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30 March 2006 @ 05:10 pm
Some Very Disjointed Thoughts About Death Eaters' Motivations...  
...Which does exactly what it says on the tin, which is offer some Very Disjointed Thoughts About Severus Snape, Regulus Black and Peter Pettigrew and what might have motivated them to leave/join the Death Eaters.

I don't have any of my books with me at the moment and I'm writing this in Notepad, so apologies if I get quotes from the books wrong or misremember things - I'm doing this from memory. :)

Unfortunately, to resolve most of the thoughts I've been having we are missing several vital pieces of information, which I hope against hope will be in book 7:

- What Regulus was asked to do that made him back out and leave the Death Eaters
- Similarly, what made Snape decide to leave (it could be the same thing, depending on whether or not Snape knows about the Horcruxes)
- What made Peter join the Death Eaters (was it just fear of Voldemort and/or lust for glory?)

However, we can theorise until we're blue in the face - we might all be completely wrong but at least we'll have a lot of fun in the process. And hey, you never know, we might just get some of it right, in which case we can reserve bragging rights for after the release of book 7. ;)

So, let's have a look at these one by one - personally I've got a few thoughts/possible scenarios which I've outlined below but I'd love to hear some other ideas. I know there are as many possible situations are there are pages of OOTP (that is to say, a lot), so let's play around with them.

What Regulus was asked to do that made him back out and leave the Death Eaters

After what we were told in OOTP about Regulus Black (which was admittedly not very much), it looked very much like he was somehow connected to the Prophecy/Voldemort's downfall/everything happening around that time, as his date of death was described as 'some fifteen years earlier'. It was suggested by many readers that Voldemort might have asked Regulus to betray or even kill Sirius, and that was what made him decide to back out.

However, with the publication ot HBP and the Black Family Tree, dates have been clarified and we now know Regulus died in 1979, just before all the Prophecy-related stuff kicked off. The revelations of HBP (assuming that Regulus is R.A.B.) would seem to suggest that it was finding out about the Horcruxes that made him back out and leave the Death Eaters. We don't know what it was Voldemort might have asked him to do in connection with the Horcruxes, but whatever it was, it must have been that which made even one of the Voldie Youth think it was going too far.

We can be reasonably sure that Voldemort did get Regulus to do something, or possibly several things, connected with the Horcruxes, as it's clear that Regulus knew about the locket and was able to get there and switch the real for the fake - it could have been that he was the one to put the real one there originally on Voldemort's orders and put the fake one there instead from day 1, or it could be that the original was placed there either by Regulus or someone else, and later on he went back to the site/went there for the first time and made the switch. Either way, it's clear Voldemort didn't know Regulus had switched the lockets, since the fake remained in the cave until Harry and Dumbledore discovered it over fifteen years later.

Sirius says in OOTP re. Regulus: "...when he saw what Voldemort was prepared to do to gain power, he tried to back out of what he was being asked to do..." This sounds very much like Regulus finding out about Horcruxes. He (Regulus) might not have known that Voldemort was splitting his soul into seven pieces, more likely he thought the locket was the only Horcrux, but it looks like he still knew about it.

How will we find out this information in book 7? Well, there are many possible sources - Snape would be in an excellent position to give information but it's rather unlikely Harry would sit down with him for a chat about the olden days unless their situation changes drastically in book 7. Lupin was also at school at the same time as Regulus (though as Regulus was in Slytherin and didn't get on well with Sirius it's unlikely they had much to do with each other) and heavily involved with the Order - and as a friend of Sirius's he'd probably also know quite a bit about the situation even if he didn't know Regulus himself all that well (he did say 'Sirius's brother Regulus only lasted a few days as far as I can remember' about Regulus's desertion form the Death Eaters, so it' s possible he knows more) - but the best person, in my opinion, for giving us information about Regulus is Horace Slughorn. He was the one who first told Tom Riddle about the Horcruxes, so he clearly knows about them and how they work, etc. He was Regulus's (and Snape's for that matter) Head of House and Potions master, so would have known him well, and likely other members of the Black family too, as they were all in Slytherin during his time. All in all he'd be an excellent person to go to for information.

What made Snape also decide to leave the Death Eaters?

This is an even more difficult question to tackle, because we don't know anything about Snape's actions at that time, except that he overheard the prophecy and delivered it to Voldemort, who immediately interpreted it in his own way and decided that Harry Potter would be the danger to him, would be the one who could potentially kill him, and Voldemort's main goal has ever been immortality and supreme power.

While even a hardened Death Eater might have qualms with killing babies, I doubt it was this specifically that made Snape rethink his loyalties. There was no love lost between Snape and the Potters and I doubt it would have played on his conscience for very long if he were truly dedicated to the Dark Lord's cause.

To be honest, it could have been many things. Whatever it was is tied in with what Snape told Dumbledore/did for Dumbledore that made him trust him completely. He (Snape) then became a spy for Dumbledore - what could have caused such a turnabout in loyalties?

It could be that, like Regulus, Snape began to disagree with Voldemort's methods, though I can't see any evidence to support that. The idea that was stewing in the back of my head was that, maybe, it was Snape who killed Regulus on Voldemort's orders. Fanon often has it as either Bellatrix or Lucius (the popularity there being the irony that it's Bellatrix who ends up killing both the Black brothers), but I do like the idea of it being Snape.

They were in Slytherin together, of course - Sirius says Snape used to hang around with a bunch of Slytherins who "nearly all turned out to become Death Eaters" - this could well have included Regulus. It's also possible that Regulus was admiring of Snape's knowledge in the Dark Arts, which Sirius admits was very broad from an early age. I'm not saying for a second they were best friends or anything of the sort, but it's possible Regulus was the closest thing to a friend Snape had (or at least, one of the closest).

Regulus, for his part, may have seen Snape as a sort of surrogate big brother figure (and I believe this is a popular belief in fanon) - Sirius didn't agree with their family's opinions, of course, and was rather disgusted with Regulus for seemingly having no backbone and believing all their spiel. Snape, on the other hand, agreed with it and was actively fighting for it (by joining the Death Eaters). It's posisble Regulus joined the Death Eaters inthe first place partly because of Snape, as well as for his parents' approval.

This would be yet another reason for Sirius to dislike Snape - while it looks like Sirius gave up on Regulus in the end, Sirius would have no doubt been angered by Snape seemingly leading Regulus down the path of the Death Eaters - not only was he getting fed those beliefs at home, but now he had Snape constantly reinforcing them at school and influencing his thoughts. (I very much doubt he was the only one doing so, or indeed the most significant one, but it would probably have seemed more irksome to Sirius what with his and James's existing feud with Snape.) Snape might also have felt some small satisfaction knowing that Sirius Black's younger brother held him, Snape, in higher regard than Sirius (not necessarily true, especially when you look at Regulus's eventual fate, but it certainly would have appeared that way).

So, Snape being ordered to kill Regulus for desertion would have had to have been very difficult for Snape - killing Muggleborns and foolish, Muggle-sympathising Wizards and Witches is one thing, but when you start having to murder your own friends you would start to question if what you were doing was the right thing. This would also mirror the situation at the end of HBP nicely, where again Snape has to kill someone he calls a friend, someone he trusts and who trusts him (if you read the situation that way, of course) - which would have made Harry's accusation of cowardice even more rankling, as not only has he had to do it now but he's done it before, too, and it's the hardest thing in the world.

I believe Snape saw a reflection of Regulus's situation in Draco's, too, which is what motivated him to risk his life to help Draco, and make the Unbreakable Vow with Draco's mother (and Regulus's cousin), Narcissa. He was unable to protect Regulus in the end, whether he killed him or not, and it seems like he's determined the same will not happen to Draco (another reason it's so interesting and fitting that Draco and Regulus are actually related). I see many similarities between Regulus and Draco and their situations, but that's another essay.

I feel like this could be yet another reason why Snape hates Sirius, but I can't quite put my finger on why - it could be as simple as a physical resemblance (a la James --> Harry), or it could be Snape feels that Sirius wronged Regulus, though I can't see that being a reason as I'm sure Snape would feel that Regulus was better off without Sirius in his life (whether or not Regulus agreed is another story). It's also possible that Snape feels that the only person who could have saved Regulus is Sirius, and so partly blames him for his death, which is totally unreasonable and not particularly true but that might well have been how he'd seen it at the time and did subsequently.
(... This is probably, as JKR would put it, not a 'profitable line of enquiry', anyway.)

What made Peter Pettigrew join the Death Eaters?

(This is a much harder one to get my head round - I can understand Regulus's and even Snape's motivations better than I can Peter's - despite that I find him a fasicnating character and I hope we find out more about what sent him into Voldemort's service, as I'm hoping it's not as straightforward as it has been presented so far.)

We're never told explicitly why Peter joined up, and there may have been other factors involved such as threats to the safety of his family and/or friends, but it's entirely more likely that it was out of fear, and a desire to protect himself (and maybe his loved ones?). I'm sure they would have kept him on side partly with promises of glory and power when it was all over (power being something he never had within the Marauders, really - camaraderie, friendship, loyalty and even love, certainly, but he never really had any power, and may have jumped at the chance to have some), and partly with threats.

Interestingly, Sirius mentions in POA that Peter had been passing information to Voldemort for a year before James and Lily died, which would have been a few months after Harry was born. Voldemort would have jhust heard the prophecy, and would have started plotting to go after baby Harry. He'd need a spy, someone close to the Potters, to get this information.

However, the Order somehow found out that James and Lily were in danger, and arranged for them to go into hiding and be put under the protection of the Fidelius charm. How did they know this? The Order had spies working for them, certainly, but none who knew about the Prophecy - except Snape. Could it be that Snape told Dumbledore how Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy? Dumbledore had heard it from Trelawney, yes, but he wasn't to know that Voldemort would decide upon Harry Potter as his target, not until Voldemort actually struck, anyway. Dumbledore said that he was a sufficiently skilled Legilimens to know when he was being lied to, so he would have known Snape was telling the truth - could this be the act that caused Dumbledore to trust Snape so implicitly? Possibly not, as Dumbledore told Harry that Snape still felt he owed James his life since the Shack incident, which he wouldn't feel if he had saved them by telling Dumbledore they were in danger (even though it was he who put them in that danger by repeating the prophecy to Voldemort).

If Snape was indeed working for the Order and passing them legitimate information, he obviously didn't know that Peter was the spy, as Peter was not suspected by anyone on the Order's side - we know both Remus and Sirius suspected each other, for example - which is why Peter seemed such a good choice for Secret Keeper. So yes, Voldemort likely would have started pursuing James and Lily's friends to get information. No point going after Sirius, it was pretty widely known that he would die before divulge any information, and besides he was suspected already, as was Remus. Peter seemed like a good choice, plus he was easily swayed and not as close to the Potters as Sirius (i.e. wouldn't be noticed as much). Who knows if some of their other friends, particularly Lily's conspicuously absent friends, were approached and refused? They'd have been killed, of course, which is why we wouldn't have heard of them (or they could be some of the deceased members of the original Order).

(I was also wondering if there was any link between Peter and Regulus, but the timescales don't fit - Regulus died in 1979 and, if Sirius's verison of events is accurate, Peter started passing information to Voldemort in the autumn of 1980.)

Peter's bound to make an appearance in book 7 - there's still that pesky life debt hanging over his head - and I for one am hoping that when he dies (for surely he must) it will be to save Harry and/or Remus, and he might finally live up somewhat to being put in Gryffindor.

I also hope that Draco manages to avoid Regulus's fate, though whether he will actively fight against Voldemort as Regulus ended up doing remains to be seen.

So yes, I realise this is all a bit disorganised, but - any thoughts?
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Marijaneorxna_wong on March 30th, 2006 05:07 pm (UTC)
Nice essay, I like it.

Btw, you should be working at work!!!
mad: bellatrix archway ootpmadzilla on March 30th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)

Hehe, I know. But, we got all our work done really quickly, so we weren't really slacking off. My colleague left early, and I hung around and did this! :)
finmagik on March 30th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)
Nice essay.
A hug is like a strangle you haven't finished yet.: GoF courage cedricshaggydogstail on March 30th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
Very interesting essay--nice job! I particularly liked your stuff about the possibility of Regulus being friends with Snape and how Sirius would have felt about that--I'm sure Sirius would have been very frustrated by Regulus following Snape's espousal of the beliefs their parents advocated rather than following Sirius in rejecting them.

As for Peter, I think his reasons for joining Voldemort are spelt out fairly clearly in PoA:

He--he was taking over everywhere!' gasped Pettigrew. 'Wh-what was there to be denied by refusing him?' (PoA p274, UK paperback)

Peter strikes me as an opportunist--he befriends the most popular boys at school, joins what appears to be the 'winning side' during the first war, enjoys a cushy if rather undignified existance as the Weasley's pet rat and then scurries straight back to Voldemort when his identity and guilt are unveiled by Sirius. No doubt Peter was frightened during the war--I doubt there were many people who weren't--but he appears to consistantly make choices based on what is the best path for him personally, rather than ever considering the rights or wrongs of what he is doing. (Note that even when he is pleading for his life in PoA, he never once says he is sorry and seems to have some bizarre idea that Sirius and Remus would ever understand why he sold Lily and James to Voldemort.)
The Goddamn Wolf Womanslythwolf on April 1st, 2006 06:35 pm (UTC)
That's exactly my interpretation of Peter. Which is what I don't understand--how did he end up in Gryffindor? He doesn't show any of the different kinds of courage JKR has discussed as being the most important thing in that house. Like, at all. He doesn't have physical courage, he doesn't have moral courage, he doesn't have the courage of his convictions...

...did someone slip the Hat something?
a_t_raina_t_rain on April 3rd, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
He doesn't have physical courage...

Dude, the guy cut off his own arm. I'd say that qualifies as physical courage, even if it's applied in the wrong direction.
Summersummerborn on March 30th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
I think you've done a good job outlining some of the things we don't know - and a bit of speculation as to the possible answers. A lot of people assume that Snape's reason for leaving the Death Eaters is the same as the reason Dumbledore trusts him, or that the two are intimately connected somehow, but now I'm not so sure.

Also, Regulus and Draco! I never thought about how similar their situations are, but in retrospect it seems glaring :)
gunderpants on March 30th, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC)
Well, your speculation is original - I mean this in the nicest way possible, because while I normally gag at some of the DE/Snape-apologist stuff this all actually sounds plausible and worked out, and the thoughts never would have occurred to me. So well done.
Maggiemagnetic_pole on March 30th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC)
Enjoyed the essay enormously! Like shaggydogstail, I was especially interested in your ideas on the relationship between Snape and Regulus and the reasons for the animosity between Snape and Sirius. It's interesting--Voldemort is a fairly cardboard character on the whole and something of an exception, but almost everyone else has either strong ideological motivations driving their actions (Lucius, Bellatrix, etc.) or strong personal loyalties and bravery motivating their reactions (the Order, Harry, etc.) I see Snape falling in the second category--and perhaps Regulus, too, from what we've learned about him so far. Snape has been portrayed as an independent actor, but I suspect that's Harry's inability to grasp the bigger picture.

As for Peter...the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it would make a lot of sense for Peter's betrayal to be sparked by a failure of trust and loyalty among his friends. We already know that the betrayal was a failure of courage (inability to do the right thing, dependence on bigger and more powerful friends) rather than ideology (pureblood mania, etc.). Is there more we should know about his relationship with James and Lily and Remus and Sirius? We're clearly being set up for a triumph of tolerance/pragmatism over prejudice/ideology at the larger, more abstract level--hopefully!--but we've also heard a lot about the importance of friendship, personal loyalty, and willingness to lay down one's life for others and clearly will see this happen in Book 7. Peter could do this for Harry, making amends across the generational line, true, but I'd be interested instead in hearing just how his betrayal came about, seeing him fail at friendship and loyalty again this generation, and watching the issue being worked out by Harry and his friends. I've always been puzzled by the emphasis placed on Snape's generation, and I can only understand it if it's a cautionary example for Harry's generation; for me, Snape and Peter and Lupin don't have much more growing to do, but Harry and his friends do.

A side note: am I the only one who was completely flummoxed and unconvinced by Dumbledore's assertion that he trusted Snape because Snape told him about the prophesy?

Ah, if only someone just sat Harry down and filled him in! (smile) Actually, that's one of my favorite parts of the book: being a child really is like wandering into a play already halfway through, and it takes a while to figure out the motivations of the other actors and to realize that the previous scenes actually matter quite a bit.

Again, interesting essay.

The Duke of Ookook on March 31st, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
I'm thinking that everything started unraveling for Peter and the Marauders the night of the Prank at the Shrieking Shack. I think everything changed for them after that.
Maggiemagnetic_pole on March 31st, 2006 03:48 am (UTC)
You think so? It's a compelling idea. I just can't figure out another reason for the attention lavished on people who really ought to be minor characters and events that ought to be both banal and long-forgotten. Okay, so Snape is shaping up to be a major figure in this generation's battles, but a large part of his mystery is about his past rather than his present or future. (As this essay demonstrates.) Sometimes I think I've completely lost perspective because the Marauder generation is so interesting to me, but, really, how else to understand the pensieve scenes? They're clearly intended to provide crucial backstory, and while I'm happy to see Harry learning more about his father, that's not sufficient explanation...

That first step was the hardest: boy who survivedspringandsummer on March 31st, 2006 04:18 am (UTC)
I agree with ook, that the Prank started everything. According to the books, after the Prank Moony got stripped of his Prefect status, and the year after James became head boy, largely due to his actions in thwarting the Prank. This caused Lily to realize that maybe he wasn't quite such an iredeamable prat, and they paired off. Now, this is extrapolating, but I have this idea that after the Prank, Sirius realized just how important Moony was to him. After Remus forgives him their friendship grows a lot stronger (or relationship, if you ship them like I do). Even if it weren't for this epihpany, they'd probably get closer anyway, because Sirius has lost James as a best friend now that Lily's more firmly in the picture.

And Peter's odd man out, where he's vulnerable.
focusf1focusf1 on March 31st, 2006 11:46 am (UTC)
According to the books, after the Prank Moony got stripped of his Prefect status

Did I miss this? Can you point me to the page number please?
a_t_raina_t_rain on April 1st, 2006 01:26 am (UTC)
No, you didn't miss anything; this is pure fanon. As far as I can figure it out, it's an extrapolation from the assumption that James must have been a prefect at some point since he ended up as Head Boy, but nowhere in the books does it say that Head Boys have to have been prefects at all, and in any case James could have been Quidditch captain, which apparently carries honorary-prefect status.
focusf1focusf1 on April 1st, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
Thanks - I contemplated my 17th reread of the series reread a month early!

Yes, that was the impression that I got. Being a Quidditch Captain does in fact get you a route into becoming a HeadBoy/Girl. Its the way Hermione exclaims when Harry's name is announced. This is presumably the way that James Potter became HeadBoy as I remember that he did not get the prefect's badge but still became HeadBoy. In my school, in year 12 you could be a prefect but in year 13 a HeadGirl was chosen from all prefects and sports captains.
feldspathoid on April 3rd, 2006 05:11 am (UTC)
actually its stated that james was never a prefect
nyohahnyohah on March 30th, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
Good essay. I especially like your analysis of Snape's reaction to Harry's calling him a coward, and along with it, Sirius's possible resentment of a friendship between Snape and Regulus.

I'd be interested in that essay about Draco and Regulus. ;)
penguin2006: snape by potter parkpenguin2006 on March 31st, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC)
Hadn't heard any theories about Snape possibly being the one who killed Regulus before. Very interesting, especially as you say, if that means that he has had to kill two of his friends against his wishes now. It does seem a bit soap opera, though, just too neat. On the other hand, this is the first credible theory I have heard for Snape leaving the DE that doesn't involve Lily.

Peter: I think that he just went with the side that he thought was winning. Is there redemption for him in Book 7? I don't think there's been much sign of it, but there is that life debt to Harry. He's going to be necessary to the story. JKR says (on her site) the last book is going to be a big one. I think it'll need to be.
Annie: Mouthjustams on March 31st, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
This is all very interesting, alot of stuff I never thought about before. Especially, like the others said, the thing with Regulus and Snape. Both of those are characters I find very interesting and want to know more about.
I don't know about Peter... I just keep hoping we'll find out he did it for some not so bad reason, that it's not just for himself, but we probably won't. I hope he'll die saving either Harry or Remus. That's the only end I can see for him.
Hekate, Renatus, and Tiberius Snapesnape_babies on April 2nd, 2006 09:44 am (UTC)
I think all of this is wonderful. I especially like the idea that Sirius and Regulus were connected.

As for Peter, I always thought he gets the short end of the stick. I mean, the only references we get for what he did were really through Sirius...and frankly, that's an extremely skewed opinion. There were several things that Peter said in POA that made me really doubt that he did it for his own benefit. For one, he says, "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named forced me --"

Sirius immediately follows up by telling not to lie. But how are we to know this is a lie? Just because a man who is being driven purely by anger and a lust for revenage says it is? Exactly how is a Fidelus Charm broken? Can the information be tortured out of someone?

When Peter 'ran to Voldemort' after being made Secret Keeper as Sirius states that he did, was he truly running TO him or FROM him. Clearly with such vital information at his disposal, especially if he did want to protect it, he wouldn't be safe reporting to his 'master'.

And then there's the point when Harry says that they'll send him to Azkaban, "You -- Thank you -- it's more than I deserve -- thank you --" That's clearly a sign of at least some regret. If someone says being thrown into prison with creatures that can make you relive the worse moments in your life is 'more than they deserve' they are realizing that they've done some horrible things.

Escaping, of course, was just a moment of oppurtunity. He saw a way out, and he took it. Though, once free, where was he going to go? A man loathed by both sides, one for getting Voldemort killed and two for getting James and Lily killed, he couldn't exactly hide anywhere like he did before. Not that Harry knew his secret. So all he could do was find Voldemort and hope to restore his standing with one side.

Whoo. And yeah, I'll hush now. XD;
philipm31 on April 10th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
Peter and Courage
First, I think that the emphasis on the Snape generation is meant to be a cautionary tale. After all, those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.

Now, onto Peter and the courage he displays. One person already pointed out that he cut off his arm, or at least his hand. Despite the fact that you know he did not want to do, he did it. To do something you don't really want to do takes courage. Another example of his courage is his ability to spy on the Order for at least several months to a year at the height of the first Wizarding War, under the watchful eyes of Albus Dumbledore, one of the two best Legilimens in the Wizarding world at the time. To be able to operate under Albus' nose and not be suspected or caught takes more courage and nerve than we are shown, but it is there.

Also, the ability to become an unregistered animagus takes courage to an extent cuz what they were doing, was illegal, but he did it.

I just think that his couarge may be misplaced but he does exhibit courage, and to look back on the scene from OOTP does not show me a group of friends quite as tight as we have been led to believe. Sirius and James certainly did not seem to care too much about Peter, and neither did Remus. So, when Sirius says that Peter should have died like they would have for him does not ring true to me.

If Peter were considered a true friend and partner in the Marauders, they would have been more respectful of Peter and his talents. If they had been, maybe he never would have betrayed the Potters.

Finally, the murder of the Potters must have made it clear to Albus that he would need his own double agent in Voldemort's camp who was just as good if not better at the spying game than Peter was, and so he sought out Severus Snape to be his double agent, with very good results over the last decade and a half, before his "betrayal" on the Astronomy Tower.