The Parting of the Ways

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Chapter 36 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Parting of the Ways← Chapter 35 | Chapter 37 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

At Professor Dumbledore's orders, Professor McGonagall is left to guard the bound Barty Crouch, while Professor Snape arranges for the real Alastor Moody to be sent to the Hospital wing, and then will fetch Cornelius Fudge to interrogate Barty. Professor Dumbledore and Harry head to the Headmaster's office where, over Sirius Black's protest that Harry is exhausted, Dumbledore requires that Harry recount what happened in the cemetery. Fawkes' Phoenix song gives Harry strength.

Dumbledore and Sirius seem shocked that Wormtail used Harry's blood for the charm, giving Voldemort the ability to touch Harry. Surprisingly, we see a brief triumphant gleam in Dumbledore's eyes when he hears this, but he only comments that Voldemort has overcome that particular barrier.

Dumbledore explains that Harry's and Voldemort's wands connecting was the Priori Incantatem effect. Harry's and Voldemort's wands both contain Fawkes' tail feathers, and when wands sharing a common magical core are forced to duel, one wand will disgorge its most recent spells. Harry confirms that Cedric appeared, as well as an an old man, Bertha Jorkins, and his father and mother. These figures, says Dumbledore, are not Ghosts, but only the spirit echoes or shadows that were created by Voldemort's victims when Voldemort's wand killed them.

When Harry is unable to continue, Fawkes flutters to the floor next to him, shedding healing tears onto the wound in Harry's leg. Dumbledore praises Harry for showing exceptional bravery against Voldemort. Sirius then transforms into a dog and accompanies Harry and Dumbledore to the infirmary. There, Mrs. Weasley, Bill Weasley, Ron, and Hermione are waiting. Moody is resting in a bed. Insisting Harry needs sleep, Dumbledore says all questions can wait until morning. He informs Madam Pomfrey that the dog will stay with Harry. Harry is given a purple potion and falls asleep even before he can finish it.

Loud voices awaken Harry as Cornelius Fudge, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Snape burst in. McGonagall is berating Fudge as he demands to speak to Dumbledore. Dumbledore enters, surprised that McGonagall left Barty Crouch Jr. unguarded. McGonagall shouts that the Dementor Fudge brought sensed Barty and has sucked out his soul. Fudge claims Crouch was no loss, though Dumbledore points out Barty is now unable to testify or verify that Voldemort has returned. Fudge denies that the Dark Lord has been resurrected, claiming Harry is a less than reliable witness and suffers from hallucinations. Fudge also discounts that Harry can identify Death Eaters, claiming the names are public record. Announcing that Voldemort has returned would only undermine everything the Ministry has been working towards the past thirteen years.

Dumbledore avers that if Fudge accepts that truth and acts now, they may be able to salvage the situation. First, the Dementors must be removed from Azkaban. Next, envoys have to be sent to the Giants. Fudge refuses Dumbledore's suggestions, as he would be voted out immediately. Dumbledore believes Fudge is blind to reality, and says if they have reached an impasse, then they must part ways.

Fudge claims Dumbledore is working against him, but Dumbledore replies he is only fighting Voldemort. Even Snape showing Fudge the now black Dark Mark on his arm and saying that this is why Karkaroff bolted does nothing to change Fudge's mind. Fudge places Harry's Tournament winnings on the table and leaves.

After Fudge departs, Dumbledore begins assigning missions, starting by asking Mrs. Weasley if he can depend on her and Mr. Weasley. At her confirmation, Bill Weasley volunteers to tell his father and leaves. Dumbledore dispatches Professor McGonagall to fetch Hagrid and Madame Maxime to his office. He sends Madam Pomfrey to tend to Winky, who is still with Crouch. Dumbledore tells Sirius to return to his human shape, then requires that he and Snape put aside their dislike for each other and cooperate. Dumbledore sends Sirius to alert the "old crowd": Mundungus Fletcher, Remus Lupin, Arabella Figg, and to then lay low at Lupin's. Dumbledore then sends Snape on a mission they previously discussed.

After Dumbledore leaves, Harry frets about the Tournament prize, blaming himself for Cedric's death and wanting to give the Diggorys half. Mrs. Weasley tells him not to worry about it, but she is interrupted by a loud slamming. Next to the window, Hermione apologizes for the noise. Harry takes the remaining sleeping potion and finally falls asleep.

Analysis[edit]

As many questions are answered, new ones arise, and the characters must now deal with the dire aftermath that Voldemort's return has created. To prepare for the impending war he knows is coming and cannot be stopped, Dumbledore's only recourse, given the Ministry's total lack of cooperation, is to quickly regroup his former allies. Reiterating the book's theme that evil can only be defeated through mutual cooperation, Dumbledore requests that Snape and Sirius set aside their hatred and work together to fight Voldemort. They grudgingly agree, but whether they can maintain a truce seems much less certain to the reader than to Dumbledore. The handshake he forces from them is, at least to the reader, a declaration of an armed truce rather than any actual cessation of hostilities. We also have no concrete evidence yet that Snape truly is loyal to Dumbledore, though Dumbledore's faith in him never seems to waver. Dumbledore's unawareness of the continuing hostility between Snape and Sirius, in fact, seems to suggest that Snape could easily mislead him as to his actual allegiance.

As mentioned, Dumbledore's efforts to defeat Voldemort are stymied by the complete lack of cooperation from Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry of Magic. We can see that Fudge is preparing to vehemently deny publicly that the Dark Lord has returned, an action that will only aid Voldemort's rise to power. Fudge allowing (or perhaps ordering) the Dementor to administer the Kiss to Barty Crouch is not only shocking and likely illegal, but it suggests he could be a Voldemort accomplice or that he is in such extreme denial about unfolding events that he will use any means to protect himself and the Ministry, including using a Dementor to suck out Crouch's soul so he is unable to corroborate Harry's claims, as well as hurling accusations that Harry hallucinated everything. Even if Harry is administered Veritaserum, the Ministry might then argue that Harry actually believes his hallucinations are the truth. Fudge's action, we can already see, will result in an acrimonious and irreparable split between him and Dumbledore, and also between Dumbledore and the Ministry of Magic.

Dumbledore's comments about the Dementors and Giants may, on initial reading, seem to be guesses. However, a re-reading of the earlier chapter where Voldemort was telling the Death Eaters his plans will show that in fact Voldemort explicitly mentioned them. We don't hear them mentioned in Dumbledore's office, but the author skipped over the retelling of much of what happened in the cemetery; we have just read it, and can look back at it for reference, there is no need to recapitulate it yet again.

The "gleam of triumph" in Dumbledore's eyes when he learns that Harry's blood was used in Voldemort's reanimation has been endlessly discussed by fans. Of course, this blood tie creates yet an additional connection between Harry and Voldemort, and it can be assumed from Dumbledore's reaction that it may actually somehow weaken the Dark Lord. However, this is still speculation, and it is yet unknown just how it will affect the story's outcome. All that is known is Voldemort claiming that his greatest enemy's blood will make him stronger; it is debatable, however, as to just who his greatest enemy actually is: Harry or Dumbledore.

Fawkes is relatively central to the scene in Dumbledore's office. We learn that this is the Phoenix who donated the tail feathers that lie within Harry and Voldemort's wands; additionally, it is Fawkes who gives Harry the strength to retell his story, and provides the tears to heal his injured leg.

It is unknown just what Hermione was doing by the hospital window at this chapter's conclusion, but it will prove to be meaningful later.

Also, while Harry feels guilty and responsible for Cedric's death, it is probable that he would have been doomed anyway. Cedric would have reached the Triwizard Cup first, but, grateful for Harry's help, wanted Harry to take it. Harry instead insisted they grab it together because they helped each other equally throughout the Tournament. If Cedric alone had grasped it, he would have been transported to the cemetery rather than Harry, and, being useless to Voldemort's rebirth, likely would have been instantly murdered on Voldemort's command, rather than returned to the maze or allowed to live. Harry had no way to know that touching the trophy was intended to be fatal, but we can clearly see that it was Voldemort's intent to murder Harry, and that Voldemort would have ordered Pettigrew to kill anyone who happened to either replace Harry or accompany him.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why would Fudge allow a Dementor to administer the Kiss to Barty Crouch? Were his actions legal?
  2. What is the significance of the mark on Snape's forearm?
  3. Why does Harry feel he is responsible for Cedric's death? Is he justified in believing so?
  4. Cedric would have reached the Triwizard Cup first. What would have happened if he alone had grabbed it?
  5. Why does Fawkes only sing a single note to Harry when he is in Dumbledore's office? How does it affect Harry? What else does Fawkes do that helps Harry?
  6. Why is Harry given a potion for "dreamless" sleep?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Who and what might the "old crowd" be that Dumbledore is referring to?
  2. Harry shows no reaction when Dumbledore mentions someone named Arabella Figg. Should he?
  3. What missions might Dumbledore assign to Hagrid and Olympe Maxime? What sort of mission will Snape be sent on?
  4. Why might Hermione be making such a commotion next to the hospital window? Why does she say nothing about it?
  5. Snape and Sirius loathe each other. Is it possible that they can suppress their mutual hatred and work together as Dumbledore has requested?
  6. Why does Dumbledore have a "gleam of triumph" in his eyes after Harry tells him Voldemort used some of Harry's blood for his reanimation?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

After Fudge's departure, Dumbledore begins dispatching various people on separate missions. The missions, only hinted at here, are fully explained in later books. Bill Weasley updates his father, Arthur Weasley, as to what has happened. Mr. Weasley, along with Mrs. Weasley, will be working within the Ministry of Magic. Hagrid and Olympe Maxime will seek out and parley with the Giants in an attempt to persuade them to join Dumbledore, or at least remain neutral. During Voldemort's previous reign, Dumbledore headed the Order of the Phoenix, a group outside the Ministry who opposed Voldemort; Sirius has been sent to alert former Order of the Phoenix members, including Remus Lupin, Mundungus Fletcher, and Arabella Figg to reactivate that group. Lupin later infiltrates and spies on a Werewolf pack headed by the particularly vicious Fenrir Greyback, who has formed an alliance with Voldemort. And Snape is apparently sent to re-establish contact with Voldemort, though this is unknown to us until two books later.

It is hardly surprising that Harry fails to recognize Arabella Figg's name; neither he, nor most readers, have yet to connect her with batty, old Mrs. Figg with all her cats back in Privet Drive. She is later revealed to be a Squib, and she has been guarding Harry since he first arrived at the Dursleys.

Hermione has just discovered how Rita Skeeter is able to "bug" so many private conversations; she is, in fact, an unregistered Animagus, transforming into a beetle – almost a literal fly on the wall, an enviable ability for any journalist. The commotion Hermione was making next to the infirmary window was her trapping Skeeter in a jar.

It is learned in the final book that the "triumphant gleam" in Dumbledore's eyes is when he realizes that Harry's blood that now flows within Voldemort's body will actually protect Harry from Voldemort, a fact unknown to the Dark Lord when he reanimated himself. Dumbledore explains that when Voldemort used Harry's blood, he also transferred the protection that had been conferred on Harry by Lily's sacrifice; thus, Harry now cannot die, at least not at Voldemort's wand, as long as this embodiment of Voldemort is alive. We believe that this is the point where Dumbledore gave Snape the job of reinforcing, in Voldemort's mind, the idea that Voldemort had to kill Harry himself. We will see Snape reiterate this belief to other Death Eaters a number of times; clearly, in this book, it had not yet become gospel, or Barty Crouch Jr. would not have believed that his murdering Harry would have made him Voldemort's most trusted lieutenant.

At the same time, Dumbledore revisits the duel in the cemetery and the Priori Incantatem effect. While it is never stated here, and the implication is masked by the ongoing revelations, Dumbledore later indicates that the stronger wizard can force the weaker wizard's wand to disgorge its most recent spells. This leads us to believe that Harry is, in fact, a stronger wizard than Voldemort, a belief the reader may have already arrived at in seeing the Priori Incantatem effect in the earlier chapter. Dumbledore will confirm this, saying that Harry was the stronger because he was prepared for death, while Voldemort feared it. It cannot be mentioned in this chapter, however, that Harry is the stronger, because Harry is not prepared to believe it. If Harry did believe himself to be the stronger wizard, it is uncertain how he would continue, though we expect that overconfidence would likely doom him. It could certainly make him a less sympathetic hero, and so would badly weaken the book.

Connections[edit]

  • Harry providing the blood for Voldemort's reanimation spell, which occurred earlier in this book, will provide Harry with ongoing protection against spells cast by Voldemort. While Dumbledore recognizes this immediately on hearing of it, it will remain unknown to him and Voldemort, will be revealed near the end of the final book.
  • This is the first time that any connection between the Wizarding World and old Mrs. Figg is hinted at. First mentioned early in the first book, her role will be made explicit at the start of the next book.