The Eye of the Snake
chapter twenty-one of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Hagrid begins teaching again and shows the class Thestrals, though he’s disrupted by Umbridge. Harry then holds a great final D.A. meeting of the term – and Cho corners him afterwards and they kiss. He tells Ron and Hermione about the kiss and then heads off to bed, but is awakened when he dreams about Mr. Weasley being attacked by a snake. McGonagall then arrives and whisks him off to Dumbledore.
A pair of blank, white, shining eyes were growing larger through the gloom and a moment later the dragonish face, neck, and then skeletal body of a great, black, winged horse emerged from the darkness.
“Oh, an’ here comes another one!” said Hagrid proudly, as a second black horse appeared out of the dark trees, folded its leathery wings closer to its body, and dipped its head to gorge on the meat. “Now… put yer hands up, who can see ‘em?”
(by Leela Starsky)
“‘Appears… to… have… poor… short… term… memory…’” muttered Umbridge, loudly enough for everyone to hear her. Draco Malfoy looked as though Christmas had come a month early; Hermione, on the other hand, had turned scarlet with suppressed rage.
(by Michael Greenholt)
“I’m sorry?” said Professor Umbridge loudly, cupping her hand around her ear and frowning. “What did you say?”
Hagrid looked a little confused. “Er – Thestrals!” he said loudly. “Big – er – winged horses, yeh know!” He flapped his gigantic arms hopefully.
Luna Lovegood entered, looking as dreamy as usual. “Hello,” she said vaguely, looking around at what remained of the decorations… each showing a picture of Harry’s face and bearing the legend: “HAVE A VERY HARRY CHRISTMAS!”…
“These are nice, did you put them up?”
“Mistletoe,” said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry’s head. He jumped out from under it. “Good thinking,” said Luna very seriously. “It’s often infested with nargles.”
“You’re a r-really good teacher, you know,” said Cho, with a watery smile. “I’ve never been able to Stun anything before.”
(by Leela Starsky)
She was much too close. He could see every tear clinging to her eyelashes….
(by Amanda Grazini)
“Well?” Ron said finally, looking up at Harry. “How was it?”
Harry considered for a moment.
“Wet,” he said truthfully.
“No!” said Harry furiously; it was crucial that Ron understand. “It wasn’t a dream… not an ordinary dream…. I was there, I saw it…. I did it….”
“I believe you, Potter,” said Professor McGonagall curtly. “Put on your dressing-gown – we’re going to see the headmaster.”
about the chapter
While Umbridge has been beastly to Harry, up to this point she actually hasn’t been too unreasonable towards teachers. She was certainly rude in interrupting their classes, and over-the-top in exerting her authority, but all of the teachers seem to have passed her inspections fairly easily except Trelawney, which is entirely reasonable. But while she’d have had a point to call Hagrid a lousy teacher the previous year, the class on Thestrals is actually one of the better classes we’ve seen Harry take in any subject – until Umbridge shows up and proceeds to drag Hagrid through the gutter, and his confidence with him. And just like that, in the name of improving teaching, she’s actually done far, far more to hurt the students in Hagrid’s classes, for no reason except bigotry. What an awful person.
Something You May Not Have Noticed
Harry’s grateful to see Professor McGonagall when he wakes up from his dream, thinking about how “it was a member of the Order of the Phoenix he needed now.” But even though we know McGonagall is in the Order, we never really get the indication that she’s particularly involved – and interestingly, even though she’s been at Hogwarts since long before Voldemort’s first reign of terror (and was present at Privet Drive when Harry was dropped off there), she wasn’t in Moody’s photograph of the original Order.
It’s also interesting that she’s involved because other than Snape (who is clearly an exception, as his role as a spy is so critical) and Hagrid (who wasn’t a teacher), no other teachers are involved in the Order. Perhaps Dumbledore even kept it this way intentionally, to separate professional from personal when it comes to his staff – otherwise I suspect Flitwick, at least, might have joined too. But he did feel it necessary to recruit McGonagall this time around, and I suspect there’s only one reason for that: she’s Harry Potter’s head of house. Because if you think about it, it’s absolutely critical to the Order that the person called on when Harry has a dream in the middle of the night knows what’s going on. I wonder, if Harry were in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, if Flitwick or Sprout would be in the Order in McGonagall’s place?
Life at Hogwarts
I love this quote, from Harry’s thoughts:
Hermione’s words opened up a whole new vista of frightening possibilities. He tried to imagine going somewhere with Cho — Hogsmeade, perhaps – and being alone with her for hours at a time.
Ingenious, coming up with the idea of a Hogsmeade date. Where the heck else could students go on a date? And since even the oldest students only seem to be allowed to visit Hogsmeade a few days a year, what on earth do they do the rest of the time? (Those who aren’t as clueless as Harry is when it comes to dating, anyway.) Seems like the lake would get a bit boring after a while, but there’s not much else to do. A date to the kitchens, perhaps? The Astronomy tower? Hmmm.
The Boy Who Lived
I also love that Harry sits by the fire after leaving Cho, wishing he could talk to Sirius to get advice about girls. Sirius is a fun godfather and all, and I’m sure he’d be happy to dispense all the advice Harry could ever ask for. But I think if there’s any adult character in Harry’s life that I wouldn’t look to for advice on girls, Sirius would have to be near the top of that list. He seems a little on the immature side to me, no? I wonder if it’s ever occurred to Harry to just ask Hermione….
The Final Word
“Everyone has said to me that Harry saw people die before could see the Thestrals. Just to clear this up once and for all, this was not a mistake. I would be the first to say that I have made mistakes in the books, but this was not a mistake. I really thought this one through. Harry did not see his parents die. He was one year old and in a cot at the time. Although you never see that scene, I wrote it and then cut it. He didn’t see it; he was too young to appreciate it. When you find out about the Thestrals, you find that you can see them only when you really understand death in a broader sense, when you really know what it means. Someone said that Harry saw Quirrell die, but that is not true. He was unconscious when Quirrell died, in Philosopher’s Stone. He did not know until he came around that Quirrell had died when Voldemort left his body.
Then you have Cedric…. Harry had just seen Cedric die when he got back into the carriages to go back to Hogsmeade station. I thought about that at the end of Goblet, because I have known from the word go what was drawing the carriages. From Chamber of Secrets, in which there are carriages drawn by invisible things, I have known what was there…. However, if Harry had seen them and it had not been explained then it would cheat the reader. So, to explain that to myself, I decided you had to have seen the death and allowed it to sink in a bit… slowly…these creatures became solid in front of you.
Anyone who has suffered a bereavement knows that there is the immediate shock but that it takes a little while to appreciate fully that you will never see that person again. Until that had happened, I did not think that Harry could see the Thestrals. That means that when he goes back, he saw these spooky things. It set the tone for Phoenix, which is a much darker book.”–J.K. Rowling, June 2003 & August 2004