Saturday, March 4, 2006

Horcruxes in Half-Blood Prince

First a warning. I assume that if you are reading this, that you have read all the Harry Potter books. If not, then you should stop now. I see the books as one long story, and have difficulty discussing just one book without relating it to the things we have learned in subsequent books. So that being said, I want to talk about Horcruxes in the 6th book, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince".

That book, as well it should be, is full of fascinating things, many relating back to things from the first five books. But Horcruxes are new. Well, not really. We saw one in the second book, Dumbledore even kind of told Harry what it was, but didn't give it a name. It was mentioned again in the fifth book, also without having a name. The first one was the diary in "Chamber of Secrets". Tom Riddle put a bit of his soul into the diary so that Slytherin's heir could continue the nasty bit of work that Tom had figured out about the Chamber of Secrets. That one was destroyed when Harry plunged a basilisk fang into it, destroying the memory of Tom Riddle (who later became Lord Voldemort), thereby rescuing Ginny Weasley who was nearly taken over by the diary Tom Riddle. He was putting himself into her so that he could do evil things again--that should have told us right there that the whole process of the diary was important. But it was easy to see it as only part of that book, especially since it was destroyed.

In Half-Blood Prince, when Harry first sees Dumbledore during the summer, Dumbledore's hand is blackened and looks dead--and does for the entire school year. Hmmm, an injury so severe that Dumbledore can't heal it, let alone that something could injure Dumbledore that badly? Harry notices a particularly ugly ring that Dumbledore is wearing, then later when he sees it, the ring has been badly damaged.

Turns out that the diary and the ring were both Horcruxes that Voldemort had made. Why? It was a nasty piece of dark magic whereby he put a piece of his soul into an object. The idea is that if his soul is not just in his own physical body, then even if his body is "killed", he will still be alive. We learn that when Tom Riddle was a student he asked Professor Horace Slughorn about the possibility of creating more than one Horcrux. Sluggy is horrified that Tom would even think of something like that, but does say that yes, it's probably possible. Tom's idea is to create seven Horcruxes--seven being a number that is particularly powerful.

So we have the information that tells us why Dumbledore is looking for 6 Horcruxes--one, of course, would need to remain in Lord Voldemort. Each time he has committed a murder that he deems important, he has created a new Horcrux. So we had the diary, which was the first, and not really well thought out. It ended up in the hands of Lucius Malfoy who dropped it in Ginny's cauldron as a way to get her father in trouble--little did he know that he was giving away a piece of his master's soul. Then we have the ring, that Dumbledore destroyed.

So now, Harry knows that he needs to find four more. Dumbledore was sure that one was a locket that had belonged to Slytherin. He also thought that another one might be a cup that belonged to Helga Hufflepuff. Both items were last owned by Hepzibah Smith (a descendent of Helga Hufflepuff), and both were seen by the young Tom Riddle. She was killed and he disappeared, as did the two relics.

Dumbledore thought they could destroy the locket that was in the Cave, but there was a note inside from RAB (who might be Sirius's younger brother who was a Death Eater and who was killed when he tried to get out). He had discovered Voldemort's secret and was going to destroy that particular Horcrux. We don't know where the locket is, but there seem to be some obvious choices:

1. It's at the Black House, at 12 Grimmauld Place, either in the cabinet where we saw a locket or stashed in Kreacher's hoard of things that he tried to save when Sirius was cleaning out the house.

2. Mundungus Fletcher has it, or sold it--then it could be anywhere, and very hard to find.

3. Mundungus Fletcher sold it to the barman at the Hogshead, who we all think is Aberforth Dumbledore--Albus Dumbledore's brother who was in the Order first time around, but seems a bit dodgy.

So, to the list of Horcruxes:

1. Diary--destroyed by Harry with the basilisk fang (COS)
2. Ring--destroyed by Dumbledore (we don't know how) (HBP)
3. Locket--needs to be found, pretty sure that it is actually a Horcrux
4. Cup--no idea where it might be, but Harry might look around in Grimmauld Place

This is where the real guess work begins:
5. Something from Rowena Ravenclaw--possibly one of the tiaras that have been mentioned. There was the one that Harry put on top of a statue with a wig in the Room of Requirement so he could find the Prince's Potion book again. There's also the one that Molly says Fleur can borrow from an aunt for her wedding with Bill during the summer.

6.Nagini--Dumbledore thought that Nagini was a Horcrux, but I don't think so. I think the only reason for that mention is so Dumbledore and Harry can discuss the possibility that a Horcrux can be inside a living thing. Yes, Dumbledore, says--rather risky to put it in something that can be killed or that can act on its own.

6. Harry and/or his scar: many, many fans think that Harry is a Horcrux, or that his scar is. This has all kinds of variations. And the destruction of it does as well: Harry will have to kill himself to destroy that Horcrux (I don't think JKR would go the route of a suicide to solve the problem); Harry will be killed in battling Voldemort (Harry might not survive, but I still have trouble picturing him battling a much stronger wizard); the scar will have to be removed (if that was the case, then why did Dumbledore not do that in the first place and why did he say that scars can be useful).

Over the last few days, though, I read something that Pesky Pixie posted at the HPGalleries that made me rethink the Harry/Horcrux idea. She pointed out that the two that we know of that have been destroyed still remained as the original object, though damaged or scarred. The diary was still a book, but had holes punched in it, and the ring was still a ring that could be worn, but now has a large crack on the stone.

It seems likely that Voldemort never intended for Harry to be a Horcrux. He went to Godric's Hollow to kill James and Harry--we still don't know why he said Lily needn't die. She however, refused to let her son be killed and willingly gave her life trying to save Harry's. The sacrificial love was "old magic" that Voldemort said he should have remembered (but typically, he didn't--one of his failings is forgetting the kind of magic that relates to more than just power and greed and selfishness). If, when Voldemort tried to kill Harry with the Avada Kedavra curse, a bit of his soul went into Harry, it could have been immediately expelled because of Lily's protection of love. It would have the effect of a Horcrux being destroyed--which would damage the thing that housed the Horcrux if only for a brief moment. And that "thing" was Harry. His scar is the visible sign that the AK curse did not work, but it may also be the sign that a Horcrux was destroyed, or at least is not "in" Harry any longer.

We are all waiting for the seventh book, and one of the things we know Harry intends to do is to search for the remaining Horcruxes. He thinks he'll go back to Godric's Hollow and Ron and Hermione say they will go with him as well. But first, they have to go to the Burrow for Fluer and Bill's wedding--which I'm guessing will either turn up a Horcrux in the form of a tiara, or will have some other significant event.

Off to Godric's Hollow then. What will Harry find there? Actually, a better question is what can he find there? The house was destroyed--Hagrid pulled him from the rubble. Peter was the Secret Keeper for the Potters, but Sirius was before. So they presumably knew how to find the house. Peter told Voldemort how to find it. Did Dumbledore also know where the house was? I need to do some searching, but I'm not sure on that one. It would seem, though, that he must have known, as he was able to tell Hagrid how to find Harry.

Setting that part of the Secret Keeper issue aside, I want to just picture Harry going back to Godric's Hollow. It's been nearly 16 years since their house was destroyed--does he expect to find rubble still there that he can sift through, looking for clues? Not likely. Unless the muggles can't see even the rubble. Will he visit the graveyard to see his parents' graves? Possibly, but they could be buried some place else. Or he could find something in the vicinity of his former home that is full of magic and will turn out to be the place where that errant Horcrux ended up.

That last is my most recent theory. I think Harry learned a lot from Dumbledore when they visited the Cave. Dumbledore talked about being able to sense a place where magic had been done--Harry didn't get it, but he might when they go to Godric's Hollow. If he senses that an object is enchanted, perhaps that mysterious connection that he has with Voldemort will recognize a piece of Voldemort's soul which was thrust into it after it was expelled from Harry.

I'm still thinking about this one and will have to revisit it after I do some re-reading of the parts that have to do with Horcruxes, or even talk of immortality, death, the night that Voldemort tried to kill Harry, or the time he tried to possess him at the Ministry of Magic in "Order of the Phoenix".



Antoinette said...

"RAB (who might be Sirius's younger brother...)"

I'm almost certain that this is true Pat. In the Dutch books Sirius Black is translated as Sirius Zwarts (black = zwart in Dutch). So, if RAB is Sirius's brother, the initials in the Dutch books whould be RAZ - and they are.
Which made me wonder - it was always said that no one knew what was going to happen in the next book, that includes the translator.
But the Dutch translator must have been told about RAB or he wouldn't have translated the initials as RAZ.

I just discovered your HP Blog and I've bookmarked it :)

Eeyore said...

Hi Antoinette,

I know that is one of the things that people were looking for. Apparently, the translators don't know more than the rest of us, but they do get confirmation about appropriate changes, such as names, etc. With the translations, and with JKR's comments during the interview with Melissa and Emerson right after HBP was released, it sounds pretty definite that RAB (US/UK versions) is Sirius's younger brother. Thanks for the info.

Some day, you and I are going to actually sit down over a mocha and discuss all this in person. Wouldn't that be fun. In the meantime, a blog is a good way to stay in touch.

Andromache said...

I'm still wondering just how each Horcrux is to be destroyed. I assume each one will be destroyed differently, unless they find the spell that destroys them. Of course, if even Dumbledore got injured by destroying one Horcrux, how do teenagers expect to do it? I'd imagine the Aurors would need to be involved somehow, but Harry is reluctant to tell even his Head of House what Dumbledore had been up to that night. The thing is, there's almost nothing written about Horcruxes, so finding how to destroy one would be no mean feat. They would have to look in Dark Arts books. Only person I know who has them is Severus. Lucius has them, but he's not likely to tell anyone anything at this point. Speaking of which, Severus has a lot of books at Spinner's End. Where'd they come from, I wonder? Some of them seem quite old. I need more info on his mother, dang it.

My other big worry is Occlumency. Harry doesn't know it. Therefore, Voldemort can read him easily. Sure, he's closed himself off from Harry at this point, but one of these days, they'll meet again. What then?

I don't know. I just don't want an ending that's contrived. It'd be kind of a let-down for Harry to defeat Voldemort by dumb luck and pure intuition. I know it's worked for him all these years, but they seem to be rather unstable methods. At the same time, I don't know how he can be shown to learn anything substantial in the last book of the series, and if Harry's suddenly really powerful, I'd be dissatisfied with that, too. I suppose if I have to settle for intuition, I will, since there's at least a precedent for it.