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Why did Dumbledore have James' cloak?

by David Haber

On a new post on her official web site, J.K. Rowling admitted she made a mistake in New York when she was asked, what question have you never been asked that you ought to have been asked? She now says the question should have been, Why did Dumbledore have James' invisibility cloak at the time of James' death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?

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Reader Comments: (Page 13)

I really liked John's idea that the importance of DD having the cloak was not related to 'the time of James and Lily's s', but to the time period between their s and when Harry turned 11 and came to Hogwarts. At that time DD returned the cloak to Harry. Whoever had been using it in the meantime would no longer need to have it. (No point, he'd be at Hogwarts with Harry)

I don't think Snape was at GH hiding under the cloak the night the Potters were ed, but I do think DD and Snape took responsibility for Harry's safety from the moment of the Potters' s to the present. Perhaps Mrs. Figg wasn't the only one keeping an eye on Harry at 4 Privet Drive. She had good intentions, of course, but couldn't have ever done any magic to save or rpotect Harry while she was there.

I think what's crucial is that Snape has always and always place Harry's safety at the top of his priorities. There are ots of theories as to why this is so, but I think JKR fill in all of the blanks for us in Book 7.

What's significant, even crucial, is knowing that Snape is Harry's protector. A nasty, unpopular, mean-spirited protector, but his protector none the less. Perhaps this is how he means to do his penance for Lily's following Snape's relaying of the prophecy to V.

Posted by Jan-Marie from Adirondack Mountains, NY on October 2, 2006 4:05 PM

I didn't finish reading all the comments so I don't know if anyone mentioned this, but it was said on another website that James got the invisibility cloak from his father. I read that someone thought it might have been a gift when Harry was born. Thought that might help.

Posted by Brook from Stuart, FL on October 3, 2006 06:50 AM

Of course knowing that Snape is Harry's protector is crucial. But what does that have to do with James' cloak in Dumbledore's possession? If it were a question of only the cloak, DD could've taken one of Mad-Eye's as James definitely did not have 2 cloaks. James' cloak was something special. Even if it were only ancestral property.

Posted by Aditi Dani from Nagpur, India on October 3, 2006 07:39 AM

Aditi, here is what JKR said: "Why did Dumbledore have James' invisibility cloak at the time of James' , given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak? There IS a significant - even crucial - answer. ( 9/13/06)"

It seems to me the issue is WHY did DD have the cloak and nothing to do with the cloak itself.

The crucial point is if my theory is correct, then Snape using the cloak to allow him to meet with DD unseen would give tremendous credibility to Snape's true alliance.

My position is since JKR dropped this question then we should have enough pieces to solve it. I took everything we know about the time immediately around James and compared them to the conflicts we see up to Book 6 that might have been affected by having the cloak available - and I proposed my theory as the only one that seemed to fit.

Doesn't mean I'm correct. I might even change my mind 50 or a hundred times before I read Harry Potter and The Answers to All the Questions (just joking about the title). Does that help?

Posted by John from Riverside, CA on October 3, 2006 07:50 AM

Looking at most of the comments, I come to a possible answer.

Harry needs the cloak for two main reasons.

1.) To visit the home his parents were ed in.

2.) To visit their graves.

Now, the first one is the most likely answer. For one, I could fully understand his wanting to see his old home. It's entirely likely the place still stands, abandoned as the site of an unsolved . Now, since we don't know if the muggle authorities found the bos or not, we can't really say the condition the house would be in. However, personally I feel that they didn't find them. Rather, Hagrid buried the bos, and then took the baby Harry away. Further, I speculate that there were numerous muggle repelling charms on the home which prevents muggles from finding the house or doing much to it.

Now, even though the house is unseen, Harry would have some difficulty entering it. For one, he'd have to apparate some distance away, walk up front, and then casually slip through the gate. (Figuratively speaking) This is at best, a difficult proposition. At worst, impossible. While going at night, it might be easier; imagine if you how simple such an action would be if he were invisible. No one would notice his passing, or entry.

Also, it may be nessecary to avoid dark wizards who might be hiding there. Expecting him to return to where it all began.

The second theory, while also plausible, plays on the belief that the house no longer stands; and the graves are in a small churchyard cemetary.

Nothing quite attracts more attention in a cemetary, than a young man suddenly seen visiting the graves of two people who d some seventeen years prior. Two graves which to that day, have never seen a visitor.

Posted by repsac on October 3, 2006 10:56 PM

Well, then why did DD have 'James' cloak? The important thing to note is why it was James' cloak and why not any other. And why James gave it to 'DD'. He should have given it to Sirius as he was Harry's godfather if it was only for keeping for Harry. Snape would never use it. He hated James.

Posted by Aditi Dani from India on October 4, 2006 12:55 AM

Aditi, In the 6 books we only read of 3 invisibility cloaks, James' and 2 owned by MadEye. None others. We know they are rare so I don't think the question of 'Why James?' is significant in this. But, DD is a much more powerful wizard than anybody else James knows, so leaving a very rare and valuable gift for Harry with DD makes perfect sense to me.

However, JKR made an issue of why was it given to DD when he can turn himself invisiible. The 2 most plausible reasons seem to be, to protect the cloak and/or to use it. Since DD doesn't need it, who would benefit DD's spy most by using it? I think Snape.

So far as Snape refusing to use it, I doubt he knew who it belonged to.

Posted by John from Riverside, CA on October 4, 2006 09:39 AM

To Aditi:

Snape has used Harry�s (James�) invisibility cloak. Remember in �Prisoner of Azkaban� when he follows Lupin into the Shrieking Shack? I think he is the only other person who ever used Harry�s cloak in the previous books (except for the times when Harry shares his cloak with Ron and Hermoine). Remember when Snape says:

"I found this at the base of the Whomping Willow," said Snape, throwing the cloak aside, careful to keep his wand pointing directly at Lupin's chest. "Very useful, Potter, I thank you...."

I also think the �mirror of erised� be important in the last book as the inscription on it says, �erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi� which actually means �I show not your face but your heart�s desire.� So isn�t Harry�s heart�s desire to find Voldemort�s horcruxes? He might see what the horcruxes are in the mirror like he saw the philosopher�s stone. The question is, where is the mirror of erised now?

Posted by Javed from New Delhi, India on October 4, 2006 10:35 AM

Well, yes Snape did use it then. But that was for his own selfish interest and he found it by chance. He returned it to Harry. He didn't want to keep it.

But yes, the Mirror of Erised prove to be a big help. Though, Harry wants to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. Will he see them if that's his heart's desire? I think the Mirror would probably be in the Room of Requirement.

Was there any mention of DD moving it after Quirrel's ? Maybe its still there, in the room on the 3rd floor!

Posted by Aditi Dani from Nagpur, India on October 4, 2006 11:51 AM

Well, John somehow I think the fact that the cloak was James' is also of importance.
"DD is a much more powerful wizard than anybody else James knows"

Why did James make Sirius Harry's godfather then? Why not DD?

Posted by Aditi Dani from Nagpur, India on October 4, 2006 12:37 PM

But, remember something, when Harry was, for third time, seeing the Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore tells him that he doesnt need a cloak to become invisible.
What if he teached Snape how to become invisible without needing an invisibility cloak?

Posted by Salo on October 4, 2006 12:40 PM

In GoF, after Harry returns from the Graveyard, and Harry is telling Dumbledore and Sirius that Wormtail cut his hand, remember that Dumbledore gets up and asks harry to show his arm, Remember the connection between Harry and Wormtail!

Posted by Salo on October 4, 2006 12:50 PM

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