The Secret Riddle

chapter thirteen of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry has his second lesson with Dumbledore, and together they watch as Dumbledore visits Tom Riddle’s orphanage and invites him to Hogwarts. He also learns that even at eleven years old, Riddle liked to operate alone, despised his name, and was using his magic consciously to manipulate those around him.

Merope and Baby Tom, by Wacca

“…New Year’s Eve and bitter cold, snowing, you know. Nasty night. And this girl, not much older than I was myself at the time, came staggering up the front steps. Well, she wasn’t the first. We took her in, and she had the baby within the hour.”

(by Wacca)


Little Tom Riddle, by rose-colligan

It was a small bare room with nothing in it except an old wardrobe and an iron bedstead. A boy was sitting on top of the gray blankets.


A Sort of Montage of Young Tom Riddle, Jr. and Dumbledore, by Drew Graham

“How do you do, Tom?” said Dumbledore, walking forward…. “I am Professor Dumbledore.”


The Secret Riddle, by James J. Dunn aka JamusDu

“Magic?” he repeated in a whisper.
“That’s right,” said Dumbledore.
“It’s… it’s magic, what I can do?”


Orphan Tom, by Abigail Larson

A flush of excitement was rising up [Riddle’s] neck into his hollow cheeks; he looked fevered. “I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want them to, without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who annoy me. I can make them hurt if I want to.”


about the chapter


I’ve always been fascinated by the way the settings of the Harry Potter books intersect with the real world. They’re totally unique in fiction literature, as far as I know, in that we could attempt to go to the places described in the books (like Platform 9 3/4), find we’re unable to get there, and have the experience actually make the places seem more real, and not less. After all, we’re Muggles – we shouldn’t be able to get there! But one of the places that’s most “real” to me is Tom Riddle’s orphanage, and from the first time I read this chapter I wanted to research and find out *where* it might be. Alas, it turns out there was no real-life orphanage in London during Riddle’s time that fits these descriptions. But I think the way our world intersects with Harry’s like this – where it almost feels like we could reach out and touch it – is a big part of the reason the books have been so popular.

Something You May Not Have Noticed

One thing that’s always interested me about this chapter is how difficult it is for the reader, for Harry, and indeed, even for Dumbledore, to look at Dumbledore’s interactions with Riddle through the lens of the knowledge Dumbledore had at the time. Reading it now (and knowing as we do what Riddle would eventually become), of course it seems obvious that Riddle would grow up to be a terrible Dark wizard; but as we’re seeing the scene from Harry’s perspective, even the words used to describe Riddle’s expressions – “greedy,” “commanding,” “did not look remotely abashed,” and so forth – are from this modern, very biased perspective. In the moment, even for a genius like Dumbledore, Riddle must have simply seemed a lonely, enigmatic eleven-year-old with a tendency to manipulate people. And that’s probably something that can be said for at least a student or two in almost every year at Hogwarts.

Life at Hogwarts

One aspect of Hogwarts that I’d love more insight into is the process of inviting new students each summer, and especially the Muggle-borns. Rowling has said there’s a quill that inscribes the name of every magical infant at the moment of his or her birth – but then what? How are they then found, eleven years later? It’s not hard to picture a great staff meeting at the start of each summer where the headmaster runs down the list of Muggle-born witches and wizards, explaining whatever is known about their circumstances to the staff member assigned to go get them. I bet there are some phenomenal stories shared amongst the staff each year of what these experiences are like for the families involved. I’d also bet it’s something that the staff looks forward to each year; how much fun would it be to tell a little Muggle kid that he’s a wizard, and then spend a day taking him through Diagon Alley?

48 Responses to “The Secret Riddle”

  1. Ha! Imagine Snape as he reveals to a child that they are more special than anyone they know, as takes a piping, excited 11-year-old (like Colin Creevey) to buy robes and an owl. What torture.

  2. With regard to Platform 9 and 3/4 – I’ve always wondered – how do Hermione’s parents get onto the platform – are they allowed because Hermione is a witch? Or maybe I just imagined I read they were on the platform and they really only get onto Platforms 9 and 10 – but then what about the first time – surely no parents would just let an 11 year old disappear through a brick wall and not go with them?

  3. Ha, ha, ha! Oh, man! I’m just picturing Snape taking Colin to Diagon Alley. :-D

    Electa, we know Muggles can get onto Platform 9 3/4 since we see Lily’s parents there in book seven. I wonder how they keep other Muggles from going through the barrier? Maybe a Muggle parent can only go through if their magical child is holding onto their hand or something? Just a theory…

  4. Speaking of Tom Riddle for a moment, I personally think that it’s pretty clear that he was a sociopath just from this chapter, let alone the whole series. Here’s why:

    * Persistent lying or stealing
    * Apparent lack of remorse or empathy for others
    * Poor behavioral controls — expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper
    * A history of childhood conduct disorder
    * Recurring difficulties with the law
    * Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others
    * Substance abuse
    * Aggressive, often violent behavior; prone to getting involved in fights
    * Inability to tolerate boredom
    * Disregard for the safety of self or others


  5. Ahahahahha best comment ever about Snape and Colin!!

    I think if you’re aware of the world, you would be able to get through.

  6. Fan politics aside, the book “In Search of Harry Potter” by Steve Vander Ark is amazing when it comes to finding the places described in the books. He goes around the UK, finds the most likely places for things mentioned in the books… and he DOES find them. I’ve been to England many times since the books came out, but I never thought of trying to locate locations.

    Getting onto Platform 9 3/4 for muggles has always been interesting to me as well–sure, the first time, there’s probably a witch or wizard to tell the muggles what to do, and if I remember correctly, there’s a guard at the gate who can probably make sure it’s open for muggle parents of wizarding children… but what about at the end of the year, when the parents don’t have their kids with them and are coming to pick them up? Do they wait outside the barrier? And what about muggleborns who live up near Hogwarts–sure, a wizarding family can just pop into the Floo and be in London and back in a few minutes, but a muggleborn family would have to make the whole trip down to London just to say good-bye to their children as they step on the train, then the whole trip back home to a place just a bit away from the castle…

  7. Awesome new chapter!!! I was also wondering why Dumbledore wasn’t VERY suspicious of Riddle right off the bat:

    – He was taking advantage of the other muggle orphans without shame
    – He could speak to snakes
    – From his personality, it was very likely he would be put into Slytherin house
    – ALL of the Deatheaters had come from that house

    I can’t help but think Dumbledore had at least ONE worrisome theory in his head at the time…

  8. I can’t help but wonder why, with such a weird middle name which came from his maternal grandfather, Tom Riddle believes so easily that it must have been his father who was a wizard.
    Anyhow, the name Marvolo should be easily traceable for both Tom and Dumbledore, wouldn’t you think?

    By the way, since the name Tom Marvolo Riddle is designed to be an anagram of “I am Lord Voldemort”, the middle name is a different one in the German version: Tom Vorlost Riddle… ist Lord Voldemort. What are other international versions?

  9. Of course, Bella + James P., at the time that Tom Riddle was in the orphanage the Death Eaters did’nt exist yet…

  10. Re: jammi567 & Bella + James P. – What you guys are pointing out is precisely my point. It looks totally obvious, now. But jammi567, there are other kids who fit many or most of the descriptions you laid out who *don’t* grow up to be sociopaths. And what are we to do with them? Ban them all from Hogwarts, just in case? It doesn’t work that way, and it *can’t* work that way. You’d be punishing people (severely) for crimes they didn’t commit on the off chance that they might one day. It would be like an extreme form of racial profiling.

    My point is that, if we look at the encounter through the evidence Dumbledore had at the time, what else was he to do? He was rightly wary, he chose to give the kid a chance, but he also resolved to (and did) keep an eye on him throughout his time at Hogwarts. Even with all that happened later, it’s hard to argue it was the wrong decision at the time. The concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ exists for a reason.

  11. By the way, Kim:
    English: Tom Marvolo Riddle, I am Lord Voldemort
    Portuguese: Tom Servolo Riddle, Eis Lord Voldemort
    Spanish: Tom Sorvolo Ryddle, Soy Lord Voldemort
    French: Tom Elvis Jedusor, Je Suis Voldemort
    Italian: Tom Orvoloson Riddle, Son io Lord Voldemort
    German: Tom Vorlost Riddle, Ist Lord Voldemort
    Norwegian: Tom Dredolo Venster, Voldemort den Store
    Swedish: Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder, Ego sum Lord Voldemort
    Finnish: Tom Lomen Valedro, Ma olen Voldemort
    Danish: Romeo G. Detlev Jr., Jeg er Voldemort
    Greek: Anton Morvol Hert, Arhon Voldemort
    Russian: Tom D. Dvolloder Rebus, Lord Sudeb Voldemort

  12. But Josie, you don’t get a choice in being a sociopath. It happens at such a young age that you can’t truely have a choice in whether you become one or not. Of course there are people who are going to display those characteristics, but at least they have a choice in doing so or not.

  13. This may be making a comparison that is far too real world, but I recently read Dave Cullen’s excellent book on the tragedy at Columbine High School, in which he dispells many of the media-generated myths that have sprung up around that event, the biggest one being that the two perpetrators were dissaffected bullying victims who were lashing out at their tormentors. The reality, of course, is quite different. One of them was a born sociopath who throughout his youth displayed many of the tendencies discussed in relation to Tom Riddle’s character and Cullen makes a compelling argument that if this boy hadn’t committed the atrocity at Columbine he very well could have gone on to another path that many sociopaths take: serial murder. On the other hand, the other boy was a troubled youth with many personal and emotional issues who also displayed some of the traits associated with psychopathy, but was NOT diagnosable as a sociopath. He was more of a follower, and again Cullen makes a very compelling argument that with different influences this boy might have followed a different, more positive life path.

    Like I said, this may be a too real world example, but the point remains valid: that there was no way for Dumbledore to know what Tom Riddle’s future was, and he had little choice but to accept him at school and see where his path might lead. And of course, for all intents and purposes, Tom Riddle was a success at Hogwarts – prefect, Head Boy, Award for Special Services…hindsight is, of course, 20/20 but Riddle might have done far more damage to himself or others had he NOT been brought to Hogwarts.

    I heard someone say once that the path to evil is not a lightswitch, it’s a journey of a lifetime. Knowing what Dumbledore knew at the moment he met him in the orphanage, he could never have imagined the path he was setting young Riddle on since, for all he knew, a good education, some strict teachers, a little discipline and some healthy peer interaction might have put him on a productive and honest life path.

  14. Very good analysis, Meri! Your last paragraph is too true-and can be said of so many children who did not have much encouragement when so young. Dumbledore could have turned his back on Riddle, thinking he would not fit in at Hogwarts, but chose to give him the opportunity to take a path in his life to better the wizarding world. Dumbledore can’t know that Riddle will shun that path and choose to lead the life he does. People can be offered opportunities all throughout their lives, but only they can decide to accept those opportunities to
    change their lives.
    Also, I think when Dumbledore says he’s keeping an eye on Riddle once he arrives at Hogwarts, it’s a far closer eye than a Muggle would be able to keep! He can have portraits report to him, he can use Legilimancy if he needs to, etc. He kept quite a close eye on Harry all those years at the Dursley’s.

    It’s also a fantastic plot line that Dumbledore was Riddle’s teacher-he uses that brilliantly later on in the book. If Riddle had never attended Hogwarts, he probably would not be as afraid of Dumbledore, and Dumbledore would not have the teacher/student angle that comes in handy later on.

  15. Found some new names for Tom Marvolo Riddle/Lord Voldemort:
    (page in portuguese, see end of page)

  16. @jammi567, I guess it’s just hard for me to imagine that things are that black-or-white. As though somehow there would be a way to take eleven-year-olds, give them a test, and sort them: “not a sociopath, not a sociopath, not a sociopath, sociopath.” Yes, there is a distinctive pattern of behavior that sociopaths tend to display at a young age, but nothing with the human brain is that simple. Besides which, even if we could create such a test, then what would we do with the kids that fail? Lock them up? Execute them? There has to be a balance somewhere, and I don’t know that Dumbledore didn’t find it. Give the kid a chance, keep an eye on him, see what happens. Some things aren’t preventable.

  17. Actually, Josie, in Argentina (we speak Spanish here), we got an edition that said “Tom Marvolo Riddle” and in English “I am Lord Voldemort”. Beneath, between bracktes, the translator put “Yo soy Lord Voldemort”. Anyway, for me it was better that way.

  18. I absolutely agree that Tom Riddle displayed classic traits of sociopathy at age 11 and before (I’ve mentioned the Columbine connection before, and that he seems clearly to have Reactive Attachment Disorder).

    Thus I think more than an “eye” should have been kept on him. When you have any child who has RAD or is displaying early signs of becoming a sociopath, you don’t just let them run loose and “watch” them to see if they’ve killed anyone yet. They require direct, targeted intervention to keep them off the path to evil. To just let him into Hogwarts, train him in magic (!), and only check that he was getting good grades was, IMHO, exceedingly lax. True sociopaths become adept at working the system and appearing well adjusted on the surface until the time comes to implement whatever they have been plotting.

    And yes, we have hindsight. But we also have the experience of many thousands of children, particularly from orphanages, who are at risk of going down this path, and even we muggles have learned they don’t just “happen” to turn out right.

    Ah, well…

  19. You do have to wonder, was Tom Riddle destined to live a cold, heartless existence. It would be interesting to learn how the other orphans were. Was he the only one who bullied the others or did he have followers, even then. I can’t help but get angry at Tom Riddle Sr. in this book. I often wonder if the young Riddle may have avoided a life of crime if his father had not abandoned him.

  20. ^ I don’t think why Sr. should have cared what happened to the baby. It was totally against his will that he even had sex with Merope in the first place, and did he even know thhat she existed in the first place before that point of time?

  21. Anna, your point is totally valid. At the risk of sounding like a Dumbledore apologist, though, I’d also point out that his context doesn’t only include a lack of our knowledge of what Voldemort would become – it also includes the fact that it’s 1938. Psychology as a field barely existed; according to my dictionary the word ‘sociopath’ wasn’t widely used until the ’40s, and the knowledge of how to effectively label someone as one (much less deal with them) certainly didn’t exist.

    But I do think you’re right that today, more would need to be done. Especially in a boarding school where so much goes on behind closed doors.

  22. Wow, was it really 1938 when Riddle was 11? I did lose sight of that fact.

  23. The question of what to do with a kid one suspects of becoming a sociopath reminds me somewhat of the movie “Minority Report”, where murders are being foretold and the murderers charged with a crime they haven’t committed yet. The system in that film fails. You can’t for sure foretell what a person will do in the future until they have actually done it.

    Hey, I didn’t even realize that there are versions of Tom Riddle’s name where he isn’t even called Tom Riddle.

  24. Kim — exactly the point I was trying to make. Just because one exhibits signs of psychopathy does not mean that they are irredeemably evil and cannot be changed.

    And Josie — will you still sound like a “Dumbledore apologist” through book 7? Just asking!

  25. Kim- try “Marten Asmodom Vilijn” It’s the dutch version of Tom riddle. Even though I was thirteen while reading it, I could totally foreshadow that there was something up with that name, because even for Rowling, it was just extraordinary.
    I really have to agree with Josie on this matter: I think we look very biased at the memory. Is it weird for a kid who lives in a heartless surrounding to enjoy the fact that he can dominate, after fighting for his place in the world ever since he was born? I don’t think so…
    At my college, were I study History, we talk a lot about that biased eye. As a person who lived trough WOI, you can´t imagine a more crueller and larger war. As an historian, you have the oversight and know that WOII was far worse…

  26. Meri, I’ll probably always be a Dumbledore apologist. Not in the sense that I would defend his actions as a younger man (obviously), but in the sense that while he clearly made huge mistakes, he owned up to them, clearly learned from them, and became an incredible person partially as a result of them. Not that he hasn’t made more mistakes, but I think Rowling does a wonderful job of showing us his decisions from his perspective, and I can’t say there’s much that he’s screwed up in the last 100 years that I can blame him for. It’s like Harry says in DH35 – how could he stay mad at Dumbledore now?

    So yeah, for better or worse, there’s the answer to your question. :P

  27. Meri & Kim — I’m not sure I’m being clear. I wasn’t saying any child raised, for example, in an orphanage is automatically destined to be evil.

    It’s just that we now know the dangers of a baby/young child not having a normal development of attachment and we can take steps to make up for that, and thus prevent that child going down the wrong path.

    We automatically take those steps, on the chance that this particular child *might* become a sociopath otherwise, because the alternative is horrible.

    I hope that makes more sense.

  28. Anna — I understand your point, but in 1938 when Riddle was an 11 year old we didn’t have that knowledge or the resources to identify such children.

    And Josie, I really was just curious — I have a soft spot in my heart for the wizend, bearded mentor archetype (probably born of my lifelong love of both Star Wars and Obi-Wan Kenobi) and I just remember being shocked at some of the vitriol directed at Dumbledore after book 7.

  29. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought only
    the deputy headmaster or whatever was the one that talks to muggle born witches and wizards about coming to Hogwarts.

  30. Pax, I’d never heard that idea before – do you remember where it came from? Was it an interview?

    There isn’t much evidence in the books either way. Hagrid retrieves Harry, of course, and isn’t deputy headmaster, although Harry is certainly an exception to plenty of other rules (and also isn’t quite a Muggle-born, as the Dursleys theoretically know about Hogwarts). And Dumbledore fetches Riddle, when he is likely but not definitely deputy headmaster himself.

    The only other argument I can think of either way is that this would be a huge time drain for a single person – it would easily require two days of the person’s time per new student (one to meet them and the other to take them to Diagon Alley), and Harry’s class has at least a half-dozen Muggle borns. That’s easily three weeks’ worth of work, whereas spread amongst the four heads of houses it would require no more than a few days each. But again, anything’s possible. Does anybody else remember hearing anything about it?

  31. The way that there are so many ways of saying Tom Riddle makes me imagine hundreds of him! Wouldn’t THAT be quite frightening!?

    Anyway, even if Tom Riddle was a sociopath, it isn’t like Dumbledore to turn him away. He accepts everyone. But he wasn’t headmaster, so would he have even had the power to do so? Does ANYONE have the power to do that at Hogwarts?

  32. I’m leaning towards what Eliza said, I doubt Dumbledore-the-teacher had the authority to turn away a magical child (if indeed, anyone would be able to).

    I fully admit that I love Dumbledore, for all his screw ups. He fascinates me because I imagine so much going on in his head. This is one place though, where I really think he failed miserably.

    Even Harry seems bewildered that he didn’t “insist” (I think the word was) on accompanying Tom to Diagon Alley. To tell you the truth, we’re talking about an 11 year old child–I wouldn’t even give the kid an option. “I will be accompanying you through Diagon Alley and will pick you up on September 1st to escort you to platform 9 and 3/4.”

    Could you imagine a little boy, 4’8″, staring, half crazed, into space saying “I knew I was special.” That whole scene haunts me.

    I just found it online: “His legs were trembling. He stumbled forward and sat down on the bed again, staring at his hands, his head bowed as though in prayer.”

    There is obviously something very wrong here, and to me, it always seemed so wildly out of Dumbledore’s compassionate, loving character not find a way to make sure this child was provided for emotionally.

    Although after having read the entire series, I see it happen several times (read, Harry being trapped with Petunia and Vernon without any outside checking up; or allowing Snape to bully Neville for kicks; allowing Malfoy to struggle along without playing his hand sooner (which almost got Katie Bell and Ron killed). If he could understand Parseltougue, why didn’t he follow the basilisk around the castle when it was saying “Kill kill kill!” as opposed to letting it almost kill several very lucky students. Perhaps he was secretly having the house elves slip FF into their pumpkin juice that year, b/c that was an awful close call! j/k By the by, if ghosts can’t eat or drink, how did they restore Neary Headless Nick?

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, one of DD’s biggest failures was not trying to build a positive connection with this little boy, or trying to find someone who would.

  33. “it always seemed so wildly out of Dumbledore’s compassionate, loving character not find a way to make sure this child was provided for emotionally.”

    I would have agreed with you… Until book 7!! Dumbledore will always be a favourite character, but book 7 humanised him a lot and not necessarily in a positive way. He kind of stumbled down his pedestal for me.
    It’s obvious, for example, that all the warmth, care and compassion we’ve come to expect of him are directed only at Harry’s benefit: I accept that the love he develops for the boy is genuine, still he keeps an eye on him, helps him and teaches him for the sole purpose of having him kill Voldemort. If Harry’s death had really been necessary he would have considered it a cruel but necessary price. And for all his care, there’s still a great deal of information he knowingly omits to share with him.
    The point is that he’s only like that with Harry: everone else he keeps at safe distance and some he openly uses for his own ends without much compassion. And, yes, I’m talking about Snape here, to whom Dumbledore shows absolutely no compassion.

    All this to say: Dumbledore had many reasons to be wary of little Riddle, especially given his own youth, but no reason and no inclination to cuddle him. After all, Riddle wasn’t The One. An ulterior motive for him to nurture Harry later: his disinterest in Riddle’s wellbeing was, in hindsight, one of the factors that allowed that boy to become Lord Voldemort.

    So, yes: “one of DD’s biggest failures was not trying to build a positive connection with this little boy, or trying to find someone who would.” But only in hindsight.

    On a totally unrelated note… Looking at the different versions of Riddle’s name one has to wonder… Anton sounds weird enough but ROMEO??! How can you take seriously a villain called ROMEO??! And who’s gonna buy the whole “I hate my name that’s so common” argument??
    Personally, I think all translators should have just left the anagram in English with the translation after it, like in Argentina. Although the Latin anagram they used in Sweden is rather cool…

  34. Forgive me if someone already mentioned this, but I love how the chapter ends with Dumbledore’s assurance that “the mouth organ was only ever a mouth organ.” I’m taking that to mean that he actually tracked down all those trinkets to inspect them. I wonder how long that took!

  35. I don’t think you guys are giving Dumbldore enough credit. Look at it from a muggle point of view.

    Say you go to see a child to invite him to your school. He acts just as Tom did. What are you going to think? Probally he is a sociopath. Maybe that he will be a serial killer and you should keep an eye on him. But you aren’t going to think be will turn into the next Hitler.

    Now put that in a Wizard point of view. The last modern dark wizard (pre-Voldermort) was Grindell (No idea the spelling). So Dumbledore sees this kid and he think “wow. He is a bit off an I will keep an eye on him”. And that’s what he did. He watch this boy with a weary eye but he never thought he would become the next Grindall (once again. Apologize for the spelling). I believe Dumbledore did the best with the information he had.

    Btw the David Cullen’s Columbine book is fantastic. A thrilling read. I recommend it to anyone interested in the tragedy.

    A curious thing for me is when Dumbledore says to Harry, and I can’t remember the exact words, “You will find my memory very rich in detail”. I wonder why. Why is his memory more detailed than others? The whole Pensive thing is fascinating to me.

  36. The good thing about Half Blood Prince is that it explains Voldemort’s past. And it makes him a plausible villain. Still, in this chapter, I can’t help being kind of mad at Tom Riddle’s dad. Sometimes I wonder how Tom Riddle would have turned out if he’d grown up in a family.

  37. Austen, I took that to be another example of Dumbledore’s deliberate lack of false modesty. He knows he’s got a great memory, and he’s taking pride in the fact that he’s able to give Harry so much info.

  38. I think it would have been difficult for Dumbledore to keep more of an eye on Tom Riddle than he did. He’s not Headmaster at this point, and he isn’t Tom’s head of house. He probably didn’t want to make too big a deal of Tom’s oddness to the current HM (Dippet, I assume) in case he set him against the poor kid – I really don’t think we can say that Dumbledore failed Tom. Or at least no more than Dippet, Slughorn, or anyone else did. After all Slughorn had a pretty big clue as to what a somewhat older Tom was like and not only did he not ‘keep an eye on him’, he actually deliberately covered up and concealed what he’d learned.

  39. Sorry to enter the conversation way late; I’ve only stumbled across this fab website recently. I am wondering if anyone has any insight regarding Toby’s questions (even though they go back to CoS;)
    1. If Dumbledore can speak Parseltongue, why didn’t he catch the basilisk?
    2. How did they revive Nearly Headless Nick?

  40. Loony, this is just a theory, but my thinking on Dumbledore has always been that he isn’t a natural parseltongue, like Harry, but that he learned it. So unless he’s listening for it (like he does in the memory with the Gaunts), he wouldn’t hear it as a language – whereas Harry hears it as English. In Dumbledore’s case it would just be hissing, and probably fairly nondescript. Again, just my interpretation.

    We had a conversation about reviving Nick ages ago, which I’m sure is now buried somewhere in the CS comments. My favorite of the ideas that were floated out there was the possibility of boiling the Mandrake draught, so that the steam emanating from it passes through Nick, thereby reviving him. But we don’t ever get a “real” answer. :)

  41. About muggles getting to the platform 9 3/4. My theory is, that it is about believing. Muggles don’t usually believe, it’s possible to walk through solid walls and therefore they cannot get to the platform, because they cannot do something, they don’t believe is possible to do. The muggle parents of magical children however, know it is possible to walk through the barrier and so they can get to the platform, even though they might need some help on the first time, just as Harry did. This ensures, that only those muggles, who are aware of the wizarding world, can get to the platform.

  42. I think my favorite Tom Riddle translation is Mark Neelstin. That country doesn’t do the whole Voldemort thing, I guess.

  43. Something to remember: when Harry leaves Dumbledore’s office, he noticies that the ring is gone. Little did Harry (and the audience) know at the time, but the ring, or at least the stone from the ring, will show up later in Harry’s life.

  44. Kim, I would tell you the Swedish name of Riddle (Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder: Ego sum Lord Voldemort), but I see it has already been in one of the answers. Names have been troublesome for the translators throughout the series. I understand names like Slughorn that are translated into the various equivalents of the word “slug”, but other just don’t make sense to me – in Swedish, Gilderoy Lockhart is for example called Gyllenroy Lockman. I am of the opinion that translator’s notes are a good way around these problems without changing the text, but of course this is hard to do in a book sold for children.

    While on the subject of names, I was rather surprised by the name of this chapter. The fact that Riddle’s last name is “Dolder” in Swedish (a word connecting to the Swedish word for “hidden”), the play on words doesn’t really work, and the chapter is instead called “The secretive Dolder”. I like the English one much more ;)

  45. Austen wrote: “Now put that in a Wizard point of view. The last modern dark wizard (pre-Voldermort) was Grindell (No idea the spelling). So Dumbledore sees this kid and he think “wow. He is a bit off an I will keep an eye on him.”

    Actually, in 1938, Grindelwald was just reaching the height of his powers. It will not be until 1945 that he is defeated by Dumbledore. One would imagine that with the threat of such a dark wizard looming in everyone’s mind, especially Dumbledore’s, the idea that an 11 year old boy will someday be an even greater threat would seem ridiculous.

    We are unnerved by Tom Riddle’s talk because we have the forsight to know what he will become. If we didn’t know, we would just think him kinda creepy and weird.

  46. Thank you, Laura, for that insight/possibility! The end of this chapter had always puzzled me. That would be crazy trying to track down all those objects just to prove they weren’t Horcruxes!

  47. Laura, and gelatogirl, I think Dumbledore relied on his guesses about what became Horcuxes (and therefore, what did not). In that same conversation on Horcruxes, Dumbledore asserts that the things Riddle used were of significance to him (the diary, Nagini), and several of significant value as artifacts (the ring, the Hufflepuff cup, possibly an item of Ravenclaw or Gryffindore). The mouth organ might have made a nice portkey, but wasn’t needed to hold a portion of his soul. So yes, these at the time were guesses, but as Dumbledore says later, “… my guesses have usually been good.”

    We can assume that Dumbledore, looking at memories he had or had retrieved of Tom Riddle, coupled with information he learned about Riddle/Voldemort’s actions, was able to determine how many were made (with one significant final one), and what they most likely were. It was Harry who planted in our minds that other items of lesser or no value might have been made into Horcruxes, not Dumbledore.

  48. The artifacts list should read (the ring, the Slytherin locket, the Hufflepuff cup, possibly an item of Ravenclaw or Gryffindor).

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