The Ghoul in Pyjamas

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Chapter 6 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Ghoul in Pyjamas← Chapter 5 | Chapter 7 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

It's like being a house-elf. Except without the job satisfaction. The sooner this wedding's over, the happier I'll be. {Ron about the wedding preparations}

In the days following Mad-Eye Moody's death, the Order deduces that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are preparing for Dumbledore's secret mission. Mr. Weasley and Lupin respect that the Trio are unable to discuss it. Mrs. Weasley, unable to persuade the three to return to Hogwarts or reveal any information, constantly assigns them chores, nominally to help with the wedding preparations, but actually intended to keep them separated and hamper their preparing for the mission. When Ginny says her mother is probably trying to delay their departure, Harry wonders aloud if Mrs. Weasley is hoping that someone else will bump off Voldemort. Ginny, pale-faced, asks if that is their mission, causing Harry to feebly claim he was only joking.

The Order has been forced to abandon Grimmauld Place as their Headquarters, and many members now have their meals at the Burrow; with Dumbledore's death, everyone privy to Grimmauld's hidden location and function has become a secret-keeper, able to reveal that the Black family home is their Headquarters. This includes Severus Snape, now deeply entrenched within the Death Eaters' council. Moody left some protective charms against Snape at Grimmauld's entrance, but it is uncertain how effective they might be.

Mad-Eye's body remains missing, while nothing has been reported in the media about the fusillade of magic used during the escape. The Ministry of Magic is apparently keeping people uninformed about Death Eaters growing more powerful, or that there was another mass Azkaban breakout.

During a short break from their chores, Hermione sorts which books to take on the mission while Harry again encourages her and Ron to remain behind. Both refuse, insisting they could have backed out six years earlier, and have had ample time to reconsider. Hermione has already modified her parents' memories and hidden them in Australia, and Ron shows Harry the family Ghoul in the attic that has been magically altered to resemble Ron with spattergroit. Anyone investigating Ron's absence from Hogwarts will likely avoid getting too close to anyone with such a contagious and fatal disease. The Trio still lacks a plan, but Harry first wants to visit Godric's Hollow. Hermione vetoes this idea, warning it is likely under surveillance. They should instead hunt for the real Locket Horcrux stolen by the mysterious R. A. B.

Hermione has Summoned Dark Magic books from Dumbledore's study. One, Secrets of the Darkest Art, gives full instructions on making Horcruxes; Harry believes Tom Riddle read it, and says Dumbledore was certain he already knew how to create a Horcrux before asking Professor Slughorn about making multiple ones. Hermione explains that Horcruxes are extremely powerful, and only extraordinary magical means can kill them, such as the Basilisk fang that destroyed Riddle's Diary – Basilisk venom is among the few things that can destroy a Horcrux. It is also unlikely that Voldemort can reunite his shredded soul on his own; that requires having deep remorse, something Voldemort is unlikely to feel, and it causes excruciating pain. Wondering how Dumbledore destroyed the Ring Horcrux, Harry rues how little time there was to ask Dumbledore questions. Mrs. Weasley suddenly bursts in and assigns Harry, Hermione, and Ron separate chores.

Mr. and Mrs. Delacour arrive the next day. Mr. Delacour is charming, Mrs. Delacour is a domestic genius. Everything falls into place around them, everything is wonderful, everything is lovely. As Harry's birthday approaches, Mrs. Weasley asks what he would like. Concerned that the wedding preparations are already complicated by hiding his presence, Harry tells Mrs. Weasley there is little that he needs, and does not want a big fuss.

Analysis[edit]

Harry's last-ditch effort to persuade Ron and Hermione to remain behind shows concern for their safety as well as a serious character flaw: his constant need to face adversity alone. In fact, much of Harry's strength and success results from his friends' support, abilities, and loyalty, though he never fully recognizes this; his mission to hunt and destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes will likely fail without their continued help. Harry's isolation during early childhood has limited his perspective somewhat, causing him to approach many difficulties by himself. Unwanted fame, peer resentment, and exploitation by adults have also adversely affected him.

Although Harry is a pivotal element in the fight against Voldemort, he has yet to fully realize that many other Wizarding families have suffered severely, and will continue to suffer, under the Dark Lord's reign of terror—this is not Harry's battle alone, and Ron and Hermione steadfastly refuse to abandon him. Hermione appears to be considering everything they will need for Harry's expected mission, and she and Ron have already acted to protect their respective families: Hermione has modified her parents' memories so that they believe they had no children and have always wanted to move to Australia, while Ron has given the ghoul in the attic his old pajamas, and magically made him up to look more or less like himself with Spattergroit. The plan is to put the ghoul into Ron's bed if Ron has to escape; as Spattergroit is very contagious, and apparently incurable, Ron and his father believe any raiding Death Eaters won't look too closely.

Mrs. Weasley's character also comes into closer focus here as she fails miserably to prevent the Trio from embarking on their mission. As seen in Order of the Phoenix, her Boggart is revolving images of her loved ones' corpses. Despite all her efforts, she likely knows nothing will deter the Trio's departure, and is frustrated she no longer has any real parental control over Ron, though that hardly stops her attempts. However, these maternal concerns are not only for Ron, Harry, and Hermione, but her entire family. Having already lost siblings to Voldemort, she knows that her husband and children will be in mortal peril if Voldemort discovers Ron is helping Harry. Mrs. Weasley's love for her family far outweighs any loyalty to the Order of the Phoenix, and, like most mothers, she has difficulty accepting what her son must do, and likely believes that Dumbledore's task is a far too difficult and dangerous burden for such young, inexperienced wizards. Her actions reflect her personal feelings, which are apparently shared by most of the other adults. They, however, seem to realize that attempts to stop Harry or the other two is futile, nor is there anything they can do; Mr. Weasley in particular has, perhaps resignedly, assisted Ron in preparing for the mission.

Hermione's claims that it was easy to Summon the Dark Arts books from Dumbledore's study, almost as if she was intended to retrieve them, is probably more accurate than she realizes. Dumbledore may have left these particular books unsecured so she could obtain them. Until now, with one exception, the Summoning charm has proven unblockable; one would think that if Dolores Umbridge, for instance, had wanted to secure Fred and George's confiscated brooms, she would have taken stronger measures to protect them from the Summoning charm than simple chains and bolts. She may actually have done so, but underestimated the Twins' ingenuity and talent in developing new magic to overcome common spells, or she may simply have had an exaggerated confidence in her own (apparently average) magical skills. On the other hand, Harry found that the Summoning charm was blocked when he attempted to summon the (fake) Horcrux inside the sea cave in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Voldemort's Dark Magic probably created a physical barrier to the spell, possibly via one of the inferi. We do not really know yet whether the Summoning charm can be blocked without some physical intervention; however, Hermione evidently thinks it can be.

While Harry says Dumbledore was certain Riddle already knew how to make a Horcrux before speaking with Slughorn, that text does not appear in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. However, later interviews with the author tend to confirm Harry's statement. Following this book's publication, the author stated that the first Horcrux was created with Tom Riddle Sr.'s death. This Horcrux was locked into the Peverell Ring, seen on Riddle's hand when he discusses making multiple Horcruxes with Professor Slughorn. As the Riddles died on the same night that Voldemort stole the Peverell Ring from his uncle, Morfin, the Ring must already have been a Horcrux when that conversation occurred. We must assume that, as events raced onwards, the author simply forgot to have Dumbledore mention this fact in our hearing.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. What does the Trio keep secret from Order of the Phoenix members? Why?
  2. How can Horcruxes be destroyed? Who learns how to do this?
  3. What did Hermione summon from Dumbledore's office? Why was it so easy for her to obtain them? Why would she need them?
  4. Why does Mrs. Weasley continually assign the Trio separate chores? Does she really believe this will have any affect?
  5. Why does Harry want Ron and Hermione to remain behind? Is he right? If not, why? What is their response?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why does Harry want to visit Godric's Hollow? Why is Hermione against it? Explain who is right.
  2. If Dumbledore was correct that Tom Riddle already knew how to make a Horcrux, why did Riddle seek Professor Slughorn's advice about how to create them?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when the Trio visit Mr. Weasley at St. Mungo's, a portrait on the wall diagnoses Ron with Spattergroit; the Wizard in that portrait was suggesting cures that seemed worse than the disease. Ron denies that he is suffering from Spattergroit, saying it is just freckles. This may partially have inspired the Ghoul's disguise. Over the next few chapters, more is learned about Spattergroit, an incurable magical fungus infestation. Starting with pustules on the skin, it proceeds to spread through the throat; once it reaches the uvula, the victim is unable to talk. It is extremely contagious, and eventually fatal.

There are several incidents throughout the story where someone casts the Summoning charm unsuccessfully. In some cases, the summoned item was either not present or the person casting the charm lacked a proper wand; however, in some instances, such as with Ravenclaw's Diadem, Gryffindor's Sword, and Harry's Invisibility Cloak, the object was present but simply failed to respond. However, unlike ordinary, everyday objects, these are powerful magical artifacts that may be impervious to Summoning charms. When Hermione fails to Summon the Locket Horcrux while at Grimmauld Place a little later, she suggests it is possible that it is magically prevented from responding, a fact that reminds Harry of how the fake Locket Horcrux in the sea cave was similarly protected. However, in Hermione's case, the Locket was simply no longer in the house when she attempts this, so it is unknown if it would have responded, though probably not. If it is that common to protect objects from a Summoning charm, it might be surmised that when Hermione so easily retrieved the Dark Arts books from the Headmaster's office, it may be that Dumbledore intended for her to have them.

According to Hermione, only a powerful magical object like the Basilisk fang that Harry used to stab Tom Riddle's Diary can destroy a Horcrux. While the Trio will desperately search for another equally powerful, but as yet unknown, object that can also do the job, considering that they are intensely discussing this among themselves, it seems rather odd that no one, particularly Hermione, thinks to bring Basilisk fangs on their mission. There is still ample time and opportunity to retrieve these from the Chamber of Secrets beneath Hogwarts castle. Although Hogwarts will fall under Voldemort's control later in the book, it is currently headed by Professor McGonagall, the acting Headmistress, and therefore still possible for the Trio to secretly enter, though Death Eaters are likely watching it and for Harry. And while a return to Hogwarts may be somewhat risky, it is certainly far less dangerous and complicated than when, several chapters ahead, the Trio invades the Ministry of Magic, and, later, their breaking into Gringotts Bank, to retrieve Horcruxes. When the Trio does return to Hogwarts near the book's conclusion, it is Ron who remembers the Basilisk fangs and fetches some from the Chamber to destroy a Horcrux.