Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’: Chapter 37

In the thirty-seventh chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore speaks candidly about why he’s ignored Harry this whole books and, sadly, reveals how even he can fail when people most need him not to. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


I kind of want more out of this than I am getting.

I’m pretty sure that this book is going to be my favorite of the series. That’s probably because it is FILLED WITH TRAGEDY, just like my past has been FILLED WITH TRAGEDY, so I naturally gravitate towards art that is FILLED WITH TRAGEDY. I’m a thematic kind of guy.

That being said, I was kind of (only kind of!) irritated by this chapter near the very end of the book. Not for substance reasons, but based on the style.

Despite that this series takes place during a fairly regular school schedule, Rowling has found ways to pace these year-long stories in vastly different ways. I pulled out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone yesterday and it almost seemed offensive how short it was. This book, on the other hand, is so lengthy that I hardly seem to remember the first few chapters.

Given that, it bothered me how readily Rowling slipped right back into her routine of lengthy dialogue/monologue pieces that tied up the loose ends of her narrative. The style is what bothers me.

The content and the story itself? Incredible. And this chapter doesn’t let the reader off easy at all. But as Dumbledore starts going through the emotions and Harry spends a lot of time ALL CAPS yelling back at Dumbledore in rage and grief, I still didn’t feel that gripped by the story. I knew Rowling had a lot of material and information to go through, but it was kind of disappointing to have to go through this specifically in order to get it.

Rowling is a fantastic storyteller, though, and I was pretty blown away about some crucial revelations we learn in this chapter:

– Dumbledore blames himself for Sirius’s death, especially because he kept Sirius cooped up AND kept Harry out of the loop.

– About that: Dumbledore kept Harry out of the loop because he correctly predicted that Voldemort would possess Harry soon; by not keeping up a loving, informed relationship, Dumbledore was able to resist Voldemort’s attack out of emotional emptiness. Which….JESUS, THAT IS SO SAD.

– Kreacher, egged on by Sirius’s mistreatment of him, went to the Malfoy’s and intentionally set up Sirius so that he’d end up at the Department of Mysteries. Which also sort of validates some of Hermione’s actions in this book and the last one. Treat other people (and other creatures) with respect and love. SIRIUS, ALWAYS LISTEN TO HERMIONE. Wait, you can’t, because you’re gone. 🙁

– Dumbledore also takes responsibility for asking Snape to teach Harry Occlumency, because he mistakenly believed Snape could set aside his hatred of Harry’s father. Now I’m intrigued to see how Snape and Harry interact in the next book. Will Snape be too proud to admit that he fucked up?

– Dumbledore explains why Harry had to live with the Dursleys: Harry’s mother’s protection was only strongest when he was with a blood relative (Aunt Petunia), and he has to return there once a year so he may survive.

– Dumbledore sent the Howler to Aunt Petunia at the beginning of the novel to remind her of the pact she agreed to that kept Harry alive all those years.

– He also reveals that he knew something about Harry’s life, relating to his scar and the death of his parents, this entire time, but he loved and cared about him so much, he didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth, the awful, horrible truth, because it might take away some part of his happiness.

And then, in the grand reveal of the entire book, Dumbledore explains the real reason that Voldemort tried to kill Harry as a child.

  • “Voldemort tried to kill you when you were a child because of a prophecy made shortly before your birth. He knew the prophecy had been made, though he did know its full contents. He set out to kill you when you were still a baby, believing he was fulfilling the terms of the prophecy. He discovered, to his cost, that he was mistaken, when the curse intended to kill you backfired. And so, since his return to his body, and particularly since your extraordinary escape from him last year, he has been determined to hear that prophecy in its entirety. This is the weapon he has been seeking so assiduously since his return: the knowledge of how to destroy you.”

Oh jesus christ, that is just horrible. BUT WAIT. Guess who made that prophecy sixteen years earlier?

  • A figure rose out of it, draped in shawls, her eyes magnified to enormous size behind her glasses, and she revolved slowly, her feet in the basin. But when Sybill Trelawney spoke, it was not in her usual ethereal, mystic voice, but in the harsh, hoarse tones Harry had heard her use once before.

Which now puts a completely new perspective on what she’s been doing for the last two years. Fuck.

Her prediction: That the one who can destroy the Dark Mark is born in July, to parents who have defied Voldemort three times.

Neville and Harry.

But Dumbeldore points out that the prophecy ALSO says the “Dark Lord will mark him as his equal.” And only Harry has the scar.

Even weirder is this line: “…but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…”

And Dumbledore explains:

  • “There is a room in the Department of Mysteries,” interrupts Dumbledore, “that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force tat is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all. That power took you to save Sirius tonight. That power also saved you from possession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you.”

Look, are you trying to make me weep? What is this? OH GOD THIS IS SO WILD.

  • For a long time, neither of them spoke. Somewhere far beyond the office walls, Harry could hear the sound of voices, students heading down to the Great Hall for an early breakfast, perhaps. It seemed impossible that there could be people in the world who still desired food, who laughed, who neither knew nor cared that Sirius Black was gone forever. Sirius seemed a million miles away already, even if a part of Harry still believed that if he had only pulled back that veil, he would have found Sirius looking back at him, greeting him, perhaps, with his laugh like a bark….

No, really. Stop it. I can’t cry anymore over this book. IT IS ALL JUST TOO SAD.

  • “I feel I own you another explanation, Harry,” said Dumbledore hesitantly. “You may, perhaps, have wondered why I never chose you as a prefect? I must confess…that I rather thought…you had enough responsibility to be going on with.”

    Harry looked up at him and saw a tear trickling down Dumbledore’s face into his long silver beard.

Well, there went desire. Jesus, Dumbledore, you are NEVER ALLOWED TO CRY.

This is so goddamn tragic.

PS: Final Order of the Phoenix review will be posted this evening.