"SO WHAT" Harry shouted. "Don't you understand? If Snape gets hold of the Stone, Voldemort's coming back! Haven't you heard what it was like when he was trying to take over? There won't be any Hogwarts to get expelled from! He'll flatten it, or turn it into a school for the Dark Arts! Losing points doesn't matter anymore, can't you see? D'you think he'll leave you and your families alone if Gryffindor wins the house cup? If I get caught before I can get to the Stone, well, I'll have to go back to the Dursleys and wait for Voldemort to find me there, it's only dying a bit later than I would have, because I'm never going over to the Dark Side! I'm going through that trapdoor tonight and nothing you two say is going to stop me! Voldemort killed my parents, remember?"

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone (1997)

What does turning to the Dark Side have to do with him dying before being sent to the Dursleys?

  • "Surrender or die!"
    – Clockwork
    May 28 at 18:40

3 Answers 3


Harry is pointing out that the others are worried about the wrong consequence of their actions, expulsion. To his way of thinking, if he doesn't succeed in getting ahold of the Stone, there are two outcomes:

  • If he's still at Hogwarts when Voldemort conquers it, he will either die fighting back, or die when he refuses Voldemort's offer to join the Death Eaters*.
  • On the other hand, if he's been expelled, Voldemort will presumably have to track him down, but the outcome is the same: if he isn't killed out of hand, Voldemort will kill him for refusing to join.

At this point, his friends are still stuck in the mindset that expulsion is the difference between life as a normal civilized Wizard and life as a second-class citizen like Hagrid. Harry is pointing out that this isn't a normal situation at all, and the practical difference between being expelled and not expelled is minor compared to the certainty that Voldemort will kill them either way.

*At the time of writing, of course, the Death Eaters hadn't been named yet, hence Harry's reference to a generic "dark side".


What does turning to the Dark Side have to do with him dying before being sent to the Dursleys?

He's saying that if he refuses to join Voldemort, then Voldemort will kill him. He's not saying that this will result in him dying before being sent to the Dursleys, he's saying that whether he dies before or after being sent to the Dursleys isn't all that important, because he'll die either way. At this point, he doesn't know of the protection spell, so he sees expulsion as just delaying his death slightly. He's saying

(get stone)
    (join Voldemort)
        (die in Hogwarts)
        (die at Dursleys)

The he's saying that joining Voldemort isn't an option, and there's no significant difference between dying at Hogwarts versus at the Dursleys, so it collapses down to just "get stone or die".


It's pretty straightforward. Potter believes he might live if he agreed to serve Voldemort, but believes he is very likely to die if he takes any other path. He figures he can ignore the problem with the Stone, Voldemort wins, then he goes back to the Dursley's where Voldemort finds and kills him. Or Potter suggests he should fight now, at any cost. Which means he might be expelled, but more likely killed. So he can die now or in a few weeks.

When Harry says "I'm never going over to the Dark Side", he imagined that there is a path where he might live, but it involves Voldemort saying something like "Join me, and we can rule the galaxy". It's a common trope, and the good guy never takes it.

  • 4
    Your comment about it being a trope made me think "Oh, I guess the Star Wars movies exists in the Harry Potter universe, and even if he only heard it being played on the Dursley's TV from while he was locked in the cupboard, he has at least heard the original trilogy.". May 28 at 21:21
  • 3
    @Alexander It's really the only explanation.
    – frеdsbend
    May 28 at 21:36
  • 1
    Wasn't Anakin a 'good guy'? :-P
    – mcalex
    May 29 at 8:51
  • 1
    @mcalex: The Prequel Trilogy hadn't released by then - in fact, the Phantom Menance happens after Book 7...so arguably, from a certain point of view, Snape influenced the Prequel Trilogy...and during the Original Trilogy, Anakin is pretty much bad up until the end of the film, by being convinced to betray Emperor Voldemort/Palpatine; in a scene that Harry Potter likely didn't see directly - being in the cupboardduring the whole set of movies. May 29 at 9:10

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