Jun 20, 2015

This Isn't My Favorite Anymore and Why - Rereading Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone

This is not a spoiler warning because why would you even be here if you haven't read Harry Potter in its entirety or at least watched the movies. BUT JUST IN CASE, you were warned. I'm so glad you came out from under that rock to be here.

Like I promised, every ten chapters (or the end of the novel, whichever comes first), I'll be cross-posting my thoughts here from our "Rereading Harry Potter A Chapter A Day Until MISTI-Con 2017" group we started earlier this month. Today is the second half of Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone. We have one week after to discuss each book at length and share reactions, etc. If I write anything groundbreaking in the discussion group, I'll post it as an addendum to this post. Here are my thoughts:


Chapter 11: Quidditch

A case of Snape being cruel just to be cruel, to punish Harry for being his mother's daughter: a library book outside of the school? Who ever heard of such a thing? The horror!

Is it ever explained why Snape is seeking help from Filch? Or is it just as simple as he is the one with the bandages... surely that's Madam Pomfrey? Or is this some reflection of two grotesques seeking each other out for help?

Does anyone else think these three kids should just mind their own business? So nosy - a theme THROUGHOUT this book.

All foods in these books sound delicious. Is that JKR's writing or a testament to British cuisine?

Because we never see Quidditch from anyone else's perspective we can't really tell if Wood makes a good captain, can we? Or at least not comparatively.

Lee Jordan is just one of the silliest characters. He is just so obvious and hammy. You have to love him.

So Quirrell's plan is to knock Harry off his broom, presumably so he plummets to his death. But even if he falls and only suffers a few broken bones, how will he take him out? Dark of night at the hospital wing? It feels like he hadn't thought this through. Voldy Face is probably not thrilled.

Chapter 12 - The Mirror of Erised

I feel like Ron has extra oblivious-ness to counteract what seems to be Harry's hyper observant-ness. For someone who has so many chocolate frog cards how does he not realize Dumbledore knows Nicholas Flamel? Is he just collecting them and not reading the backs? Even my brother knew some of the baseball stats from his card-collecting days.

The invisibility cloak - another important relic from Harry's story that we at first see only as a plot device (or at least I did). How has Ron heard about them? They can't be that common or everyone would have one. It must be like Fred & George mentioned how many hijinks they could get up to if they had one and Ron remembers. And it can't be that he heard it in a fairy tale, because lame. What are your theories?

Speaking of George, despite the twins' playfulness and pranks it's sweet that George says "Christmas is a time for family" because it warms my heart. It also makes me sad. Did JKR already know one of the twins would die in the final battle when she wrote this?

Of course Hagrid and Dumbledore stay at Hogwarts for their holidays, but is McGonagall without a family? I guess I never gave it much thought. She is still too young here to be considered a spinster but to old to start a family of her own I guess? More stuff I was hoping to get in the Scottish book.

What does "I don't need a cloak to become invisible" mean?? Does that mean the disillusionment charm or that Dumbledore feels he is sneakier than/knows the school better than most?

Does Dumbledore see himself in the mirror with Grindelwald? Or perhaps his sister alive, well and happy? I am pretty sure it's not himself holding a pair of socks because that wouldn't be honest unless he's at peace with all the wrongs he's committed..

Chapter 13 - Nicholas Flamel

I think the 'Snape can read minds' reference here is a little heavy-handed.

What if Snape had just wanted some alone time and the forbidden forest was a nice place to be alone, you busybody? (Sorry, but Harry really is a nosy kid.) And yes, I know that this sounds like a set-up for Slash Fiction.

Poor Neville, especially in his weakened state, but at least he really is a true Gryffindor.

Chapter 14 - Norbert The Norwegian Ridgeback

Hermione is like the Type A to end all Type A's. Like, they all fear her.

I like how Hagrid underestimates them. He doesn't realize these are three of the most ridiculously investigative 11 year olds in the UK.

Ron actually knows something useful in the tail end of the book. Dragon facts, for one, and also how to play chess. But he can't remember chocolate frog card stats. Weird.

How much does Hagrid really know about Snape? He isn't in the Order, but does Hagrid know, or at least infer, about his true allegiance? An interesting theory to know just how much Hagrid is aware of and why he defends him (and it can't just be because Dumbledore told him to).

Moreover, Hagrid is such a pure soul: he knows that even a dragon is a creature who needs love and serious care, in addition to constant attention when first brought into the world. Some would argue he is delusional or childlike, but I think he just has a lot of love to give. We see this constantly throughout the series with whom he cares for, human and non-human alike.

The fact that Hermione is so happy to see Malfoy get detention is further support for the Draco/Hermione shippers. We only feel for that which we can detest.

Chapter 15 - The Forbidden Forest

Hermione, once again, representing Type A kids everywhere in her inability to respond to McGonagall's simple questions. "I, er, I, uh, um" never to be heard from this girl.

I like how Harry, who finally seems to have listened to reason (Let's tell Dumbledore!), is still convinced Snape is the culprit, though all evidence of this is hearsay and unconfirmed.

Those chains Filch refers to, they are also mentioned again once the Carrows take over at Hogwarts, yes? Can anyone confirm this?

Malfoy refers to "servants" instead of what they really are: house elves. I have often wondered if Dobby was always the servant at Malfoy Manor or if there were multiple servants, including predecessors to Dobby. Draco has definitely led a life with 'help' that's for sure.

I am no astrologer or astronomer (not sure which applies in this situation honestly, probably both), but I have always felt that the symbolism of "Mars is bright tonight" is more than silly stargazing. Mars was the god of war if I remember correctly and in some respects, the second battle versus Voldemort, or at least versus his return to full strength, begins that night in the forest (especially since it's the first time Voldy lays "eyes" on Harry since his last defeat. He seizes the blood he needs to continue his life in order to be reborn later and subsequently raise an army, etc. Mars, shining unusually bright, is a harbinger of great conflict this night. What do you think?

It sort of kills me that Harry doesn't associate the scar pain with Voldemort. It doesn't say "a pain in Harry's head" or "a splitting headache." It specifically refer to an aching in his scar. He does know who gave it to him, and even if it was psychosomatic it is still a giant indicator of He Who Must Not Be Named. It is both a premonition and a physical representation of a traumatic past experience. This kid is not very bright, despite his hyper-observantness & how easily defensive magic and flying come to him.

So the centaurs don't just know about Harry Potter, it sounds like the know about the prophecy. Are they represented in the MoM? Do they have a man-horse on the inside who has read the glowy ball in the HoP?

More prejudging from Hermione, this time regarding Divination. Taking an opinon, a professor's opinion, as her own without study or much research. Maybe this is her non-Type A side working?

Chapter 16 - Through The Trapdoor

How many times does JKR use the future like this,  ie "in the years to come?" Very rarely if I remember correctly. Perhaps only in this and the seventh book. Someone please show me a list of all time she speaks of Harry in the future.

The amount of dialogue in this volume is by far the least of all seven. There's pages and pages of exposition and inferences made by the kids, but at the end of the day it's like Quirrell's spiel is a huge monologue, hahaha.

11 year olds taking exams like this sounds worse than the US's standardized testing. Kids fainting and passing out and getting sick and forgetting they've "already done that one?" Sheesh.

I gather most people are afraid of Dumbledore since he is so well respected and so well known, otherwise why would McGonagall be so surprised the trio would want to see him? He is the headmaster, surely he's not spoken to often by students? Or is the principal different than a headmaster in frequency of interaction with actual students. I've never been to boarding school, so...

The Neville confrontation is such an incredible scene. We have already seen Neville's heart but not his strength of self or his determination. Also, this poor toad, I just feel like he is mostly ignored and mistreated by his owner. Or perhaps he is an unruly pet?

In times of immense stress, Ron wants to spare someone's feelings. Especially regarding something he himself is good at.

Hermione screaming when Ron is taken in the chess match is a real clue to her true feelings, even this early on. To the H/Hr shippers, it's not like she puts herself between Harry and the flames to the final chamber, but she does SCREAM when Ron is knocked out. Just saying.

They don't really explain that these challenges are created by the professors in the films and in fact, some are missing, including Snape's. It makes the movie kind of confusing but as long as you know they exist to protect the Stone I guess it comes across.

Harry has learned true Gryffindor bravado when he says things like "I was lucky once...I might get lucky again." Because seriously, that just makes him sound douchey, not brave. Is this just me?

Chapter 17 - The Man With Two Faces

Weirdly, the chapter title refers Quirrell but it also describes who Harry thinks they are chasing: Snape. Snape is truly two different people *and* a double agent. Could it also describe Dumbledore?

"Too nosy to live" - What did I say!? These damn kids should mind their own beeswax! Hahaha.

This final conversation between Harry and Dumbledore proves to be extremely important and influential to Harry. "Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself" is an especially important lesson.

Who are Harry's "admirers?" Teammates he has, housemates and classmates and friends too. Does he have a legit fan club already though?

Hagrid has to have been a Hufflepuff. He is so incredibly loyal and when he fails a friend, or fails to work as hard as he can, he takes it so personally. His confession to Harry just reeks of personal anguish at his own incompetence.

If I am not mistaken, they show Hermione getting her 50 house points in the films, but not really explaining why she gets them i.e. not showing the logic gate. Kind of ridiculous and confusing, amirite?

Neville proves good at something after all: herbology. Still, he's a horrible pet owner though. This kid should not be trusted to care for living things at this point.

First clue that Ginny sees Harry as Wizarding Teen Bop-esque heartthrob; she may as well have fainted at the sight of him, Bieber-style.

Harry doesn't REALLY have that much fun with Dudley. This last line makes it seem way out of proportion what he does wind up doing. Besides, his fun gets cut off anyway, thanks to a certain green-eyed interloper and a letter from one Mafalda Hopkirk.

Final Thoughts

I don't think this is my favorite book anymore. It can't be because I mostly find the trio to be a bunch of nosy little kids.

That said, I think the first half is vital to the telling of the whole story and the second half is vital to Harry's understanding of his destiny. I prefer the first half story of where Harry comes from and his journey into wizardry to the "Snape is an evil douche who we have to beat" second half story.

The impressive amount of devices and elements that have future bearing on the whole story, I must reiterate, is incredible. JKR integrates all of her ideas, even the fact that Harry is sort of a Horcrux, into this volume. This has truly made me excited for the illustrated editions. It will be incredible how the illustrator illuminates items that have future significance or if they choose not to.


Starting that '10 in 10 Totally Doable Reading Challenge' on Monday, so there'll be at least one post a week coming I think. Enjoy your weekend!