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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 33)

Snape wasn't hiding under the cloak at the night the Potters d, JKR said this on her site.

I thought DD could have gave the cloak to Harry, so Harry would learn to recognize magic, also if its tracks are invisible. You all remember that part in HBP Harry was wondering how DD knew the cave had known magic... What do you think?

I'm still wondering why James gave his cloak to DD, it's frustrating...:S

Posted by Rianne from The Netherlands on January 10, 2007 07:31 AM

Michael Brinkley,
I enjoyed your thoughts regarding the Dumbledore drinking the potion in the cave scene.
When I first read that part of the book I thought that the potion gave Dumbledore the memories of all the victims that were tortured in that cave.
Voldemort would want to record the fear he instilled in those he terrorized. Just like how he kept a diary to give testimony that he was the heir of slytherin.
But now I'm starting to think you're on to something. Dumbledore's state of mind while drinking the potion could indicate something of consequence in the story yet to come.
However are you saying that Dumbledore traded places with Aberforth so that Aberforth would be ed as planned by Dumbledore and Snape and that Dumbledore is now impersonating his brother?
On the face of it, this sounds very un-dumbledore-like.

Posted by Mikey from New Jersey on January 10, 2007 5:41 PM

I am not suggesting that Dumbledore intended for Aberforth to be ed by Snape. It just so happened that he was in Albus' place at the time.

There are likely many possibilities here. I am hoping that others use this as a starting point for further discussion.

Posted by Michael Brinkley from Oceanside Ca on January 10, 2007 6:58 PM

I'm not convinced about the invisibility-cloak-is-a-Horcrux theory. I think it more likely that Rowling is drawing attention to James's act of leaving behind the cloak, not the cloak itself.

Sure, James and Lily knew that Voldemort was coming after them. But, they were in a safe place, with a Secret Keeper, and they should have been relatively, well, safe.

That doesn't stop James gives Dumbledore his cloak. It's almost as if James knows that he is going to be ed by Voldemort. In fact, maybe James was even planning on . If Dumbledore, James, and Lily knew that Voldemort was going to come after them, maybe James and Lily volunteered to sacrifice themselves! Dumbledore could have predicted that a curse thrown at a baby protected by his parents' love would rebound, ing Voldemort - a master plan!

Posted by Alex Crawley from Medstead, Saskatchewan, Canada on January 11, 2007 12:29 PM

Anne said: "To deliberately benefit from the of someone, regardless of how it occurs, hardly feels like a noble or even okay thing."

I don't know that it is NOT okay to deliberately benefit from the of someone, regardless of how it occurs... after all, that is how donor organs are obtained for transplant recipients, and THAT is definitely beneficial.

Posted by Kathleen from California on January 11, 2007 1:40 PM

Perhaps James didn't know he was going to , but knew that there was a chance, that Voldermort could still attack and he wanted his secret keeper positioned outside the house, so he can be an advanced warning if something should happen. Wormtail would then have had the opportunity to betray the potters in the most foul and unprepared way.

It could also have been given to Dumbledore to use as a way to remove harry from the house if Voldermort should attack and they themselves unable to stop him, we know that Dumbledore could become invisible but we do not know weather he has the ability to turn anything else invisible by simply touching or holding them.

But then i am just a simple reader with too much time on my hands.

Posted by Chris Webb from northgate WA on January 11, 2007 8:51 PM

Given Dumbledore's views on horcruxes and what is said about them; "most evil" I suspect you would need to have intent, seriously evil intent, to create a horcrux. That is you would need to deliberately set out to commit cold-blooded . That intent would be what ripped your soul apart, and perhaps even fueled the spell, whatever it is, to create the horcrux. (Like Harry trying to do the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix - he can't because the intent isn't there. Perhaps the state of one's soul limits not the extent of the wizard's power, but the TYPE of spells that can be performed.) I honestly don't think an accidental ing say in self-defence would count. Sure your soul might take a bruising, but not full-scale tearing. As such I cannot for the life of me imagine either James, from what we know of him, or Dumbledore, doing such a thing.
Dumbledore tells Draco that ing is never as easy as the innocent imagine, which suggests to me that Dumbledore has ed - probably Grindelwald. Think about Harry's reaction when he discovers that he actually have to Voldemort. He thinks of himself as a potential er, but Dumbledore shows him that what he has to do is NOT . I think Rowling points up an important difference here. And it's there in PoA as well, when Harry stops Sirius and Lupin from ing Wormtail. He stops them stepping over that line - because he doesn't think his dad would have wanted his best friends to become ers. In battle, that's different, but a cold-blooded execution? No.
Mind you, I can definitely understand why Sirius and Lupin felt that way!
So no, I can't see that James, Lily or Dumbledore would have a horcrux. Or Godric Gryffindor for that matter. Which doesn't mean the cloak couldn't have belonged to Gryffindor - Dumbledore tells Harry that the only "known" relic of Gryffindor, meaning the sword, is safe. That wouldn't negate the cloak being an unknown relic, its significance known only to the Potters and Dumbledore. Which would certainly explain why James left it with Dumbledore. If Caractacus Burke could determine the authenticity of Slytherin's locket with a few spells, then Voldemort could easily have discovered the truth of the cloak.
Great site, btw. It's a lot of fun thinking through this stuff.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on January 12, 2007 4:44 PM

Maybe the cloak wasn't James' but it was the cloak that voldemort turned up in as a disguise and it would make it important in the last book as harry could use the cloak against voldemort and the fact that Dumbledore said it was james was just a cover up.

Posted by TKOG on January 12, 2007 10:40 PM

Well, actually I don't think the invisibility cloak has something to do with a Horcrux. It's very difficult to think of good reasons why James gave it to Dumbledore. About the theory of Dumbledore being not , he really IS , I think. Otherwise he wouldn't be appeared on the wall, as a painting, in his office don't you guys think?

It's cool to read all this, but it even makes me more curious to read book seven, and I'm a bad waiter.

Posted by Emma from The Netherlands on January 13, 2007 09:59 AM

The Invisibility Cloak belonged definitively to James Potter. It was a family Heirloom. Jo said so in an "Interview America Online chat transcript,, 19 October 2000"

When Voldemort turned up in Godric's Hollow, as seen in PS, he wore a black mantle, but not an invisibility cloak.

Posted by Mistral from Switzerland on January 13, 2007 10:15 AM

I highly believe that thats really unlikely. For one thing it be really insane to give a piece of your soul to a 11 year old boy! (That was the age when Harry got the cloak)
But maybe because if Dumbledore can trust Hagrid with his life then I really dont see why he cant trust Harry, but the age still stands. Ginny had Voltemort's horcruxe in number 2 and we all knew that didnt go well for Voltemort, so why would Dumbledore make the same mistake?

Posted by Racquel Jones from Greensboro, North Carolina on January 13, 2007 12:51 PM

The cloak probably does have something to do with Horcruxes, but I doubt it is a Horcrux of anyone good. For a good person to go out and get a Horcrux, they would have to be deliberately and sadistically thinking that they would them, and be ing to lose a great deal of their emotional strength, and love for others. Any good character is going to have serious reservations about , and is not going to someone except as a last resort, which isn't going to rip their soul asunder.

It is presumably what Voldemort wanted to imprint with his soul, if Harry Potter is the sixth Horcrux. If so, it is presumably an ancient artifact, with powers beyond simple invisibility. It probably allow him access to whatever powers he needs to defeat Coldemort, and whatever secrets he needs to understand their history, at Godric Hollow, by identifying him as Godric Gryffindor.

Posted by Ytaker from SE England. on January 13, 2007 5:44 PM

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