Luna and Harry put on the Invisibility Cloak, and Luna leads him to the room so he can see it. Instead of a password, the Ravenclaw door is opened by answering a very philosophical question. The knocker asks, “Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?” and Luna opens the door by answering, “A circle has no beginning.”

Harry climbs up on the statue to get a good look at the tiara, but is apprehended by Alecto Carrow, who touches her Dark Mark to summon Voldemort.

Analysis: Chapters Twenty-Eight–Twenty-Nine

Aberforth’s story gives Harry a better perspective on the story of Dumbledore’s youthful mistakes, providing the essential details—that Ariana was not a Squib but was attacked by Muggles—that make Dumbledore, his mother Kendra, and even his father all seem human rather than monstrous. So complete is Harry’s shift in attitude toward Dumbledore that he is now in a position to defend Dumbledore to Aberforth. Harry’s resolve to complete Dumbledore’s mission is intact, and it is enough to galvanize others who have given up. In the last chapters of the novel we see Harry as a leader, and we see Harry’s leadership reflected in others.

Neville’s newfound heroism is a pleasurable reversal of his role throughout the series as the most timid and least competent student in Harry’s class. As Neville explains it, however, his own heroism is not simply a matter of difficult and challenging times bringing out the best in his own character. Instead, Neville modeled his heroism and leadership after Harry’s. When Harry did not appear in school, Neville stepped in to fill the role. As the intimidated whipping boy of the school for so long, Neville was well able to appreciate the importance of those who take a stand and show leadership.

Neville’s adoption of Harry’s role and his continuation of Harry’s struggle demonstrate an important way in which human beings can connect with one another even after losing one another. A central problem of the book, expressed vividly in the epigraph from Aeschylus, is how we can be connected to people we have lost. Important people have died, and Harry has felt—particularly in the graveyard in Godric’s Hollow—that they are simply gone, unable to care about him or his struggles anymore. But Neville’s actions show Harry that there is a way to stay connected to people who have left us, if we keep faith with them and continue their struggle.