Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Chapter 13

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Chapter 13

The Secret Riddle

  • Another private lesson with Dumbledore, and more quality time spent with the Pensieve. This time Harry and Dumbledore will encounter a young Tom Riddle at his orphanage.
  • Dumbledore tells Harry that once Tom Riddle, Sr. left Merope, she sold the Slytherin family locket at Borgin and Burkes in order to get some money. She then gave birth to Tom, Jr. (a.k.a. Voldemort) at an orphanage, but died soon after.
  • We travel into Dumbledore's own memory this time. We watch as a young Dumbledore presents himself to the head of the Muggle orphanage where Tom Riddle, Jr. lives and tells the woman, Mrs. Cole, that he would like to offer Tom a place at Hogwarts.
  • With the help of some gin, Mrs. Cole opens right up to Dumbledore. She tells him that Tom is a bit "odd" and that he is a bully.
  • She relates a story of how, on a summer outing by the ocean one day, Tom took two of his fellow orphans into a cave. When the two came out of the cave, they were never the same again, and they never told anyone what had happened. Tom also seems responsible for hanging and killing another child's pet rabbit.
  • Dumbledore meets young Tom in person, and finds him to be a defensive, combative little boy.
  • When Dumbledore offers him a spot at Hogwarts, young Tom is immediately suspicious that Dumbledore means to take him away to an asylum.
  • Tom tells Dumbledore about the things he can do, the ways he can manipulate the world around him, the power he has over others.
  • Dumbledore explains to the young boy that he is a wizard, and this delights Tom immeasurably. He always knew he had special powers.
  • The boy also has a stash of items that he's stolen from other children. Dumbledore warns him that his bad behavior and mean-spirited use of magic will not be tolerated at Hogwarts.
  • Young Tom doesn't want any of Dumbledore's help in getting his school supplies and in getting outfitted for Hogwarts. Dumbledore gives him some money, though, and tells Tom where to find Diagon Alley.
  • Dumbledore notices that Tom doesn't seem to like his name because it is so common.
  • When Harry and Dumbledore return from the memory, Dumbledore asks Harry to keep three things in mind about Tom Riddle:
    1. He hates his name, for it makes him seem ordinary, and he desperately wants to think of himself as special.
    2. He likes to work alone and doesn't have any friends. He's very independent.
    3. He likes to collect trinkets and trophies, reminders of his victims and of the deeds he has done.

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