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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Chapter Thirty-Two:
The Elder Wand

"Why doesn't it work for me, Severus"

Notes by Michele L. Worley
Page editor Belinda Hobbs

U.K. hardcover edition: pages 513 - 528
U.S. hardcover edition: pages 638 - 658
Timeframe: ?+1 May, 1998

In which the battle continues but Voldemort remains with Nagini in the Shrieking Shack, awaiting Harry and brooding on the Elder Wand. He reaches a conclusion about the latter and sends for Snape while the trio make their way to him under the Invisibility Cloak, only to arrive in time to witness Snape's murder and receive some of his memories as a final message.

illustration by Mary GrandPré

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

more giant spiders were climbing the side of the building

For me this is an appalling image. It's also going to be very serious for the defenders atop the tallest towers - the spiders are probably just out of range due to the angle at which the defenders would have to hit them, and they can get to the roof. In any case we know from the third task that acromantulas, like giants, are among those inconvenient enemies who either have to be hit in a vulnerable spot (such as the eyes or the roof of the mouth) or with multiple, powerful spells in order to be hurt.

'Crookshanks?' wheezed Hermione, bent double, clutching her chest. 'Are you a wizard, or what?'

Ron asked her a similar question in the chambers of the Stone at the end of their first year (PS16).

You sound like Lucius.

And so he does - he's operating according to a separate agenda, and is snatching at an acceptable-sounding excuse to pursue it. Snape can see for himself that now is the time that Dumbledore had said would come, the time to give Harry the last secret (DH33). Even better, if he were to bring Harry into Voldemort's presence now, together they might have an easier time of it than either one alone, I suspect. But it's not going to work out that way.

Snape's face was like a death mask.

A death mask is a plaster cast taken of the face of a dead person, so this means that Snape's face is both very pale and immobile. 'Death mask' isn't a strictly British term - for instance, I understand that they used to be used in Paris to record the faces of unidentified drowning victims retrieved from the Seine.


At first glance, it appears that Voldemort still isn't taking true ownership of the Elder Wand - Nagini is about to kill Snape, not he himself. But since Nagini is one of his Horcruxes, in a sense Voldemort is doing this himself.

Voldemort swept from the room without a backwards glance

Just as he did when Kreacher drank the potion in the Horcrux cave - and just as on that occasion, his arrogance in leaving behind a victim who is not quite dead will cost him dearly.

Characters introduced in this chapter:

Characters returning in this chapter:

Characters mentioned in this chapter:

Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:

Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:

Exceptional character moments:

  • The little scene where Ron, Harry, and Hermione, interrupt each other in turn to say, in essence, 'You two stay here, I'll go.'

  • Minerva McGonagall, leading a charge of galloping desks.

  • Professor Trelawney, who has finally found something useful to do with crystal balls.

  • Rubeus Hagrid, whose first reaction to an invasion of acromantulas is to yell, 'Don't hurt 'em, don't hurt 'em!'

  • We finally see the Patronuses of Luna, Ernie, Ron, and Seamus. (We had previously been told what Ron's was (JKR), but I think this is the first time we've actually seen it.)


Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

    'Crookshanks?' wheezed Hermione, bent double, clutching her chest. 'Are you a wizard, or what?'

  • The green eyes found the black, but after a second something in the depths of the dark pair seemed to vanish, leaving them fixed, blank and empty.

Strictly British:

  • (none yet)


Sometime in the early hours of the morning after the visit to Gringotts, so it is sometime in May, 1998. (Or possibly June, if the previous day was the last day of May, but the odds are 30 to 1 in favor of May, barring additional information.)


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