Summary: Chapter 29

Snape refuses to give Harry additional Occlumency lessons. Harry wants to talk to Sirius about what he saw in the Pensieve but knows it is too dangerous. A notice for Career Advice is posted on all the bulletin boards. Fifth-years must meet with their Heads of House sometime in the following week.

Fred and George offer to create a distraction so Harry can use the fire in Umbridge’s office to talk to Sirius. Hermione thinks the plan is too dangerous. Harry leaves for his Career Advice meeting with McGonagall, which Umbridge also attends. McGonagall approves of Harry’s aspirations to become an Auror (one of the wizards who seek out and destroy dark wizards) and encourages him to study hard. Umbridge suggests that he consider another path, since the Ministry would never employ him. Harry leaves and prepares for his break-in. He thinks about how Sirius had told him that James enjoyed taking risks. Harry wonders if he even wants to be like his father anymore.

Harry sneaks into Umbridge’s office and uses Floo power to transport his head to the fireplace at number twelve. Harry tells Sirius what he saw in the Pensieve, and Sirius insists that he and James were just young and foolish. Harry mentions that Snape has since stopped Occlumency lessons, and Lupin insists that Harry convince him to continue. Harry leaves the fire and returns to find that Fred and George have turned the school into a swamp. Umbridge threatens serious punishment, but Fred and George decide, instead, to drop out of Hogwarts. They use magic to fetch their brooms from Umbridge’s office and fly off, saluting Peeves, the Hogwarts poltergeist.

Summary: Chapter 30

Harry and Hermione take their seats for the final Quidditch match of the season (Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw). Hagrid sneaks up behind them and asks them to follow him into the Forest. Eventually, they run into a Giant that Hagrid has brought back from the mountains. Hagrid believes that the Giant is his half-brother and is trying to teach it English. The Giant’s name is Grawp, and he had been bullied by the other Giants for being too small. Hagrid introduces Harry and Hermione to Grawp, who is pulling up trees by their roots. Hagrid asks the young wizards to visit Grawp and help him with his English if Hagrid is fired. On their way out of the forest, Hagrid is surrounded by a herd of threatening Centaurs, who are angry with Hagrid for bringing Grawp to the forest. Harry and Hermione return to the Quidditch pitch to hear a new version of “Weasley is our King.” Gryffindor has won the match and the Quidditch cup. Ron is ecstatic.

Summary: Chapter 31

Harry and Hermione explain Hagrid’s request. Ron is horrified by the prospect of visiting with a Giant but does not want to let Hagrid down. The students begin taking their O.W.L. exams. As they are filling in their star charts in the Astronomy Tower, Harry spies a team of six people entering Hagrid’s cabin. The team attempts to stun Hagrid, waving their wands all at once, but Hagrid successfully deflects the spells. Professor McGonagall runs across the lawn to help him. Four red beams strike her down. Hagrid disappears past the gates. McGonagall, badly hurt, is taken by Professor Trelawney to the hospital wing. That night, Harry gets almost no sleep.

The following morning, Harry is exhausted for his History of Magic O.W.L., falling asleep in the middle of the test. He has another vision. This time, he reaches the room with the glass spheres and, in Voldemort’s voice, instructs a black shape to lift a sphere down for him. The shape on the floor refuses, saying he would die first. Harry then realizes that the shape is actually Sirius and that Voldemort is torturing him.

Analysis: Chapters 29–31

Because Hagrid is part Giant, he has always had difficulty fitting into the Wizarding world, even though Dumbledore and the rest of the Hogwarts faculty do their best to treat him as an equal. Hagrid lives in a cabin on the outskirts of campus, and rarely demonstrates the same kind of eloquence and sophistication that the other faculty members seem to display so effortlessly. Certain groups of students, particularly Draco Malfoy and his friends, mock Hagrid behind his back or refuse to take him seriously as an instructor, and, over the years, this disrespect has contributed to his alienation. Hagrid is extremely happy to have located a member of his family in Grawp and wishes to keep him safe and close. Hagrid feels less isolated and alone when he finds family, just as Harry did once he found Sirius. Unfortunately, Grawp is uncontrollable, pulling up trees and wreaking general havoc in the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid makes a noble attempt at domestication, trying to teach Grawp English and appropriate behavior, but ultimately fails to train him properly. Grawp does, however, play an important role in the climax of the book, giving Harry and Hermione a chance to escape the encroaching herd of Centaurs, meet up with their friends, and travel by Thestral to the Ministry.

Harry’s trip into Snape’s Pensieve both enlightens and upsets him. At first, Harry is delighted to get an intimate glimpse of his father at his age. But the scene quickly goes sour when Harry sees James Potter behaving like a vain, cruel, brutish young man. Sirius’s repeated assertions that he and James were just very young and foolish do little to soothe Harry’s disappointment. Harry has always looked up to his father and reveled in Sirius’s frequent comparisons between a young Harry and a young James. Unfortunately, James and Sirius seem to more closely resemble Draco Malfoy and his goons than Harry and his friends, who never resort to cruelty or bullying, but, rather, try their best to thwart that kind of behavior. In this sense, Harry seems to very much resemble his mother, Lily Potter—Lily boldly intervenes, trying her best to save Snape some dignity. Unfortunately, Snape’s true Slytherin roots show through, and he insults Lily’s Mudblood heritage. Later, Harry desperately tries to reconcile this portrait of his father to the one he has always carried with him, but it grows increasingly difficult for Harry to justify the terrible behavior he witnessed.

Despite his troubling new knowledge about his father and Sirius, Harry feels stridently protective of Sirius when, in another vision of himself as Voldemort, Harry sees Sirius in trouble. Harry is able to overcome his doubts about Sirius and becomes desperate to save him. Harry’s situation at Hogwarts, at this point in the novel, is anything but pleasant. Hagrid has run off, Professor McGonagall is in the hospital, Dumbledore has disappeared, the Weasley twins have fled to London, and Umbridge is in complete control of the entire campus, bolstered by her twin powers as both High Inquisitor and Headmistress. Sirius is one of the few people left in Harry’s life, besides Ron and Hermione, in whom he can take comfort. Past transgressions and flaws become less important once Harry faces the prospect of losing Sirius as well as all the others.