Godric's Hollow

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Chapter 16 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Godric's Hollow← Chapter 15 | Chapter 17 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry awakens the next morning half-expecting Ron to be in his bunk, but finds it empty. Harry and Hermione delay packing, knowing Ron will be unable to find them once they leave. Unable to wait any longer, they Disapparate to a wind-swept hillside. Hermione breaks down in sobs, while Harry casts the protective spells around their campsite. For the next few days, Harry watches for Ron's dot on his Marauder's Map, certain he has returned to Hogwarts, but it never appears. At night, Harry and Hermione spend hours discussing where Dumbledore could have hidden Gryffindor's Sword. Harry is uncertain if he is angrier at Ron for leaving, or at Dumbledore for failing to give him more information. Ron's words haunt him: "We thought you knew what you were doing . . . We thought Dumbledore had told you what to do . . . We thought you had a real plan!" Ron was right; Dumbledore left him with virtually nothing, and the remaining Horcruxes are still just as unattainable.

At night, Hermione brings out Phineas Nigellus' portrait. Despite his threat never to visit it again but curious for information, he agrees to show up blindfolded every few days. Phineas only sporadically reveals information about Hogwarts, although Harry and Hermione learn about a low-level student mutiny. Snape has reinstated Dolores Umbridge's decree prohibiting three or more students from gathering or any unofficial student societies, although Harry speculates that Ginny, Luna, and Neville have probably revived Dumbledore's Army. Harry briefly yearns for Hogwarts' comforts, only to remember he is "Undesirable Number One."

The weather grows colder, and the two constantly move to new locations throughout the country. Christmas trees begin appearing in sitting room windows. Hermione shows Harry a strange hand-drawn symbol in The Tales of Beedle the Bard. She is unable to decipher it, but has determined it is something other than an eye icon or an ancient rune in the syllabary. Harry recognizes it as the same triangular symbol Xenophilius was wearing at the wedding. Krum had claimed it was Grindelwald's mark. Someone drawing a Dark mark in a children's book is puzzling to Hermione. Meanwhile, Harry, curious about his history, proposes going to Godric's Hollow; surprisingly, Hermione agrees, believing Dumbledore may have hidden the Sword in Godric Gryffindor's birthplace. She pulls out A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot and reads a passage about Godric Gryffindor. Harry remembers Ginny's Aunt Muriel telling him at the wedding that Bathilda Bagshot still lived in Godric's Hollow. Both silently notice that Harry deliberately avoided referring to Muriel as Ron's aunt. A thought suddenly occurs to Hermione—maybe Dumbledore entrusted the Sword to Bathilda.

Harry and Hermione immediately make plans to go to Godric's Hollow. Hermione first wants to practice Disapparating together under the Invisibility Cloak, plus a few other spells, but Harry only thinks about seeing his birthplace. It is another week before they depart for Godric's Hollow. Using some Muggle hairs that Hermione obtained for the Polyjuice Potion, they transform into a middle-aged couple. They Disapparate under the Invisibility Cloak to Godric's Hollow, but once there, Harry suggests removing the Cloak. A war memorial in the town square suddenly transforms into a statue of a man and a woman holding an infant. Astonished, Harry recognizes the two figures as his parents, and the baby as himself. While looking inside a church cemetery, they unexpectedly discover Kendra and Ariana Dumbledore's graves; Harry again wonders why Dumbledore never shared their common roots. On the grave marker is the inscription: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," though Harry is uncertain what it means. While searching for the Potters' graves, Hermione spots something. Carved on an old tombstone is the same symbol that was in the book and that Xenophilius wore. The stone's letters are badly weathered, and only the first name, Ignotus, can be read.

They continue hunting until Hermione calls out, "Harry, they're here . . . right here." The Potters' white marble headstone is only two rows behind Kendra and Ariana. Below James and Lily's names is the inscription: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death

Confused, Harry thinks this sounds like a Death Eater concept, but Hermione says it means to defeat death by existing beyond it. Its meaning provides little comfort to Harry, knowing his parents' moldering remains lie beneath the frozen ground. He sobs a bit, and Hermione takes his hand. Harry feels bad that he forgot to bring something for his parents, but Hermione, unasked, conjures a wreath of roses that Harry lays on the graves. They quietly turn to leave the cemetery.

Analysis[edit]

Although Harry wanted to "go it alone" on this mission, he now sorely misses Ron's presence and realizes how much he relied on his help and friendship. This may be a crucial turning point for Harry in learning to trust others and accept their help. He currently only has Hermione for support, but this could place an ever greater burden on her. Ron's painful absence also shows a sharp contrast to Hermione's steadfast loyalty, and it is doubtful that Harry could have gotten as far as he has without her assistance. In the past, he and Ron have tended to dismiss her contributions and abilities except when they needed specific information about something. Her careful planning and foresight has allowed the Trio to move relatively efficiently and comfortably throughout the country during their Horcrux search. Her diligent research methods and cool, logical mind will continue to be a useful resource to the mission. However, living by her wits and surviving day-to-day in a life-threatening situation have also greatly improved her practical skills and abilities, forcing her to also rely on intuition, speculation, and immediate action rather than always poring over books for definitive answers before taking action. Her quick, sharp reflexes have repeatedly saved the Trio from disaster, as when she Disapparated them away from Bill and Fleur's wedding and Grimmauld Place, and may do so again in future chapters.

Seeing Kendra and Ariana's tombstone disturbs Harry nearly as much as his own parents' graves. This reminder that Dumbledore had a hidden history, or that Harry never asked about it, reignites Harry's anger and confusion over Dumbledore's cryptic plan. The inscription on the gravestone, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," further frustrates Harry, who fails to understand how deeply Dumbledore loved his mother and sister. Harry again wonders why Dumbledore never revealed their common roots, though Skeeter's book leads us to believe the Dumbledore family only moved to Godric's Hollow to keep Ariana's condition hidden. Also, having discovered Ariana's existence causes Harry to ponder how much truth might actually back Rita Skeeter's book.

It is interesting to note that the Potters' statue is (appropriately) disguised as a war memorial. Not only did James and Lily fight against Voldemort in life, but they continue their battle in death through their son, Harry.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Review[edit]

  1. Why do Harry and Hermione avoid mentioning Ron's name?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why has Harry never been taken to visit Godric's Hollow and his parents' home and graves, despite it being a monument to their memories?
  2. Who might Ignotus be?
  3. The symbol on Ignotus' tombstone appears to be the same one Xeno Lovegood wore at the wedding, that Grindelwald used, and that was drawn in Dumbledore's copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. How might they be tied together?
  4. Why does Phineas Nigellus Black continually give Harry and Hermione updates about Hogwarts? Can this information be trusted? Explain why or why not.
  5. What might the inscription, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” mean? Who likely chose those words for Ariana and Kendra's grave stone and why?
  6. Who might have chosen the inscription for the Potters' tombstone? Is Hermione's interpretation of it correct, or could it mean something else entirely? Explain.
  7. Harry searches for Ron on the Marauders' Map but is unable to find him at Hogwarts. Where might Ron be and what could he be doing?
  8. Harry has no idea where to search for Gryffindor's Sword, although there is something that once helped him to obtain it. What is this, and why doesn't it occur to Harry? How difficult would it be to obtain this item?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Although Harry has abandoned his dream to be reunited with his dead parents, when he learns about the Deathly Hallows (and the Resurrection Stone), this possibility will be revived.

Harry and Hermione have no idea where to search for Gryffindor's Sword, and they are taking a huge gamble and using precious time in hope that Dumbledore hid it in Godric's Hollow. However, there could be another way to retrieve the Sword. Readers likely will remember that in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry pulled Gryffindor's Sword from the Sorting Hat when he fought the Basilisk. While this could be one possible way to obtain the Sword, neither Harry or Hermione considers it. There is certainly no guarantee that the Sorting Hat can or would provide the Sword on demand, or if it is at all possible to obtain the Hat that is safely secured in the Hogwarts Headmaster's office. Even if Harry's allies inside Hogwarts attempted to retrieve it, given the Castle's tight security, it could be a difficult undertaking for any student, even resourceful Dumbledore's Army members, to breach the Headmaster's office, particularly now that Snape is in residence there. And given Ginny, Luna, and Neville's previous unsuccessful attempt to steal the Sword of Gryffindor, their punishment could potentially be far more severe for a second offence. However, as the Sorting Hat may generally be considered an innocuous magical object that Harry would not be seeking, it is plausible that it could be removed from the Headmaster's office, possibly with Professor McGonagall's help. Also, considering how effortlessly Hermione was able to Summon the restricted books from Dumbledore's study, the Sorting Hat might likewise be retrieved. However, Snape, likely aware that the Sorting Hat has this ability, may have taken steps to protect it.

Harry will eventually obtain Gryffindor's Sword, not with the Sorting Hat, but with help from an unidentified ally. However, the Sorting Hat will again prove important later in the story when it provides Gryffindor's Sword to Neville Longbottom, who Harry tasks with destroying a remaining Horcrux should he, Ron, or Hermione be unable to.

The inscription on Lily and James' grave seems to reflect a Death Eater sensibility to Harry, and Hermione's counter-explanation feels weak to him, as it does to us. Reflecting on this inscription, we must wonder who wrote it. It is, of course, originally from the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:26), although one wonders if Rowling expects her readers to pick up on this. It is unlikely that it was authored by James or Lily, as they were quite young, and had likely given little thought to what would come after their deaths. As he was a close friend, it is possible that it would have been written by Dumbledore. If it was, we can see that the inscription proceeds from the story of the Deathly Hallows, and the belief that the one who controls all three Hallows can conquer Death. The Hallows would be close to the surface of Dumbledore's mind at that point. In addition to the Hallow that he himself possessed, he was also examining another of the three Hallows, the Invisibility Cloak, that he had borrowed from James. Dumbledore might have suffered a shade of guilt, thinking that with the Cloak, Harry's parents may have evaded Voldemort. For whatever reason, though, the inscription does seem to tally with a later declaration of the Hallows' power, better than it does either with Hermione's explanation or with Harry's understanding.