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Complete, detailed, and amazing Reader's Guides
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Chapter Twenty-One:
The Unknowable Room

Notes by Steve Vander Ark and Michele L. Worley
Synopsis and links by John Kearns

U.S. hardcover edition: pages 447 - 468
U.K. hardcover edition: pages 419 - 438
Timeframe: 16-22 March, 1997 [Y17]

In which Harry talks with Ron and Hermione about Apparition, Slughorn's memory, and Lavender, and Kreacher and Dobby show up to report on Malfoy, making Harry realize Draco's been using the Room of Requirement with Polyjuiced Crabbe and Goyle as lookouts. Harry spends some time trying to get into the Room of Requirement (unsuccessfully), Snape picks on him in class again, Moaning Myrtle reveals she's been talking with a boy, and Harry runs into a disheveled Tonks and wonders if she loved Sirius.

The Unknowable Room

No comments on chapter title as yet.

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

Instead, he surreptitiously folded down the corner of the page

Hmpf. Harry dog-ears pages.

Ron was now struggling to finish a viciously difficult essay for Snape

From the subsequent remarks about Harry's disagreement with Snape and the Spell-Checking Quill, the essay is about handling dementors. Lupin once remarked during Harry's third year that the Patronus Charm was well above Ordinary Wizarding Level (PA12), so it makes sense that it would be a N.E.W.T.-level D.A.D.A. topic.

he had disagreed with Snape on the best way to tackle dementors

Huh. How many ways are there, other than casting a Patronus Charm?

His features recall the fine bones of my mistress

If Kreacher isn't just saying this because he'd rather have a "proper" pure-blood wizarding master or mistress, it may tell us a little more about what the late Mrs. Black looked like than is currently apparent from her portrait. Draco's mother is Sirius' cousin on the Black side, but given the inbreeding in pure-blood families, there may be a blood relationship between Draco and Mrs. Black as well.

"And I bet that's why he's been disappearing off the map - come to think of it, I've never seen the Room of Requirement on there!"

Hmm. Even a flake like Trelawney is aware of the room, but she was hired not long before Harry was born, after MWPP would've left school (HBP25). More to the point, the house-elves on staff are aware of it and use it in the course of their work - Dobby knew about it by his second year on staff (OP18), and MWPP were notorious for raiding the kitchens while they were at school. They'd have had to be on reasonably good terms with the house-elves for that. And MWPP never found out about the Room of Requirement?

"Maybe the Marauders never knew the room was there"

Well, now somebody in canon has referred to MWPP as the Marauders. May we now use this name for them in peace?

Wish I could Disapparate like a house-elf.

All right, now it sounds like we can officially classify house-elf reappearing/disappearing as Apparition.

his dreams, when he finally fell asleep, were broken and disturbed by images of Malfoy, who turned into Slughorn, who turned into Snape

Another one for the Harry's Dreams page. Nice one; ambiguous.

twenty-five scrolls of parchment

So, there are 25 sixth-year students in DADA this term. Those in attendance include:

  1. Finnigan, Seamus

  2. Granger, Hermione

  3. Parkinson, Pansy

  4. Potter, Harry

  5. Weasley, Ron

resisting the Imperius Curse

A little more information on the 6th-year DADA syllabus.

Ron joined Hermione and the rest of the sixth years who would turn seventeen in time to take the test in a fortnight

OK, OK, we know now that Hermione is actually older than Harry, not younger. We had deduced otherwise at first, but canon is canon and the Lexicon is being updated accordingly. (Harry, as readers can see from this passage, is actually the youngest of the trio.)

"His office isn't here," said Harry, "it's round the other side of the castle, behind the gargoyle - "

In fact, in previous years Dumbledore's office hasn't been on the seventh floor at all.

Characters introduced in this chapter:

  • none

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:

  • Still to come....

Spells and Potions:

Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

  • "It's one of Fred and George's Spell-Check ones... but I think the charm must be wearing off..."
    "Yes, it must," said Hermione, pointing at the title of his essay, "because we were asked how we'd deal with dementors, not 'Dugbogs,' and I don't remember you changing your name to 'Roonil Wazlib' either."

  • "But the more I hint I want to finish it, the tighter she holds on. It's like going out with the giant squid."

  • "And yet," said Hermione, coming out of her reverie, "I doubt you'd find a woman who sulked for half an hour because Madam Rosmerta didn't laugh at their joke about the hag, the Healer, and the Mimbulus mimbletonia".

Strictly British:

Timelines/Calendar:

The chapter begins by referring to "the next week," then to "late Sunday evening," meaning almost certainly 16 March. The chapter then moves to Monday the 17th, and finally concludes the following weekend, presumably on a Saturday since all Hogsmeade dates are Saturdays; this must, then, be 22 March.

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