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I sort you into houses

Because that is what I'm for,

But this year I'll go further,

Listen closely to my song:

Though condemned I am to split you

Still I worry that it's wrong,

Though I must fulfil my duty

And must quarter every year

Still I wonder whether Sorting

May not bring the end I fear.

Oh, know the perils, read the signs,

The warning history shows,

For our Hogwarts is in danger

From external, deadly foes

And we must unite inside her

... ...

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I don't understand the part in bold above. What end does Sorting (he fears) bring?

  • The hat does not fear that sorting will bring about an end, it worries that the act of sorting will not prevent the dangers that it predicts from the signs it sees. – Sarriesfan Jan 28 at 14:41
  • "Though I am condemned to split you, Still I worry that it's wrong... For Hogwarts is in danger... And we must unite." The Sorting Hat is worried that the act of Sorting causes division and strife inside Hogwarts when they need to be united. – Katy Jan 28 at 15:23
  • @Sarriesfan I still can't get it. :( – dan Jan 28 at 21:52
  • @Katy so, "the end" here refers to "division and strife"? – dan Jan 28 at 22:35
  • Are you confused by the negative? May not bring the end (that) I fear. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 28 at 22:48
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I think the negative might be understood along these lines:

I wonder if the cure might not be worse than the disease.

What is actually being wondered there is whether the cure may actually be worse than the disease.

That's just an example -- nothing to do thematically with the original verse.

  • Any difference from "I wonder if the cure might be worse than the disease."? – dan Jan 28 at 23:00
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    @dan Saying "I wonder if it might not be..." is a little stronger than "I wonder if it might be..." The first has the implication of a strong suspicion, while the second comes across as an actual question. – Katy Jan 28 at 23:57
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This phrase needs to be understood in the context of the entire song, and even the setting. Normally, the Sorting Hat just sings a short song describing the sorting system. In this particular year the Sorting Hat sang a much longer song and that song had a particular theme. The song was all about divisiveness, and how the four houses of Hogwarts were supposed to be united, but instead they kind of end up divided. Particularly at this time in the story, the Sorting Hat is warning them that unity is of paramount importance, in light of upcoming events. (I won't go into detail about that because I assume you have not yet read much farther into the book, so I don't want to give anything away.) The "end" that the Sorting Hat fears is the divisiveness; it is worried that the very act of sorting the students into four distinct houses may be contributing to the divisiveness it is trying to avoid. It is saying that it has no choice but to sort the students since that is what it is programmed to do, but it is warning everyone that perhaps sorting the students is not really a good idea because of the divisiveness it fosters.

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