Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
How we cite our quotes:
"Wonder if Percy knows all that stuff about Crouch?" Ron said as they walked up the drive to the castle. "But maybe he doesn't care ... It'd probably just make him admire Crouch even more. Yeah, Percy loves rules. He'd just say Crouch was refusing to break them for his own son."
"Percy would never throw any of his family to the Dementors," said Hermione severely.
"I don't know," said Ron. "If he thought we were standing in the way of his career ... Percy's really ambitious, you know ..." (27.207-9)
Obviously, this plot thread about Percy's choice between love of family and love of power develops further over the later books. We love J.K. Rowling's eye for continuity. But, for now, what do you think of the morality of breaking rules for your own children (or future children)? Clearly, we can all understand that it would be painful to send your only child to Azkaban. But if your kid really is proved to be a Death Eater? What else can you do, morally speaking? Personally speaking, where do you draw the line between family loyalty and your responsibility to the rest of society? Would you turn in a family member for a crime? How severe would the crime have to be for you to do so?
From far away, above my head, he heard a high, cold voice say, "Kill the spare."
A swishing noise and a second voice, which screeched the words into the night: "Avada Kedavra!"
A blast of green light blazed through Harry's eyelids, and he heard something heavy fall to the ground beside him; the pain in his scar reached such a pitch that he retched, and then it diminished; terrified of what he was about to see, he opened his stinging eyes." (32.16-8)
This line, "Kill the spare," is one of the most terrifying things we've ever read. And we've read a lot of Stephen King and Clive Barker, so that's saying something. Voldemort thinks no more of killing Cedric than you might think of swatting a mosquito – possibly less. Voldemort is so assured of his own power that he thinks nothing of committing murder just because he can. But, even worse, Voldemort has followers who have so much faith in his power that they're willing to murder the moment he orders it – Voldemort's power over Wormtail seems absolute in this scene. Voldemort isn't just a conscienceless monster with delusions of grandeur. He's also managed to convince other people of his omnipotence, which is what makes him horrifying.
You see, I think, how foolish it was to suppose that this boy could ever have been stronger than me [...] But I want there to be no mistake in anybody's mind. Harry Potter escaped me by a lucky chance. And now I am going to prove my power by killing him, here and now, in front of you all, when there is no Dumbledore to help him, and no mother to die for him. I will give him his chance. He will be allowed to fight, and you will be left with no doubt which of us is the stronger. (33.106)
Voldemort is taking a huge chance here, dueling with Harry. After all, if by some miraculous chance Harry manages to escape (as actually happens, of course), Voldemort will look really bad – again. At the same time, since it was Harry Potter who sent Voldemort into hiding all of those years ago, Voldemort has to "prove his power" to his frightened followers. The Death Eaters are risking quite a lot by rejoining Voldemort now, when he has been out of power for so long. So this showdown with Harry is an important publicity stunt for Voldemort to consolidate his power among his own followers. We've always wondered why the Death Eaters stand by Voldemort after Harry manages to escape, when Voldemort has built up his triumph so much in advance – what must the feeling in the graveyard have been after Harry got away? Awkward, much?