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The House-Elf Liberation Front

- Chapter 21

"Oh, you is a bad elf, Dobby!"
-- Winky

GF21: The House-Elf Liberation Front

A surprise party is held for Harry, he opens the golden egg, and Hermione discovers how to get into the kitchens. In Care of Magical Creatures, the Blast-Ended Skrewts rebel against hibernation, Rita Skeeter arranges an interview with Hagrid, and Harry, Ron and Hermione go to the kitchens where they find the house-elves Dobby and Winky.

Calendar and Dates

This chapter begins on the evening after the first task. After the surprise party scene, the action moves into the month of December and "the next lesson" in Care of Magical Creatures. The very next lesson in that subject after the first task would actually have been in November and not December, so there is a bit of a discrepancy at this point. We have put Rita Skeeter's visit on the first Care of Magical Creatures lesson in December, therefore, rather than the very next after the first task.

Interesting facts and notes

Following the celebration party in the Gryffindor common room, the rest of this chapter shows Harry not really concentrating on the solving the golden egg's clue to the second task of the tournament.

"Sounded like a banshee -"

As we saw during Professor Lupin's practical Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson on boggarts a little over a year before this (PA7), banshees are Seamus' worst fear; his interpretation of what the egg's sounds mean tells us more about him than about the egg.

"It was someone being tortured!"

And here again, Neville's interpretation of what the golden egg's sounds mean tells us more about him than about the egg.

"And Professor Dumbledore says he will pay Dobby, sir, if Dobby wants paying! And so Dobby is a free elf, sir, and Dobby gets a Galleon a week and one day off a month!"
"That's not very much!"
"Professor Dumbledore offered Dobby ten Galleons a week, and weekends off.... but Dobby beat him down, miss … Dobby likes freedom, miss, but he isn't wanting too much, miss, he likes work better."

Dobby the house-elf may have left the Malfoy family and gained his freedom (too much freedom in the opinion of the other Hogwarts house-elves and Winky), but he remains desperate to please.

"You is not insulting my master, miss! You is not insulting Mr Crouch! Mr Crouch is a good wizard, miss! Mr Crouch is right to sack bad Winky!"

Poor Winky. Freedom is definitely not what she wanted for herself - and she obviously misses her "family".

"Professor Dumbledore said we is free to – to –.... He said we is free to call him a – a barmy old codger if we likes, sir!"

Dumbledore is kind to give both Dobby and Winky a new home, but possibly brave also. Or maybe he understands house-elves better than Hermione does and knows that it will take more than just a free and paid Dobby to change the minds of the Hogwarts elves.

Before he pulled the curtains of his four-poster shut, Harry set his tiny model of the Hungarian Horntail on the table next to his bed, where it yawned, curled up and closed its eyes. Really, Harry thought, as he pulled the hangings on his four-poster closed, Hagrid had a point … they were all right, really, dragons …

What is it about dragons? They are ever so dangerous, but everyone really wants one deep down. It doesn't take long for the fear of being burnt to a crisp to go away.

Exceptional character moments

Each Gryffindor's guess as to what the horrible sounds from the golden egg mean.

The twins' frank admission that the house-elves are eager to be helpful in the matter of supplying food.

Dumbledore's willingness to hire a free elf and having attempted to give Dobby higher wages and more time off than Dobby felt comfortable with; also Dumbledore's relaxed attitude toward whether or not the house-elves respect his dignity.

The other house-elves' disapproval of Dobby's status as a free elf.

Winky's anger at Hermione's unthinking assumption that all Winky did for the Crouch family was housework, and that Crouch senior can easily dispense with her help. It says a lot about Winky that she manages to keep her silence in the face of this, particularly since she's been drinking.

Ron's observation that Percy has no sense of humour and wouldn't want to work for a boss who had one.

Memorable lines

"Remember what Malfoy said on the train, about his dad being friends with Karkaroff? Now we know where they knew each other. They were probably running around in masks together at the World Cup...."

"Thought we'd jus' try an' see if they fancied a kip … We'll jus' settle 'em down in these boxes …" [Blast-Ended Skrewts]

"Winky is a disgraced elf, but Winky is not yet getting paid!"

"Percy wouldn't recognize a joke if it danced naked in front of him wearing Dobby's tea-cosy."

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced

GF 21 — The House-Elf Liberation Front
Author
Publication
Abbreviation GF21: The House-Elf Liberation Front
Canonicity Primary Canon

Commentary

Related images:

Butter beer and pewter mugs. This painting depicts the Deathday Party from Chamber of Secrets.

Pensieve (Comments)

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