If the title of this article wasn’t enough to warn you, let me start this post by saying, “WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!” Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about why Harry, Voldemort’s final Horcrux to be destroyed, didn’t die in the last Harry Potter book.
There’s no single reason that Harry Potter didn’t die in the seventh book. Instead, his survival can be attributed to many different things, including his possession of all three Deathly Hallows, his mother’s protection spell, his mastery of the Elder Wand, and his choices.
More than a decade after the final book was published, Potterheads still argue about why Harry didn’t die in the last book. In this article, I’ll provide you with the four most often cited reasons for his survival. After that, you can make up your own mind.
Harry Had Possession of All Three Deathly Hallows
By the time Harry faces off with Voldemort in the seventh book, he has owned all three Deathly Hallows. And according to legend, whoever controls the Deathly Hallows is the Master of Death.
Dumbledore even calls Harry the Master of Death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. However, Dumbledore doesn’t mention the Hallows when he says this to Harry. Instead, he claims that the true Master of Death is the person who “accepts that he must die” and “does not seek to run away from death.”
Although many readers claim this is the real reason Harry didn’t die in book seven, others disagree. They claim Harry’s possession of the Hallows is the least likely reason for his survival. And indeed, J.K. Rowling doesn’t mention this as being the reason in any interviews or on her now-deleted FAQ pages.
Let’s examine this possibility anyway, though.
The Invisibility Cloak
Harry acquired the invisibility cloak from Dumbledore during his first Christmas at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Although Harry didn’t realize it at the time, that was the first of the three Death Hallows.
When he first received it, he thought it was a cool gift that allowed him to sneak around unnoticed. It would be several books later before he realized that it was actually something much more powerful.
The Resurrection Stone
Harry also receives the resurrection stone from Dumbledore, but only after Dumbledore’s death. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, came to Harry, Ron, and Hermione and gave them each something from Dumbledore that he had left them in his will.
Harry’s gift was the first golden snitch he ever caught. Inside was the resurrection stone. He eventually finds it when he accepts his fate and whispers to the snitch that he’s ready to die.
The Elder Wand
Harry was also the true master of the elder wand, though he didn’t know it at the time. Dumbledore was the wand’s master for many years. When Draco Malfoy disarmed Dumbledore (before his death at the hands of Severus Snape), he became the Elder Wand’s master.
Later, Harry overpowers Draco and takes his wand (Draco’s regular wand, not the elder wand). However, Draco’s defeat meant that the elder wand switched allegiances again. At that point, Harry became its master.
Thus, Harry was truly the master of all three Deathly Hallows. Some readers claim this is why he didn’t die.
His Mother’s Protection Spell
One of the most likely reasons for Harry’s continued survival was his mother’s protection spell. Dumbledore – or Dumbledore’s ghost – explains this to Harry in the final book when Harry’s spirit is in King’s Cross Station between life and death:
“He took your blood believing it would strengthen him. He took into his body a tiny part of the enchantment your mother laid upon you when she died for you. His body keeps her sacrifice alive, and while that enchantment survives, so do you and so does Voldemort’s one last hope for himself.”
Therefore, Voldemort’s continued survival meant Lily’s protection spell was still actively protecting Harry. Had Voldemort never taken Harry’s blood in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry might have died an actual death.
Instead, Voldemort turned himself into a sort of Horcrux for Harry by taking his blood. And that meant Harry still had a link to life that he could choose if he wanted.
Harry’s Mastery of the Elder Wand
As discussed earlier, Harry Potter was the true master of the elder wand. Neither Harry nor Voldemort knew that at the time when Voldemort cast the killing curse on Harry.
Voldemort killed Snape thinking that Snape was the wand’s master. He felt that defeating Snape meant the wand would transfer its allegiance to him. However, even though Snape killed Dumbledore, it was Draco who had disarmed him before his death. Therefore, Snape was never the wand’s master.
Because Voldemort wasn’t the wand’s master either, it never worked properly for him. This is obvious in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Voldemort casts a curse on Harry to torture him, but the curse fails.
So then why did Voldemort’s casting of Avada Kedavra – the killing curse – hurt Harry so severely in the first place?
Most readers believe it was because that particular curse was just so strong. After all, it kills on contact. A spell that strong was bound to do some serious damage, even when cast by a wand that wasn’t entirely under the casting wizard’s control. However, it may not have been enough to kill Harry since Voldemort didn’t control the wand.
The Choices Harry Made
Ultimately, Harry didn’t die because he chose not to die. That was the significant choice that led to his survival. While his spirit/soul was in King’s Cross Station in the final book, Dumbledore told him that he had a choice between going forward into whatever comes next or going back to the living world. Harry chose to return.
That wasn’t the only choice that impacted his fate, though. Choosing to die bravely for what was right also made him the Master of Death. He freely decided to give his own life, so Death offered him an alternative.
When it comes right down to it, it’s up to the reader to decide why they think Harry survived in the last book. So read the books and decide for yourself! After all, it only takes about 72 hours to read them all.