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Harry further realizes that Voldemort was tracking Ollivander, Gregorovitch, and now Grindelwald because he wants the Elder Wand—not because he wants a new wand, or answers about how to defeat Harry’s wand.

Finally, Harry decides that his Invisibility Cloak—the cloak his father left to him—must be the cloak in the story, and that he himself must be descended from the third brother in the story, living as he did in the same town as the Peverells. He remembers that in the letter fragment from his mother that he found in Sirius’s house, she mentions that Dumbledore had borrowed the Cloak. Harry reasons that Dumbledore must have known that it was one of the Hallows and must have wanted to assemble them all. Harry is seized by the idea that if he gathers the Hallows himself, he will finally be powerful enough to defeat Voldemort, whose Horcruxes will be no match for the Hallows.

It occurs to Harry that Voldemort must not know about the Hallows, having been raised in a Muggle orphanage without being read wizard fairy tales. He must be searching for the wand thinking only that it is a powerful wand, not one of three artifacts. If Voldemort had known, he would have pursued the Hallows rather than making the Horcruxes, and he wouldn’t have made a Hallow into a Horcrux (the ring with the Resurrection Stone in it).

As passionate as Harry is about his deductions, Hermione resists, noting that there would be no reason for Dumbledore not to tell Harry about the Hallows if they existed, and reminding Harry that Dumbledore left clear instructions to find and destroy Horcruxes—not to go searching for Hallows to destroy Voldemort. Ron supports Hermione, so the matter seems to be closed, but Harry lies awake that night obsessing about what he could do with the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand—for example, using the Stone to question Dumbledore and the Wand to free Luna from Azkaban, where she is most likely being kept. Over the next few days, the sense of division between Harry and Ron and Hermione deepens.

One night, Ron manages to tune into the underground radio program “Potterwatch,” produced by members of the Order of the Phoenix. Harry, Hermione, and Ron listen eagerly as wizards they know and recognize give out news of the outside world and the people they know and love. Ted Tonks and Dirk Cresswell have been murdered, along with a goblin; Xenophilius is in prison; Hagrid was almost arrested but escaped; Muggles are being murdered by Death Eaters in great numbers. Rumors have circulated that Voldemort has been sighted outside of England.

As the program ends, Harry seizes on this last piece of information to insist that Voldemort must be searching in Europe for the Elder Wand. Unfortunately, he slips and says Voldemort’s name, breaking the Trace and leading the Ministry’s agents to their hiding place. A voice announces that a dozen wizards are outside the tent, and orders them to come out with their hands up.

Analysis: Chapters Twenty–Twenty-Two

This sequence of chapters, which finally introduces us to the meaning of the book’s title, brings together the two plotlines that have dominated the book. On the one hand, we have seen Harry’s difficult quest to find the Horcruxes and destroy Voldemort before Voldemort can kill him. Under the surface of that plot, Harry has been struggling internally with his grief over Dumbledore. In this second plot, Harry has struggled to stay faithful to his promise to Dumbledore to destroy the Horcruxes, while his doubts have grown that Dumbledore may not have loved him and may not even have been a good person. Essentially, Harry has not been able to fully focus on or commit to the quest that Dumbledore left him because of his grief over Dumbledore—he feels unable to accept Dumbledore’s love now that Dumbledore is dead, and is thus unable to maintain his faith in Dumbledore and the quest.

The Deathly Hallows capture Harry’s imagination primarily because they offer a way out of his impasse. With the Resurrection Stone, Harry could speak with Dumbledore, or with his parents, and he would no longer feel cut off from his dead loved ones. He would be master of death, and so would no longer have to grieve. His power would be sufficient to defeat Voldemort at last. But if Harry chooses to pursue the Hallows instead of the Horcruxes, he will pay a price, because he’ll essentially be abandoning his faith in Dumbledore altogether, refusing to do what Dumbledore advised, and he’ll be giving up on the possibility that Dumbledore knew what was best for him. He would be putting his faith in his own power rather than in Dumbledore.

The fact that choosing to look for the Hallows would be a dangerous, even foolish decision, is implied by a number of factors. In the story of the three brothers, the gifts from Death are intentionally duplicitous, giving the two older brothers what they want but leading directly to their ruin. Only the younger brother thrives, and that is because he does not even seek to “master” death by becoming a killer, an immortal, or a resurrector of dead souls. All he asks for is a normal life. Other signs include the fact that Xenophilius seeks the Hallows, and Xenophilius is manifestly a fool. Throughout literature, folklore, and mythology, the attempt to bring back dead loved ones almost always backfires, being an unnatural and taboo act that the gods will not tolerate.