Lily Potter’s Sacrifice – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapter 17

Hi, Muggles and Mocha family!

IT’S THE LAST CHAPTER OF HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. Yeah, I can’t believe it. We’ve covered the entire first book and broken down every single chapter. It’s been a blast, and I hope you’ve gotten as much out of this experience as I have.

In my video, we cover chapter seventeen, Harry and Dumbledore’s big conversation, and also the End-of-Year Feast. Check it out!

Brace yourselves—this topic is a biggie. It’s one I’ve looked forward to ever since this book club began, and I’m thrilled we finally get to talk about it today. We’re going to discuss the nature of Lily’s sacrifice, its power, and why NO ONE should ever belittle the magic behind it. Okay, it’s going to get passionate in here, so just get ready!

As always, there are SPOILERS, but this one is especially bad. If you haven’t read the books, I strongly suggest not reading this article.

Photo by Rae Tian on Unsplash

The reason we’re talking about this topic this week is because of what’s said about Lily’s sacrifice in this chapter by Albus Dumbledore during one of his famous end-of-the-book talks with Harry:

“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.”


Before we truly dive in, I need to discuss one of the reasons I wanted to write this article. Many people who try to pick apart the Harry Potter books read this section and scoff, saying something along the lines of, “Oh, of course, the answer is love.” Usually in a very condescending tone. Harry Potter people, you know what I’m talking about! We’ve all heard it.

But there’s much, much, much, much, MUCH (I don’t think I can say this enough) more to it than that, people! It is a very powerful branch of magic, and we see its power throughout the entire series.

Researching this topic was actually very intense. I read about a lot of difficult subjects as well as chapter thirty-five of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry’s conversation with Dumbledore). Man, there was some stuff I forgot, especially when it comes to this idea.

In the Wizarding World, Lily’s sacrifice for Harry is more than a mother’s sacrifice. Although, as I wrote that sentence, it occurred to me that who on Earth would ever doubt for a second that a mother’s sacrifice for her child would not be magical in this world? I’m not a mother, but I hope to be someday. Right now, I can only imagine the amount of love a mother feels for her child. But do I know that most mothers wouldn’t hesitate to lay down their lives for their children? Absolutely. It’s no surprise to me that this would be one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) forms of protection in the Wizarding World.

Okay, we’re getting deep. But hey, I’m probably going to say that throughout the entire article.

Today, we’re covering one of the most mysterious and powerful branches of magic in the Wizarding World: Love.

To really set the scene, here’s what’s said about this branch of magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

“There is a room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all.”


In case it’s been a while since you’ve read the fifth book (like me), this is the room the gang tries to break into that melts Harry’s lock-picking knife. That room.

So, let’s get to it. When Lily Potter sacrificed her life for Harry out of love, she placed a very powerful magical protection on him that, as Dumbledore says, lives in his skin. From my research, I’ve discovered that most likely the only way to enact a magical protection of this magnitude is only possible for someone who has the option to live and chooses to die anyway. In Lily’s case, Voldemort offered her the opportunity to step aside.

Although Voldemort doesn’t understand love at all (an interesting topic on its own), I do think he would have spared Lily for Snape’s sake if she had indeed stepped aside and not fought back. However, Lily chose to willingly lay down her life for her son, which caused this protection to come upon Harry.

This type of sacrifice creates an extremely powerful protective countercurse against the person who is trying to hurt the intended victim. As we see through the rest of the series until Voldemort uses some of Harry’s blood to create a new body—which is a mistake we’ll discuss at a later time—Voldemort can’t even touch Harry because of this protection. As long as Harry lives in his mother’s family’s household (the Dursleys, unfortunately), he is protected through this countercurse.

Photo by Rhii Photography on Unsplash

But… you may be surprised to discover there are a couple of other times when we see love’s magical properties in this universe.

  • Rowena Ravenclaw supposedly died of a broken heart after her daughter Helena ran away.
  • Merope Gaunt seemingly lost her magical abilities after Tom Riddle, Sr. left.
  •  Isolt Sayre (the founder of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) was awakened from a curse by the cries of her children while the family was under attack. If you haven’t had the chance to read about Isolt and the history of Ilvermorny, please do! It’s so fascinating.

However, the most surprising example of the power of love to me (because I’m human and forget things, even if they’re extremely important) is Harry Potter himself.

Now, I have to say this again: SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. Please, if for some reason you haven’t read the books, don’t read further.

In the seventh book, as Lily did, Harry chooses to sacrifice himself for the people fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts. Through this sacrifice, he enacts the same protection as his mother on the people at the school. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry points out to Voldemort that his curses are missing or not truly binding the students because of his sacrifice. This is seen through examples such as the students being able to speak after Voldemort silences them and Neville breaking out of the Full Body-Bind curse after a short period of time.

Now, it seems that protecting a full group rather than an individual doesn’t provide as much protection; I do believe a killing curse from Voldemort probably would have killed its target if it had made contact. But, due to Harry’s actions, it does seem that some level of protection is on these people.

The power of love is a prominent theme in this book series, and Lily’s sacrifice is the most powerful example we see of what this branch of magic can do. The protection she gave Harry is actually the only known antidote to the killing curse, if you want to look at it that way. Love completely stumps Voldemort throughout the book series. As Dumbledore often says, Voldemort does not and cannot understand love.

Now… this topic is also extremely interesting, and an article will definitely be dedicated to it. Honestly, Voldemort is one of my favorite characters to break down and ponder. This article and that one will probably be in my top five when all of this is said and done. I do think it’s interesting that every mistake and oversight Voldemort makes is on account of that which he can’t understand—love. This shows itself first with Lily’s love for her son, and last, with Snape’s betrayal. His love for Lily was more powerful than anything else in his life, something Voldemort could never comprehend. What a powerful theme in these books…

Lily’s sacrifice is one of the most intriguing elements of the books for me, for sure. The constant struggle of Voldemort trying to overcome something so pure as love through hate to no avail is such a triumphant plot point. Upon their deaths, Harry’s parents left him material things, but the most precious gift of all is a love that actively follows him wherever he goes. Beautiful.

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

With that… we’ve reached the end of the first Harry Potter book!

I’ve been so thankful for this journey so far. Honestly, I’m getting a little emotional about it! I told you guys I’m always one for nostalgia, and finishing this first book with this book club feels so special. I hope you’ve enjoyed it up to this point—because we’re certainly not done yet!

It’s time for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! Dust off your old (or new!) copy, and let’s get started. I’m seriously looking forward to this book. Dobby, spiders, Parseltongue, the Heir of Slytherin—this one’s going to be a lot of fun. Is it my favorite? I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Keep reading with us on Muggles and Mocha. We’ll actually be starting off the book with TWO CHAPTERS—chapters one and two of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets will debut next week.

See you then!

Disclaimer: I do not own any element of the Harry Potter series.


5 Replies to “Lily Potter’s Sacrifice – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapter 17”

  1. We’re done with book one! Can’t believe it.

    I’d like to start by saying that I DO remember reading the big reveal (that it was Quirrell and not Snape) and I was completely blindsided…. Granted, I was young and, as Parker mentioned in his comment on the YouTube video, I was conditioned by JK at that point to suspect Snape and Snape alone. I also distinctly remember being HORRIFIED that Voldemort was living on the back of Quirrell’s head. I believe that this chapter even mentions the strange smell hanging around Quirrell’s head? Gross dude.

    Also, Hagrid’s gift of the photo album gets me EVERY TIME. Hagrid is such an angel for doing that for Harry 😭

    I’m SO GLAD that we get to begin talking about love. I honestly think that anyone who thinks this is “weak” or a cop-out on JK’s part isn’t attempting to be an authentic human. JK literally hangs this entire 7 (or 8) book series on the “hook” of love. LITERALLY the main theme. And why shouldn’t she? I actually had a very strong connection to Parker’s thoughts on this topic. As Christians we are taught from day one the utter beauty and universe-changing power of love, and like he mentions, JK has unwittingly woven some strong Christ imagery into this story of hers. Love makes the world go ’round, so why shouldn’t these books reflect reality in that way?

    Bottom line is, I’ll fight the naysayers with you. Just give me a time and a place.

    I’m now going to make yet another reference to Parker’s comment (it was too good for me to ignore): the difference we can see between Harry and Voldemort here is critical. We have finally arrived at the point where JK is putting Voldemort in direct conflict with Harry (I actually don’t count the attempted murder in Godric’s Hollow as the first), and we see that Harry is motivated and aided by love, while Voldemort is motivated by hate. Voldemort purely exists to be a foil for Harry and for “capital L” Love. Where Harry succeeds, Voldemort falls short. I think this is meant to illustrate the futility that one faces when you aren’t doing the good and just thing. As we read through this series we’re going to see time and time again that Voldemort will continue underestimating love, and every time he does, he fails. Notably, he never comes to the realization or self-awareness as to why this is. That fact to me feels even more sad and weighty than nearly anything else that happens in this series. Even to the bitter end, Voldemort never gets to experience or understand real love.

    Lastly, the end-of-book Dumbledore talks are my absolute favorite. These talks are SO pivotal and important to Harry’s development. Dumbledore drops some SERIOUS knowledge and life lessons during these chats. And they’re written so beautifully and strongly by JK that for some reason they always make me feel just a little bit emotional every time I read them. There’s almost a bit of catharsis in seeing each adventure wrapped up in that nice, warm bow of Dumbledore wisdom. These talks turn out to be a necessary recharge and bolstering of Harry’s strength for the next arrow Voldemort already has loaded in his bow.

    Madison, this has been so much fun! I look forward to this every week now, so thank you for putting a little bit of magic back into our lives! Great job, and I’m thrilled to start reading book 2!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Isn’t attempting to be an authentic human.” I just laughed out loud!

      You already know that I totally agree with your thoughts on love and this book series. When I was writing the article and considering the topic of the power behind sacrificial love, I immediately thought of Jesus’s sacrifice for us. It’s made this series even more important to me (which I didn’t think was possible).

      I liked Parker’s comment, too! I definitely, definitely agree that the most tragic part of the series is Voldemort’s lack of love. And not just a lack of it, but an utter misunderstanding of it. He’s not even able to comprehend the thought. Ooh, I have thoughts on this… I can’t wait to talk about them.

      Yes to Dumbledore’s talks! They are written so beautifully, and Dumbledore just reveals things in a way that’s so touching and considerate to Harry. We can all learn a couple of things from each of the talks, I think!

      I’m so glad you’re having a good time. 🙂 I am, too! I can’t believe we’re in book 2!


  2. I’ve really enjoyed the book club! I do love the first book because of how you see Harry growing and experiencing love and acceptance that he hasn’t know since he was a baby. I have now reread all of the books. Looking forward to book 2 again!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: