The White Tomb

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Chapter 30 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The White Tomb← Chapter 29 |

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Over the next few days, some students leave the school with their parents. Others, like Seamus Finnigan, refuse to go until they have paid their last respects to Dumbledore. Meanwhile, wizards and witches pour into Hogsmeade to attend the funeral. Harry and Ginny, Hermione and Ron now spend all their time together. They visit the Hospital Wing often. While Neville is healed, Bill remains under constant care. Apart from being permanently disfigured, the only lasting effect seems to be a preference for very rare steaks.

Hermione's library research has uncovered that Eileen Prince, the likely original owner of Harry's Potions text, was Snape's mother. Prince, "married a Muggle named Tobias Snape and later gave birth to a son, Severus." Harry is maddened that Snape, unknown and unknowingly, was helping him. He sees a similarity between the half-blood Lord Voldemort and his assumed title, and the Half-Blood Prince and his adopted moniker. How could Dumbledore have missed it?

At Dumbledore's request, he is laid to rest at Hogwarts in a glorious white tomb overlooking the lake. Many students and the staff attend the funeral, as well as the Merpeople and the Centaurs, who fire arrows into the air in salute.

Harry ends his relationship with Ginny—for now. Harry realizes that Voldemort attacks him through those he loves—his parents, Sirius, and Dumbledore. By ending their romance, he hopes to protect Ginny.

Scrimgeour, the Minister for Magic, takes Harry aside to ask for details about the night Dumbledore was killed. Harry refuses to tell him anything, and wants to know whether Stan Shunpike has been released yet. Harry reiterates that he is, "Dumbledore's man through and through."

Harry tells Hermione and Ron he is leaving Hogwarts, even if the school remains open. Finding the remaining Horcruxes and killing Voldemort are his only focus now. He intends to visit his parents' former home in Godric's Hollow after a brief stay at Privet Drive to fulfill Dumbledore's wish that he remain under his mother's protective charm. Ron and Hermione pledge to join his quest, despite Harry's preference to go it alone. Harry finds comfort in spending one last peaceful day with his friends, and he looks forward to Bill and Fleur's wedding.

Analysis[edit]

Unlike the first five books, the story ends with Dumbledore's funeral, rather than the students arriving at Platform 9¾ in King's Cross Station, London on the Hogwarts Express and bidding each other goodbye for the summer. If Harry follows through on his mission, which seems certain, the next book will probably also deviate from the traditional opening with students headed back to school in the fall. In any event, without Dumbledore, Hogwarts will be a far different place. His effect on the school has not only been deeply significant but, as seen by the many magical creatures that attended his funeral, far-reaching. For Harry, Hogwarts has always been a source of comfort and security. Without Dumbledore, it may have been too much for him to return. One thing seems certain—the Dursleys will probably make an appearance, as Harry must make one last visit to Privet Drive to reinforce his mother's protective charm before it expires on his next birthday. This will be the Dursleys' final opportunity to reconcile with Harry, although their mutual loathing is probably too deep to bridge.

Ron and Hermione inform Harry they are joining the Horcrux mission, whether he wants them to or not. Their decision is an affirmation of their love, friendship, and loyalty for their friend. Harry intended to search for the Horcruxes alone, wanting to protect those he cares about, driven by the need to battle Voldemort himself. He has, however, finally accepted that it takes unity, support, and cooperation to defeat evil.

We also see here Harry's unwillingness to ally himself with the Ministry. Harry has correctly determined that the Ministry is more interested in maintaining a good public face, rather than in dealing with Voldemort directly.

Harry unhappily and regretfully ends his relationship with Ginny to protect her from Voldemort, though she is probably still in grave danger. Harry never mastered Occlumency, and Voldemort could possibly penetrate his mind and see images involving Ginny. It was earlier mentioned, though, that he found being inside Harry's consciousness extremely unpleasant, and he may never attempt this again. This would hardly prevent Voldemort from obtaining information about Harry, and also Ginny, from others who are close to him, and possibly even from Ginny herself.

Snape, Voldemort, and Harry share an important characteristic: they are all half-bloods. Snape, however, apparently grew up connected to the Wizarding world, unlike Harry and Voldemort, though his home life was certainly just as unpleasant. As much as Harry always disliked and resented Snape, he is now driven solely by hatred and vengeance. This vigilante desire to avenge Dumbledore's death has clouded Harry's judgment; rather than seeking justice, Harry is consumed with inflicting revenge. This could jeopardize his mission to find and destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. Harry will need to control his extreme emotions if he is to succeed.

It is also an unpleasant irony for Harry that his least favorite and most ineffective teacher (Snape) is also an admired and influential mentor (the Half-Blood Prince), someone who inspired him and from whom he has learned so much. This conflict will continue to affect Harry.

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 Harry mean when he says he is, "Dumbledore's man, through and through"?
  2. Why does Harry end his relationship with Ginny? Is it likely they will reunite in the future?
  3. Why did Harry not want Ron and Hermione to join his search for the remaining Horcruxes?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why would Dumbledore want to be buried at Hogwarts?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Harry ends his and Ginny's relationship to protect her from Voldemort. This actually is a bad decision. Saying that a relationship is over does not end it, and even if Harry no longer had romantic feelings for Ginny, he would still care about her as a friend. Their relationship, however brief, actually puts her in more danger, as Voldemort, if he is monitoring matters as closely as we believe, probably knows about the attachment and will likely attempt to use it against Harry. Voldemort's using Sirius against Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was greatly assisted by poor communication between Harry and Sirius. If Harry wants to protect Ginny, his best course is to keep her at his side throughout his travels. Fortunately, this never become a problem; though Ginny returns to Hogwarts for her sixth year while Harry wanders England hunting Horcruxes, Voldemort attacks Hogwarts only at the book's conclusion, and Ginny handles herself quite well. We also learn that Ginny and Harry marry, finally.

As the book ends, it is unclear if Dumbledore was truly dead or merely in some deathlike state. This led to much speculation among readers as to whether or not he would return in some form in book 7. Voldemort is not the only one who knows how to create Horcruxes, though Dumbledore would never result to murder to create one. It is always possible that there are other magical means for a resurrection in Book 7. There were certainly many clues that he could return. Dumbledore was acting uncharacteristically when he pleaded with Snape just before he killed him. Was Dumbledore begging for his life or asking Snape to strike him according to some prearranged plan? Readers noticed that the Avada Kedavra curse that Snape used reacted differently than others seen in the series. Also, Dumbledore has always been closely associated with a Phoenix, a bird that dies and is reborn from its own ashes. The smoke from Dumbledore's funeral pyre appeared to have briefly assume a Phoenix form. Whether that symbolized a corporeal resurrection or only a spiritual one, Dumbledore does return in some form in the next book.

Also, it is unknown where Dumbledore's portrait appeared from or how it was hung in the office. Presumably, no one had entered the office since his death, and yet it is already hanging on the wall when Professor McGonagall and Harry arrive there. Portraits may magically appear when a headmaster or headmistress dies. It is also unclear how closely associated portraits are with those they represent. They may merely be talking autobiographies of their subjects, or they may retain their essence, including the ability to develop mentally and/or gain new insights. Later evidence does suggest that portraits remain able to think and reason, as it seems that Dumbledore's portrait continues advising Snape and Harry.

J. K. Rowling had stated, following this book's publication, that Dumbledore was definitely dead, though readers may still hope for a resurrection; while we do see him again, it is now known that he is definitely not resurrected.