If you haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, in particular book six (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), you may wish to skip this entry.
Book six continues the Harry Potter tradition of killing off a major character at the end of the school year. This time Ms. Rowling has brought an end to the character who completely embodies the good guys – Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Along the way, some questions brought up by previous books are answered, but many more mysteries are created or deepened.
The biggest questions that linger after this book revolve around Snape. There is a really good article on LiveJournal (opens in a separate window) in defense of Snape. Give it a read and then come back for a little discussion.
Here’s a conglomeration of my own thoughts and ideas expressed to me by my family and others. This may degenerate into a rambling mess, but I will do my best to keep it coherent.
Snape’s manner when he talks to Narcissa suggests that he does not actually know what Voldemort intends Draco to do. My belief is that he had not been specifically told what the mission was, but had deduced it as the logical next step. I believe that Dumbledore knew about the Unbreakable Vow immediately after it was complete. It is even possible that Snape and Dumbledore had already discussed the matter beforehand and were simply waiting to find out who Voldemort would choose to carry out the task. If this is the case, Snape’s Vow may have compelled him to badger Malfoy so he could learn beyond a shadow of a doubt what he had sworn to do.
What probing Dumbledore was able to do at the third horcrux site suggested that its protective spells would be far more advanced than what he encountered when destroying Voldemort’s ring. I believe it’s possible that Dumbledore knew that he would not survive the encounter before he took Harry into the cave, which would have been part of why he brought Harry along. We don’t know what was in the potion guarding the locket; it is likely that it was a nasty poison with no cure. When Dumbledore is pleading with Snape, he is probably not begging Snape to save him, he is actually begging him to end his misery, fulfilling the vow and allowing him to completely gain Voldemort’s trust.
There has been speculation that Harry is actually the final horcrux, an accidental consquence of the attempt on his life when he was one year old. This would fit in with Rowling’s interviews, where she strongly hints that Harry may not be alive at the end of the series. If he is the final horcrux, he would have to die in order to make Voldemort mortal.
Another possibility is that Harry’s scar is the horcrux and Harry does not need to actually die to defeat Voldemort.
Regarding R.A.B., the signature on the note within the locket, this is probably Regulus Black. In book five, there is a locket at #12 Grimmauld Place that nobody can open. Perhaps Kreacher will be the one who destroys this horcrux. It seems likely that each horcrux will take the life of the one who destroys it.
- It is fairly plain that Dumbledore had to die before the end, or he would be a crutch that Harry would hide behind, and thus be unable to finish Voldemort. I do believe that Dumbledore is truly dead and will not be returning, but near the end of the book, he is snoozing in one of the portraits in his office. We already know that the other Headmaster portraits are bound to assist the current Headmaster …
- Will McGonagall be the new Headmaster, or will the Ministry step in an appoint a replacement as they did in book five?
- What will become of Draco? Will Snape hide him, possibly at #12 Grimmauld Place, to keep Voldemort from killing him? Will Draco ultimately die, but become a martyr for the good guys in the process?
- Dumbledore was the Secret Keeper for the Order of the Phoenix. What happens to those secrets with his death?
- Harry’s father and his friends became unregistered Animagi, and we are told that it took them three years to figure out how to do it. We know that Harry has been too busy to learn how, but Hermione probably figured it out two years ago. Will history repeat itself?
- Neville Longbottom will do his grandmother proud in the end, and probably play a huge role in book seven.
- Dudley Dursley owes Harry his life, because of the dementor. Dumbledore has mentioned the powerful magic involved in such debt, so it is likely that Dudley will save Harry’s life, and somehow redeem himself as a person in the process.
- I believe that most of Petunia Dursley’s attitude is/was sparked by jealousy of her sister’s abilities and the attention she received because of it. Events will likely unfold to ease her feelings and bring about true respect for the wizarding community. Kathy’s mother believes that Petunia may actually have some limited magical ability, but not enough for Hogwarts.
- Vernon Dursley is probably a lost cause, but you never know.