Harry Potter fans could likely debate over which chapters throughout the seven-book series stand out above the rest. But there's one chapter that tops them all, at least, from J.K. Rowling's perspective. The author was recently asked about her favorite chapter in the Harry Potter series, and her answer may not come as a huge surprise to those who are familiar enough with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows...
In case your memory is rusty, Chapter 34, "The Forest Again" takes place near the end of Deathly Hallows, when Harry exits the Pensieve in Dumbledore's office, having just visited a series of Snape's memories, and learned that in order for Voldemort to be fully destroyed, he, Harry, must die.
In "The Forest Again," Harry walks through some of the post-battle devastation at Hogwarts, and out onto the grounds, steeling himself to face his own death. He uses the stone to resurrect his parents, Lupin and Sirius, and with them at his side, he heads into the forest to find Voldemort and the Death Eaters waiting for him. The chapter ends with Voldemort casting a killing curse at Harry.
Of all the chapters in all of the Harry Potter books, what makes this one J.K. Rowling's favorite? Rowling explained that in another Tweet...
No explanation is really needed, however, as the writing speaks for itself. In fact, it was top of the list for me, when I was pouring out my own feelings about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows eight years ago. If ever there's a chapter that says everything that needs to be said about who Harry Potter is as a character, it's "The Forest Again." It demonstrates Harry's bravery and compassion perfectly. We feel the weight of his choice in every step he takes...
"He felt his heart pounding fiercely in his chest. How strange that in his dread of death, it pumped all the harder, valiantly keeping him alive. But it would have to stop and soon. Its beats were numbered." (Deathly Hallows, Ch. 34)
He's afraid. He's even a bit sad, it seems, that his own life is about to end. But he owns his purpose the whole way, even having the foresight to stop and tell Neville to kill Nagini, knowing this crucial step needs to be done, and understanding that all he can do is delegate. Because he won't be there to finish the job. He's going to die.
As far as catharsis, it's easy to understand why Rowling would feel that way, as the chapter really does allow her to showcase her character at the height of who he is, and more specifically, who he's become in the almost-7 years since he arrived at Hogwarts. Rowling also manages to give Harry the opportunity to speak with his parents, and see Sirius and Lupin one last time.
"Does it hurt?"
It's wonderful and heartbreaking and altogether magical. It's hard to imagine the series' ending working as well as it did without this chapter to emphasize Harry's bravery and sacrifice.