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

Chapter Twenty-Six:
The Cave

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

U.S. hardcover edition: pages 555 - 578
U.K. hardcover edition: pages 519 - 540
Timeframe: an evening in June, 1997 [Y17]

In which Harry and Dumbledore enter the cave where Voldemort has hidden a Horcrux. After swimming to the entrance, Dumbledore spatters it with his blood to gain entry and they take a hidden boat across a lake. Protecting the Horcrux there is a potion that Dumbledore drinks, though Harry must force him to; after they obtain the locket Inferi erupt out of the water, and a weakened Dumbledore casts a fire spell to repel them as the pair flees the cave.

The Cave

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

No, I think it was only ever Tom Riddle and his youthful victims who visited this spot.

Which raises the question, how did R.A.B. come to know about it?

You will not object to getting a little wet?

Questions that arise:
  • Why not Apparate directly to the cave?
    Perhaps there were anti-Apparition wards. However, since Harry and Dumbledore could Apparate directly from the cave's entrance to Hogsmeade, this line of reasoning appears to have difficulties. Perhaps Dumbledore feared that Apparition would trigger some form of sophisticated defense, which was no longer an issue once he and Harry had left the cave and sprung the trap. We don't know, really.

  • Why not bring a broomstick under the Invisibility Cloak rather than swimming through icy water?
    Perhaps magical protections are present that operate to make an airborne approach difficult. We don't know.

He had never seen a wizard work things out like this, simply by looking and touching; but Harry had long since learned that bangs and smoke were more often the marks of ineptitude than expertise.

Snape made this very point during Harry's first Potions class (PS8).

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:

  • village near the cave

Exceptional character moments:

  • Still to come....

Spells and Potions:

Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

  • He had never seen a wizard work things out like this, simply by looking and touching; but Harry had long since learned that bangs and smoke were more often the marks of ineptitude than expertise.

  • "I said it was crude," said Dumbledore, who sounded disdainful, even disappointed, as though Voldemort had fallen short of the standards Dumbledore expected.

  • "There is nothing to be feared from a body, Harry, any more than there is anything to be feared from the darkness. Lord Voldemort, who of course secretly fears both, disagrees. But once again he reveals his own lack of wisdom. It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more."

  • "I am not worried, Harry," said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. "I am with you."

Strictly British:

Timelines/Calendar:

The entire chapter takes place the same evening as the previous one, an evening in June.

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