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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Chapter Twenty-Three:
Christmas on the Closed Ward

"Who've you been visiting?"

Synopsis by Maureen Knight
Notes and links by Steve Vander Ark and Michele L. Worley

US hardcover edition: pages 492-515
UK paperback edition: pages 542-568
Timeframe: December 19-25, 1995 [Y15]

In which Harry speculates on why Dumbledore will not look him in the eye, Hermione joins Harry and the Weasleys at Grimmauld Place for Christmas, and Percy sends back his Weasley sweater. They visit Arthur in St. Mungo's encounter Gilderoy Lockhart, and see Neville and his gran visiting his parents.

Christmas on the Closed Ward

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

Among other things, we see the means of Broderick Bode's death innocently delivered to him by the Healer who's making sure all the Closed Ward patients have their Christmas presents.

Harry remained quite still as the impact of these words hit him. Then he turned on the spot to face her.

Confronting Harry by Marta T.

But Neville had already stretched out his hand, into which his mother had dropped an empty Drooble's Best Blowing Gum wrapper.

"That idea was one of the very few that was inspired by a real event. I was told what, to me, was a very sad story by someone I know about their elderly mother who had Alzheimer's, and the elderly mother was in a closed ward. She was very severely demented and no longer recognized her son, but he went faithfully to visit her twice a week, and he used to take her sweets. That was their point of connection; she had a sweet tooth, and she recognized him as the sweet-giver. That was very poignant to me. So I embroidered the story. Neville gives his mother what she wants, and (it makes me sad to think of it) she wants to give something back to him, but what she gives back to him is essentially worthless. But he still takes it as worth something because she's trying to give, so it does mean something, in emotional terms (TLC)."

But as they left, Harry was sure he saw Neville slip the sweet wrapper into his pocket.

Neville at St. Mungo's by Marta T.

Characters introduced in this chapter:

  • Longbottom, Alice (first appearance)

  • Strout, Miriam (unnamed Healer caring for Gilderoy Lockhart)

  • (no surname) Agnes

  • (unnamed) medieval wizard who diagnoses Ron with spattergroit

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:

  • Lockhart, still busily autographing anything that will hold still.

  • Neville, accepting his mother's present of a gum wrapper.


Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

  • His hand was on the doorknob when Phineas Nigellus said lazily, "I have a message for you from Albus Dumbledore." Harry spun around. "What is it?" "Stay where you are." "I haven't moved!" said Harry, his hand still upon the doorknob. "So what's the message?" "I have just given it to you, dolt," said Phineas Nigellus smoothly.

  • "You know," said Phineas Nigellus, even more loudly than Harry, "this is precisely why I loathed being a teacher! Young people are so infernally convinced that they are absolutely right about everything. Has it not occurred to you, my poor puffed-up popinjay, that there might be an excellent reason why the headmaster of Hogwarts is not confiding every tiny detail of his plans to you?"

  • "We wanted to talk to you, Harry," said Ginny, "but as you've been hiding ever since we got back-" "I didn't want anyone to talk to me," said Harry, who was feeling more and more nettled. "Well, that was a bit stupid of you," said Ginny angrifly, "seeing as how you don't know anyone but me who's been poassessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels."  Harry remained quite still as the impact of these words hit him.  Then he wheeled around. "I forgot," he said. "Lucky you," said Ginny coolly. "I'm sorry," said Harry, and he meant it.

  • Hagrid had sent a furry brown wallet that had fangs, which were presumably supposed to be an antitheft device, but unfortunately prevented Harry putting any money in it without getting his fingers ripped off.

Strictly British:


Since Hermione shows up on the second day of this chapter saying it's the final Friday before Christmas, we can use the calendar with September 2 a Monday (the first day of term) to determine that the chapter begins on Thursday, December 19. It then continues through Christmas day at the hospital, Wednesday, December 25.


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