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I have reread Prisoner of Azkaban several times now and I can still not understand why Sirius would not make an effort to hide or escape or even go looking for Wormtail if he was innocent? is there any canon based answers to this?

  • Knowing what awaited him in Azkaban surely he would have at least protested his innocence rather than go to prison?

  • And then why wait all that time before slipping out as a dog if he could've done it sooner?

  • Yes, he does say that the newspaper article about Wormtail on holiday with the Weasleys triggered his something inside him, but if he was innocent would this not have been a logical solution in the beginning?

NOTE: I do not think Sirius would be one to run away or hide, but there has to be a better explanation than voluntarily going to prison for a traitorous friend.

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    I've never seen canon info on it, but I always assumed he was confunded right as/after Wormtail ran (I believe he is described as laughing non-stop), then, by the time he was coherent, he had been railroaded into Azkaban, where no one would have listened to him. – K-H-W Jul 24 '13 at 15:11
  • @Thaddeus - thank you for editing into a more eligible format :) – BP_Phoenix Jul 25 '13 at 9:56
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Sirius is very smart. The way I understand it is this:
Everyone (including Dumbledore) thought Sirius was the secret keeper.
Everyone (including Sirius) knew that the Secret-keeper betrayed the Potters.
Sirius and the Potters were the only ones who knew Pettigrew was the one who betrayed the Potters and after their death Sirius went looking for Peter.

When Sirius finds Peter, Peter yells for the whole street to hear that Sirius betrayed Lily and James. Then, before Sirius could curse him, he blows apart the street with the wand behind his back, killed everyone within twenty feet of himself — and sped down into the sewer.

Sirius thinks Peter killed himself because his master died. Peter would obviously not admit to anything since his master is gone.

- Knowing what awaited him in Azkaban surely he would have at least protested his innocence rather than go to prison?

No one would believe him, he has no evidence and all available evidence points at him. He understands this and he deems protesting as a waste of time and energy.

- And then why wait all that time before slipping out as a dog if he could've done it sooner?

He has no reason to get out. Everyone thinks he's guilty. He would be a fugitive. He got out only when he understood Harry was in danger.

- Yes, he does say that the newspaper article about Wormtail on holiday with the Weasleys triggered his something inside him, but if he was innocent would this not have been a logical solution in the beginning?

The newspaper doesn't trigger something in him. He sees the rat on Ron's shoulder, notices the missing finger, puts it all together and figures out Wormtail is still alive and going to Hogwarts!

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    that's the thing, I don't buy into that, we are talking about Azkaban here, not some cooshy 5* prison, surely wasting your time protesting or trying to prove your innocence or escape would be better than going through all that at Azkaban? – BP_Phoenix Jul 25 '13 at 9:58
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    @BP_Phoenix I disagree. Pettigrew architected it very well. Black understood he was tricked and there was nothing to do. It's a point of dignity too. – E.T. Jul 25 '13 at 10:25
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    ya fair enough, i get that! :) – BP_Phoenix Jul 25 '13 at 12:43
  • @E.T. I enjoyed your answer, but I have some feedback about the grammar here: "Then, before Sirius could curse him, he blows apart the street". The way it's worded makes it sound like you're referring to Sirius as the one who "blows apart the street". Maybe you should change it to "Then, before Sirius could curse him, Peter blows apart the street"* or something similar – Ghoti and Chips Nov 3 '16 at 21:17
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Sirius felt personally responsible and guilty for the deaths of the Potters.

Sirius also thought he had killed Pettigrew the entire time he was in jail, till he saw him on the ministers paper.

‘Harry ... I as good as killed them,’ he croaked. ‘I persuaded Lily and James to change to Peter at the last moment, persuaded them to use him as Secret Keeper instead of me ... I’m to blame, I know it ... the night they died, I’d arranged to check on Peter, make sure he was still safe, but when I arrived at his hiding place, he’d gone. Yet there was no sign of a struggle. It didn’t feel right. I was scared. I set out for your parents’ house straight away. And when I saw their house, destroyed, and their bodies Peter must have done. What I’d done.’

Sirius accepted his prison sentence with the satisfaction that he killed Pettigrew, and to atone for the guilt he felt in regards towards the Potters death.

However, when he found out Pettigrew was still alive, we see he quickly DOES break out of Azkaban to find and kill Pettigrew again. He is still content to go back to jail at this point, until Harry himself convinces him to prove his innocence.

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Sirius was in a quite disturbed state of mind at that time and so probably wasn't thinking very logically. So (A) he thought Pettigrew really blew himself up from fear of getting caught or attacked by Sirius or (B) as @KHW mentioned in the comment, Pettigrew managed to confund him before the explosion. Maybe Sirius realized Pettigrew was still alive when he got some chance to think inside Azkaban, but by then the influence of the Dementors was too great for him to try and break out. The real impetus for him to break out of Azkaban came only after he saw from the newspaper picture that Pettigrew would be going to Hogwarts, where Harry was. He could transform into a dog during this time, but he was also weak. But for a true inspiration to break out he had to realize that Pettigrew was in a position to harm Harry at short notice.

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Sirius had just found out that his best friend had been murdered by being betrayed by someone he trusted completely he would also have know that if he had been secret keeper as originally planned they may well have st ill been alive.

He also has a problem in that everybody believes that he was the Potters' secret-keeper and he is the only person who knows that Pettigrew is the real culprit. Even if he can avoid conviction, which is unlikely in the circumstances he can see no way to prove Pettigrew's guilt.

So he takes the decision that he will go after Pettigrew himself, this means he has no change of proving his own innocence but at least Pettigrew won't get away with it. In his current state of mind and considering what we know of his charter this decision isn't very surprising. His immediate overwhelming goal is to get revenge on Pettigrew and doesn't really care about the consequences.

What gives him the motivation to escape Azkaban is discovering that his friend's betrayer is still alive after all and everything he has gone through has been for nothing. This gives him a new sense of purpose but as it isn't a particularly pleasant purpose is not affected by the dementors and allows him to regain some of his powers, specifically the ability to transform.

This also ties in with the Dementors being metaphors for depression, he found himself in a no-win situation and took the option which seemed less bad, with that achieved he pretty much just gave up and just accepted the consequences. As others have mentioned he may even have felt that he deserved to be in Azkaban as he blamed himself for the Potters' deaths.

Even when he escaped he went straight after Wormtail again and took some pretty big risks to get to him.

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