The overall plot is predictable: 17-year-old Harry Potter faces the powers of Lord Voldemort and wins. No surprises there. But just as Harry Potter is no ordinary boy, the reader may count on the fact that J. K. Rowling is no ordinary writer and may hold some tricks up her sleeve for Deathly Hallows.
In the year and a half since the publication of Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter fans have been scrambling to piece together the plot of Deathly Hallows using details pulled from Rowling's interviews and snippets from the first six books. Theories abound, ranging from speculations on where book seven will take place to questions of who will play the biggest role (besides Harry) in the demise of You-Know-Who.
Personally, I prefer to steer clear of wild guesses and instead focus on the questions that Rowling has clearly laid out. Is Snape good or bad? How exactly did Dumbledore hurt his hand? Who is R. A. B.? What is the sixth Horcrux? And the biggie: Will Harry survive the final battle with Lord Voldemort?
As to the latter, readers may rest assured that Rowling is no Lemony Snicket, who killed off characters for the sadistic fun of it. If she can possibly end the series with Harry alive, she will.
That said, there is quite a bit of evidence that Harry is a sort of Christ figure who will sacrifice his life for the common good. His title as the chosen one, his upbringing in a family of strangers, his realization that he must leave his life behind in order to fulfill his destiny. Some readers speculate that Harry could be the last of the six Horcruxes and thus destined to die along with Lord Voldemort.
Since Voldemort spent the last 17 years trying to kill Harry, it is unlikely that the Dark Lord purposefully made Harry a Horcrux. However, Dumbledore affirms at the end of Chamber of Secrets that Voldemort put a bit of himself in [Harry]. By a bit of himself, could Rowling mean that Voldemort unintentionally endowed Harry with a piece of his own soul?
Quite a few clues point to Harry as the carrier of the sixth piece of Voldemort's soul. The text of the prophecy neither can live while the other survives takes on a whole new meaning if Harry is a Horcrux. In this light, Harry's connection to Nagini, the snake Dumbledore labels a Horcrux, becomes suspicious.
Why, at the beginning of Goblet of Fire, does Harry witness the old gardener's murder from Nagini's perspective instead of from Lord Voldemort's? And in Order of the Phoenix, how does Harry enter Nagini's consciousness to witness the attack on Mr. Weasley? All in all, why would Harry be more connected to a Horcrux than to Voldemort himself unless Harry also holds a sliver of the Dark Lord's soul?
If one concludes that Harry is indeed the sixth Horcrux, the question remains: Can he survive being de-Horcruxed? Given that the ring on Dumbledore's finger was once a Horcrux, one wonders whether Harry might manage to get rid of the piece of soul without dying.
But Harry's destiny is just one of many fascinating controversies sparked by Half-Blood Prince. Rowling has an amazing ability to unfold events without revealing key information, thus leaving readers overwhelmed by unanswered questions. Unfortunately, the poor, overburdened Hewlett Packard fan cannot even get a copy of book seven without confronting another disturbing quandary. In order to pre-order Deathly Hallows from Broders Books, the reader must choose between two free bumper stickers. Which will it be: SNAPE is a very bad man or Trust SNAPE?
Indecisive readers may spend the next five months in agony, cursing the day Snape got the Defense Against the Dark Arts job as their mouse arrows hover between the two choices. Some may even give up on pre-ordering altogether. Don't let this be you see next week's Manitou Messenger to help you make up your mind on the Snape question.