The London Underground: A Short Theory
by Charlotte Steadman
One thing that has struck me repeatedly since I first began to read and fall in love with the Harry Potter books is something that is now very familiar to all Rowling’s fans — the use of seemingly innocuous little details that somehow, later, become incredibly relevant, meaningful and surprising. Knowing this as we do, we scour the books searching for the next little hint that may reveal what is to come in the seventh and final installment.
Rowling has done her job well; it is almost impossible to tell what is important subtext and what is merely description. I see these little hints and foreshadowings as jewels lying hidden in the text, waiting for us the readers, the treasure seekers, to hunt them out.
Obviously, the majority of book 7 will consist of Harry’s hunt for the remaining Horcruxes and his last, inevitable battle with Voldemort. When Rowling said in numerous interviews following the release of HBP that eager readers would soon spot “at least one” Horcrux upon rereading the books, I think she realized that the unyielding locket in Grimmauld Place would quickly be identified. As in her novels, I believe Jo reveals things in the subtext of what she chooses to reveal in interviews, and I believe her choice of the words “at least” makes it very clear that more Horcruxes have been shown to us in our journey through six books. This is verified by the mysterious comment she went on to make about Harry having learned more than he is aware of in his time at Hogwarts. These statements made myself, and countless others, eagerly return to PS/SS and try to find hints, clues, etc., about the Horcruxes.
And this leads me nicely back to my beginning about Rowling placing little details in the books that could be plain description or could be hiding something more meaningful. One such detail that has intrigued me right from the beginning is a certain scar a certain Headmaster has: Dumbledore’s map of the London Underground on his knee. This caught my interest straight away, as it was so specific I was convinced it had some other meaning to it. Also, someone once asked Jo if it would ever make an appearance again, and she answered in the affirmative, also adding the vague (and I think purposefully so) “I’m very fond of that scar” comment. However, I have been disappointed in the release of every book so far in that it has never been mentioned again. And now Dumbledore has died, the possibility seems to have almost vanished entirely!
Well, not quite. I began rereading PS/SS again, hoping to gain some insight. I did, and very quickly, in fact. One of the first things Hagrid says to Harry about Gringotts is, firstly, that it is “the safest place in the world…except for Hogwarts.” And the second? The location of its vaults: DEEP UNDER THE LONDON UNDERGROUND. When I read these words, my heart leapt! Why has Gringotts been located here, and the Headmaster conveniently has a perfect replica of its map upon his knee? Coincidence? I think not!
And so my theory is such: Voldemort placed one of his Horcruxes deep within Gringotts, knowing it to be safe. Hagrid said that you could get lost within its chasms and starve before you find your way out, its so vast and (deliberately) labrinyth-like. Maybe Harry’s quest will lead him back to one of the first magical institutions he ever visited — Gringotts. And maybe, just maybe, a certain headmaster will be able to help him with a map.