3

“You buried the elf,” he said, sounding unexpectedly rancorous. “I watched you from the window of the bedroom next door.”

“Yes,” said Harry. Griphook looked at him out of the corners of his slanting black eyes. “You are an unusual wizard, Harry Potter.”

“In what way?” asked Harry, rubbing his scar absently.

“You dug the grave.” “So?”

Griphook did not answer. Harry rather thought he was being sneered at for acting like a Muggle, but it did not much matter to him whether Griphook approved of Dobby's grave or not. He gathered himself for the attack.

"Griphook, I need to ask - "

"You also rescued a goblin. "

"What?"

"You brought me here. Saved me."

"Well, I take it you're not sorry?" said Harry, a little impatiently.

"No, Harry Potter," said Griphook, and with one finger he twisted the thin, black beard upon his chin, "but you are a very odd wizard."

.... ...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I don't understand what Harry means by "I take it you're not sorry?" in this context. How should we understand it?

  • I just read the whole thing. I understand pretty much every single line except for why Harry says "I take it you're not sorry?". Is your question about the meaning of the phrase "I take it" or is it about why Harry said that to Griphook? – AIQ Dec 12 '19 at 7:40
  • @AIQ Maybe both. I thought it means I understand that you are not sorry. But putting it into the context, it doesn't seem to make much sense. That's why I asked here. Have I got the sentence right literally? – dan Dec 12 '19 at 7:56
  • Yes. From Collins, "You can say 'I take it' to check with someone that what you believe to be the case or what you understand them to mean is in fact the case, or is in fact what they mean." But I don't get why Harry said that. Why would Griphook be sorry -sorry for what? – AIQ Dec 12 '19 at 8:00
  • 1
    Griphook seems hostile to Harry even though he says "You saved me." Harry replies "I suppose you're not sorry [that I saved you]?" – Kate Bunting Dec 12 '19 at 9:51
  • 1
    Harry is impatient because Griphook seems to disapprove of him instead of being grateful. – Kate Bunting Dec 12 '19 at 10:11
0
+50

So, my original answer was incorrect. I am keeping parts of it here because it will be helpful for those with the same question; my answer will tell them how not to approach or think about the problem.

The most obvious and valid reason why Harry says "Well, I take it you're not sorry?" is this:

Griphook isn't sorry (i.e, he does not regret) that Harry saved him!

This was correctly pointed out to me by Badzen in the comments. This is something I originally did not agree with (specifically because I don't see why anyone would regret being saved). I was wrong, and I apologize.

Indeed, no one would regret being saved. And that is the point here—Harry is being sarcastic. I missed this.

Here, "sorry" means "feeling sorrow, regret, or penitence" (Merriam-Webster).

Instead of thanking Harry straight away for saving his life, Griphook beats around the bush by saying things like "You buried the elf", "You dug the grave", "You also rescued a goblin", "You brought me here. Saved me." Griphook keeps saying how he thinks Harry is unusual. This means that Griphook feels Harry is different than rest of the wizardkind, and he is thankful that Harry saved him. But Griphook isn't going to say it out loud.

Harry can't bear that digression anymore; he is impatient to ask Griphook for something. And that is why Harry sarcastically comes up with that dialogue to dismiss Griphook's antics.

Think of it this way:

"Well, I take it you're not sad that I saved your life, eh?".

Or this way:

"Well, I take it you're sorry [that I saved your life]?"

Note: After Badzen pointed this out, I actually went and asked this question in Science Fiction and Fantasy SE— What did Harry mean when he said ... —to see that others think. That "regret" interpretation is totally valid.


Here are two explanations from my original answer. Note that these are not the intended explanations of the actual context, but my efforts to make sense of "Well, I take it you're not sorry?"

"Rancorous" means "having or showing a feeling of hate and continuing anger about something in the past" (Cambridge).

Griphook does not like wizards. He absolutely hates wizards (note the generalization).

"Being a goblin, Griphook severely distrusted wizardkind and hated wizarding arrogance, stemming from the fact that goblins had been treated brutally by wizards in the past. Griphook had a somewhat barbaric and savage personality as he [a] enjoyed the idea of pain in lesser creatures, [b] was eager to harm wizards ..."

Source: Harry Potter Wiki


(1) Griphook isn't sorry that Dobby, a lesser creature, died!

"Griphook ... enjoyed the idea of pain in lesser creatures [like house-elves] ..." - HP Wiki

When someone dies, people who know them feel sorry. Here "sorry" means "feeling sadness, sympathy, or disappointment, especially because something unpleasant has happened or been done" (Cambridge).

Everyone is sad because Dobby died. But Griphook isn't. He always enjoyed "the idea of pain in lesser creatures" like house-elves.

Griphook is probably disgusted that Harry dug the grave with his own hands (as opposed to with magic which would be much easier) for a lesser being like a house-elf. Griphook did not approve of this act.

Harry said, "Well, I take it you're not sorry [that Dobby died or was killed]?"

You can say 'I take it' to check with someone that what you believe to be the case or what you understand them to mean is in fact the case, or is in fact what they mean (Collins).

While this explanation is a true fact, it isn't relevant to the context of the scene. This was pointed out in the SFF accepted answer.


(2) Griphook isn't sorry that he hates wizards!

"Griphook severely distrusted wizardkind and hated wizarding arrogance, stemming from the fact that goblins had been treated brutally by wizards in the past. Griphook ... was eager to harm wizards ..." - HP Wiki

One would expect Griphook to be sorry after Harry saved him. Here "sorry" is "used to say that you wish you had not done what you have done" (Cambridge). While Griphook did not literally harm the wizards physically, he wished he did. He wanted to harm them.

While talking to Harry, Griphook sounds "unexpectedly rancorous."

"Because of the prejudice Griphook had witnessed, he was amazed by the respect Harry Potter had shown to creatures such as elves and goblins. This was most apparent when Griphook observed that Harry buried Dobby ... Despite this, Griphook was unable to fully overcome his distrust and hatred for wizardkind" - HP Wiki

As Harry notices Griphook's rancorous manner of speaking, Harry asks

"Well, I take it you're not sorry [for thinking ill of us wizards, for being distrustful of us, for wishing to harm us, even after I saved your life]?"

"No, Harry Potter," said Griphook, ... "but you are a very odd wizard."

Griphook thinks Harry is a very different kind of wizard; he isn't like the rest of them. While Griphook is "positively affected by Harry's display of humility and love", he stands firm on his beliefs. He is not sorry for how he feels about wizards, and for his attitude towards them. He is not sorry for being eager to harm wizards (as can be seen later in the story by his betrayal).


| improve this answer | |
  • Great! You are awesome! That indeed explained everything. Thank you so very much, buddy! – dan Dec 13 '19 at 10:16
  • 1
    @dan Thanks! It was so annoying at first, that "sorry" thing seemed so out of place. – AIQ Dec 13 '19 at 10:18
  • 1
    @yes, that is correct. He is a stone cold goblin. – AIQ Dec 13 '19 at 10:26
  • 1
    @BadZen I am in the middle of correcting/editing my answer. You are right about that meaning - but its not really about AmE or BrE. "Sorry" in AmE also conveys "regret" just as it does in BrE. I was wrong. – AIQ Dec 16 '19 at 21:02
  • 1
    It's not that it doesn't also "mean" that in Am.E, it's just less common use. That's why a lot of people, including yourself (and me for the first instead I read it, honestly), flag it as odd. It is a fact that Americans almost exclusively use "sorry" to indicate apology outside of a few specific idioms, and that British use it more flexibly. Anecdotally, I've seen "No need to apologize". "I wasn't, exactly..." happen, often. More empirically, we have usage copora where you can search for instances in both dialects and convince yourself of this easily. – BadZen Dec 16 '19 at 21:07
4

Due to his impatience Harry is speaking somewhat rhetorically/sarcastically.

The phrase "I take it" means something to the effect of "I assume". The context here is that Griphook is "accusing" Harry of being unusual. One example he cites as supporting evidence is that Harry saved him. Harry's response to that is that Griphook is almost making it seem as though being saved was a negative thing. What Harry is essentially saying is something like this:

Well if you really think it's so bad that I saved you, I could have just let you die. But obviously you don't regret that I saved you – you're happy to be alive. Therefore let's skip the whole discussion about how unusual I am, and let's get to the point of the conversation.

The "I take it" part of the original sentence is Harry's assumption that indeed Griphook would rather be saved than not saved.

| improve this answer | |
  • The use of 'sorry' confused me most. – dan Dec 13 '19 at 6:00
  • 1
    Yes, that's exactly what I meant by my earlier comments. – Kate Bunting Dec 13 '19 at 8:50
  • Even though the other answer was accepted, this is the sense most readers will likely agree with, and the sense that was most likely intended. – BadZen Dec 16 '19 at 15:12
  • Also let me add that "sorry" is somewhat different in British English sometimes, so if you are an American English speaker (who primarily uses 'sorry' for apologies), perhaps think of it in the sense of 'sore' or as in the phrase "You'll be sorry!" or "I was sorry to leave." – BadZen Dec 16 '19 at 15:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.