6

This is the passage in question:

“Not — not He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, sir —”

But Dobby’s eyes were wide and he seemed to be trying to give Harry a hint. Harry, however, was completely lost.

“He hasn’t got a brother, has he?”

Chamber of Secrets, chapter 2 (Dobby’s Warning)

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    I never thought any further on it than Harry was reaching for others who might be getting it FOR him; i.e., if it wasn't Voldy... his.. Brother? Mother? Any Kids? Someone who would try to help him... – K-H-W Mar 8 '15 at 19:42
  • Yes, but it is in the very beginning of the book, so he doesn't know about the chamber yet, and after Dobby answers Harry says something like "in that case -if he doesn't have a brother- I don't know who this could be", so he was thinking of someone who did had one, but I can't figure out who – user42740 Mar 8 '15 at 20:03
  • @user42740 ... Obviously he's talking about George and Fred Weasley :P J/K! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 8 '15 at 20:10
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    @user42740: You're reading it wrong. You're assuming that Harry was thinking about "someone who has a brother", but that's not the case. Harry was simply thinking about whether Voldemort has a brother or not. Note your own quote: "in that case -if he doesn't have a brother- I don't know who this could be" "He" is referring to Voldemort. – Flater Sep 20 '17 at 15:21
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I think you might be misreading the sentence.

When Harry asks, “He hasn’t got a brother, has he?”, the “he” is referring to Voldemort, not another person.

He’s interpreting Dobby’s hint to mean that while Voldemort isn’t responsible, the plotter is somebody close or similar to Voldemort – so he’s asking if Voldemort has a brother, and if so, whether it’s the brother who is responsible.

He’s not asking about a hypothetical other wizard, and trying to identify him by virtue of having a brother. If he had another wizard in mind, I think he’d just ask Dobby “Is it X?”.

  • Yeah, maybe, but at this point of the story he doesn't know Voldemort's real identity, so he doesn't know if he has a brother or not, does he ? – user42740 Mar 9 '15 at 6:11
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    @user42740 No, which is why he’s asking. But he doesn’t have anybody in mind, he’s just casting around for some other clue which might help him identify the plotter. – alexwlchan Mar 9 '15 at 7:01
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The 2nd book was still very early in the series, and harry doesn't know much about voldemort except he's beaten him from the previous book.

If you read the next lines:

Dobby shook his head, his eyes wider than ever.

"Well then, I can't think who else would have a chance of making horrible things happen at Hogwarts," said Harry. "I mean, there's Dumbledore, for one thing - you know who Dumbledore is, don't you?"

Harry knows only Voldemort is powerful enough to make trouble in the wizarding world, and he has already defeated him again, and based on his 12 year old (Harry was only 12 in his 2nd year at hogwarts) child's logic, only an individual that is very much close physically to Voldemort (a hypothetical brother) is the best assumption.

The "brother" was just a guess.

  • But how could he have known it wasn't Voldemort if Dobby says he doesn't have a brother. Harry must think Voldemort does have a brother. – Edlothiad Sep 20 '17 at 11:23
  • @Edlothiad: Harry asks Dobby if Voldemort has a brother (cfr the quotes in the question). Clearly, he doesn't know, otherwise he would be stating it as a matter of fact. (1) Harry assumes it's Voldemort (2) Dobby says it isn't (3) Harry guesses... maybe Voldemort has a brother? (4) Dobby says no again (5) Harry gives up with the guessing game. – Flater Sep 20 '17 at 15:25
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I think it's also worth mentioning, Dobby is using a double-negative in this quote. He's essentially it is Voldemort by saying it's NOT - NOT - Voldemort.

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    Dobby isn't using a double negative, he's just stammering. I can understand your confusion, though. – F1Krazy Sep 20 '17 at 8:12
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    @F1Krazy He is actually attempting a double negative here - though not in the way that's been suggested. As he explains at the end of the book, Dobby is saying that it wasn't He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named but He-Who-Could-Be-Named, because Voldemort hadn't taken his pseudonym yet. Quite possibly the lamest bit of foreshadowing in the entire franchise. – The Dark Lord Sep 20 '17 at 16:00

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