Good Question: How did Dumbledore Know?

The only person I know (I’m sure there are many others; I don’t get out much) who argues seriously that Snape is indeed what he seems, a BAD, make that EVIL character, and doesn’t leave me shaking my head is Nathan Coblentz. Please read his notes on the Scar-o-Scope theory and after the Dumbledore as Christ figure essays for his insights. If he is right, of course, Nathan will have the great majority of us forever at his “I told you so!” mercy.

Nathan wrote me last week about something which, quite honestly, never struck me as important or mysterious before (though I think Joyce Odell, the Red Hen, mentions it more than once in her essays). Dumbledore knows about what happened at Godric’s Hollow the night Hagrid brings baby Harry to Privet Drive. How does he know? Did someone tell him? Was he there himself? Here is what Nathan wrote:

Hi John,

After going around and around in circles with people about Snape (I
haven’t changed my mind, but that’s neither here nor there), I’ve
found myself delving furthur and furthur into the mystery of what
happened at Godric’s Hollow and am wondering what your thoughts are.
The huge, unanswered question for me is how could Dumbledore possibly
have have known what happened so shortly after the fact?

Who was there that night? Wormtail is the obvious answer since he was
the secret keeper, and he’s the only one I can think of who would be
cowardly enough to leave Harry in the rubble. Snape would have either
taken Harry to drown him in the river or bring him to Dumbledore;
whatever anyone believes about his loyalties, I have a hard time
imagining him up and bolting like Wormtial would have. (Of course, if
Snape knew the secret keeper was wormtail and not Sirius, that would
be serious points against him considering his behavior in POA.)

But Dumbledore must have had some way to find out about Lilly’s
sacrifice, because he had to activate the blood protection at Privet
Drive, complete with the letter ready for Petunia, despite playing
dumb with Minerva, as to why Harry survived, when he said “we can only
guess, we may never know.”

I am starting to think there is some time travel involved, and that
Dumbledore may have time-turnered his way to Godric’s (invisible)
either to confirm exactly what happened (“love/bood magic” being one
of his specialties, remember) , or tweak some small detail that woudl
have ensured Harry’s survival.

Other things to support Dumbledore traveling:

– he appears out of thin air, silently, ie, minus the cracking or popping sound normally accompanied by Apparation, yet he tells McGonnogal that he passed several parties on the way.

– he has a funny looking watch – which may or may not be something like Molly’s clock, except there are celestial bodies on the face of the clock instead of family memories – looks at it, and says “Hagrid should be here by now”

– his line in the POA film, “When in doubt, I find retracing my steps a good place to start.” Not canon, but JKR said there was some unintentional foreshadowing in the film.

It’s been pointed out to me that if this is the case, he should have known Sirius was innocent. But this was, of course, before Sirius was framed for blowing up all the Muggles.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this, if you have a minute.


I’m going to beg for input from readers on this one because I don’t see any obvious answers. The idea of Dumbledore doing a time-travel number to intercede is intriguing and inviting but the Snape-as-ally solution seems simpler. Couldn’t Severus have been there, been forced to escape with Pettigrew, but sending a Patronus message to Dumbledore a more straightforward solution?

Two points against that are (1) as Nathan points out, major nasty points on Severus for his behavior in HP3 if he knew Pettigrew betrayed the Potters, not Sirius (if his rage at Sirius’ clever mistake condemning him to a life in the Slytherin dungeon waiting for Voldemort’s return could cover this) and (2) when has “straightforward” been a Rowling signature?

I look forward to reading all your thoughts on this.


  1. Another argument against Snape being at Godric’s:

    From the Rumors section at

    RUMOR: Snape was hiding under the Invisibility Cloak on the night the Potters died

    No, he wasn’t.

    Of course, this rumor is carefully worded. Snape could have been visibly present at Godric’s.

    So, if JKR is up to her tricks, these are possibilities I can think of at the moment that involve a VISIBLE Snape at Godric’s:

    Only Snape and Voldemort:

    GoodSnape should have brought Harry to safety and told everything to Dumbledore. If he told Dumbledore, why would he have left Harry in the rubble for Hagrid to pick up later? Scratch GoodSnape at Godric’s. Scratch GoodSnape (which I enjoy doing), and BadSnape would have either tried to kill Harry,or, (more likely),being a little creeped out by Voldemort being vaporized and the house exploding, simply apparated to a safe place leaving Harry in the rubble. More likey, but how does this explain anything?

    Snape, Voldemort,and other Death Eaters:

    In any case Snape would have bolted with all the other Death Eaters, leaving Harry in the rubble.
    Not very interesting.

    Snape,Voldemort and Dumbledore:

    I got nothing. At this point, I am thinking these three people in the same room would be enough to cause the universe to implode. This would be VERY interesting, to say the least.

    The other possibility is that Snape was not present at Godric’s Hollow, and there is some other missing puzzle piece we don’t have. Remember, there is a HUGE thing to be revealed about Lilly in Deathly Hallows. I think it’s entirely possible that Snape could be a red herring, and is not as important to this part of the mystery as we might think he is. He shouldn’t feel too bad about it, if this is the case. He is still very special AND important.

  2. I think that both Pettigrew and Snape were there at Godric’s Hollow at least shortly after the fact. Remember, Snape did not know that Pettigrew was an Animagus, and he could very well have failed to notice some random rat in the ruins. Hiding out in rat form seems quite in character with PP’s cowardly character. But Pettigrew had to have been there, because when Voldemort returned, Pettigrew was able to return his wand to him.

    As for why Snape didn’t rescue Harry if he was really “Good Snape”– remember, he was “Good SPY Snape.” Here’s the scenario I imagine: Voldemort blows up self, Potters and Potters’ house. Snape checks, and discovers that Harry, though trapped in rubble, is not seriously injured and not in immediate danger from further collapse. He reports instantly via Patronus to Dumbledore, and Dumbledore decides to take a calculated risk and leave Harry there for Hagrid to collect, in order to preserve Snape’s cover. After all, even if Voldemort was gone (and Dumbledore seems never to have believed he was), they would still have wanted to identify and arrest the remaining Deatheaters, and Snape would be invaluable for that.

  3. Well, I and Cmwinters answered this question in exactly the same way in a couple of separate fanfics.* Young Snape *was* there; he did rescue Harry from the house (it is very clear to me that somebody did, or the baby would have died in the explosion – I don’t care how magical you are, you are not going to survive an explosion like that completely unscathed when you are on the second floor! Yet, except for the scar, Harry didn’t have a mark on him). He then brought him to Dumbledore. Snape suspected, and Dumbledore knew, that Voldemort was not completely destroyed; if he ever came back and learned that Snape had rescued Harry, Snape would be dead. This is one reason why Dumbledore ensured that Harry was back in the house just moments before Hagrid fetched him. (I can imagine a few others, and they all have to do with protecting both Snape and Harry – as Jodel says, one of the entities Dumbledore would want to protect Harry *from* is the ministry of magic.)

    It’s absolutely clear to me that somebody got that baby out of that house. Consider the timing: if I’m remembering rightly, the murders and explosion took place sometime the night of October 31. *Then* Vernon Dursley had his owl-free day, and then, sometime near midnight on the night of November 1, Hagrid came to Privet Drive with the little boy. Petunia found him with the milk on the morning of November 2. Is it remotely likely that Dumbledore and the forces of good would leave an injured, orphaned toddler on the site of a ruin for close to 24 hours? Yes, I know this is Rowling-math we’re dealing with, but it still doesn’t seem likely.

    Other reasons why Dumbledore almost certainly got to Harry a lot faster than we yet know: Harry was old enough to be mobile. If he entered a Muggle area, he’d be passed on to social services, and Dumbledore knows how well that worked in a previous generation. Also, we don’t know if the death of Lily destroyed the Fidelius charm. If it did, *anyone* could have gotten to Harry, including people like Bellatrix.

    So I’m convinced someone rescued that baby. And, as I have Dumbledore thinking in my fic, the list of possible rescuers is very short. It pretty much begins and ends with Snape, if it was not Dumbledore or his brother. Just my two cents!

    (*she actually beta read my fic and was amazed at how similarly our minds have been working; we’ve come to almost exactly the same backstory for this character, and, even among Good Snape apologists, we are, I would say, in an extreme minority. Jodel influenced me, but I don’t know who influenced her!)

  4. len: I’m not clear on why Snape would need to worry about his cover with Voldemort suddenly gone and not knowing that rat-Pettigrew is in the house.

    It seems like Snape reporting to Dumbledore is a simple and safe explanation. It’s just not very interesting. It also doesn’t account for the fact that Dumbledore understood the meaning of Lilly’s sacrifice and the blood bond that protects Harry at the Dursley’s house. He had the letter ready for Petunia, remember?

    I’m pretty sure all the love magic/blood protection stuff is going to be outside of young Snape’s area of expertise.

    But JKR has worked very hard to conceal something about what happened at Godric’s Hollow. It most likely involves something huge and revelatory about Lilly (unless the revelation is something different). And now we know from Jo that it most definately involves James leaving the invisibility cloak for Dumbledore, who wouldn’t need to use it himself. There is also something important about Petunia. This whole thing is way, way bigger than Snape.

    My theory is that time travel is also involved.

  5. nader, who’s len? Do you mean Helen?

    Young Snape would absolutely have needed to worry about his cover; not only did Dumbledore, at least, *know* Voldemort had not been completely destroyed (and I would like to know how he knew that!), but the Wizarding World was still crawling with Death Eaters. Remember, Neville’s parents were attacked *after* Voldemort’s fall, and it seems the ministry was still arresting DEs for months. If someone like Bellatrix were convinced Snape had rescued Harry and/or signalled the headmaster, she would surely have come after him.

    And what has Snape’s presence at Godrics’s Hollow to do with blood magic? Dumbledore pieced that together on his own, after being informed of the events. It would have been simple and obvious to him, but the adolescent Snape would never have figured it out, and surely didn’t tell him. All he (or somebody) did was to tell him the bare facts. That was all Dumbledore needed to come up with the larger truth.

    I am sure you’re right about Lily; we really need to learn more about her, just as we need to learn more about Severus. But I hope you’re wrong about time travel! That would be really annoying to me, and needlessly complicated. As you say, young Snape’s warning Dumbledore is a simple and elegant explanation. I honestly think you find it uninteresting because, if it’s true, it puts Snape firmly on the good side and you just don’t want him there. (smirk!)

  6. yes, that must have been Helen. My browser is doing something funny with the formatting. I’m assuming you are Mary, but it just says “ary” for me. Not sure why.

    Time travel might be complicated, but not “needlessly”. This is an incredibly complicated story, and this thing at Godric’s Hollow is the most important thing that happened in the entire series – yet we know very little about it.

    Yes, Snape’s cover, in general, is still important because of other Death Eaters. But unless there is a gang of death eaters also at the house (there could have been), there is no risk for Snape to grab Harry and alongside-apparate him straight to Dumbledore.

    Keep in mind Jo’s post on the rumor section. Snape was NOT there in an invisibility cloak. I realize this could very well be her coy way of saying, yes, he was there. But it’s equally likely that he wasn’t at all – why didn’t he go to the Ministry with the other death eaters, remember? To keep his cover (in that situation). Snape’s cover prevents him from seeing alot of the action.

    In regards to your allegation, yes, Dumbledore finding out from Snape is uninteresting to me personally. But I also think Snape on the good side in general is uninteresting, and it’s what everyone expects. Jo has said that very very few people will figure it out.

  7. Isn’t it fun how we all love to write off each others theories as being “needlessly complicated,” and when our own theories are likely to be just as complicated, because it’s Harry Potter we’re talking about here. I’ve been guilty of this as well, so I’m laughing with you here. 🙂

  8. Well, compared to Helen’s, my theory *is* needlessly complicated! And I think Rowling really needs to simplify things in the last book. But I do think Snape got him out of there. Somebody obviously did.

    As for good Snape being uninteresting, I disagree very strongly. You can find out why at my blog. But, basically, it is a fallacy that villains are more interesting than heroes. Yes, I find Harry a rather uninteresting character, but he is infinitely more interesting than Voldemort! Snape, as a deeply flawed human being who is striving to do good almost in spite of himself, is fascinating. He is by far the most complex and human character Rowling has written; Sirius, as a livejournaller commented, comes close. (And I intensely dislike Sirius, but I can see why other readers like him.) Evil Snape is trite, unbelievable, and boring. BTW, I think the majority of HP fans around the world, and certainly the majority of fans under 12 or so, do think Snape is evil. We are a very small cross section of fans, so you can’t go by us.

    Oh – that Snape as a villain is unbelievable? I have a very brief essay on this on my livejournal. It is just not possible that Snape is Voldemort’s man and always has been. If that is what Rowling is aiming for, Snape is the stupidest villain in all of literature, and he doesn’t strike me as stupid, whatever his other faults. The *only* evil Snape reading I have come across that makes any sense to me is that he is out to destroy all the marauders, and is using both Voldemort and Dumbledore to that end. Out for himself, in other words. There’s a lot in the text that contradicts this reading, but at least it doesn’t mangle the plot the way “Voldemort’s man” does.

    Also, Good Snape who, at the end of HBP, is in a terrible trap partly of his own making, is a tragic figure. Evil Snape is in no way tragic (if you’re the one who was arguing that?) He’s just a cackling villain out of a melodrama. And that was not the vibe I got at the end of HBP, in spite of the terrible dialogue. What I got was tragedy.

    Anyway, I do agree no one has the whole picture except for Rowling. To sum up my predictions:
    1.Harry is the last Horcrux.
    2.Severus is the one who will kill Voldemort.
    He is Dumbledore’s man because Voldemort destroyed his family (thank you, Jodel!)
    3.Harry’s temptation will be whether he elects to kill Snape. If he does, the Voldemort within him will win; if he forgives, he will drive it out and be victorious.
    4.Severus is the heir of gyffindor, and his animagus (if he has one) and patronus is either a griffin or a hippogriff.
    5. If he survives, Severus will have to live in the muggle world, because he will lose his magic. The same may happen to Harry.
    6. If *Harry* survives (doubtful – I think he is going to give his life to save Snape’s), he will be with Luna, not with Ginny.

    That’s all. Now I just have to wait and see how wrong I am!

    Yes, this is mary. You can find my blog here, if you’re interested:

  9. You are creating a straw man Evil Snape, which is not playing fair. His moral alignment makes him no less complex and fascinating, whether is “striving to do the right thing” or not.
    I think GoodSnape just makes the story too Snape-centric, when there is so many other things going on. I don’t want to get into a snape battle here. I’m pretty sure I’ve gone through all the same points before. If I am wrong, the way Jo reveals GoodSnape will be far more interesting and mind-blowing than any fan theory I’ve ever come across, and I will have the fun of re-evaluating everything all over again. If you are wrong, I hope it will be just as much fun for you.

    I am curious as to why, if Harry is the final Horcrux, does Voldemort keep trying to kill him? And why couldn’t Dumbledore have done anything about this before to “dehorcrux” Harry? Dumbledore says that Voldemort wouldn’t risk making a Horcrux out of a living creature, which is potentially more difficult to control. (Nagini is much easier to control, since Voldemort speaks parseltongue) He’d want his Horcruxes to be secure. He is going for immortality here.

    New question:

    Why, in Goblet of Fire, when all the spells come out of Voldemort’s wand, where is the spell that was supposed to kill Harry? The spell was cast. Something should have come out of that wand. Did Voldemort use a different wand? Lilly’s wand, which is good with charms? He has killed other people with different wands before. I am missing my book at the moment, but I think he used his uncle’s wand to kill the riddle family.

  10. No, Nader, I am not creating a straw man evil Snape. I am looking at what the man actually *does* in the books. It is just possible, plotwise, that Snape could be out for himself. It is impossible, IMHO, that he could be Voldemort’s man. Consider:

    He speaks up for Dumbleodore, and against Fudge, at the end of GOF. It’s hard to see what he would have to gain from this if he were Voldemort’s man.
    Also in GOF, he warns Dumbledore that the Dark Mark is coming back.
    In OOTP, he warns the order that the kids have gone to the Ministry. Trudy and I have been round and round about this one. But it makes no sense for an evil Snape who is also Voldemort’s man to have given any kind of warning. If he is Voldemort’s man, he’s a better Occlumens than Dumbledore is a Legilimens. He’s fooled Dumbledore from the time he was hardly any older than Harry is now. So – why say anything? All he’d have to do was explain that Potter shouted something senseless at him; that he couldn’t understand it; that, since he last saw the kids headed for the Forest, he was searching there for them, and that he had no way of knowing they had left the grounds. All of which is almost true. There was no risk at all to him in keepig silent, and Harry and the other kids would surely have been dead. Big triumph for Voldemort! But, instead, he warns the order, and that results in the rescue of all the kids and the arrest of at least 9 Death Eaters.
    Then, between OOTP and HBP, Dumbledore goes and gets himself a fatal, or near fatal, injury – and Snape helps heal him?! That is just plain stupid. Your boss’s worst enemy has injured himself and needs your help to save his life. Just delay a bit, fumble a little, use the wrong potion, and the enemy will be dead. But no – Snape heals him! Unless Dumbledore is lying, and there is no reason for him to lie.
    Snape also lies to Bellatrix at least twice in their conversation in Spinner’s End. And the fact that they have the conversation in the first place shows less than perfect loyalty to Voldemort.Finally – and this is the clincher for me – if Snape knows that Voldemort wants Harry alive, and wants to kill him himself, why doesn’t he kidnap him at the end of HBP? He has lots of opportunity! Harry is utterly helpless against him. It would have taken him less than a minute to stun the kid, accio the body, float him out of the gates, and side-Apparate him along to Voldemort. Instead, he sneers at the boy and instructs him in the finer points of duelling. That Harry is still alive at the end of HBP is, to me, by far the strongest proof of Snape’s true loyalty.

    Other things: As I said before, anyone who intends to convince me of Snape’s evilness (is that a word?) must explain, to my satistaction, why he is constantly associated with Christ symbols, especially in HBP, but also in POA. And they must explain why he and Harry are described, more than once, in exactly the same words.

    Yes, I do think these books are ultimately all about Snape. He is the hero; Harry is the protagonist. If you like, Snape has the Darcy role, and Harry is Elizabeth Bennett. At least, that’s the way I see it.There is a lot we don’t know, and I agree none of us has the whole picture; as I said, I might be wrong. It’s quite possible Snape is out for himself, whether good or evil (I actually like good Snape out for himself. It’s easy to see him as a sort of Boromir figure, blinded by his own idealism.But Boromir is very definitely good.) It really isn’t possible that he is Voldemort’s man, unless Rowling is a lousy writer. And I think we can agree she’s not a lousy writer.

  11. OK – you’ve got me sucked into this Snape thing, even in this thread about Godric’s Hollow, so here we are. God help us. I don’t expect any of this to convince you, but you asked for it. Here’s a few points to chew on.

    1. You are putting words in my mouth. Evil and “Voldemort’s guy” are not the same thing. His motivations are complex and unfathomable at this point, but that doesn’t make him a misunderstood hero. I’m not saying I understand everything he does, but you can’t deny that he is a nasty piece of work. Much, much nastier than your Darcy, who Elizabeth just thought was kind of a snob. You are right – there are too many contradictions for Snape to be Voldemort’s guy. In my opinion, there are too many contradictions to say that Snape has been “always” good, evil, or anything else. His life is a constant balancing act between the two most powerful wizards around, and one misstep could cost him everything. He’s going to act in ways that appear inconsistent because he doesn’t want to get himself killed or chucked into Azkaban. He is not “evil” in the sense that he’s just another faceless death eater, but Jo has shown us through characters like Umbridge, the dementors, the Guants, and many others, there are many different shades of evil. I think Snape’s particular brand of nastiness is meant to show us what happens when you can’t forgive someone. It’s not just good people and death eaters, remember?

    2. If you want to talk about Christ symbols, how can one Christ symbol attack another Christ symbol? I am, of course, referring to Buckbeak, who chased Snape away from Harry. Why would Buckbeak feel the need to do this? Is he just a confused creature, or did Jo put him there for a reason? If Snape is your misunderstood hero, then Buckbeak is just as mistaken as the rest of the wizarding world, and all the twelve-year-olds who agree with me. Given their track records, I’d rather trust Buckbeak than Snape.

    3. KILLING IS EVIL. Actually, really, really evil. In Jo’s world, it is the worst thing you can do, and it ruins your soul (which makes it possible to create Horcruxes). Jo has said that Dumbledore’s death was a horrible, horrible thing, and very hard, emotionally, for her to write. I have a hard time believing that Jo would have Dumbledore go through all this effort to protect Draco’s soul from being split, but then demand this horrible act of evil (Jo’s words here) from Snape, which would result in HIS split soul. Dumbledore would never let Snape split his own soul in order to preserve his own life, because he understands (unlike Voldemort) that there are things much worse than death. If this is some heroic act on Snape’s part, than you have thus huge tangled mess of contradictions to unravel – mainly Dumbledore acting in a hugely inconstant manner in how he treats Draco and how he treats Snape. It simply doesn’t jive with the worldview of someone who is clearly exploring the nature of death and evil.

    3. Why is Snape compared to Harry? This is not so uncommon in literature and myth. I’m reminded of Frodo, who sees himself, or an image of what he might become, in Gollum. Or Luke Skywalker seeing his own face under the helmet of Darth Vader in a cave on the planet Degobah, later to find out that the bad guy he has been fighting is his own father.

    Snape, in my opinion, like Gollum/Frodo or Luke/Vader, is how Harry could turn out if not if he gives into the “Dark Side” of his inner struggle. If Harry doesn’t watch himself, if he can’t get over his own hatred for Snape (the same way Snape could never forgive James), he will end up the same way.

    Gollum’s self destruction in Mount Doom ends up saving the day in Middle Earth (or Anakin Skywalker’s demise in Return of the Jedi), but you would hardly call Vader or Gollum heroes. I think Snape could potentially “redeem himself” in a similar fashion, but it doesn’t mean his prior actions are to be reinterpreted in light of what happens in the end. Gollum, Vader, and Snape are all deeply conflicted characters, whose role in the story may lead to a greater good, but it doesn’t make them heros.

    4. Why doesn’t Snape kidnap Harry? Because those weren’t Voldemort’s orders, and there were more much pressing matters at hand – like protecting Draco (remember the Vow). The last time Voldemort messed with Harry it was a disaster. For the first time, has reason to be afraid of Harry, and is biding his time. He is planning something else.

    5. Enough of this, “If I’m wrong, Jo is a bad writer.” That’s just ridiculous, and doesn’t contribute anything to the debate. She’s got it all figured out, and the fact that people can argue so passionately to defend the man who killed Dumbledore is already testament to her brilliance, whether or not Snape turns out the way you want.

    6. I think the true hero in the story (besides Harry) is Lilly.

  12. Oh, Nader, something I forgot to answer. Voldemort kept trying to kill Harry through the first four books because he was a threat to him. At the end of the fifth book is when he learned exactly what kind of threat – and then he stopped trying to kill him. As Jodel says, the focus shifted to Dumbledore. My guess is that Voldemort now has another use for Harry; he intends to drive his (Harry’s) soul out of his body and take it over completely. Harry will thus become the second Voldemort – which will be a chimera composed of the boy’s body and what remains of Voldemort’s soul. That’s why only Voldemort can kill him – anyone else who killed the boy would also destroy the soul fragment he is carrying and foil the Dark Lord’s plan to gain immortalitly. That’s my theory, anyway.

  13. A very brief response to something you said above. You said, “Enough of this, ‘if I’m wrong, Jo is a bad writer'”. You are misquoting me. I said, “If Snape is Voldemort’s man, Rowling is a lousy writer, and I think we can agree she is not a lousy writer.” Please don’t misquote me.

    About Buckbeak – yes, he attacks Severus. Harry also attacks Severus, with Unforgivable curses, and he is also compared to Christ. There are exactly five figures, four of them human, who are associated with Christ symbols, as far as I can see – other readers might spot others. They are Dumbledore, Harry, James (of all people!) and Severus. Not one of these is a perfect person; not one of them doesn’t do wrong at some point. So it doesn’t throw me at all that Buckbeak attacks Severus. Whatever Rowling is doing with her Christ symbolism, she doesn’t seem to be implying that any of these figures is actually a Christ figure – not even Dumbledore, and he certainly comes closest. The only true Christ figure I’ve seen so far is Lily, because of her sacrificial death, and because, unlike Dumbledore’s, her sacrificial death is effective. (oh – I guess she is person number 5, since the lily, like the stag and the hippogriff (to which Snape is directly compared) is a Christ symbol.)

    Oh – and I don’t think Snape’s curse killed Dumbledore. I think he was dead already when the AK hit him.

    And I never denied that Snape is nasty. What I argue on my blog is that being nasty doesn’t make him evil. “Nice” and “good” are two entirely different things. So are “nasty” and “evil”.

    And there is a difference between a comparison and a contrast. Snape is *never* contrasted to Harry; he is always directly *compared* to him. I think there is a reason for that.

    I have many, many, reasons for hoping that Snape is good*, and I do think, if he turns out bad, Rowling will have told an immoral story. But I know there are many people of good will who disagree with me. And, as far as the logic of the plot goes, he could certainly turn out to be bad and out for himself. I never denied that, Nathan. In fact, I said it was quite possible. It’s Rowling’s book, and she will write whatever she likes, regardless of what I think of it. (*I guess my major reason is that I am a fellow bullied geek. I have tremendous fellow feeling for Snape, in spite of his nastiness. I can even manage to summon some empathy for Sirius, who is clearly good and does the best he can given his circumstances, even though he remains a thoughtless, immature bully to his last breath. I think Sirius is nasty, too, btw.)

  14. I think the words Jo used to describe Snape were “deeply horrible,” that be “bullies children,” which is one of the worst things you can do. It would be pretty much unprecedented in literature, and also really confusing to have someone write a Christ figure whom they also regard as “deeply horrible” person who bullies children. I guess only time will tell.

    With Buckbeak, it just seems incredibly random for her to drop him in this scene, if he is as mistaken about Snape as Harry, Christ figure or not. Forget about Christ symbols for a minute. I like to think of Buckbeak as having a kind of special intuition/wisdom, or knowing when someone else is in danger. It wouldn’t make much sense, if Harry wasn’t actually in danger, for Buckbeak to show up and attack the good guy because he is mistaken too. What would her point be in including this?

    Dumbleodre was saying “Severus, please…” seconds before the curse hit him. You’re saying he coincidentally happened to kick the bucket split seconds before? How does this serve the story?

    I’m not really sure what your problem is with Sirius, or how he is a bully “to his last breath.” I think you are overstating here. He had a rivalry with Snape, and they were always mutually hateful to each other. Hating Snape is a weak spot for him (as it is for Harry), just like James/Sirius is a weak spot for Snape. He also spent most of his life in prison. But he also has alot of wisdom to offer Harry, and treated him like a father despite his shortcomings. Not to mention he gave his life fighting for the order. I can understand how he would annoy you, however – being one of the “cool kids” and all.

  15. Nathan, thanks for the response. I was going to let you have the last word here, because I think I’ve dragged things far afield and I shouldn’t be doing that! But, just to clarify –

    As I say in one of my essays, I find the concept of Snape as a Christ figure deeply shocking, precisely because he’s nasty. I don’t really think he *is* a Christ figure; as I said above, I don’t really think there are any Christ figures in this story, except perhaps for Lily. But he is surrounded by Christ symbolism, particularly in HBP. It’s there, and it has to mean something.

    I never saw any evidence in the text that Buckbeak was particularly intuitive. But he is an animal who loves Harry, and he does sense Snape’s anger here. Why wouldn’t he attack him? That he attacks just struck me as a natural reaction. Oh – jsut thought of something else; Rowling said she got chills at some of the things Cuaron had added to the film of POA, and many people pointed to Buckbeak’s attacking Lupin to save the kids. Is Lupin a bad guy? Is he generally dangerous?

    As to Sirius, I still cannot get over what he did to *Lupin* in the so called werewolf caper, never mind what he did to Snape. As a livejournal acquaintance, cmwinters, put it: “Sirius? He used his *best friend* as a *murder weapon* against another child, and fifteen years later all he can say is ‘he deserved it’?” That is just not right.” (Quoting from memory.) I also hate the way he talks about his little brother, his rudeness to Molly in OOTP, his pushing Harry to irresponsible behaviour in the same book – well, you get the picture. The only point I wanted to make is that Sirius, like Snape, is a very imperfect person. Yet, when it comes down to it, he is one of the good guys, in spite of his major failings. Why couldn’t that be true of Snape as well? After all, the two of them are very alike.

    Longer than I meant it to be – sorry!

  16. Mary:

    I think the thing that gave Jo chills was Dumledore’s advice on “retracing your steps” when traveling through time. He has done this before, methinks.

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