153

As the title asks, why didn't the basilisk bite received in the Chamber of Secrets destroy the Horcrux inside the bitten person?

Yes, I know Fawkes quite quickly healed the bite wound with his phoenix tears, but when Harry used the basilisk fang to destroy Tom Riddle's diary the destruction of that Horcrux was immediate. When Ron hit the locket with the Sword of Gryffindor, it was destroyed immediately. Although the destruction of the ring occurred off-page, Dumbledore used the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy it, so presumably, like the locket, it was gone right away. Nagini died straightaway when Neville decapitated her. The destruction of the Hufflepuff cup happens off-page. The diadem seems to have been destroyed by Fiendfyre immediately as well, as when Harry examined it outside the Room of Requirement it was already leaking a blood-like substance, and then it cracked in half. When Voldemort hit Harry with Avada Kedavra in the forest, Harry woke up in limbo with the last fragment of Voldemort's soul - that awful flayed baby-like being - separated from him immediately.

Is there a logical/canon-based explanation for why the fragment of Voldemort's soul residing in Harry wasn't destroyed upon Harry being bitten by the basilisk?

NOTE: I've read the HP Wiki's entry on Horcruxes; however, I find the HP Wiki to be inconsistent in its accuracy, so I'm hesitant to accept the Wiki's explanation on the matter. I'd prefer an explanation constructed from information in the books or a statement by JKR, or the like.

  • 6
    Now that's an interesting question.. +1 -- I can see some possibilities, but I hope someone comes up with something conclusive and sourced. – K-H-W Jan 7 '12 at 7:17
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    Yes, excellent question. But if you can't answer it, who (other than JKR) can? Seriously, did the bite kill Harry or just come close to killing him? (Since my books are still on loan and not being returned when they should, I don't have access to check.) – Tango Jan 7 '12 at 8:17
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    @TangoOversway -- I never ask a question that I know the answer to (although I have asked questions that I had an opinion on.) I'm definitely fallible when it comes to HP; there's still so much to learn! See my answer to DVK's question about Harry dying. I was totally wrong. Anyway, Harry came close to dying after the basilisk bite, but Fawkes's tears saved his life and counteracted the basilisk venom (I'm assuming). It just seems odd that the venom wouldn't have killed Harry -- as a Horcrux -- straightaway, as it did with the other Horcruxes where basilisk venom was used to destroy them. – Slytherincess Jan 7 '12 at 9:01
  • Now what if the basilisk had bitten the scar? – marcellothearcane May 1 '18 at 19:15

14 Answers 14

86

I believe it has to do with the fact Harry didn't die from it. Everything else was given the chance to die from whatever destroyed it, but Harry was saved from death by the phoenix tears. Maybe the logic works that his body can last longer with the poison than a book, locket, cup or ring and theoretically if a phoenix had cried on those immediately after being stabbed they would have resurrected/been ok and the Horcrux would still function/exist. This idea also fits with the Horcrux being destroyed by Voldemort's Avada Kedavra spell (and of course, Harry survived because of the protection from a mother's love). Following this logic, if Harry had died from the Basilisk bite, then the Horcrux would have been destroyed (but that didn't happen).

  • Oh, that's very interesting -- what would happen if phoenix tears were applied to a mortally wounded Horcrux? Nice answer. – Slytherincess Jan 7 '12 at 15:00
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    I'm surprised that no one has pointed out that perhaps all the other horcrux souls left our knowledge of them, but may also have gone to "limbo" just as the one in Harry did. To me, there is absolutely no indication of an "immediate" destruction in many of the cases of the horcruxes. We just aren't told this part because it is in "the other world" one enters after death. Given this, I'd have to agree with Sydenam (and others using the same general idea) whole-heartedly. – balanced mama Dec 31 '12 at 6:56
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    Opinion... In the forest, Harry wasn't protected by his mother's love anymore because Voldemort had used Harry's blood to regenerate. Voldemort tried killing Harry in the forest with the Elder Wand. As we know from the end of the book, the wand won't betray is rightful master, so when Voldemort used it on Harry in the forest, I believe the wand detected 2 targets, it's master, which it wouldn't harm, and the shard of Voldemort's soul, so it targeted the shard directly. What do you think? – WizardKnight Jan 16 '15 at 17:52
  • Well, I always thought that Harry survived in the forest because he was having all the three deathly hallows with him at that time. – Mandeep Jain Feb 8 '17 at 9:30
  • Probably the same concept with Nagini. More vulnerable, but they both would take a longer time to die if given the right conditions. – Homura Akemi Nov 16 '17 at 1:29
143

01.21.12 I have found the answer to this question from J.K. Rowling herself:

Q: When Harry was stabbed by a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, since he was a Horcrux, shouldn't it have been destroyed then?

JKR: I have been asked that a lot. Harry was exceptionally fortunate in that he had Fawkes. So before he could be destroyed without repair, which is what is necessary to destroy a horcrux, he was mended. However, I made sure that Fawkes wasn't around the second time a Horcrux got stabbed by a basilisk fang, so the poison did its work and it was irreparable within a short period of time.... I established early in the book, Hermione says that you destroy a Horcrux by using something so powerful that there's no remedy. But she does say there is a remedy for basilisk poison but of course it has to be administered immediately and when they stab the cup later - boy I'm really blowing this for anyone who hasn't finished the book - there's Fawkes, is my answer. And thank you for giving me a chance to say that because people have argued that quite a lot.

JK Rowling at Carnegie Hall 10.20.07

There you have it!

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    'when they stab the CUP later.....there's FAWKES.....' Sorry. Didn't quite get that. Fawkes was there for what, the cup? – MycrofD Jun 1 '14 at 11:40
  • This is the first time JKR makes no sense to me at all. The answer should be, that Harry isn't a classic horcrux. He is special. He wasn't made intentionally. He is NOT like other horcruxes. It would take Voldemort's curse itself to destroy the Horcrux inside Harry, as Dumbledore pointed out in the last book. The fawkes thing doesn't make sense because, there was more than enough time for the poison of Basilisk to act before Fawkes came... – user3459110 Jun 2 '14 at 5:03
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    ^ Confirming what I said above, to quote the book - > "“So the boy … the boy must die?” asked Snape quite calmly. “And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential.”" - HP7 pg 573... – user3459110 Jun 2 '14 at 5:26
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    @MycrofD She just summarized her answer, After expressed her concerns about people haven't finished reading yet. :) – user2191454 Jun 2 '14 at 14:41
  • @Himarm - I think this has been established for almost three years by now. Harry may have had a scar (I agree with you -- he should have one from the Basilisk bite), but the books don't say. He got a scar from Umbridge's evil quill for sure. I'm willing to wager Harry does have a scar from the Basilisk, but it just wasn't referenced in the books. – Slytherincess Sep 20 '14 at 2:07
29

Dvd Prd is somewhat correct.

  • The Horcrux is made by tethering a piece of soul to a something.

  • That tethering is broken when Horcrux is destroyed completely.

    • The best illustration of that is in the movie, when the diary needs to be stabbed several times by the Basilisk fang in order to completely destroy the soul fragment manifesting itself as Riddle.

    • It's less obvious but can be fairly clearly inferred from CoS book:

      Harry seized the basilisk fang on the floor next to him and plunged it straight into the heart of the book. There was a long, dreadful, piercing scream. Ink spurted out of the diary in torrents, streaming over Harry's hands, flooding the floor. Riddle was writhing and twisting, screaming and flailing and then... He had gone. Harry's wand fell to the floor with a clatter and there was silence

      As you can see, it was a process of destruction, not something instantaneous.

      Moreover, the fact that the fang was struck "through the heart" of the book may be significant - it's possible that simply ripping one page with a fang or scratching a corner would have done some damage but not destroyed the Horcrux outright.

  • In case of Basilisk bite, Harry was NOT destroyed completely. His body was starting to get destroyed, but as with the book, it was a process, made of course much lengthier due to the fact that the bite was in his hand, and damage was spreading slowly and steadily.

    He gripped the fang that was spreading poison through his body and wrenched it out of his arm. But he knew it was too late. White-hot pain was spreading slowly and steadily from the wound. Even as he dropped the fang and watched his own blood soaking his robes, his vision went foggy.

So, in conclusion, the reason the last (Harry) Horcrux was not destroyed from Basilisk bite was because the Phoenix tears stopped the venom spread and healed the damage before the Horcrux vessel (Harry) was completely destroyed.

It can be plausibly theorized that, had the Sword of Gryffindor merely wounded/scratched Nagini, that Horcrux would also not be instantaneously destroyed.

  • 1
    A great answer! I agree with you about Nagini -- if she had been merely injured by the Sword of Gryffindor, I don't think she would have been destroyed right away. But as the sword was infused with basilisk venom, perhaps she would have died a slow death. My only niggle with your answer is that I don't consider the movies to be canon proper. But you're right -- it's clear from the paragraph you quoted from the book. :) – Slytherincess Jan 7 '12 at 15:09
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    @Slytherincess - "perhaps she would have died a slow death" - quite likely. I had hesitation to use the movie as an example, but since there are no 100% clear canon rules I'm aware of ala LucasVerse, I decided to include both - one for "books are more canon" crowd, one for "both are OK, and movie version is a better example". – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 7 '12 at 15:31
  • I do love the movies (I have one playing right now, actually!) and to me they are a really nice visual representation of what JKR's universe might look like when brought to life. Many other people do indeed consider the movies to be canon proper, and if that works for them, then I certainly have no problem with it. For me, the movies and the books are just disparate enough that I err on the side of the books. I also consider JKR interviews, JKR.com, and Pottermore to include canon proper information. Heck, there are people who have only seen the movies and have never read the books! – Slytherincess Jan 7 '12 at 15:47
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    +1, I'd always taken the "heart of the book" comment to mean either breaking the spine, or the fang being sharp enough to pierce every page. – Izkata Jan 7 '12 at 23:30
6

J. K. Rowling recently answered it on Twitter:

@llamaofthelab The Horcrux-receptacle has to be destroyed BEYOND REPAIR, so Harry would need to have DIED.
#pleaseneveraskmethatoneagain

I think, it should override all other speculations or indirect reference logics.

5

Rowling has answered this question MANY times.

  • Interviews

    When Harry was stabbed by a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, since he was a Horcrux, shouldn't it have been destroyed then?

    J.K. Rowling: I have been asked that a lot. Harry was exceptionally fortunate in that he had Fawkes. So before he could be destroyed without repair, which is what is necessary to destroy a horcrux, he was mended. However, I made sure that Fawkes wasn't around the second time a Horcrux got stabbed by a basilisk fang, so the poison did its work and it was irreparable within a short period of time.... I established early in the book, Hermione says that you destroy a Horcrux by using something so powerful that there's no remedy. But she does say there is a remedy for basilisk poison but of course it has to be administered immediately and when they stab the cup later - boy I'm really blowing this for anyone who hasn't finished the book - there's Fawkes, is my answer. And thank you for giving me a chance to say that because people have argued that quite a lot.

  • Twitter

    How come when Harry gets bitten by the Basilisk in Chamber of Secrets that doesn't destroy the Horcrux in him?

    J.K. Rowling: The Horcrux-receptacle has to be destroyed BEYOND REPAIR, so Harry would need to have DIED. #pleaseneveraskmethatoneagain

  • Deleted Twitter bio

    FAQ answers: 1) Because the Basilisk didn't kill him

  • FAQ on her new website

    And finally, an oldie but a perennial favourite…

    Why wasn’t the Horcrux inside Harry destroyed when he was bitten by the Basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?

    A Horcrux can only be destroyed if its container is damaged beyond repair. Harry was healed by Fawkes. Had he died, the Horcrux would indeed have been destroyed.

  • You'll notice that I asked this question five years ago, in 2012, which was a time when the question wasn't overly asked. Also, I found the answer to the question myself, and submitted it as I would any answer. I'm unclear why you're bothering to answer the question at all if the answer is so obvious and ubiquitous? :) – Slytherincess Jan 5 '17 at 23:00
  • @Slytherincess - Because I thought it would be nice to have them all together in a single answer. If you don't think it should have posted here you can always DV. – ibid Jan 5 '17 at 23:57
2

the answer: jk Rowling recently explained this- the object holding the horcrux has to be totally destroyed. its the only physical protection the horcrux has. harry did not die, and was healed by something stronger than basilisk poison, so the horcrux remained.

  • Citation needed... – Null Apr 23 '15 at 15:46
  • and i will give it: .@llamaofthelab The Horcrux-receptacle has to be destroyed BEYOND REPAIR, so Harry would need to have DIED. #pleaseneveraskmethatoneagain — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) February 6, 2015 blog.peopleschoice.com/2015/02/06/… – albusseverus potter Apr 23 '15 at 16:22
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    That citation should have been in your answer to begin with (and not as a comment). And it's included in another answer to this question. Please check the other answers to a question and only answer if you have something helpful to add. – Null Apr 23 '15 at 16:25
1

As J.K. Rowling put it, he was just poisoned a little, then cured.

J.K. Rowling has addressed this multiple times, but the clearest explanation she’s given of why the basilisk bite didn’t kill the piece of soul in Harry is perhaps in this interview. She explains that he did get poisoned, but he got the antidote fairly quickly, so it wasn’t enough to remove the soul piece.

SU: So, can I ask this? This is kind of a random question, but if Harry had this Horcrux in him, sort of, would he actually have died, say, when the dragon could have killed him, or when he was falling during Quiddich, or anything? Could he actually have died?

JKR: Well, you’ve got- if his body had been irreparably destroyed. (SU: Yeah) He has to die to get rid of that piece of soul. His body has got to be irreparably damaged. So a lot of people asked, and I think I’ve answered this since, but a lot of people immediately said, having finished Hallows, (gasps) “But then, that means in Chamber of Secrets, when he was pierced by the basilisk…” (SU: Oh, right) but no, no, no, no, he didn’t die! He didn’t die. (JN: Yeah) That was stated right in the beginning with the Horcrux, the receptacle has got to be destroyed. His body wasn’t destroyed! He got a bit poisoned, and then he got the antidote, immediately. So that’s not going to drive out this piece of soul. Sorry if I sound frustrated, but occasionally…
- PotterCast (Dec 23, 2007)

We know the soul piece was killed by a Killing Curse, which neither killed Harry or irreparably destroyed his body - but he was actually “killed” somewhat. The basilisk venom hardly had a chance to do anything, which this interview explains pretty clearly.

0

I think it is because Harry didn't die from it. In Deathly Hallows Harry gets killed but has a choice to go back and fight, which he does, and that destroys the horcrux. He dies, well, almost.

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    The basilisk didn't bite destroy the horcrux because Harry didn't die from it? Huh? – phantom42 Mar 20 '14 at 12:45
0

As everyone has said, it's likely because Harry did not die when when he was bitten by the basilisk. Speculation ahead; the reason WHY in the case of an animal, death is required rather than just damage, is very likely due to the Horcrux not being bonded to the entire body (and thus vulnerable to damage at any point), but to the brain. Thus the destruction of the horcruxes's vessel implies Harry's death as well.

Why is it bonded with the brain? In the HP universe, Decartes' dualism seems to be a reality. It is implied that sentience lies within the soul, with the brain merely being a vessel. This can be gathered from the general consensus within the books that souls do in fact exist, and are in fact observable under some circumstances. Incidentally it does not seem to be common knowledge what comes after death, though several characters have had insight into it (the priori incantatem incident, Harry's interaction with the Veil in the Department of Mysteries) and it seems that consciousness persists after death in the HP world, but that it is apparently freed from the body for a destination unknown. Returning to the horcrux element of the discussion, it's possible that when a soul is bound to a conscious being, it share's that being's "vessel", which is the brain. Thus it is only destroyed by the being's true death, not partial death (so essentially anything less than brain death is not sufficient to free the horcrux).

0

I have been told that Harry wasn't a normal Horcrux, as he wasn't made intentionaly, so as he is not a normal Horcrux, the destruction of the Horcrux inside would be different.

And in this case, it was longer and Fawkes stopped it in time.

  • Do you have any canon information to support such claim? All the answers above use well grounded information that are not based on "Harry being different" whatsoever. – Alfredo Hernández Feb 7 '15 at 8:49
  • @Arcturus Dean Granger Hello and welcome to this website. Please try to reduce the use of answers to the answers backed with references, if there's an information deemed useful to the question or one answer, use the comment section below. – yondaime008 Feb 7 '15 at 9:13
0

It is because Harry is a living being. As Hermione says in book 7: "Look, if I picked up a sword right now, Ron, and ran you through with it, I wouldn't damage your soul at all." So we now that even if Harry had died his soul remained there. But Hermione also says: "But it's the other way round with a Horcrux. The fragment of soul inside it depends on its container, it's enchanted body, for survival. It can't exist without it." And we know from Dumbledore, also in 7, that "a fragment of Voldemort's soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself onto the only living soul left in that collapsing building." So if Harry died, his soul would be fine, and the part of Voldemort's soul would not die because it is contained in Harry's soul, not his body.

0

First of all:

"...on the night Lord Voldemort tried to kill him, when Lily cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded on Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Lord Voldemort's soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself onto the only living soul left...

As Dumbledore puts it in Deathly Hallows.

Harry is not a Horcrux because in Horcruxes, the little piece of soul in a Horcrux is attached to the physical object. If Harry were a Horcrux, it would be as if he was possessed permanently.

Secondly, the only way to destroy a piece of soul latched onto a physical object, or a Horcrux, is to put it beyond magical repair. Just wanted to make that clear. Logically, the way to destroy a piece of soul attached to to another one is to destroy the host soul beyond magical repair with something like Avada Kedavra.

These come together with something Hermione says in Deathly Hallows:

"Look, if I picked up a sword right now, Ron, and ran you through with it, I wouldn't damage your soul at all....whatever happens to your body, your soul will survive, untouched," said Hermione. "But it's the other way round with a Horcrux."

Harry isn't a Horcrux. So whatever happens to Harry's body will not harm the bit of Voldemort's soul in any way.

0

We know that Harry is a very complicated kind of horcrux. He didn't die from the basilisk because it would still take a moment for the venom to reach his heart, and the horcrux was in his soul. The venom never reached there because of the phoenix tear which also healed his arm which was probably mostly destroyed by then. Most people would have probably died quicker, but he did have Lily's protection anyway, so that helped ward off the venom for a little while.

  • Can you provide evidence? – bleh May 25 '16 at 22:10
-2

Perhaps the love protecting Harry countered the venom until Fawkes turned up.

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    The 'Love Protection' only covers Harry and not the Horcrux. – Möoz Jun 2 '14 at 1:50
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    Welcome to scifi.stackexchange! Do you have any references to back this up? – Einer Jun 2 '14 at 8:53

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