In the book Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix , we see Dolores Umbridge quoting the following.

“Very well, Potter, I will take your word for it this time, but be warned: The might of the Ministry stands behind me. All channels of communication in and out of this school are being monitored. A Floo Network Regulator is keeping watch over every fire in Hogwarts — except my own, of course.

And later we see Harry using this knowledge, that Umbridge's fire was the only one not being used by the ministry, to communicate with Sirius and later to check if Sirius is in home.

“Umbridge’s office,” said Harry quietly.

He had been thinking about it for a fortnight and could think of no alternative; Umbridge herself had told him that the only fire that was not being watched was her own.

Looking at the way Umbridge mentions about her fire not being watched, Doesn't it seem obvious that this hook was created retrospectively, so as to pave a way to the climax of the story?

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    It's not too clear what you're asking here. Are you asking if it was deliberately put in so that Harry could figure out a way to talk to Sirius? Are you asking if it seems odd and out of place? Are you asking if there's any evidence JK put it in after the fact?
    – DavidS
    Feb 9, 2016 at 12:13
  • Yes.It seems odd at the time when Umbridge mentions it. Just curious if this is added after the climax of the story was planned. Feb 10, 2016 at 4:44
  • Typically, as I understand it, an author would have at a minimum a detailed outline of what is going to happen in the rest of the book before starting to write the first chapter. It seems likely that JKR already knew that Harry was going to be caught in Umbridge's office by the time she started writing the bit of Umbridge's dialog you are quoting. Feb 11, 2016 at 0:45
  • @Harry Johnston : Yes, that's what I think. I like to visualize an author's trail of thought when I read a book. And this context shows that authors have to run back and forth to close the gaps. Feb 11, 2016 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


Firstly, Umbridge mentioning the monitoring of communications is not created retrospectively, but it is a good spot by you, which we can look back on (that analysis is the retrospective part).

This is a classic technique somewhat related to Chekhov's gun.

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.

JK Rowling would have known she could not mention the monitoring without it having consequences later on.

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    There MUST be a list of major foreshadowing somewhere -- I'd recommend the OP sees if he can find one cus there are a LOT of little hooks like this throughout (some spanning several books )
    – Mac Cooper
    Feb 9, 2016 at 9:31
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    Good to know about 'Chekhov's gun'.But to your last line 'JK Rowling would have known she could not mention the monitoring without it having consequences later on.', I think it would have to be the reverse.I rather think JK Rowling wrote the consequence first [Harry using the fire to communicate] and then decided that it couldn't have been done mentioning it beforehand that a fire was accessible. Feb 9, 2016 at 10:16
  • Perhaps this is because she had already included a scene where Umbridge tries to cease Sirius in Gryffindor common room fire, thereby telling the readers that none of the hogwarts fire were accessible. Feb 9, 2016 at 10:26
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    @Priyanka.Patil while we don't know the order in which the book was written, Chekhov's gun is only concerned with the order the audience sees it.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Feb 9, 2016 at 19:19

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