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Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Seventh book in the series)
Published: July, 2007
Author: J.K. Rowling. Rowling’s got the idea for a children’s book as she was traveling by train from Manchester to London. She’s stated: Harry “just strolled into my head fully formed” and by the time she had arrived at King’s Cross, many of the other characters had also taken shape. In 1997, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was published and a literary phenomenon was born.
Plot: After six books and countless adventures, it’s all come down to this. Harry is in more danger than ever before. Not just from the Death Eaters and Voldemort, but from his lack of faith in himself. This is not only a true hero’s quest, but Harry’s journey from boy to man. It’s a journey that is filled with triumphs and tragedies, and in the end is bittersweet. In essence, it’s the perfect finale to a series that all started with a small orphaned boy with a curious scar on his forehead. The Boy Who Lived.
Chapter 34: The Forest Again: The one moment in this final book which will always stand out to me is Harry’s sacrifice. The Battle of Hogwarts has taken place resulting in many casualties. Voldemort has called for a temporary stay in hostilities. However, he challenges Harry to face him and meet his fate. Otherwise he will slaughter everyone in the school. Because of what he’s learned, Harry realizes the only way he can put an end to Voldemort’s reign of terror is to sacrifice himself. Without alerting his friends he walks into the Forbidden Forest where his enemies await. As he makes this lonely journey he sees the spirits of those who have died trying to protect him: His parents James and Lily, his godfather Sirius, and his former mentor Remus Lupin. His immediate concern is to apologize and tell them he never wanted them to give up their lives for him. He then asks if dying will hurt, yet no matter what the answer, he’s prepared to meet his destiny and fulfill the prophecy. The chapter ends with this powerful scene:
“Voldemort had raised his wand. His head was tilted to the side, like a curious child, wondering what would happen if he proceeded. Harry looked into the red eyes, and wanted it to happen quickly, while he could still stand, before he lost control, before he betrayed fear–He saw the mouth move and a flash of green light, and everything was gone.”
This scene never fails to elicit an emotional response in me. Despite his being a wizard, Harry is in many respects your typical teenage boy. He’s not perfect, and doesn’t always make the right decisions, but he’s fiercely loyal to his friends and loved ones and will do whatever is in his power to protect them. There’s a quote from this chapter as he’s making his way to confront his arch enemy:
“…but he could not see any of the people he loved, no hint of Hermione, Ron, Ginny, or any of the other Weasley’s, no Luna. He felt he would have given all the time remaining to him for just one last look at them; but then, would he ever have the strength to stop looking?”
Why it Matters: This more than anything sums up what makes Harry Potter so extraordinary. His amazing capacity for love, despite everything that has been taken from him. In this scene Harry not only looks death in the face, but willingly embraces it. His friends and all those he has loved and lost, gives him the courage to do what would otherwise be unimaginable. It’s a beautiful and powerfully written scene which no matter how many times I revisit it, never fails to give me the chills.
Kim is a contributing writer for That Moment In.com. Visit her book review website By Hook or By Book