|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event|
|Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody's Death|
|Location||Near Privet Drive|
|Time Period||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, July|
|Important Characters||Mad-Eye Moody, Mundungus Fletcher, Lord Voldemort|
Knowing that the protection afforded Harry by his living with his Aunt Petunia will end on his seventeenth birthday, the Order of the Phoenix decides to move him to the protection of one of the Order's safe houses. Believing the Ministry thoroughly infiltrated, they let the Ministry prepare to move Harry on his birthday, but secretly plan to move him themselves a few days earlier. The Ministry, in the name of protecting Harry, is monitoring the area around the house for Floo transport, use of Portkeys, and Apparition; Mad-Eye Moody believes these are simply ways of determining if someone is coming to get Harry and where they take him. As a result, Harry will be traveling by flying; the group who will be helping him escape arrive on Thestrals, broomstick, and one by means of Sirius Black's flying motorcycle. In order to make it more likely that Harry will escape, they plan to have multiple simulacra of Harry, each with a protector, each flying to a separate safe-house. The real Harry will be traveling with Hagrid on Sirius' flying motorcycle. Mundungus Fletcher is one of six Order members to be disguised as Harry by means of Polyjuice Potion, and will ride with Moody.
As they leave the house, they are attacked by multiple Death Eaters, and by Voldemort. Harry and Hagrid fly off in their own direction, pursued by a squad of Death Eaters, and do not see any of the action that takes place.
We later hear from Bill that, though clearly confused by the multiplicity of Harrys and protectors, Voldemort had quickly decided to concentrate on the Harry who was escorted by the strongest protector. That protector was Moody. Mundungus, becoming aware that he had been targeted by Voldemort, Disapparated from the back of Moody's broom. The killing curse that had been aimed at Mundungus instead hit Moody. Though Bill later went out to try and recover Moody's body, he was unable to find it.
More than almost anything else that has happened so far, Moody's death makes Harry realize that not only is he at risk, but so is anyone around him. It is quite possibly because of Moody's death (and to a presumably lesser extent George's injury, received in the same mission) that Harry decides that he must leave The Burrow. He is dissuaded from this course of action by the others involved in the escape, who indicate that they have worked hard and put themselves at risk to extract him from danger, and would not be happy to see him march off into danger from the place of safety where they have brought him.
The fact that Moody's body cannot be found will leave all involved without the necessary sense of closure that being able to bury him would provide. This will later lead Harry into a rash act.
Moody's death also indicates that even the best Auror may be powerless against Voldemort. We are already aware of Harry's disappointment at not being taught spells that can defeat Voldemort, from the previous book; Harry had expected those spells to be part of the private lessons he was getting from Professor Dumbledore. Moody's death serves to remind us that any spells available to Aurors would likely be ineffective against Voldemort.
As mentioned in the article on the death of Dumbledore, Harry cannot be the hero of the story if there is another, greater hero standing behind to support him. While we don't really know at this point if Moody could be that strong, we can see that Moody has become the leader of the Order of the Phoenix since Dumbledore's death. While our contact with the true Alastor Moody is brief enough that we are unable to form any real opinion of his magical strength, he does seem to have great strength of character. There is a very real chance that, in relatively short order, he could learn the nature of Harry's mission, and in so doing, likely doom it to failure. Because of this, Moody must at least vanish, at worst die, before he can spend much time in Harry's company. Even if Harry is able to keep the secret of his mission from Moody, it is likely that Harry would end up leaning on Moody, as Ron almost ends up leaning on Lupin a few chapters further into the book.
- Why did the Death Eaters see Moody as the strongest Auror, and thus target the Harry riding with him?
The comment is made in the Analysis section that if Moody had known of Harry's mission, he would have doomed it to failure. This is not immediately apparent to the reader, but on contemplation it becomes obvious.
By the time Moody dies, we already know that in some manner, the inner councils of the Order of the Phoenix are at least in part being passed to Voldemort. We know that the Ministry has heard that Harry will be moved on his birthday, and that Snape is aware that the Order will be moving him before that date. Snape's information is correct, as it turns out, and the Death Eaters are prepared on the day that Harry actually is transported. While the Death Eaters do not know the subterfuge of the multiple Harrys, Harry himself, and we, must assume that Snape is getting correct information somehow, and that a secret shared with the Order is now likely to reach Voldemort.
However, even if we assume that the information does not reach Voldemort directly, having the Order helping out is far too risky. Harry's sole means of success is to find the Horcruxes, get them out of where they are hidden, and destroy them before Voldemort notices. While Harry never clearly enunciates this to himself, this is clearly the sort of mission that requires stealth and small raiding parties. If the Order were to suddenly concentrate on Horcrux hunting, Voldemort would be certain to find out, and would take steps to protect the ones that remained.
Granted, this does not explain Harry's vehement refusal to accept Lupin's help when Lupin arrives at Grimmauld Place a few days after the Trio arrive there. Lupin expresses a desire to join them, apparently being willing to sever ties with the Order of the Phoenix for the duration of the mission, which would appear to defuse that particular point of friction. However, it is Lupin's apparent willingness to abandon his wife (Tonks) and their unborn child that inspires Harry's anger and refusal to accept Lupin's help. It is at this point that we perceive Ron as being willing to lean on Lupin, given the chance; after Lupin's furious departure, Ron rebukes Harry for chasing him away.
In the Analysis section, it is also mentioned that Moody's body not being recovered will lead Harry into a rash action. That action occurs when infiltration of the Ministry of Magic later in this book. Harry, finding Moody's magical eye attached to Umbridge's door, wrenches it off the door and carries it away with him. This is clearly a bad idea, as it shows that there are intruders in the Ministry. However, Harry feels a need to achieve some sort of closure by appropriately interring whatever part of Moody he can find; and the only part that has come to light is his magical eye.
One other point that should be mentioned is that, while Moody's death does imply that anyone near Harry is at risk, Harry does not make the next step in this analysis yet. It is only much later in the story that Harry concludes more accurately that anyone who stands up against Voldemort is at grave personal risk, and the people around him are those who choose to stand against Voldemort. It is because of the incomplete analysis that Harry is largely unwilling to lead up the defence forces at Hogwarts in the final battle; he still fears being the lightning rod, by his presence attracting Voldemort to them. He finally determines that Hogwarts and its occupants are at risk whether or not he is there, and chooses to remain, acting as a rallying point.