Monday, October 28, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 28-30

Last week I read Chapter 28 ("Flight of the Prince"), Chapter 29 ("The Phoenix Lament"), and Chapter 30 ("The White Tomb"), which brings me to the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This post contains many spoilers.

Though I have generally thought of this book as more of a stepping stone between books 5 and 7 than a story in its own right, it really does have one of the strongest endings of any book in the series. It doesn't bring things full circle in the way that the previous books' endings always see Harry going reluctantly back to the Dursleys, but it brings such emotion to the reader as we mourn with Harry, but also enjoy the brief respite he gets to experience before taking on the task he has been destined for since the start of the series.

What I found especially touching in these final chapters is Hagrid's reaction to Dumbledore's death. He is so comforted by the fact that, when Snape sets fire to his house, the damage won't be more than Dumbledore can handle. The brief moment between when he says that he's sure it's nothing Dumbledore can't fix and when Harry tells him of Dumbledore's death is one of the saddest moments of anticipation. It becomes more heartbreaking when, at first, Hagrid doesn't believe Snape has killed him, and then comes upon the body and sees the truth for himself.

Another interesting moment for me on this reading was when Snape became so angry at Harry for calling him a coward. Reading this book for the first time, I took this as a sign that Snape was just proud and arrogant, pleased to have put one over on the Order of the Phoenix and filled with Voldemort's own hatred for Harry. But knowing how things turn out in the very end, this time I completely understood how Snape, who has had to act as a double agent, lying to the face of the most evil wizard there is, killing Hogwarts's beloved headmaster, and looking after the child of his own childhood bully, could be just completely unable to stand being called a coward by that very child. It's definitely interesting reading Snape's actions knowing for sure which side he is truly on.

Finally, I had totally forgotten how the Weasleys came to be reconciled to Fleur and Bill's relationship, but I really liked the way it came about. When Fleur states that she will love Bill even after his looks have been altered by a werewolf bite, the Weasleys realize that she isn't the superficial person they believed her to be. I also love the pairing of Tonks and Lupin, but seeing them together is bittersweet knowing their fate as well.

Next week, I'll be jumping into book 7. It's hard to believe there are only two months - and 37 chapters - left in my year of Harry Potter, but I'm excited to see it through to the end!

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