The Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Order of the Phoenix
Sirius Black explains to a bewildered Harry that the portrait is his mother, the late Mrs. Black. Number 12, Grimmauld Place, the Blacks' ancestral home, was inherited by Sirius while he was in Azkaban. He adds gloomily that providing the house as the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix is one of the few useful contributions he has been able to make.
In the kitchen, the Weasleys and several Order members are busy preparing dinner. Bill Weasley is there, and he and Mr. Weasley are studying numerous parchment rolls at the kitchen table, apparently Order of the Phoenix business. Bill quickly gathers everything up when Harry enters. Fred and George attempt to magically serve the meal, sending a chopping board and knife, a pitcher of Butterbeer, and a pot of stew careening through the air and onto the table. The stew barely stays on the table's edge, half the Butterbeer is spilled, and the knife barely misses Sirius' hand. Mrs. Weasley scolds them: just because they are now old enough to be allowed to do magic does not mean that they have to.
During dinner, Harry catches conversation snippets around the room: Tonks taking requests for different-shaped noses, Bill discussing the Goblins' stance on Lord Voldemort and how it was affected by their dealings with Ludo Bagman the previous year, and the thief Mundungus Fletcher's comical business dealings.
Following dinner, Sirius suggests Harry might have some questions about the Order and Voldemort. Mrs. Weasley, feeling he is too young, disagrees over how much Harry should know. She claims Sirius treats Harry like he was James Potter, rather than as his godson. Lupin and Mr. Weasley side with Sirius, however. After some disagreement over who among the younger set can stay, Mrs. Weasley drags a fiercely-protesting Ginny off to bed. Sirius, Lupin, and Mr. Weasley begin answering Harry's questions, as Fred, George, Ron, and Hermione listen. No murders have been committed because Voldemort is keeping a low profile. The Ministry of Magic fervently denies Albus Dumbledore's claims that Voldemort has returned, and has engineered his dismissal as head of several important Wizarding institutions. Dumbledore says he does not mind, so long as they don't take his image off the Chocolate Frog cards. The Order is recruiting new members, including foreign ones. Order members working inside the Ministry must be cautious, as the Minister threatens to fire anyone friendly with Dumbledore. The Minister is apparently paranoid that Dumbledore is building a private army, with the intent of taking over the Ministry of Magic. Sirius also lets slip that the Order is guarding a weapon, at which point Molly Weasley interrupts and sends the children to bed.
After lights out, the Twins, having previously eavesdropped using their Extendable Ears, tell Harry and Ron that the only new revelation was the weapon being guarded, but their conversation is cut short when Mrs. Weasley stops outside the door of the room, apparently to check that they have all gone to bed. Harry falls asleep, only to have nightmares about weapons.
Harry is updated on recent events and how Voldemort's return has caused significant changes in the Wizarding world; this, of course, also serves to bring the reader up to speed. As noted in earlier chapters, Harry has been worried throughout the summer: despite Voldemort's return, the expected evil has yet to materialize. In this meeting, we learn why, but it still seems little is happening, and that Dumbledore, the only high authority who apparently believes Harry, is doing little about it. More is also learned about some important adult characters, notably Sirius and Lupin, and we are offered more insight into Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's relationship.
Although Sirius has escaped after twelve years in Azkaban prison for a crime he never committed, he is as much a prisoner as ever. Being a hunted fugitive, he must remain in hiding, and is effectively incarcerated in the dreary Black home that has always been an unhappy place for him. And though he is an Order of the Phoenix member, he is unable to actively participate in the war against Voldemort. As a result, he is becoming increasingly depressed, irritable, and reckless. We also suspect a certain mental instability caused partly by his incarceration, and partly inherited. The long sojourn in Azkaban also will have hindered his development; we will see that he is somewhat less mature than we would expect of a man of Sirius' age (about 36). As Mrs. Weasley notes, Sirius tends to view Harry more as a replacement for James Potter, rather than as his godson, likely because his emotional development was stalled by Azkaban when both he and James were about 20 years of age. That is not to say Sirius does not love Harry or have his best interest in mind, but he is not as good an adult role model as he should be, and his judgment is sometimes faulty.
Mrs. Weasley's character is also becoming more defined here. While she is a strong-willed, powerful witch and a valuable Order of the Phoenix member, her maternal instincts often take precedence over all other matters. By wanting to withhold all information from the youngsters, she is trying to protect, not only her own children, but also Harry, who she has come to love like a son, for as long as possible. She cannot, however, continue to keep him and the younger Weasley children sequestered in childhood innocence. Providing too little information can be as dangerous as giving them too much.
We note in passing that Mrs. Weasley seems to be holding two separate ideas in her mind at the same time. Having lost the battle to keep Harry from learning anything about Order business, she tries to pack the Twins off to bed, saying that they are too young for the knowledge. She has earlier noted that the Twins are of age, as she admits that they are allowed to do magic when they attempt to serve the meal magically. Of course, Mrs. Weasley suffers the usual concern of mothers everywhere, being quite visibly overprotective of her own children, even the ones who are nominally old enough to take care of themselves. However, the twins' lighthearted treatment of life and events, harmless though it may be, cannot help anyone to accept that they are now "of age."
We also learn more about Mundungus Fletcher in this chapter. We have, of course, heard the name before: in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we hear that he had tried to jinx Mr. Weasley while his back was turned; in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he reportedly makes a fraudulent claim for damages, and earlier in this book, we see he has deserted his duty for some underhanded scheme. In this chapter, we see his nature revealed through his conversation with others, and learn that, engaging as he may be, he is at heart an unrepentant petty crook. We are led to believe that it was Dumbledore's influence that resulted in Mundungus' inclusion in the Order. It may be worth considering exactly why Dumbledore had chosen to befriend him, and how this reflects on Dumbledore; and how the other Order members react to what could be considered an edict from Dumbledore.
It is uncertain why the author chose the name she did for Mundungus Fletcher. One suspects that the name was chosen so that the nickname, being scatological, would be amusing to children of a certain age. Fletcher's name was selected in the second book of the series, and the intended age group for that book might have found the nickname humorous; however, the nickname is first mentioned in this book, which has a target audience old enough that scatological humour has faded.
It is interesting to note the roles the various adult characters take on, in relation to Harry, during the argument after dinner and the discussion that follows. Mrs. Weasley quite clearly takes the motherly role in protecting Harry. Surprisingly, perhaps, Mr. Weasley does not act as Harry's father, but more like an uncle: always having Harry's best interests at heart, but somewhat emotionally detached. For all that he is Harry's godfather, Sirius also seems less like a father to Harry, possibly due to his emotional immaturity. Instead, Sirius seems more like an older brother, supporting but also encouraging, perhaps somewhat unwisely, Harry's attempts to uncover what is going on. It is Remus Lupin, Harry's former teacher, who maintains a strong authoritarian role to Harry. Lupin, while understanding Mrs. Weasley's protectiveness, seems to be the principal adult championing Harry's need to know, though in a more guarded and careful way than Sirius, about what he is up against and what the Order is doing.
- Why has Dumbledore been demoted from important Wizarding posts, and by whom?
- Why is Mrs. Weasley angry with Fred and George? Should she be?
- What are some of the tasks the Order of the Phoenix is trying to accomplish?
- What does Sirius mean when he says offering the Black family house to the Order of the Phoenix is one of the few useful things he can do? Is that an accurate statement? What more could he do?
- What could the weapon be that Sirius mentions? Where might it be?
- Why might the Order have to be kept secret?
- Why do the adults disagree over how much information Harry should be allowed to know? What should he be told?
- Why does Molly Weasley accuse Sirius of treating Harry more like a friend than a godson? Is she right? If so, why do Lupin and the others side with Sirius?
- What accounts for Sirius' performance as Harry's godfather?
What Voldemort seeks is not actually a weapon, but rather a prophecy relating to Harry and Voldemort. However, the idea of a supremely powerful weapon will so fill Harry's, Hermione's, and Ron's thoughts, that when they need to lure Professor Umbridge away from the school, Hermione fabricates a story about a secret weapon that Dumbledore supposedly left behind. When Ron had previously overheard Order members talking about guard duty, Harry sourly suggested that they were guarding him, but we learn that the Order is also guarding the prophecy. At least two Order members, Mr. Weasley and Sturgis Podmore, will run into trouble while on guard duty.
The prophecy, which is not actually heard until the penultimate chapter of this book, could only be considered a weapon in that it tells what power Harry has that will be Voldemort's undoing, and that it will be the Dark Lord's marking Harry as an equal that gives him that power over the Dark Lord. Voldemort previously only heard the prophecy's first half, which predicts Harry's birth and parentage, and that he will have power the Dark Lord knows not; Voldemort spends much of this book attempting to recapture that prophecy, hoping it can reveal how he might defeat Harry. Like so many prophecies, if Voldemort actually had retrieved it, its most essential part for him would have already been foregone. What Voldemort has yet to hear is that the Dark Lord will "mark him as an equal." In fact, that mark, the scar on Harry's forehead that resulted from Voldemort's attempt to murder Harry, is the visible indicator of that attack. We will discover that the attack also left a shard of Voldemort's soul within Harry, which gives him insight into Voldemort's plans throughout the series' last book. The final part, about "the power that the Dark Lord knows not", is by this time an open secret, though Voldemort still discounts it. By the time he returned, Voldemort knew that it was Lily's sacrifice that protected Harry, and thus that the magic set to oppose him was based on love; not knowing love himself, Voldemort could never truly comprehend its power.
However, a more conventional weapon does exist, and it plays an important part later in the series. In the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as Voldemort's wand has been proven ineffective against Harry's, he will seek the legendary Elder Wand. It is supposedly the most powerful wand ever crafted, and Voldemort, if he can obtain it, hopes it will empower him to defeat Harry.
One other point should be raised about the roles of the adults that we see set out so plainly in this chapter. We mentioned in the Analysis section that Sirius does not fit the role of a father figure, no matter how much he fancies himself to be one. Like Hagrid, Sirius is somewhat stalled in his maturation, though for different reasons. A subtle pointer in this direction is visible in the way Sirius is addressed; all other adults are referred to by their last names, either alone ("Lupin") or with an honorific ("Mr. Weasley", "Professor Dumbledore"), while Sirius is referred to always by his first name, just as Harry's fellow students are. That lack of maturity seems to prevent Harry from seeing him as a father figure, though it certainly doesn't stop Harry's affection for him. It is possible that the author may have intended Sirius to be a father figure, but the character could not be forced into that mold successfully. By the same token, Dumbledore is similarly largely unwilling to be forced into that role; especially in this book, he determines that he must keep his emotional distance from Harry, a decision that Harry will not understand and possibly never fully accepts. Of all the adults in Harry's life, it seems, especially in this chapter, that it is Remus Lupin who most closely fits the role that should have been filled by James Potter. It is because Harry sees Lupin as something of a father figure that Lupin's willingness, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to abandon his wife and unborn child to help Harry, who feels abandoned by his own father, feels to Harry like a betrayal rather than an offer of assistance.
- In this chapter we find, in the discussion of the "weapon" that Voldemort seeks, the first mention of the prophecy that drives the entire series. The prophecy will be retrieved, destroyed, and revealed (in that order) in the final chapters of this book. We will learn in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that the half of the prophecy that was carried to Voldemort was overheard by Snape.
- We get the impression that only Sirius can manage his mother's portrait. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it seems Harry has inherited this ability along with the house.