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Summary: Chapter Twenty-Four: The Wandmaker

As Bill and Fleur help the escaped prisoners, Harry covers Dobby with his jacket. He is aware that he can see and hear the enraged Voldemort punishing the residents of Malfoy Manor, but in his grief—which is a manifestation of his love—for Dobby, he finds himself able at last to close his mind to Voldemort and to choose not to listen. Harry digs Dobby’s grave himself, using a shovel rather than magic. They have a brief funeral service for Dobby, then Harry uses one of the wands he seized to inscribe a stone with the inscription “Here Lies Dobby, A Free Elf.”

Harry, having had time to think as he dug the grave, decides that he should be pursuing the Horcruxes as Dumbledore instructed, rather than the Hallows. He guesses that Dumbledore didn’t tell him about the Hallows because he knew that Harry would have to struggle with himself in order not to pursue them, and that Harry would need time to work out for himself that they’re not worth pursuing.

Harry takes Ron and Hermione with him to question Griphook. Harry asks the goblin to help him break into the Lestrange vault at Gringotts, and Griphook, who is impressed by the kindness and respect Harry shows to elves and goblins, says he’ll consider it. Outside of Griphook’s room, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he thinks the vault may house a Horcrux, since Voldemort trusted Bellatrix and tended to find grandiose homes for his Horcruxes, and also because Bellatrix seemed so worried to hear that her vault might have been broken into.

Harry and his friends next go to question Ollivander. Ollivander tells him that his broken wand is past repair. He identifies the wands Harry and Ron took as belonging to Bellatrix and Draco, and tells them that when a wand has been captured, it generally shifts its allegiance to the new owner—regardless of whether the previous owner is still alive. Ollivander confirms that Voldemort had taken him prisoner and tortured him to find out how to overcome the problem of not being able to beat Harry with the wand that shared the same phoenix-feather core as Harry’s. Ollivander first told Voldemort to simply borrow a wand, but Harry’s wand destroyed the borrowed wand. Then, Voldemort decided to try to find an even more powerful wand, and that is how Voldemort began to seek the Elder Wand. Ollivander confesses that he told Voldemort to look to Gregorovitch for the wand, because Gregorovitch was rumored to possess it. However, though Ollivander knows about the history of the Elder Wand and its powers, he doesn’t know about the Deathly Hallows or the wand’s connection to the other artifacts.

Harry deduces that if Gregorovitch had the wand and it was stolen from him by Grindelwald (as he had witnessed during his vision of Voldemort reading Gregorovitch’s mind), and then Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in their famous duel, then the ownership of the Elder Wand must have passed to Dumbledore. Harry realizes that Voldemort must have figured this out by now and must already have gone to Dumbledore’s grave to take the wand, and that they’re too late to stop him, but he accepts this fact with equanimity, having deliberately decided to talk to Griphook before Ollivander because he is now committed to pursuing Horcruxes rather than Hallows.

At Hogwarts, Voldemort enters Dumbledore’s grave and takes the Elder Wand from his hands.

Analysis: Chapters Twenty-Three–Twenty-Four

Harry’s over-enthusiasm for the Hallows (at the end of Chapter Twenty-Two) leads directly to the party’s being captured, imprisoned, and tortured. The experience is important to the advancement of the main plot, because it is only by having Bellatrix torture and interrogate Hermione that Harry deduces that something vitally important to Voldemort, possibly a Horcrux, must be stored in Bellatrix’s vault. Chapter Twenty-Three represents a shift of pace from the preceding, replacing the abstract, hypothetical dilemma of Horcruxes versus Hallows with fast-paced action.

One of the things that makes this sequence so suspenseful and convincing is how fully imagined each of the evil characters is. Bellatrix drives the scene, being the most forceful character and the one with the most power, but Lucius, Narcissa, Greyback, Draco, and Wormtail all have their own individual dilemmas and preoccupations—all quite separate from Voldemort and his concerns—that come together to shape the events of the chapter.

Chapter Twenty-Four represents a momentous decision for Harry, which the narrative signals as momentous to us and to Harry, even though nothing extraordinary seems to be at stake for anyone else. All Harry does is decide to speak to the goblin before the wand maker. The goblin can give him information about his only lead on a Horcrux, which might or might not be in Bellatrix’s vault, while the wand maker could offer him information about the Elder Wand, a Hallow. Harry’s decision turns out to have real consequences: by delaying talking to Ollivander, Harry gives Voldemort a head start in his pursuit of the Elder Wand, actually allowing Voldemort to take possession of it. Harry reaches this decision as he is digging the grave for Dobby the house-elf. Dobby has just given his life saving Harry and his friends, and there is nothing Harry can do to change Dobby’s sacrifice and loss. All he can do is bury Dobby and try to keep faith with him by continuing his own struggle. Thus, Dobby’s death is good for Dumbledore’s mission, because it makes Harry want to keep faith with the dead.