder Wand lately [have] really impacted Harry, here [they don’t]. But he does consider Wormtail’s death just for a few moments because he hasn’t really had time to really think about it and, as we’ve mentioned earlier, maybe it’s just being overshadowed.
Alyssa: I think that… actually, I made a little note here that I think a good example of the overshadowing and of the minimizing of Peter… Jo refers to one small unconscious impulse of mercy, even minimizing this moment of mercy that saves Harry’s life and ends Peter’s as unconscious, which is a very interesting choice to me and one that I hadn’t really thought about until I was rereading. It’s very interesting to me, that it would be… I don’t know. Why is it unconscious?
Caleb: Yeah, that’s true.
Alyssa: It’s interesting.
Michael: I think, too, that a lot of people were expecting something really big from that; from the Prisoner thing where Dumbledore was like, “Oh, that’ll come in handy later.” It’s big, but like you’ve said, Alyssa, it’s been minimized by everything that came after it. So it was like, “There was your thing from Prisoner that you’ve been waiting for since Prisoner but we’re not going to really dwell on it.” It is what it is. And as far as it being a small, unconscious impulse, I think that’s the part that I guess makes it striking… that’s what makes it striking as far as how Voldemort set it up. He would not allow one small little bit of even just a thought of doing anything against him. I think it’s just supposed to speak to the extremes that we’re dealing with here.
Michael: And Voldemort, that he set this hand up so Peter literally can’t have a thought otherwise because he knows that any little, tiny thought in Peter could switch him the other way.
Alyssa: Actually, now that you point that out, I think it could be read two ways. It could be unconscious impulse like a knee-jerk, like there’s no real intent behind it. He’s just Peter and no big deal. Or, it’s like that mercy still lives in him despite his past actions and he still has the capacity for good. And I think that’s something that they talk a lot about in the course of this book in particular: The capacity for good, [and] being able to turn the tide even in the midst of other ill-will and ill actions.
Caleb: Yeah, especially when you think at the end of the series, what Narcissa does at the end of the book.
Alyssa and Michael: Yeah.
Alyssa: Great parallel.
Michael: And Dumbledore saw it. Dumbledore talks frequently about how people have the capacity for more than they may seem to on the surface. And he knew that was going to happen at some point. I don’t know if he knew exactly what the hand was going to do, but I think he knew that it was interconnected with the mercy bit.
Alyssa: Yeah, man, this is a sad funeral.
Caleb: It is. I know I’m trying to not keep the chapter so somber… [laughs]
Caleb: … but there’s a lot to dig into here. So everyone finally does rejoin Harry. Hermione is recovering from the Malfoy Manor, being hit by the chandelier, which I’d forgotten happened after watching the movie because, of course, she gets out of the way in the movie.
Michael: Yeah, she gets The Phantom of the Opera‘d in the book.
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Alyssa: These poor kids.
Caleb: So Luna closes Dobby’s eyes and says, “There. Now he could be sleeping,” and we get a brief moment of where, again, Harry compares Dobby to Dumbledore, which – for here, this moment – seems to just show the huge impact Dobby had, particularly for Harry. And Luna gives some really beautiful remarks about Dobby. The others really can’t step up to it. Ron gives an awkward… I can’t remember what he says but it’s something like…
Alyssa: I think he just says thanks.
Caleb: I think he says thanks, yeah, and Dean says similar. Harry asks to be left alone. He searches for a stone, creates a headstone, and scribes, “Here lies Dobby, a free elf.”
Alyssa: That is very moving.
Caleb: Yeah, very great touch from Jo there.
Michael: Yeah. I like, too, that Luna is the one who says what she does, who says the big thing, his eulogy, because Luna… I think that’s what makes her character so great. What people love about her is that because she has the capacity to pretty much say things unfiltered… while that allows her to say things that maybe normal people may not say in a day-to-day conversation, that also permits her to say more honest things than people sometimes are able to say in times of great stress. It’s her detractor and her gift, simultaneously.
Sarina: Yeah, one of the things I really like about Luna is that because she’s so honest, she says these really wise, maybe witty – but not funny witty – but just very wise things that no one else says or no one else would dare to say, but it’s done in a very innocent way. And it makes her a fun character but also a very interesting character.
Alyssa: I just love… again and again I see it so much in these books between Harry and Luna. Luna is really one of the very few characters who understands Harry completely…
Alyssa: … understands what he needs, not just who he is. Because I think his friends love him but they don’t really understand what Harry needs a lot of the time, as much as they care. And she just continues to prove how purely she sees him and that’s something that I really, really appreciate about their bond.
Michael: And in this case, what’s so good about her relationship with Harry, with her being able to express emotions, is that Harry is very bad at expressing emotions through words.
Michael: And Luna is the answer to that for him in their friendship because as he says, as the narration says in his thoughts, is that he wants to say something else but doesn’t need to because Luna already said it.
Alyssa: [sighs] So sweet.
Michael: So thank goodness for Luna Lovegood.
Caleb: Indeed. So Harry does get past the funeral; it seems like the manual labor and the final goodbye and making the grave himself has helped him get past it a little bit. They return to the cottage and first we learn some information about the Weasleys, that they are hiding out at Aunt Muriel’s. And I thought about this, this time for the first time, if it’s really the logical choice to move the Weasleys to Muriel’s house. They use the Fidelius Charm, which is a powerful charm but we’ve obviously seen plenty of examples of that protection falling through in the series. And if it makes sense to put them at another Weasley’s home, or if there are any better alternatives. Was it really just the only option they had?
Michael: I’d probably say it was because they can’t go to Grimmauld Place.
Michael: And they know that. And I don’t think they could go… they also can’t go to the Tonkses’, and yeah, that’s probably their best alternative. I know Muriel is probably known well enough that they could go there. But if they have set it under the Fidelius Charm, I guess that’s the best bet they have, really, at this point.
Caleb: Sure, yeah.
Michael: It’s safer than staying at home.
Alyssa: If there’s no stronger charm or hiding place, I mean, there’s really not much else you can do. You just have to work with the security you have.
Caleb: So Bill mentions, after he mentions that the Weasleys are at Muriel’s house, that after Ollivander and Griphook recover some, that they plan to move them there soon. But Harry really doesn’t miss a beat in taking charge and tells Bill flatly, “No.” And the text kind of has Bill and everyone else looking pretty shocked at Harry’s burst because he wants to talk to Ollivander and Griphook. There’s obviously an urgent need for Harry, but I guess I was thinking, was it really right for him to assert so much authority so fast over Bill and Fleur in this way? I mean, he’s obviously dealing with a lot of raw emotion right now. And same thing with that question, Bill really quickly takes Harry’s explanation that it’s for the Order, and that he can’t answer or talk about any more, not nearly as well as some other members of the Order have in the past.
Michael: Well, I mean, in just normal social terms, no, that was rude of Harry. [laughs] You don’t come into somebody’s house and command that much authority. But Harry is working on, as he knows, after reflecting over it, he’s working on a very small timeline here that he’s got to figure out this information. And I think the reason, too, that Bill accepts it is because that’s been foretold, that’s been foreshadowed, by Ron when he comes back and says that he told Bill what he did and he knows that Bill is disappointed in him, but Bill doesn’t pressure him about it.
Caleb: Right, I’d forgotten about that. That’s true.
Michael: Bill is apparently the brother that’s good at letting you do your thing.
Michael: He understands what’s going on and he tries to flesh it out as much as possible, but that kind of fits his image as being the rebellious Weasley with the ponytail and the earring.
Alyssa: Cool older brother.
Michael: Yeah, the cool older brother type. He doesn’t want to get too nosy, but… he wants to be the good older brother but he also doesn’t want to nose into your business. He’s not their dad.
Sarina: Well, or he’s not Molly Weasley, who is really trying to wheedle information out of Harry. So I don’t know, I think all things being considered, he kind of let things slide pretty easily compared to some of the treatment Harry has gotten in the past.
Michael: Well, and maybe this is something that the Order has discussed because they’ve already been relayed this information probably through Lupin once he cooled down and maybe even through McGonagall as well, that Harry is just not relenting information to them. So they’re probably… and I won’t touch on this too much because that’s the next chapter, but of course, Lupin comes to visit and naturally he’s in a state of euphoria at the time so that might be attributable to that, but he doesn’t ask any questions. He just comes in, has a few drinks, and leaves. Considering what he probably knows Harry has been through since they last saw each other, he doesn’t ask anything. So it’s possible that the Order has come to terms with the fact that they’re not going to get information out of Harry.
Alyssa: I thought of Lupin right away, actually, when you see the difference between how Bill reacts verses how Lupin reacted when Harry was like, “No, dude.” [laughs] “I’m not telling you anything.” Bill and Lupin are a natural parallel for a lot of reasons, especially in this book.
Caleb and Michael: Yeah.
Alyssa: I think that’s really interesting, not only in the way things have developed in the timeline, but also those two characters and how they relate to Harry and how they relate to each other.
Caleb: So there’s this brief moment where after he tells Bill that he wants to talk to the two of them, to Griphook and to Ollivander, that Harry considers what he saw in the mirror shard. He’s thinking about Dobby still and that he’ll never figure out for sure who sent Dobby, but he seems to think he knows anyway, and it’s implied that he thinks it’s Dumbledore. And he recalls the quote from Dumbledore, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” So a little later – it’s in the next chapter, actually – Ron picks up something that Ron has talked about before, raising the possibility that Dumbledore is still alive. Harry considers it here, but he doesn’t really build on it. There’s a lot going on; he doesn’t really have time to. Does Harry really think it was Dumbledore and does he think he’s coming from the grave? Or that he’s still alive? What is this…? I think it’s only really a paragraph that this comes up.
Michael: This was such a fun bit of holding the carrot on the string in front of the readers from Rowling.
Michael: This was so good. This was one of those moments where when we got the answer it was like, “Duh, of course.”
Michael: But she did such a good job because she made the characters want it so much that it translated so well to the readers because she knew already that… of course, she even knew this before, probably before, as she knew she was planning to kill Dumbledore. But the massive response to Dumbledore’s death… the “Dumbledore Isn’t Dead” or whatever it was website that they put up, and it was just such a massive reaction. It has become a meme; “Snape kills Dumbledore” is one of the most talked about deaths in a children’s series up to that moment. So I think this was really just in a way, her… I think the major point of it is to play with the readers, even maybe more so than Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
Sarina: The characters in the story and their reactions are really glossed over, but she set it up so well with foreshadowing and misdirection that I knew – even though it was just very glossed over in the book – it was something that I dwelled on. And I know I’m not the only person, from the things that you were mentioning. But I so much just kept hoping that Dumbledore was really alive still, and in a way we do get a little bit of time with Dumbledore at the end of the book, but it’s not quite the same.
Michael: Yeah, there’s hope that characters are alive after they’ve died. I think it’s really important for her to make the reader feel that in the same way that the characters do because that’s such an integral piece of understanding death by the end of the book, and really having that feeling that you so want this person to come back and then learning through the experience, the understanding of why they don’t or why they can’t, or why being a ghost in the wizarding world would be an imperfect way of doing that. I think it’s just more good work on Rowling’s part to really just push her ideas forward here. I think by that quote you pointed out, Caleb, that Harry knows that Dumbledore is dead.
Caleb: And so this leads up to what I think, now having reread it, is maybe one of the most interesting passages in the book – maybe the series – and that I haven’t really thought about it in a while, or I really haven’t thought about in this way. So Harry’s interalizing – we talked about this a little bit earlier, where Harry’s starting to come to terms with maybe Dumbledore was kind of setting him on the right path all along. Or at least that’s where his mind is right now, but he’s still struggling with it in a lot of ways. He talks about how Dumbledore gave Ron the Deluminator and he understood him; this calls back to Ron thinking that Dumbledore knew he would leave. Harry said, “He just knew he would come back.” Harry says here, “You gave him a way back… And you understood Wormtail, too… You knew that there was a bit of regret there, somewhere… And if you knew them… what did you know about me, Dumbledore? Am I meant to know, but not to seek? Did you know how hard I’d find that? Is that why you made it this difficult? So I’d have time to work that out?” And Alyssa, I think you made note of this too, but just the question, “What did you know about me, Dumbledore?” followed up by, “Am I meant to know but not to seek? Did you know how hard I’d find that?” That’s just such striking thoughts to have to deal with.
Alyssa: It really is. Beautiful writing. Beautiful.
Michael: Yeah, Harry has finally figured it out. He’s got it. That epiphany is finally…
Alyssa: Oh, do you think this is the moment where he realizes he has to accept death eventually?
Michael: No, I think that this is the moment where he understands that the Hallows are… he needs to stop obsessing over things.
Alyssa: To know, but not to seek.
Michael: Yeah. That’s a really profound realization to have at that age. [laughs]
Alyssa: Yeah, man. Absolutely.
Caleb: It’s setting you up for that final piece that you pulled out there, Alyssa.
Caleb: You know, when he has to come to terms with what Dumbledore knew all along. And we don’t ever really get to see Harry confront that Dumbledore knew that and set that up all along – in a full, real way – but this is the set-up for that later part.
Michael: Well, and as we see in this chapter right after this thought, Harry is presented with the choice of what to prioritize. And he makes the right choice, no matter what the characters tell him, after the fact. He makes the right choice about what to do and what information to get first.
Alyssa: I think it’s also interesting to note that although Dumbledore understood that Harry would eventually choose death, Dumbledore had no way of knowing in what order this would happen and that Harry very well could have died. Voldemort’s body could have been destroyed first for all we know, but Harry still would have had to die. Would it have gone the same way as with King’s Cross? Would he have been able to come back, or would he have just been dead?
Michael: Yeah, there’s a lot of bits in the plan where Dumbledore was just kind of lucky that things…
Alyssa: [laughs] Yeah, well, that’s a lot of Dumbledore…
Michael: Yes, that is. Dumbledore rolls the dice a lot.
Alyssa: Dumbledore is pretty freaking lucky.
Michael: How could he assume that Harry was going to be at Malfoy Manor and wrest away Malfoy’s wand from him, these things that fortuitously fell into place that made this all work?
Sarina: Some of the things that were seemingly fortuitous, like, “Oh, they found the sword in a lake, yay!” seems like it’s coincidence, but it’s really set up because there’s other characters out there that are looking out for him because Dumbledore set it up.
Alyssa: Oh, yeah.
Michael: Yeah, there are definitely things he managed to get accomplished and set. There is a part with the Elder Wand that Dumbledore set up by having Malfoy defeat him. The ownership of the wand changed hands. I think there was an element where Snape was meant to actually take ownership at some point that didn’t go the way that he anticipated, but it all still worked out. Dumbledore got lucky and things worked out in many respects. And like you were saying, Alyssa, the timing of all these realizations that Harry has had and the actions they took, it’s just very lucky that those things happened when they happened.
Alyssa: Yeah, man.
Caleb: Of course, he made some mistakes along the way the way, too.
Michael: Whoops! [laughs]
Alyssa: Dumbledore did or Harry did?
[Michael and Sarina laugh]
Alyssa: Yeah, for sure. Quick shout-out to the superior Dumbledore brother Aberforth for looking out for Harry in this situation.
Caleb: Yeah, that passage reminds me of when we first started the podcast and Noah would do these close reads, and we would really take a close look at passages, which we haven’t really done in a long time. But this is really one of those especially that I haven’t thought of in this sort of depth before.
Caleb: Continuing along Harry’s quest for information, so he tells Bill that he wants to talk to Griphook and Ollivander, and he has to make a decision on who to talk to first. We don’t really know as readers the first time around why there’s some urgency. He has to make a decision and whichever one he chooses first is going to make a difference. We know reading all the way through, it’s because Voldemort’s on his way to get the Elder Wand from Dumbledore. But because this chapter is all about him coming to terms with Dumbledore setting up his decisions and what he wants Harry to do, Harry chooses Horcruxes first and so he speaks to Griphook first. I guess we could just really quickly question – there could be some dissent here – does he make the right choice? Is it an obvious choice? Does it seem like it’s super easy?
Michael: It’s not super easy and it’s not obvious, but yes, it’s the right choice.
Michael: Because what we’re confronted with later is when Harry reveals what the consequence of the choice is. Ron is like, “What did you do?!”
Michael: “You could’ve had the Elder Wand!” But that’s the point of Harry’s epiphany; he had to make the choice to not seek, to let that be. He wasn’t supposed to have that weapon yet. He needed the knowledge of the Horcruxes; that was more important.
Alyssa: Something that always bugged me about the seventh book, even though I love it a lot, is that the Hallows just kind of appear as an idea. Obviously the objects are present throughout the books, but the idea of the Hallows and of the legend is just like, “Surprise! Now all of a sudden, these are as important as the Horcruxes.” And it’s like, what?! [laughs] When did this happen?
Michael: Yeah. They’ve always been around, but their function becomes very akin to a deus ex machina, because their functions haven’t been summarized until this book. And I’m sure we’ll get into that even more in depth when we get to the final battle and what the wand does, because I know there’s endless complaints about that. I think that was a shock because we are so used to Rowling setting these things up in a way that perhaps “The Tale of the Three Brothers” might have been given to us in an earlier book.
Alyssa: Yeah. I think that that would have been satisfying, even if you just were to drop in a reference to a summary of the story.
Michael: There’s also that issue too that the Hallows have to be so unknown – the quest of the Deathly Hallows. She makes it really clear and I think that gets warped in the fandom a lot, but it’s such a niche thing. Really, this isn’t a thing a lot of people know about. You’re not going to walk down the street and encounter people in the wizarding world who know what the Deathly Hallows even are, if you say that.
Alyssa: Well, it’s almost a bit like Bigfoot or the [Holy] Grail. It’s a well-known enough story, but you don’t really believe it’s real.
Caleb: But not even well enough known that Ollivander knows about it, as we’ll soon find out.
Caleb: So he starts speaking with Griphook, and we have a quick introduction. Harry recalls that Griphook is the goblin that takes him on his first Gringotts trip with Hagrid, and Griphook remembers Harry as well and notes that Harry is famous amongst goblins as well. Griphook remarks that Harry is an unusual wizard. He says that first after remarking on Harry burying Dobby, and he does it again after he talks about saving a goblin. And I always have trouble getting a read on what Griphook really means here because it’s not necessarily – no, it’s definitely not affection. Is he just trying to figure out Harry here? Does he really have a meaning in mind when he says “unusual”?
Sarina: I took it that… he makes reference to Harry burying a house-elf. He treats someone like an equal who most of the wizarding world, or the “wand-carriers” as they call them, look down upon. He treats him with equality and he’s talking to Griphook and has saved him like he considers him a human or an equal. And I thought to myself, I’ve never realized how… I never saw the wizarding world through another creature’s eyes. Even as much with Dobby I thought to myself, wow, the wizards in Harry Potter really are more species-ist than I had ever realized. And I think that is what I was getting from Griphook.
Alyssa: Yeah. I think that it has a lot more to do with the fact that Harry is treating essentially second and third-class citizens like equals.
Caleb: Yeah, and we get to that pretty quickly. Harry tells Griphook his plan of wanting to break into the Lestranges’ vault. Griphook is not surprised that Harry, unlike other wizards, is not interested in seeking treasure, particularly because of the way he sees Harry. But he’s still not crazy about the idea, and so we get this term that we just talked about, “wand-carriers.” And so Ron pipes up… [laughs] god!
Caleb: Ron says, “Well, goblins can do magic without wands.” And so, as someone who has hated on Ron in the past, he plays like a duel purpose here, right? He had to really think about it because it’s not obvious what’s going on. Ron is representing both the problem, this lazy thought of wizards oppressing them, but he’s also not actively the part and sect of wizards who are demeaning and subverting goblins. But at the same time, it’s important to show that it’s just this kind of lay ignorance that perpetuates it, and Ron’s not necessarily culpable, but there’s this moment of now where we’re getting to learn about it a little bit more.
Michael: Well, that’s that issue of if you’re not working to solve the problem, you may be part of it.
Michael: Ron’s that example almost all the time.
Caleb: That’s true.
Sarina: Ron is also just a really good… I mean, he’s used as a really good plot device a lot of the time, because it’s through Ron that we realize other little details of the wizarding world. Like Ron earlier on says something about, “My mom can make food out of nothing,” and Hermione says, “No, that’s not how magic works.” There’s all these little places where Ron says, “This is how the wizarding world works,” and Hermione says, “No, it’s not.”
Sarina: And they represent this very yin and yang part of this world so we get to see that bigger picture, and it’s really valuable.
Alyssa: I think that’s actually great that you bring that up because the next point is how Hermione reacts, and obviously she is very much like, “Well, I’m a Mudblood.” But I think it’s also very telling that even though she’s also in this under-privileged position, she’s very quick to say, “I’m just as hunted as house-elves and goblins.” Which isn’t explicitly true by any means. She’s certainly at a disadvantage among other wizards, but generally speaking, everyone’s pretty much fine. That’s much more like Voldemort and blood purists are touchy about that, but she’s not being subjugated in the same way that creatures like goblins and house-elves are. So that’s a problem that Hermione has throughout the books where it’s like, “Okay, I’m going to champion this or be a part of this cause, but not fully comprehend the nuances.”
Michael: Well, and that’s what’s so complicated here with Griphook because he’s somebody that… he’s being pretty upfront about… and it’s kind of a shame that Harry, Ron, and Hermione – especially Hermione – aren’t properly reading between the lines of what Griphook’s saying. Because he’s making it clear that… there’s more to this than he’s letting on. He’s got very complicated issues with all of this. That goes back to what you were asking, Caleb, about what does Griphook even think of Harry? And as we’ll find out in a future chapter, Bill will clarify that goblins have a very different way of thinking than wizards do.
Alyssa: Mhm. It’s a very timely kind of lesson, I think.
Caleb: Oh, yeah. So yeah, I think what you brought up, Alyssa, you really have to think about it. We should be questioning Hermione in this moment. I think she comes from a good place, but we’re not going to super dig into the social justice issues that are really underlying here. But there’s a lot relevant here and really questioning Hermione. She brings up SPEW and it becomes a very relevant movement she did now because as much as maybe Griphook shouldn’t accept what she’s saying fully and almost identify with her, I think he does because of this sentence. It says, “The goblin gazed at Hermione with the same curiousity he had shown Harry.” So it seems like Griphook has come to this point where he almost sees Hermione as that unusual wizard, accepting her just as he did Harry. And I don’t know that he should at this point if I’m in his position.
Alyssa: Well, I think it’s hasty to say he accepts. I think that there’s still mistrust…
Caleb: Yeah, that’s true.
Alyssa: … in the sense of these are people who are essentially, like you said, part of the problem. Because they have never given a thought to whether or not house-elves and goblins should be able to carry a wand. I mean, that’s something that could be debated.
Alyssa: It’s something that’s very hard to equate immediately, especially if you don’t know anything about it. It’s hard to say, “Well, I’m a Mudblood. It’s the same.” And it’s like, well… [laughs] maybe, but probably not.
Caleb: Yeah, and I think that – I want to say this carefully – it’s interesting that Jo writes it almost so that we’re focusing on Hermione taking this moment to own the Mudblood banner. She calls herself a Mudblood, really owns up to it for the first time. Ron says something – I don’t have it right in front of me – “Don’t call yourself…” he starts to mutter. And she says, “Why shouldn’t I? Mudblood, and proud of it!” That’s really what we’re focused on; that’s what Jo’s trying to get us to focus on. But it’s much more complex what’s going on here if you really get down into it. But the point is that seems to be at least enough for Griphook to think about it, [laughs] as crazy as he thinks the Gringotts break-in plan is. He says that he’ll think about it. And so, they leave the room and then Harry talks to Ron and Hermione about what this was all about. Because now it’s really come to light that Harry thinks that there’s a Horcrux in the Lestranges’ vault at Gringotts. So the one thing that I thought about is Harry seems to think… so this passage is, one, about now we know where another Horcrux is, and two, Harry is really showing how he gets Voldemort, which is something that Hermione comments on. So he talks about how Voldemort would have really envied someone with a Gringotts vault, and not just that, he says, a Gringotts key. I kind of question that. I know that that’s been true of things in the past – I can’t think of one off the top of my head… Well, he gathers objects that are really important to wizarding society, but does he envy a Gringotts vault, something that’s controlled by goblins? I guess I’m just really not sure about that.
Michael: I think he envies a Gringotts vault, not because of the… I think the goblin part is irrelevant; I think the part that he envies is that it represents a certain level of status. You own something and you have somewhere to put precious things, and there’s a monetary value associated with it, because Voldemort has a very juvenile outlook on the world. It’s a very… [clears throat] and that’s what’s explored, I think, in that first memory of him as a child in the orphanage.
Alyssa: And I think it’s something only wizards can have, as well. It’s not only status, it’s magical. And Voldemort obviously identifies very strongly with that magical, special part of himself.
Caleb: Right, so do you think it’s that they have a vault that’s really important, that they have a high security vault for only really high status families? Because in theory, he could have gotten his own vault when he got out of school, when he started working at Borgin and Burkes…
Sarina: He was never rich enough to need a vault. I mean, he’s using a vault from one of the most richest, powerful wizarding families. It kind of makes sense that the status really would be meaningful to them, because when he was a human he had so little. Before he became “the Lord Voldemort,” he was just another guy who didn’t have a vault to fill with riches. He was just Tom Riddle.
Michael: Yeah, I think that’s important, Sarina, because the people who… a lot of the vaults we see that are important in the story not only represent privilege, but they also represent these longstanding families who have very “pureblood” roots in the wizarding world. It’s another sign of… the length of the time that your family has this vault and the riches that it’s filled with represent how pure your blood is.
Alyssa: Mhm. Yeah, well said.
Michael: Thank you. [laughs]
Caleb: All right. I’m going to keep pushing Devil’s advocate against this part of the passage.
Caleb: So Harry doesn’t think that Bellatrix knows it’s a Horcrux. But she clearly thought it was important, and she got super worried and anxious about it – we saw that in the previous chapter. So if she doesn’t think it’s a Horcrux, what did she think it was? Or did she just… I mean, Bellatrix’s personality is almost set up to where she would just blindly follow. Voldemort said it’s important and that’s the end of her brain function about it. That’s where she stops.
Sarina: Yeah, ditto.
Caleb: I’m just trying to humanize her a little bit, I guess, to think of how she thought about this.
Alyssa: Well, I think there’s a little bit of a parallel with Lucius and the diary here. I mean, even though they didn’t necessarily know what these objects were, they knew that they were important to Voldemort. And obviously in Lucius’s case he felt, “Well, Voldemort’s gone now. This is nothing, really.” There’s no obvious significance. But I mean, there’s a much more obvious significance to the sword … although I doubt Bellatrix knew that he had so many Horcruxes, I actually feel like she might have known that this one was planned to be one maybe because she does say at one point – I think it’s in the last chapter – “He trusted me with his most secret…” and then gets cut off.
Caleb: Yeah. See, I tend to agree. I think she had an inkling, at least.
Alyssa: Yeah, she gets Voldemort.
Michael: I wonder if she did, just because Horcruxes are said to be this thing that not a lot of… Horcruxes are like the Hallows – actually not as many people as you think know about them know about them. I’m more inclined to agree that she just blindly went with whatever he told her it was, even if that was a lie. And maybe that’s the reason that it was cut off in the text, because it’s meant to be like, “Well, he told her a total BS story and she bought it.”
Alyssa: [laughs] That could be.
Michael: I wouldn’t be surprised. I think that was a great parallel to bring up, Alyssa, because Voldemort brings that up in his mind once they get the sword and the goblet out of the vault. Voldemort realizes that it was stupid of him to trust both Lucius and Bellatrix with his Horcruxes. And I think as far as humanizing Bellatrix, Caleb, this is probably her most human-like failing, that she’s so audacious to think that she can… the point in “Malfoy Manor” when she loses her cool is a big mistake on her part because she gives it away.
Michael: And I think Voldemort thought she wasn’t going to do that.
Caleb: Right. Good point.
Sarina: The other thing about the sword is that, yeah, she could have thought it was a Horcrux or she could have just… whatever Lord Voldemort said she would just go with. But the sword is a sword – it is the Sword of Gryffindor – and it can be used to kill Horcruxes or destroy Horcruxes or could potentially… she knows Harry Potter is a Gryffindor and it could present itself to him. I can see how they would want to keep it locked up, no matter what it is. It’s a weapon.
Michael: The sword, I think, would be easy to… like you said, Sarina, I think he probably told her that it was some kind of weapon that Harry could use against him.
Michael: The cup, I think, is the part where it gets muddy.
Michael: Just because, that’s the actual Horcrux, but…
Caleb: So we mentioned this briefly earlier, but I just wanted to quickly point it out. When they, after they talk about this, Hermione just says, “You really understand him.” Which I think is certainly becoming true, but I think it’s more interesting that Harry accepts it. He doesn’t try to push it off. He says, “Bits of him. Bits. I just wish I had understood Dumbledore as much. But we’ll see.” So it’s really owning up to… he does get him and this is something he’s really just connected to.
Michael: Well, and it’s important to for Hermione to say it because I think Hermione’s quietly accepting, “Okay, I’m going to stop telling you to use Legilimency now.”
Michael: “Because, it’s, obviously that’s not how this plan is supposed to go anymore.”
Caleb: And honestly that was getting annoying after too long so, thank you. [laughs]
Michael: She’s wrong. The one thing Hermione’s always been wrong on. Yeah, she’s finally relented. That’s her way of admitting, “Yeah this is a tool that we need.”
Caleb: So next we turn to Ollivander who’s quite grateful of Harry’s saving him, and he’s happy to help, even though Harry apologizes for disturbing him. The first thing Harry… we forget that there’s maybe a need for Harry to get some personal knowledge, info, whatever, out of this. But he finds out that his wand cannot be fixed. We’ve kind of forgotten about his wand for a little while. So it’s pretty crushing news for Harry. He says he’s steeled himself for the news, but it’s still a pretty crushing blow understandably. And I thought it was really great for Jo to bring some wands in that aren’t necessarily relevant for the plot. But we get a chance to just look at a couple of wands. We get to see Bellatrix, Draco, and Peter’s wands. So Bellatrix’s is walnut and Dragon Heartstring, 12 ¾ inches, unyielding. Which I think, obviously the description is perfect.
Michael: Yeah, unyielding.
Michael: Walnut on Pottermore says, and this is all from Ollivander, from his perspective, it’s “highly intelligent witches and wizards ought to be offered a walnut wand for trial first. Because in nine cases out of ten the two will find in each other their ideal mate. Walnut wands are often found in the hands of magical innovators and inventers. Handsome wood possessed of unusual versatility and adaptability. Note of caution, however, while some woods are difficult to dominate and may resist the performance of spells that are foreign to their natures, the walnut wand will, once subjugated, perform any task its owner desires, provided that the user is of sufficient brilliance. This makes for a truly lethal weapon in the hands of a witch or wizard of no conscience. For the wand and the wizard may feed from each other in a particularly unhealthy manner.”
Sarina: That fits for her.
Alyssa: Sounds like her relationship with Voldemort.
Caleb: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael: No conscience.
Caleb: Then we get Draco’s wand, which is hawthorn and unicorn hair. 10 inches, precisely. Reasonably springy.
Michael: Reasonably springy is a nice giveaway actually for what’s coming up with Malfoy.
Caleb: So it’s interesting that follows the length description, “precisely.” It’s like exactly that, nothing else. But then we get the description of it is “reasonably springy.” So we’ve got some flexibility.
Michael: Yeah. Well, because wand length, Ollivander has mentioned on Pottermore, is related to your… the amount of personality you have. That’s more associated with personality and I think that works for Draco because that’s a very… that suggests that very austere nature.
Caleb: Right, it’s a 10, perfect.
Michael: Yeah, a perfect 10.
Michael: Nothing more or less. But the reasonably springy is nice, because that indicates a flexibility in his way of thinking. Which is the idea of the flexibility of the wand are also ways that they reflect how people will behave in the future, and the choices they’ll make. What does hawthorn say to? And it’s also neat too, to find out that his core is Unicorn, because Unicorn Hair is a very nice core, so I’m assuming Malfoy didn’t tell people that on a daily basis. Because he probably would have been teased.
Alyssa: I feel like there was a… I don’t know if this was a theory or something explicitly said on Pottermore or something, but I remember there was a lot of talk years ago about how so many of the innocent characters have Unicorn Hair. Like Cedric had it, Ron’s first wand of his own was Unicorn Hair core, like that kind of thing. And talking about these characters that are inherently innocent or good, have that, and it’s interesting to note that he does have it.
Sarina: There’s that one scene at the beginning of the book where Draco Malfoy is just staring and staring at that teacher who’s floating above the table, who’s going to get, you know, tortured and murdered. And he… it reminds me that he is a kid, and he might act arrogant and he might act like a jerk and he might present himself as this big bad Slytherin, but he really is just a kid who’s doing, you know, he’s been put in this Slytherin culture and Slytherin family, and he does show some of his own character in the last chapter in this book. That he really is his own person and I think, at his very heart, he is that Unicorn Hair.
Michael: Yeah, no. I think what you’re saying Serena speaks actually to the overall issue with what a bully is. In that Malfoy has been raised to think certain ways and he’s been put in a very… in a position where he’s supposed to be “the man of the household, to walk in his father’s footsteps and not question things” and once that… once he’s faced with those questions all of a sudden, he actually starts thinking about them instead of blindly going along with other people… with what other people have been telling him. But it’s been so long in his life, you know, it’s been 16, 17 years that he’s been hearing these things, that it’s been very damaging to him.
Alyssa: Something I like about Draco that we learn about him in the last book, as well as in this book, is that he is, despite his… I guess it goes along with being all talk. But he is very repulsed by violence, and by…
Alyssa: … brutality. Obviously, he breaks Harry’s nose, but he really… he is obviously terrified and repulsed by how they treated Charity Burbage, and obviously he was repulsed by what he would have had to do to Dumbledore.
Alyssa: And I think that’s a huge marker for what his heart really is, despite what even J.K. Rowling has said about him in recent months.
Michael: The basic summary of Hawthorn on Pottermore is that, the word that keeps coming up is that, it’s a paradoxical wand.
Michael: That it’s full of contradictions and that Ollivander found that it can be very good at healing spells, but it’s also very adept at curses.
Caleb and Sarina: Hmm.
Michael: And that Hawthorn wands have a notable peculiarity: their spells can, when badly handled, backfire – which I think speaks a lot to Malfoy’s character and his plans in Book 6. His visions of glory for himself and what he’ll do for his family totally backfire on him.
Sarina: It’s interesting because this does become Harry’s wand.
Sarina: And all these things that have this great… it’s a good duality that it could work. It’s a wand that could work for both of them.
Michael: I’d say it’s almost like the… I don’t know if Ollivander really says that in this section; but perhaps the reason it’s even more compatible is because of that duality. That the wand’s wood and the reasonably springy flexibility allow for… there is a lack of rigidity about who this wand could go to as far as their personality.
Caleb: Right. And then finally we get Peter Pettigrew’s wand, which is Chestnut and Dragon Heartstring, 9 and 1/4 inches, brittle.
Michael: Brittle. That sounds about right. [laughs]
Alyssa: Yeah. Very nervous and afraid.
Michael: Cracks under pressure.
Alyssa and Caleb: Yeah.
Alyssa: I’m also a Dragon Heartstring core, I should add.
Alyssa: Hey. Best core.
Caleb: I have to think about what my original Pottermore wand was; now I can’t remember. It’s been a long time.
Michael: Oh, it says on Pottermore, “When paired with Dragon Heartstring, Chestnut may find its best match among those who area overfond of luxury and material things, and less scrupulous then they should be about how they are obtained.”
Michael: So that fits because there is not much in here that speaks to Pettigrew in Chestnut but, although, I suppose – Alyssa, you’ll appreciate this – this is a “most curious, multifaceted wood, which varies greatly in character depending on its core and takes a great deal of color from the personality that possesses it.”
Alyssa: Hmm. Interesting. That makes a lot of sense.
Alyssa: I think that it’s also interesting, generally with wand lore and sort of wand making, that how much of this could be chalked up to self-fulfilling prophecy. [laughs]
Alyssa: If you were to study what wand woods and wand cores mean… because, I mean, Ollivander in this case selects them for you, and it’s a little bit… it’s almost like a horoscope, like a personality quiz. So how does that factor into the trajectory of your life?
Michael: Well, and we know there is a lot of people in this time period post the war that are going to be getting brand new wands.
Michael: That idea that this uncommon thing where you get to get a new wand later in your life and perhaps that wand… I mean, people… it’s perfect timing with Pottermore brought back the sorting quiz and the wand quiz today because I’ve already seen people actually posting on my Facebook that they’re like, “Oh, I got a different House this time,” or, “I got the same House but I got a different wand.”
Caleb: Oh my God.
Michael: Which, to me… there is an option, listeners. If you go on Pottermore, if you remember your old username, you can actually dig up your old account, which is what I did because I was like, “I don’t want anything to be different.” But…
Caleb: That’s certainly what I’ll be doing the first thing after we finish this recording.
Sarina: Yeah, me too.
[Michael and Sarina laugh]
Michael: It’s back. At least that part is back.
Michael: But yeah, there are people who are actually finding that, that you can ostensibly get a different wand, so… we’re seeing… we just saw that with, or we will see that, I’m mistaken. We will see that when Ollivander leaves, he’ll send Luna a new wand.
Caleb: Right. So yeah, the next point is Harry actually gets the confirmation from Ollivander that you can win over wands. We’ve talked a lot about that both in the recap and the last couple of minutes, so we know now that… I’m pretty sure that this is the first full confirmation that this is a thing. You can win over wands, which is obviously going to be super important at the end of the book. We know now that Harry has won over Malfoy’s wand, and this transitions into the discussion of the Elder Wand and get into the need to kill people to take over a wand. Primarily, Ollivander is very startled that Harry knows about this mythology of the Elder Wand. Or, not mythology for Ollivander; these facts. Because he certainly believes it to be true. Harry never really… it’s an interesting conversation that Ollivander keeps… he’s really startled constantly that Harry knows, and he asks how he knows about it. Harry never answers but Ollivander continues the conversation. Harry is such a dominant force in this conversation of someone who is arguably one of the most talented wizards of their time, certainly at least in one area of magic, and is just so… I mean, he is obviously in a weakened state but… it really just shows how Harry takes over this conversation.
Michael: Yeah. Ollivander is actually… it’s even more, I think, properly fleshed out on Pottermore; at least, it was when everything was the way it used to be. But Ollivander is basically a savant when it comes to wands. If Noah were here to ask if wands were alive, I think Ollivander would answer that they are.
Michael: Because he almost can speak to one. So he knows wand language and just this deeper, almost spiritual understanding of wands that most people don’t have. And he even… he’s so audacious to claim that even most of his peers, his fellow wand makers, don’t have this sense of wands that he does. I don’t think that, necessarily, comes strictly from a showmanship “buy my wands” thing. The tone that he puts off on Pottermore really suggests that he truly believes that there’s some kind of special gift with wands that he and his family have passed down through the years.
Caleb: Right. But we do get a break about, at least, something that Ollivander does not know. For all he knows about wands, he cannot explain now…
Michael: This is shocking.
Caleb: … and he couldn’t explain it to Voldemort, what was going on with Harry and Voldemort… with their wands because we thought it was just the twin cores that was making Voldemort unable to really overpower Harry whenever they interacted, but then obviously it happens at the beginning of this book with Lucius’s wand. And Ollivander can’t explain that and obviously, Voldemort isn’t very happy about this. And here, Ollivander just has to point-blank say he doesn’t understand what’s going on. Just like you said Michael, super shocking.
Michael: It’s nice because it’s… we actually are getting a lot of answers to our questions here and so Rowling is doing a good job of still keeping us intrigued about… by the point that Ollivander says, “I don’t know,” he’s on a roll with giving us what we want to know and then there’s a stall there and that’s a pretty big one.
Caleb: Mhm. This really leads up to the realization that Voldemort now isn’t just going after the Elder Wand just to overpower Harry because we get… we figure out that Voldemort is going to learn that Harry no longer has his wand anymore because of Prior Incantantum. He’s… they’re going, Voldemort’s going, to realize that the wand was broken because Hermione tried… they tried to mend it with Hermione’s wand. But then Ollivander says, “He’s determined to pose…” So he says right before, “It’s more than just trying to overpower you. He’s determined to possess it because he believes it will make him truly invulnerable.” And so there’s… interesting thing here… so earlier whenever we first learn about the Deathly Hallows, Harry realizes that this is probably the only Deathly Hallow Voldemort probably only knows about; certainly is only the one he is focused on. And at the end of this chapter, we find that Ollivander also doesn’t know what the Deathly Hallows are. He’s completely confunded by the term.
Michael: Yeah, it’s… I think this is that thing that the movie misses and that the fandom misses a lot when they’re reflecting on Hallows because, of course, the book is named this but it’s really… I think that was the back fire of Rowling calling it Deathly Hallows because I think there’s this misconception, even by fans, that more characters know what the Deathly Hallows are than…
Michael: … actually do. It’s… I think it’s… it’s really good to establish that Ollivander doesn’t know because Ollivander is so knowledgeable in wand lore and he even knows the other names for the Elder Wand, but he can’t name where it came from as far as the origin story. He doesn’t even know and that’s surprising. So if he doesn’t, then… and it’s clear that Voldemort doesn’t know because he doesn’t… I mean, I don’t know if Voldemort had ever… if Voldemort was aware of the connection to “The Tale of the Three Brothers” if he would still… I think he’d still seek out the wand just as voraciously and still… and just as unbridled. I don’t think he’d be cautious about getting the wand even if he knew what it could do.
Alyssa: Actually, it strikes me as of a little bit of a plot hole, almost, just considering that Ron knows the “Tale of the Three Brothers” and the idea of the Elder Wand from childhood because it’s like a kids story.
Alyssa: So it’s a little surprising – to me – that Ollivander wouldn’t be aware of that. Even just a legendary connection.
Michael: Well, it’s interesting because it’s dependent on how the Hallows were digested into Wizarding culture and I think this really small subset of wizards took it more… I think most wizards take it as like a Grimm’s fairy tale; where it’s a fun little story and there’s really nothing more to it and it’s a morality tale.
Michael: Versus this subsect of wizards who took it almost more like a Greek myth or like a treasure map. That there’s elements that are fictionalized but there’s also parts of it that are true. Or like the Holy Grail myth that you… there might be some truth to this. But I think having it come from somebody like Xenophilius shows that that’s considered to be kind of kooky in the wizarding world. Like that…
Caleb: Right. That’s what I was about to point out. The only two characters we know of and, actually, Xenophilius is the only one we see bring up the Deathly Hallows, but there’s only two characters we’ve ever interacted with that know about the Deathly Hallows in this way and that’s Xenophilius and Dumbledore. We know Grindelwald believes in it too but we don’t really ever interact with him. But when you think of those two wizards [laughs] they’re just so different and that’s…
Caleb: … who’s bringing the truth of the Deathly Hallows out in this chapter and then the previous chapter.
Michael: Yeah, like eccentricity doesn’t lend credence to the Deathly Hallow concept.
Michael: If anything, it detracts from it – I think – for the most people.
Sarina: It’s really good misdirection.
Michael: Yeah, mhm. That idea that “Actually, no, this may not be…” I mean I suppose, when you think of it that way, that’s perhaps where… because we were debating before about why Hermione so intently doubts this and really, in that way, that could be why. She doesn’t trust the source material.
Alyssa: Which is fair.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Alyssa: I mean she’s not wrong. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah. No, no she’s not. Definitely not wrong to question. Obviously here… she… I think her reaction when Ollivander starts listing off the names of the Elder Wand, the alternative names, I think that’s when it hits her and she’s horrified to realize that it does actually exists.
Caleb: Yeah. So the conversation ends with Ollivander – like we just mentioned, he doesn’t know about the Deathly Hallows. And so while this is going on we’re getting brief mentions, through both of these conversations, of Harry realizing that Voldemort is getting closer and closer. And once this conversation ends, Harry explains to Ron and Hermione what’s actually going on. So we discover that Dumbledore has the Elder Wand now and Harry, in telling them, really has to fully accept that they can’t chase Voldemort down for the Wand and they absolutely must go after the Horcruxes. Ron is like, “Why aren’t we going after him? We need to go.” But Harry says, “It’s too late; this isn’t our path.” And I think there’s a real importance in not just telling himself, but telling all three of them, “And this is where we’re going forward.” And then we get to one of the most eerie scenes of the series when we fully go to Voldemort back at Hogwarts – I’m turning back to it in my book – because this is the first time we see Voldemort and Snape interact around the Hogwarts area. He says, “‘I shall join you in the castle shortly,’ he said in his high, cold voice. ‘Leave me now.’ Snape bowed and set off back up the path, his black cloak billowing behind him.” So I just thought it was really interesting that Jo made sure to have them interact as Voldemort enters the grounds. And Voldemort is going forward and in a second he casts upon himself a Disillusionment Charm, which I thought was interesting that Jo made sure to have him use that because we’ve had these comparisons to the real Invisibility Cloak and how it’s not like a Disillusionment Charm or something that wears off, and that’s something that Voldemort still has to rely on because he doesn’t have this Deathly Hallow because he doesn’t know about it.
Michael: And I think, too, that it’s implied that – because Voldemort is as powerful, in many ways, as Dumbledore – his Disillusionment Charm is stronger than a normal person’s because Dumbledore’s was and Rowling has confirmed that. And Sorcerer’s Stone basically confirms that, that Dumbledore has means of being invisible that are more powerful than normal wizards.
Michael: Or even a cloak.
Caleb: So then it says about Voldemort: “And he walked on, around the edge of the lake, taking in the outlines of the beloved castle, his first kingdom, his birthright…”
Michael: What a douche.
Caleb: That line just almost was like, “What?!” This is out of nowhere. It’s not unreasonable that he thinks this way, but because we’re so quickly thrown into Voldemort’s point of view and we never get him thinking this way about Hogwarts to this extreme, it just really stood out to me.
Michael: Well, it should because it’s… Voldemort, from what we’ve understood before, his feelings about Hogwarts were almost supposed to be similar to Harry’s in that it’s an alternative home.
Michael: But this is, I think, the point where we first see, “Oh, that’s not the case.” Voldemort has taken it to a bastardized extreme where he’s like, “This isn’t just like a home for me, this is my home. This is my house and I have a right to this because my ancestor made a horrifying basement here with a snake so therefore it’s mine.”
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Alyssa: I think it’s also telling that the first thing that he attempts to take over, through Draco’s assistance, is Hogwarts. Obviously, he has infiltrated the Ministry as well, but he understands that he needs to take Hogwarts in order to have that footing in the wizarding world.
Michael: Well, yeah.
Alyssa: It’s a little bit like Nazi youth, where it’s like, “I need a place to educate my soldiers.”
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think a lot of people have talked, in the past, about why didn’t Voldemort take a bigger hand in taking over the Ministry? Why doesn’t he become the Minister? And why doesn’t he take that role? And I think, like you were saying, Alyssa, he knows that it’s more valuable to plant ideas in children’s minds than to try and… because they are more malleable than adults. And that is going to give him more power.
Alyssa: I think it’s a lot easier to keep people afraid when you’re out of sight, as well.
Michael: Yes, yes.
Alyssa: Either people can ignore it by saying, “Well, he’s not actually here,” or to say, “Where could he be?” And that’s very scary.
Caleb: This is possibly the only scene where we get… and I could be wrong about this, but where we really get into Voldemort’s point of view where we get his feelings, his thoughts, his emotions. As he is approaching the tomb, it describes him feeling a “rush of controlled euphoria, that heady sense of purpose in destruction.” He splits the tomb open with his wand. Another reference to wands being so relevant: He says, “How fitting that this would be its last great act,” talking about his old yew wand. And then we see Dumbledore: “The shrouded figure was as long and thin as it had been in life.” And he raised the wand again. Dumbledore’s face was “translucent, pale, sunken, yet almost perfectly preserved. They had left his spectacles on the crooked nose; he felt amused derision. Dumbledore’s hands were folded upon his chest, and there it lay, clutched beneath him, buried with him.” And so then this is, I really feel, the moment where Voldemort, at least himself, feels… and for now for everyone, really conquers Dumbledore. He obviously didn’t kill him but he took what’s probably, maybe more important than his life in some respects; is taking the Elder Wand. And Voldemort thinks to himself: “Had he thought that the Dark Lord would be scared to violate his tomb?” And then he picks up the Wand, and – I thought this was interesting – “a shower of sparks flew from its tip, sparkling over the corpse of its last owner, ready to serve a new master at last.”
Caleb: So earlier in the chapter, they ask Ollivander if it has to be passed by murder. And of course we know that Dumbledore was, in a sense, murdered. He was killed, at least, by someone. But it’s so complicated once we find out later: The person – Snape – kills him, but the Wand never changes ownership because Draco technically has ownership over the Elder Wand. So I think it is interesting that they ask Ollivander earlier in the chapter if it has to be killing by a person to take over the Wand, which is obviously not technically the case. It’s much more complicated. But we can talk about that in a second. Why do we think the Wand sparks? Is it just passing hands? Taking the new owner?
Michael: I would guess that it sparks because the Elder Wand… the thing that has the… [laughs] we asked a question about which Hallow would the listeners pick, and people who picked the Wand said, “Oh, I wouldn’t use it to gain power; I’d use it to wash my dishes really well.” And that’s nice and all…
Michael: … but actually, I don’t think the Wand would work that way because the Wand is very much in a way like Gryffindor’s sword: It takes in that which makes it stronger. And so the Wand has been learning all of these… the Wand would be better at combative spells and powerful magic, dark or light. And I think the Wand recognized, probably… and this is all just me pulling from the little we’ve got on this, but I’m assuming that the Wand just recognizes that Voldemort is very powerful; not necessarily that it belongs to him. Because as we see, the Wand still works for Voldemort as he’s using it in the Battle of Hogwarts. It still does basically what he wants it to do. The movie tries to exaggerate the point by having the Wand crack when he uses it.
Caleb: [laughs] God. I cannot.
Michael: [laughs] The movie has to get that point across because the movie doesn’t explain this very well.
Caleb: Right, no, that’s true.
Sarina: I think he says, “The Wand resists me.” And I do wonder because of that statement… because it’s hard to go back to that moment when that scene first happens, but knowing what I know afterward, I wonder: Is that the Wand’s little spark of resistance? Is the Wand saying, “Eh, he’s not my master”?
Michael: [laughs] “Eh, put me down.”
Caleb: “Stop, put me down! Put me down!”
Alyssa: Yeah, at this point, Harry is already the master of the Wand. So it was never going to work for him in that way, in the way that he hoped it would in terms of being the all-conquering master.
Michael: The only time I can think of… the most significant time I can think of when a wand involuntarily sparks is when Harry – and there [are] other moments, but this one is probably the most significant one – is of course, when Harry gets his correct wand and waves it through the air for the first time and it sparks. Notably, it sparks the house colors of Gryffindor before he’s even been Sorted. [laughs] But I don’t know if that’s just a knee-jerk… Harry also in Goblet of Fire is cleaning his wand and it’s shooting little sparks as he’s doing it. Alyssa, so many fan fiction jokes.
Alyssa: I was going to say!
Alyssa: I was like, “I’m not going to be the one to say it.”
Caleb: Oh, God.
Michael: But I think that might just be an involuntary reaction. I’m guessing on the part of the book, it’s just be a theatrical thing. It’s more exciting if the Wand does something rather than if it’s just like, “And then he picked up the Wand and held it in his hand.”
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Caleb: I legitimately forgot that that had happened in the text.
Michael: Yeah, because they make such a big hoopla of it in the movie. [laughs]
Caleb: Right. And so you assume, “Oh, that didn’t happen in the book.”
Michael: Yeah, right! Because it’s so overplayed in the movie. Well, and of course in the movie it’s like a lightning storm. But it’s the same idea. I think to me, just as far as a literary standpoint, it’s just theatrical. It’s just to make the moment more visually interesting.
Michael: Because she’s never really described… that’s the other thing, too, that wands in… I think that’s the thing we forget, too, as readers, is that wands in the books are implied to just be sticks. She can’t go on a visual description of the wand because there’s nothing visually about the wands that distinguish them from each other, other than maybe their colors based on the wood they’re made out of.
Alyssa: Yeah, I agree.
Michael: But otherwise, there’s no design. The Elder Wand, luckily, by chance… because they didn’t know that when they designed it in Prisoner because they just thought it was Dumbledore’s wand. Luckily, the Elder Wand ended up having this very distinct design for the movie. It’s actually designed to look like little bee hives because Dumbledore’s name is associated with bees.
Alyssa: Yeah, it’s old English.
Michael: Yeah, so that was a happy accident that the Wand ended up looking as significant as it did. But I think maybe the sparks are just a replacement because otherwise the wand is not that remarkable in visual appearance, right? It’s just a wand.
Alyssa: This is probably nothing, but I think it’s also interesting to point out that most bees will die in order to protect their nest. Once they sting once, that’s it.
Michael: Oh, hey.
Alyssa: For certain kinds of bees.
Michael: Right? It all fits.
Caleb: It does.
Michael: It all means something. [laughs]
Alyssa: It’s all connected. Full circle.
Caleb: So yeah, that’s how this heavy chapter ends, with Voldemort getting a big win: getting the wand.
Alyssa: Man, this was a heavy chapter, man.
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Caleb: I’m telling you.
Michael: And that’s how the movie chose to end it.
Michael: Now we’ve fully done the movie and that part of the movie and that part of the book.
Michael: And before we end our show, we of course want to make sure and dig a little deeper with you, the listeners, with our Podcast Question of the Week. This week I would really like to explore Ollivander. This is a question that I have chewed on since my very first reading of Sorcerer’s Stone and I think it’ll be really be fun for you guys to explore, especially because this is our last chance to explore Ollivander in depth as a character because this is pretty much the last time we’re going to see him. So the question is, “In this chapter, Harry reflects on his first encounter with Ollivander, noting that, “˜He had been unsure when they first met of how much he liked Ollivander. Even now, having been tortured and imprisoned by Voldemort, the idea of the Dark wizard in possession of this wand seemed to enthrall him as much as it repulsed him.’ This is an aspect of Ollivander that has been anticipated since Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. Why is this aspect of Ollivander’s character recalled? What is the significance of this to Harry’s journey?” So to answer that question, listeners, head on over to alohomora.mugglenet.com, check out the Podcast Question of the Week post, and you’ll be able to explore this question with us a little further and we may be able to read some of your responses on next week’s show.
Caleb: And we want to take a second to thank both Sarina, our special guest host, for joining us this week, and Alyssa for jumping in to fill up one of the host spots.
Sarina: Thank you. It has been so exciting to be on your show.
Michael: Thank you, Sarina. You were a great guest.
Caleb: Absolutely. Legitimately, this has been… we were talking about this in our break a second ago. This has been such a great chapter discussion because there has just been so much and I didn’t anticipate it. And I’m sure this is going to be the case as we keep drawing up to the end. There were just a lot of great things happening on this discussion, so thanks, guys, for being part of that.
Alyssa: Aww, always a pleasure.
Sarina: Thank you.
Caleb: And if you would like to be on the show as one of our guests – yes, there are spots available as we close out Deathly Hallows – just head over to the “Be on the Show” page at alohomora.mugglenet.com. All you need is a set of Apple or similar headphones, and you will be all set. You do not need any fancy equipment.
Michael: And [laughs] you can also contact us here at Alohomora! There [are] many ways to do that. You can follow us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, on facebook.com/openthedumbledore, our Tumblr account mnalohomorapodcast.tumblr.com, our Instagram @alohomoramn, our main website, of course, alohomora.mugglenet.com, where you can leave us comments on both the main site as well as our forums. And while you’re there, feel free to download a ringtone for free of our catchy theme song from the show, or send an owl to audioBoom. You can go to alohomora.mugglenet.com to find that as well. It’s free. You’ll see a little bar on the side to record a message for us that you may be able to hear actually on the show and we may be able to look at some of your questions on audio. Just make sure, please, to keep it under 60 seconds so that we can actually fit it into the show.
Caleb: Also make sure to check out our store, where we have a lot of great products that we are selling. And this is a last reminder to check out our Patreon page, patreon.com/alohomora, particularly if you want to find out early what our plans are post-Deathly Hallows.
Michael: And of course, we have the Alohomora! smartphone app. You can now download it for free; no cost to you. Search “Podcast Source” in your phone’s app store. That’s something I need to try and do now that I finally have a smartphone to do that.
Alyssa and Caleb: Yay!
Michael: [laughs] I finally updated so I can do that app now, too. But that app usually includes lots of fun little behind-the-scenes things: transcripts, bloopers, all kinds of fun, cool stuff, so make sure and check that out. But for now, we are heading out from this episode of Alohomora! I’m Michael Harle.
Alyssa: I’m Alyssa Jennette.
Caleb: And I’m Caleb Graves.
[Show music begins]
Caleb: Thank you for listening to Episode 175 of Alohomora!
Michael: [as Ollivander] Open the Dumbledore. Curious. Very curious.
[Show music continues]
Alyssa: Yeah, absolutely. I think the point that Karkaroff has kind of come to accept death after all of that struggle is very poignant and is very understated, so it’s cool to be able to talk about it.
Michael: Did you say Karkaroff?
Alyssa: Oh, I’m sorry.
Alyssa: I’m looking at the notes, at what I wrote down. Because I… sorry. Grindelwald. Why did I say Karkaroff? Grindelwald. [laughs]
Michael: I just figured the listeners would be like, “What?”
Alyssa: No, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You’re right. I was looking at my notes like a doophus. Sorry!
[Alyssa and Michael laugh]
Alyssa: Just edit that out. It’s fine.