The Parting of the Ways
Chapter 36 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Parting of the Ways
Barty Crouch is bound and left guarded by Professor McGonagall, while Professor Snape arranges for the real Alastor Moody to be sent to the Hospital wing before fetching Cornelius Fudge to interrogate Barty. Professor Dumbledore and Harry head to the Headmaster's office where Sirius Black is waiting. Dumbledore asks Harry to recount what happened in the cemetery, though Sirius protests that Harry is too exhausted. Dumbledore insists. Fawkes' Phoenix song gives Harry strength.
Dumbledore and Sirius seem shocked that Wormtail used Harry's blood for the charm. Now Voldemort has the same protection as Harry. Surprisingly, Dumbledore's eyes emit a brief triumphant gleam upon hearing this, but he only comments that Voldemort has overcome that particular barrier.
Dumbledore explains that Harry's and Voldemort's wands connecting was a Priori Incantatem effect: when wands sharing a common magical core are forced to duel, one wand will disgorge its most recent spells. Harry's and Voldemort's wands both contain Fawkes' tail feathers. Voldemort's wand was forced to disgorge its most recent spells. Harry confirms that Cedric appeared, as well as an an old man, Bertha Jorkins, and his father and mother. These figures, says Dumbledore, are not Ghosts, but only the spirit echoes or shadows that were created by Voldemort's victims when Voldemort's wand killed them.
When Harry is unable to continue, Fawkes flutters to the floor next to him, shedding healing tears onto Harry's wound. Dumbledore praises Harry for showing exceptional bravery against Voldemort. Sirius then transforms into a dog and accompanies Harry and Dumbledore to the infirmary. There, Mrs. Weasley, Bill Weasley, Ron, and Hermione are waiting. Moody is resting in a bed. Insisting Harry needs sleep, Dumbledore says all questions can wait until morning. He informs Madam Pomfrey the dog will stay with Harry. Harry is given a purple potion and quickly falls asleep.
Loud voices awaken Harry as Cornelius Fudge, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Snape burst in. McGonagall is berating Fudge as he demands to speak to Dumbledore. Dumbledore enters, surprised that McGonagall left Barty Crouch Jr. unguarded. McGonagall shouts that the Dementor Fudge brought sensed Barty and has sucked out his soul. Fudge claims Crouch was no loss, though Dumbledore points out Barty is now unable to testify or verify that Voldemort has returned. Fudge denies that the Dark Lord has been resurrected, claiming Harry is a less than reliable witness and suffers from hallucinations. Fudge also discounts that Harry can identify Death Eaters, claiming the names are public record. Announcing that Voldemort has returned would only undermine everything the Ministry has been working towards the past thirteen years.
Dumbledore avers that if Fudge accepts that truth and acts now, they may be able to salvage the situation. First, the Dementors must be removed from Azkaban. Next, envoys have to be sent to the Giants. Fudge refuses Dumbledore's suggestions, as he would be voted out immediately. Dumbledore believes Fudge is blinded to the reality, and says if they have reached an impasse, then they must part ways.
Fudge claims Dumbledore is working against him, but Dumbledore replies he is only fighting Voldemort. Even Snape showing Fudge the now black Dark Mark on his arm and saying that this is why Karkaroff bolted does nothing to change Fudge's mind. Fudge places Harry's Tournament winnings on the table and leaves.
After Fudge departs, Dumbledore begins assigning missions. Asking Mrs. Weasley if he can depend on her and Mr. Weasley, Bill Weasley volunteers to tell his father and leaves. Dumbledore dispatches Professor McGonagall to fetch Hagrid and Madame Maxime to his office. He sends Madam Pomfrey to tend to Winky, who is still with Crouch. Dumbledore tells Sirius and Snape that they must put aside their dislike for each other and cooperate. Dumbledore then sends Sirius to alert the "old crowd": Mundungus Fletcher, Remus Lupin, Arabella Figg, and to then lay low at Lupin's. Dumbledore sends Snape on a mission they previously discussed.
After Dumbledore leaves, Harry frets about the Tournament prize, blaming himself for Cedric's death and wants to give the Diggorys half. Mrs. Weasley tells him not to worry about it, but she is interrupted by a loud slamming. Next to the window, Hermione apologizes for the noise. Harry takes the remaining sleeping potion and finally falls asleep.
As many questions are answered, new ones arise, and the characters must now deal with the dire aftermath that Voldemort's return has created. To prepare for the impending war he knows is coming and cannot be stopped, Dumbledore's only recourse, given the Ministry's total lack of cooperation, is to quickly regroup his former allies. Reiterating the book's theme that Voldemort can only be defeated through mutual cooperation, Dumbledore requests that Snape and Sirius set aside their hatred and work together to fight Voldemort. They grudgingly agree, but whether they can maintain a truce or if Snape truly is loyal to Dumbledore remains to be seen, though Dumbledore's faith in him never seems to waver.
At this cooperative spectrum's other end, Dumbledore's efforts to defeat Voldemort are stymied by absolutely no cooperation from Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry of Magic. We can see that Fudge is preparing to vehemently deny publicly that the Dark Lord has returned, an action that will only aid Voldemort's rise to power. Fudge allowing (or perhaps ordering) the Dementor to administer the Kiss to Barty Crouch is not only shocking and likely illegal, but it suggests he could be a Voldemort accomplice or that he is in such extreme denial about unfolding events that he will use any means to protect himself and the Ministry, including using a Dementor to suck out Crouch's soul so he is unable to corroborate Harry's claims, as well as hurling accusations that Harry hallucinated everything. Even if Harry is administered Veritaserum, the Ministry can then argue that Harry actually believes his hallucinations are the truth. Fudge's action, we can already see, will result in an acrimonious and irreparable split between him and Dumbledore, and also between Dumbledore and the Ministry of Magic.
The "gleam of triumph" in Dumbledore's eyes when he learns that Harry's blood was used in Voldemort's reanimation has been endlessly discussed by fans. Of course, this blood tie creates yet an additional connection between Harry and Voldemort, and it can be assumed from Dumbledore's reaction that it may actually somehow weaken the Dark Lord. However, this is still speculation, and it is yet unknown just how it will affect the story's outcome. All that is known is Voldemort claiming that his greatest enemy's blood will make him stronger; it is debatable, however, as to just who his greatest enemy actually is: Harry or Dumbledore.
Fawkes is relatively central to the scene in Dumbledore's office. We learn that this is the Phoenix who donated the tail feathers that lie within Harry and Voldemort's wands; additionally, it is Fawkes who gives Harry the strength to retell his story, and provides the tears to heal his injured leg.
It is unknown just what Hermione was doing by the hospital window at this chapter's conclusion, but it will prove to be meaningful later.
Also, while Harry feels responsible for Cedric's death, it is probable that he would have been doomed anyway. Cedric would have reached the Triwizard Cup first, but, grateful for Harry's help, wanted Harry to take it. Harry instead insisted they grab it together because they helped each other equally throughout the Tournament. If Cedric alone had grasped it, he would have been transported to the cemetery rather than Harry, and, being useless to Voldemort's rebirth, likely would have been instantly murdered on Voldemort's command.
- Why would Fudge allow a Dementor to administer the Kiss to Barty Crouch? Were his actions legal?
- What is the significance of the mark on Snape's forearm?
- Why does Harry feel he is responsible for Cedric's death? Is he justified in believing so?
- Cedric would have reached the Triwizard Cup first. What would have happened if he alone had grabbed it?
- Why does Fawkes only sing a single note to Harry when he is in Dumbledore's office? How does it affect Harry? What else does Fawkes do that helps Harry?
- Why is Harry given a potion for "dreamless" sleep?
- Who and what might the "old crowd" be that Dumbledore is referring to?
- Harry shows no reaction when Dumbledore mentions someone named Arabella Figg. Should he?
- What missions might Dumbledore assign to Hagrid and Olympe Maxime and also to Snape?
- Why might Hermione be making such a commotion next to the hospital window? Why does she say nothing about it?
- Snape and Sirius loathe each other. Is it possible that they can suppress their mutual hatred and work together as Dumbledore has requested?
- Why does Dumbledore have a "gleam of triumph" in his eyes after Harry tells him Voldemort used some of Harry's blood for his reanimation?
After Fudge's departure, Dumbledore begins dispatching various people on separate missions. The missions, only hinted at here, are fully explained in later books. Bill Weasley updates his father, Arthur Weasley, as to what has happened. Mr. Weasley, along with Mrs. Weasley, will be working within the Ministry of Magic. Hagrid and Olympe Maxime will seek out and parley with the Giants in an attempt to persuade them to join Dumbledore, or at least remain neutral. During Voldemort's previous reign, Dumbledore headed the Order of the Phoenix, a group outside the Ministry who opposed Voldemort; Sirius has been sent to alert former Order of the Phoenix members, including Remus Lupin, Mundungus Fletcher, and Arabella Figg to reactivate that group. Lupin later infiltrates and spies on a Werewolf pack headed by the particularly vicious Fenrir Greyback, who has formed an alliance with Voldemort. And Snape is apparently sent to re-establish contact with Voldemort, though this is unknown to us until two books later.
It is hardly surprising that Harry fails to recognize Arabella Figg's name; neither he, nor most readers, have yet to connect her with batty, old Mrs. Figg with all her cats back in Privet Drive. She is later revealed to be a Squib, and she has been guarding Harry since he first arrived at the Dursleys.
Hermione has just discovered how Rita Skeeter is able to "bug" so many private conversations; she is, in fact, an unregistered Animagus, transforming into a beetle. The commotion Hermione was making next to the infirmary window was her trapping Skeeter in a jar.
It is learned in the final book that the "triumphant gleam" in Dumbledore's eyes is when he realizes that Harry's blood that now flows within Voldemort's body will actually protect Harry from Voldemort, a fact unknown to the Dark Lord when he reanimated himself. Dumbledore explains that when Voldemort used Harry's blood, he also transferred the protection that had been conferred on Harry by Lily's sacrifice; thus, Harry now cannot die, at least not at Voldemort's wand, as long as this embodiment of Voldemort is alive.
At the same time, Dumbledore revisits the duel in the cemetery and the Priori Incantatem effect. While it is never stated or implied here, Dumbledore later indicates that the stronger wizard can force the weaker wizard's wand to disgorge its most recent spells. This leads us to believe that Harry is, in fact, a stronger wizard than Voldemort, a belief the reader may have already arrived at in seeing the Priori Incantatem effect in the earlier chapter. Dumbledore will confirm this, saying that Harry was the stronger because he was prepared for death, while Voldemort feared it. It cannot be mentioned in this chapter, however, that Harry is the stronger, because Harry is not prepared to believe it. If Harry did believe himself to be the stronger wizard, it is uncertain how he would continue and overconfidence would likely doom him. It could certainly make him a less sympathetic hero, and so would badly weaken the book.