chapter thirty-five of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry finds himself in a sort of in-between world along with Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore then explains the significance of Harry’s scar acting as a horcrux, and informs Harry that he does not, yet, have to be dead. They also discuss the Deathly Hallows before finally, Harry prepares to go back.
He lay… listening to the silence. He was perfectly alone.
(by Elisabeth Alba)
“Voldemort… took your blood believing it would strengthen him. He took into his body a tiny part of the enchantment your mother laid upon you when she died for you. His body keeps her sacrifice alive, and while that enchantment survives, so do you and so does Voldemort’s one last hope for himself.”
“And you knew this? You knew – all along?”
“I guessed. But my guesses have usually been good,” said Dumbledore happily, and they sat in silence for what seemed like a long time.
(by Jenny Dolfen)
“The Deathly Hallows,” [Harry] said, and he was glad to see that the words wiped the smile from Dumbledore’s face.
“Ah, yes,” he said.
“Can you forgive me?” he said. “Can you forgive me for not trusting you? For not telling you? Harry, I only feared that you would fail as I had failed. I only dreaded that you would make my mistakes. I crave your pardon, Harry. I have known, for some time now, that you are the better man.”
(by Lisa Villella)
“When I discovered [the Resurrection Stone], after all those years… I lost my head, Harry. I quite forgot that it was now a Horcrux, that the ring was sure to carry a curse. I picked it up, and I put it on, and for a second I imagined that I was about to see Ariana, and my mother, and my father, and to tell them how very, very sorry I was…. I was such a fool, Harry.”
“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry’s ears even though the bright mist was descending again, obscuring his figure.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
about the chapter
It’s easy to see the allure of the Deathly Hallows. As Xeno Lovegood tells Harry, the legend holds that a wizard possessing all three items at once would be “master of Death.” He’s far from the only one to think so, as a hundred years earlier Dumbledore and Grindelwald considered that the Hallows would make them “invincible.” But this approach to these objects reminds me of another quote of Dumbledore’s, too, from way back in Harry’s first year.
“The trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
It’s not hard to imagine, now, what Dumbledore was thinking of when he told Harry that – for he’s now old enough and wise enough to realize for himself what “master of Death” really means. It doesn’t make the possessor invincible, or give him eternal life. But instead, the true possessor of the Hallows “does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.” That’s what the Tale of the Three Brothers taught us, when the third brother took the cloak off and “greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.”
One of the most common criticisms of Deathly Hallows is, in fact, the plot of the Hallows – “what does it have to do with destroying the Horcruxes?” is a typical refrain. Yet while destroying Horcruxes is what Harry does in this book, they’re not what the story is truly about. No, the story is about Harry, and what he becomes. And the Deathly Hallows are a beautiful symbol of that. Harry’s good heart and acceptance of death has long made him the rightful master of the Cloak; his life-long journey that seemed to end, last chapter, in the Forest made him the rightful master of the Resurrection Stone. And his choice not to chase Voldemort to the Elder Wand – because he realized it wasn’t what he was meant to do in his quest to defeat him – makes Harry a much more rightful master of the Elder Wand as well. The Hallows symbolize everything that Harry is about, and that he has become. He is the true leader of the wizarding world in this moment, and the reason Dumbledore never regretted having to die and leave the task to the boy. And we’re one chapter away from finding out what happens as a result.