THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, CH 22-23: “‘A REAL MAN MAKES HIS OWN LUCK.’ –BILLY ZANE”.

I don’t know if Ashley gave me these chapters on purpose or if it was just a fluke but if it WAS on purpose thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Ashley. And if it WASN’T on purpose, then WHY NOT ASHLEY, WHY WOULDN’T YOU GIVE ME MY FAVORITE CHAPTERS ON PURPOSE?

Ahem.

I had actually forgotten how great these chapters were until this reread. The moment Harry takes Felix Felicis is one of my favorite all time moments in the entire series and, though the movie adaptation got a few big things wrong, they got Harry all high on Felix absolutely right.

And, as if that chapter wasn’t enough, I also get to tell you about horcruxes. So sit back, relax, sip on some Felix, and let’s do this.

CHAPTER 22: AFTER THE BURIAL

The last time Harry and Dumbledore spoke, Dumbledore totally shamed him for having not yet gotten the memory he needs from Slughorn. And, though that’s not all that’s weighing on young Harry’s mind (he’s also preoccupied with whatever Malfoy is doing but is mostly busy formulating a plan for Maximum Ginny Makeouts), it’s the most important.

Ron, Hermione, and Harry discuss how Harry might relieve Slughorn of this particular memory. Finally, Ron (yes, RON) suggests that Harry use the Felix Felicis that he won in Slughorn’s class on their first day. Harry is reluctant to use it (since he’s saving it for help with getting an invitation to Ginny’s pants party) but when Hermione pushes, he’s forced to realize she’s right. MORAL OF THE STORY ALWAYS LISTEN TO HERMIONE.

(Big lols for Ron telling Harry what a nice feeling it is to take Felix, based on him only THINKING he took it before his first big Quidditch. I guess since it led to making out with a real-life girl, he’s associating the Felix with the special feeling it gave him in his pants?)

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Ugh, Won-Won WHY?

Harry takes it and, to Ron and Hermione’s shock, tells them he’s going to Hagrid’s. SURE WHY NOT.

Hagrid, you see, sent them a note to inform them that Aragog has gone and died, and would they please come down to his hut for the funeral.

(Big sads for this not being the only funeral of the book. Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself. And now I’m depressed.)

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I bought an umbrella big enough for two, but it feels pretty empty under here without you.

For some reason, Ron and Hermione are much more reluctant to break the rules than usual (well, Ron is anyway, Hermione never wants to break the rules) and flat out refuse to go to the funeral, since they’d have to break out after curfew, risking detention and, you know, death. But Felix has spoken, and so off Harry goes.

Felix guides him along a specific path to Hagrid’s, causing him to run into Slughorn. Slughorn isn’t too thrilled to see Harry until he learns that he’s on the way to a spider funeral. Aragog, being an acromantula, is a breed of giant spider whose venom is worth a pretty penny. Slughorn goes to his office to fetch some bottles, leaving Harry to continue to Hagrid’s and explain that there will be one more joining them for the funeral. Hagrid, of course, is touched. His grief is heavy (just like Hagrid, BOOM ROASTED I’m sorry), as Aragog was both a pet and friend. They’d known each other since they were but tinyish child and egg. Aragog and his descendants might be bloodthirsty spiders (who, you know, once tried to eat Harry and Ron) but you have to feel for Hagrid.

Slughorn arrives, sneakily takes ownership of some venom without Hagrid noticing, and says some kind words. This is one of my favorite moments in both the book and the movie, if only because it gave us this:

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I’ve been watching this for five minutes.

The burial over, the three move the festivities into Hagrid’s hut. Hagrid and Slughorn get spectacularly blasted, while Harry remains high on Felix Felicis ONLY. He waits for Hagrid to pass out and then starts laying it on thick. He brings up his mother, tells Slughorn he’s The Chosen One (knowing Slughorn won’t remember it in the morning), and guilts him into parting with the memory Dumbledore has been waiting for.

And with a plea for Harry not to think too badly of him, Slughorn tells Harry he has his mother’s eyes (DRINK) and passes out.

(Do you think it’s going to be super awkward when Hagrid and Slughorn wake up together in the morning?)

CHAPTER 23: HORCRUXES

Harry runs back to Hogwarts, quick like a bunny, and argues a bit with the Fat Lady, who won’t let him in because the password changed at midnight.

(How does anyone keep up with that shit? I can barely remember the computer password I’ve had for months at work, if it changed every day, I’d just have to quit and become a farmer or something.)

Harry soon learns that Dumbledore is back at Hogwarts, so he makes his way to Dumbledore’s office. Dumbledore is surprised to see him, but they waste no time in viewing Slughorn’s memory.

They’re transported back to when Tom Riddle was Slughorn’s student. A couple of familiar names are in attendance, namely Lestrange and Avery, along with Riddle. Slughorn sends them all away, but Riddle stays behind to ask about horcruxes. We know this. Harry and Dumbledore know this. We’ve already seen this part. GET TO THE POINT, GOSH.

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Remember when this was a thing? What a dark and terrible time for our country.

But this time, Slughorn explains what a horcrux is, namely, an object that can house a piece of a person’s soul, created only by murdering someone. Riddle, instead of being horrified like a normal person, wants to know what would happen if one created seven horcruxes. Slughorn, at this point, knows that he’s entered into a conversation he shouldn’t have, and is regarding Riddle with apprehension, even fear.

This memory confirms Dumbledore’s suspicions. Dumbledore now knows that Voldemort succeeded in creating multiple horcruxes. He explains to Harry that they’ve already destroyed two of them (though he suspects Voldy only knows about one), Riddle’s diary and Marvolo’s ring. Harry destroyed Riddle’s diary in his second year, something made possible because Lucius Malfoy didn’t follow instructions (and boy will he be punished for that, yeah?), and Dumbledore destroyed the ring himself.

But those weren’t his only horcruxes. Dumbledore guesses, based on Slughorn’s memory, that Voldemort meant to split his soul seven ways. One piece of his soul still resides in his body, the ravaged vessel he now inhabits, made less human as a result of splitting said soul. (I guess splitting your soul seven times also makes your nose fall off?)

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Who wouldn’t want to hug this guy?

So now we know that Voldemort has split his soul seven ways and there are six horcruxes that must be destroyed before Voldemort can be killed. Two are destroyed already, leaving four more (MATH(S)!). Dumbledore guesses that Nagini is one horcrux, the locket another, Hufflepuff’s cup is one more, and the last will be something belonging to either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.

All must be destroyed in order to finally stop Voldemort, and Dumbledore says Harry can help. Dumbledore also explains to a skeptical Harry that he is, in fact, equal to the task of destroying Voldemort, chiefly because of his ability to love, and for the fact that his soul, unlike Voldemort’s, is still pure and whole. Dumbledore also tells him that, prophecy be damned, Harry has a choice in whether he fights or not. He explains that even without this prophecy, even if Voldemort hadn’t killed his parents, Harry still would have wanted to kill Voldemort simply because he hates everything Voldemort stands for, you know, the murder-y tendencies and, well, really just the propensity for evil in general.

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Voldemort before his nose fell off.

It’s this choice, Harry realizes, that will make the rest of his journey a bit easier. It’s such a small thing, realizing that he has the choice to turn and run, live the rest of his life in hiding, let the world sink to Voldemort’s evil. He would never do this, of course, something we already know, something we learned long ago and something we will learn again in Deathly Hallows, when Harry makes the ultimate sacrifice.

But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

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…sweeties

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11 thoughts on “THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, CH 22-23: “‘A REAL MAN MAKES HIS OWN LUCK.’ –BILLY ZANE”.

  1. I feel like the only time Harry is a character who shows any real personality other than DEATHLY SIRIUS ABOUT EVERYTHING is when he takes the Felix. It was definitely the only point where I actually liked him as a person.

    • Jennie says:

      At first I was going to be all, “YOU DON’T LIKE HARRY AS A PERSON,” and I still sort of am? but also I think I get it…sometimes it’s hard to really know him as a person since he’s all tragic hero a lot of the time. Poor guy. I wish he’d gotten high on Felix once a book.

  2. Dan says:

    Listen to your friend Billy Zane, he’s a cool dude.

    Ahem. Okay, where was I…

    Oh. Right: I love this book. I know there are people who hate it, but I’m not one of them. And this section is one of the reasons why. Exposition is one of the hardest things to pull off in genre fiction because, a lot of the time, you’re making up pretty much everything. But, Rowling never fails to make her infodumps interesting. Wanna know all about horcruxes? Here, have an entire chapter!

    And, while he’s kinda oily, I do sorta feel sorry for Slughorn in these chapters. The way Harry uses his dead mom to manipulate Slughorn…you just can’t help but feel a little sorry for the guy.

    Also: Movie-Harry’s spider impression is one of the greatest things ever.

    • Jennie says:

      So much Billy Zane humor! Anyway.

      I, too, love this book and have never really understood some of the hate thrown on it. I’m hard-pressed to dislike any of the books, however, so maybe I’m not the best judge? Still. I just love it! I get frustrated with needless exposition but JKR’s never feels needless. Plus it’s all MAGIC so GIVE ME ALL THE EXPOSITION!

      Slughorn…man, he’s such an interesting character. He just wants to be as comfortable as possible at all times and it’s hard to fault him for that (because who doesn’t?) but the collecting people (and favors) thing is so icky.

  3. Gretchen Alice says:

    “‘A real man makes his own luck.’ Billy Zane, Titanic.” -Dwight Schrute

  4. […] to start working towards that moment. We’re already familiar with this tactic, actually: Voldemort used it on Professor Slughorn way back when. Slowly arrange the pieces, put them in place without being noticed, and then when the board is […]

  5. BeckaJane says:

    [Dang. Just found this blog today. Hoping, however, that someone sees this and comments.] Maybe my favorite thing about re-reading this series (other than getting to spend more time with the characters) is having epiphanies–big ones and tiny silly ones too. Here’s one that I have found neither on the internet nor in my own brain before today. So, consider Rowling’s propensity for setting up bookends and counterparts for characters, objects, events, ideas, etc. I gotta wonder if Riddle, like Harry, took Felix Felicis for his own encounter with Slughorn. Although he was supremely good at charming people at that time, and so perhaps might not actually need the help from Felix, I think we can also assume he was supremely good at potions and probably would get considerable satisfaction using a difficult-to-make potion, at least as a bit of insurance, in getting the desired info from dear Horace. Would love to know what anyone thinks of this possibility.

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