Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix – Summary, Chapters 17–19

Chapter 17
Umbridge posts an Education Decree forbidding all student
organizations, including the Quidditch teams, from meeting again
until they receive her approval. Ron and Harry suspect that Umbridge knows
about their Defense group, but Hermione explains that she put a
jinx on the piece of parchment, and if anyone had snitched, they
would know. Later that morning, in History of Magic, Harry sees
Hedwig in the window. Her feathers are ruffled, and she is holding
her wing at an odd angle. Harry takes Hedwig to Professor Grubbly-Plank.
She agrees to mend Hedwig and removes a letter from Hedwig’s leg.
The letter is from Sirius, and reads: “Today, same time, same place.”
Umbridge is sitting in on Potions, and Snape is visibly
irritated. Later, Harry, Ron, and Hermione study in the Common Room
until everyone else has gone to bed. Sirius appears in the fire.
Sirius knows about their secret Defense Against the Dark Arts group
and encourages them to keep meeting. Their reunion is cut off when
Sirius sees Umbridge’s hand groping through the flames, attempting
to grab hold of Sirius.
Chapter 18
Hermione blames Hedwig’s injuries on Umbridge reading
Harry’s mail. Harry agrees. After classes, Angelina receives permission
to reform the Gryffindor Quidditch team and schedules practice for that
evening. When Ron and Harry arrive at the Pitch, it is rainy and cold.
Harry’s scar hurts, and he senses that Voldemort is upset that something
he wants is not happening fast enough. Studying in the Common Room
later, Harry falls asleep by the fire. Dobby, the House Elf, wakes
him up. Harry asks Dobby if he knows of a room where the students
could practice Defense secretly. Dobby tells Harry about the Room
of Requirement, which appears only when it is needed. Harry calls
a meeting for the next night. Students arrive, and Hermione suggests
that they decide on a name. Cho Chang, whom Harry has had a crush
on for some time, suggests the D.A., for Defense Association, and
Ginny points out that it can also stand for Dumbledore’s Army. Hermione
writes Dumbledore’s Army on a piece of parchment with everyone’s
names and pins it to the wall. They begin practicing, and Harry
is impressed by their effort.
Chapter 19
The first Quidditch match of the season, Gryffindor
versus Slytherin, approaches. On the morning of the match, Ron is
too nervous to speak. The Slytherin team is wearing badges that
read “Weasley is our King.” From the stands, the Slytherins sing
a song of the same name, mocking Ron’s Keeper skills. Embarrassed,
Ron misses several shots. Fortunately, Harry catches the snitch,
and Gryffindor wins.
Malfoy and his thugs scream insults, and Harry and George
leap at Malfoy, landing themselves in McGonagall’s office. She gives them
each a week of detention. Umbridge appears and produces another
Decree from the Ministry, this time giving her authority over all
punishments. McGonagall is livid,but cannot stop Umbridge from banning
Harry, George, and Fred, who was not even involved in the fight,
from ever playing Quidditch again. Umbridge confiscates their brooms.
Harry is devastated. Later, Hermione realizes Hagrid is back.
As Umbridge continues to interfere with Harry’s once-idyllic
life at Hogwarts, slowly taking away all the things that made Harry
love his school so dearly, Harry grows increasingly despondent.
Even though Umbridge claims she’s doing what’s best for Hogwarts,
with the school’s best interests in mind, the unhappiness she causes
her students is profound. Without Hagrid, Quidditch, or the opportunity
to communicate with Sirius, Harry begins to seriously question his
once-unmitigated love of school. The irritation and quick temper
Harry felt at the beginning of the novel are slowly starting to transform
into sadness, hopelessness, and grief. Harry does, however, find
solace and a measure of happiness in the D.A. He carries his knowledge
of the group and his role in it around with him proudly, his own
small and private stand against Umbridge and her crippling regime.
The name the D.A. selects for itself, “Dumbledore’s Army,”
is very significant, since with it the students manage to lodge
a sly and private dig at a paranoid Cornelius Fudge. Fudge stubbornly
continues to insist that Dumbledore is actively recruiting Wizards
for some kind of secret army. Most of his paranoia is selfish, as
he seems to fervently believe that Dumbledore is after his job.
But even though the D.A.’s name is mostly facetious and not known
outside of the group, it still contains an element of truth. Most
of the students who signed their names to Hermione’s parchment are
extraordinarily loyal to their Headmaster and would certainly fight
on his behalf if asked to. For most of the student body at Hogwarts, Dumbledore
is a wise, grandfatherly figure, representing the antithesis of
the Dark Arts—he uses his incredible powers only for good, never
evil. Naming a Defense Against the Dark Arts group after Dumbledore
seems fitting.
At the first Quidditch match of the season, between Gryffindor and
Slytherin, the two Houses seem more divided than ever, and each
House’s characteristics are sharply pronounced. As Hermione will
later note, Quidditch often seems to magnify hostility between Houses.
Slytherin and Gryffindor have always enjoyed a particularly healthy
competition, but the Slytherin team’s homemade badges, which read
“Weasley is our King,” are an especially ruthless tactic to take
against the Gryffindor team, effectively embarrassing and horrifying
its newest player. As the Sorting Hat noted at the beginning of
the novel, Slytherins are “cunning folk” who will happily “use any
means to achieve their ends.” The “Weasley is our King” badges and
the accompanying song are perfect examples of the Slytherin House
going to any means necessary, even cruel and unfair humiliation,
to achieve its goals. The Gryffindor team, on the other hand, does
its best to ignore the Slytherin team, reaffirming the House characteristics
of bravery, courage, and stoicism.