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Harry asks his owl, Hedwig, to deliver messages to Ron, Hermione, and Sirius. Harry instructs Hedwig to peck at each recipient until they write him substantial replies. The Dursleys leave to attend an award ceremony for the All-England Best Kept Suburban Lawn Competition. They depart, and Harry hears a loud crash. His door unlocks and swings open. Harry heads downstairs to investigate and is greeted by a group of nine wizards: Mad-Eye Moody, Professor Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Elphias Doge, Dedalus Diggle, Emmeline Vance, Sturgis Podmore, and Hestia Jones. They have come to transport him somewhere safe to await his hearing without further danger. While packing, Harry learns that Tonks is a Metamorphmagus and can change her appearance at will. Lupin writes a letter for the Dursleys, assuring them that Harry is safe and will return home next summer. Harry and the others mount their flying broomsticks and take off into the cold night, finally landing in a run-down looking part of London. Moody hands Harry a piece of paper that reads, “The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London,” and orders Harry to memorize it.
The wizards rush Harry into number twelve. The building is decrepit, with peeling wallpaper and a threadbare carpet. Ron’s mother, Mrs. Weasley, emerges from a door and hurries toward them, pulling Harry into a hug. She orders Harry upstairs, promising that Ron and Hermione will fill him in. Harry’s friends greet him excitedly, but Harry is still angry and screams at them for keeping him in the dark all summer. He notices where Hedwig pecked at their hands, and for a brief moment, Harry is happy to see their cuts. Ron and Hermione explain that Dumbledore made them promise not to send Harry any messages with specific news and that the Order of the Phoenix is a secret society, comprised of people who wish to prevent Voldemort’s return to power. The Order has been busy following known Death Eaters and standing guard over Harry. Harry also learns that Ron’s brother, Percy, has betrayed his family in order to support the corrupt Cornelius Fudge at the Ministry of Magic. Hermione tells Harry how the Daily Prophet has been building a case against Harry all summer, portraying him as an egotistical liar. Ron, Hermione, and Harry head downstairs to dinner, where Harry sees his godfather, Sirius Black.
Sirius explains that number twelve was his parents’ house and now belongs to him. He has offered it to Dumbledore as a meeting spot. During dinner, Sirius gets into a fight with Mrs. Weasley over how much information Harry should be made privy to. Mrs. Weasley would prefer that Harry not be told anything, but Sirius and Lupin convince her that there are certain things he needs to know. Sirius tells Harry that while Dumbledore thinks Voldemort is building his army back up, the Ministry of Magic refuses to accept that Voldemort is back. Instead, Fudge fears that Dumbledore is plotting to overthrow him, taking the position of Minister himself. Harry also learns that Voldemort is attempting to gain access to some kind of secret weapon, but Mrs. Weasley stops the conversation before Harry can learn more.
In the first two chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Rowling emphasizes the divide between the Wizard world and the Muggle world. In the next three chapters she emphasizes the divide between the child world and the adult world. After finally being freed from the stifling confines of Four Privet Drive, Harry is just now starting to learn some answers to all of his questions. However, Harry finds the quality of these answers extremely disappointing. He’s pleased to find out that Ron and Hermione didn’t just abandon him for the summer and that they were actually following strict orders from Dumbledore not to send any confidential information by Owl, but he feels he should be kept well-informed of Voldemort’s devious activities since he endured a dramatic face-off with Voldemort last year. Regardless, many of the adult members of the Order of the Phoenix, especially Mrs. Weasley and Dumbledore, believe Harry is better off not knowing very much at all. Aside from Sirius, Mrs. Weasley and Dumbledore are the closest Harry has to a real family, and their desire to protect him leads them to withhold this precious information. This withholding, however, is patronizing. The adults in Harry’s world refuse to believe that Harry and his friends should have full and unrestricted access to adult business, despite the fact that they have proven themselves worthy time and time again.
Harry is a bright and determined wizard even though he is very young, but his many efforts to prove himself do not result in increased access to the adult world. On more than one occasion, he has had direct and violent contact with Voldemort and has proven that he can successfully stand up to dark and powerful forces. Each of the first four installments of the Harry Potter series culminates in some kind of “good versus evil” climax, with Harry and his schoolmates representing the side of goodness. A professor occasionally helps Harry, but Harry usually shoulders the burden on his own, successfully preventing evil from prevailing. Despite his bravery and success, he is not made privy to any of the Order’s secret business, and this lack of trust and information frustrates him. Even though Harry has just been “saved” from the Dursleys, where he felt totally alone and powerless, he has been placed in another exclusive situation, where he feels equally powerless. Without Sirius’s intervention, Harry wouldn’t have learned about Dumbledore’s break with the Ministry or Voldemort’s plans for a new army. Given Harry’s past, this lack of information is actually far more dangerous to him than anything the Order might accidentally reveal.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix!