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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Re-read Part 2
Jenny: My initial thought when I finished Sorcerer’s Stone is how perfectly Rowling pieces the plot together. From the earlier mention of Nicholas Flamel to the Mirror of Erised to the chess game that Ron has unwittingly been preparing for his entire life, she weaves a story that keeps you going “Oh, yeah!” with surprise. Every book in this series accomplishes this with perfection, but it’s amazing to go back to the beginning after so long and be reminded how seamlessly this book flows.
Sasha: This book is brilliantly plotted. There is never a dull moment. One might have thought Rowling had a magical creature checklist and was trying to pack as many into book one as she could, but by the end it is clear, even unicorns and centaurs aren’t tossed in willy nilly. They are integral to the plot. As our trio make it past Fluffy to face the enchantments waiting below the trap door, I wanted to call it “the kitchen sink” chapter, because so much was thrown at the youngsters. But then I realized each enchantment was put in place by a specific professor. There is nothing random here. It is just the opposite.
Our Favorite Parts:
Jenny: I love how clever Ron gets to be in this book. Yeah, he’s constantly saying some silly, albeit funny, things and it’s true that Hermione is the clever one of the trio, but Ron really gets to shine in this book. He’s a master at chess, and to be better than even Hermione at something that requires such great thought is certainly quite a feat. We also see firsthand how brave he is when he sacrifices himself to get the others through. There’s no question in this scene that he’s a Gryffindor.
I also love the Mirror of Erised. I love how we get a little insight into the feelings of a little boy who has never known family. Harry sits in front of the mirror every moment he gets, just soaking in the feeling of having his family before him. Rowling reminds us that, even when there is so much excitement in his life, Harry still grieves for the family that he never got to know. In every book there always seems to be a small piece of wisdom Dumbledore imparts upon Harry, something that sums up the theme of the book. In this book, Dumbledore finds Harry sitting in front of the mirror and he tells him, “It doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
Sasha: My favorite part of this book was the troll fight. This is the first time our first years charge into danger bravely. An active decision is made not to just run away. Can you imagine how terrified they must have been? They learn that magic isn’t just about neat tricks, but it’s also useful in battle. I also think it’s funny this scuffle takes place in the girl’s bathroom–oddly, a place where much will happen as the story progresses.
Best Character in this Section?
Jenny: Since Ron got my favorite part of the book, I’m going to award best character to Neville Longbottom. He stood up to his friends, which is, as Dumbledore reminds us, no easy task. This foreshadows the idea that even though Neville is self-conscious and lacks confidence, he has what it takes to be in Gryffindor, a point that he will continue to prove to those who doubt him throughout the rest of the series. Plus, he wins Gryffindor the house cup! You go, Neville!
Sasha: My favorite character in the second half of this book is Hermione Granger. She is definitely a Gryffindor. She has the courage to be herself, the courage to be a know it all, and the courage put others in line around her. I wonder if we will ever know why she was crying in the bathroom that day. Was it just overhearing Ron’s remarks about her? Was that coupled with the stress of being the number one over achiever? Did she really feel she wasn’t fitting in at Hogwarts? When she lied about the troll to protect Harry and Ron, I was very proud.
Jenny’s Re-read notes: This time around I’m amazed at how nasty Quirrel is when you get a closer look at him. I was surprised the first time I read the book that it wasn’t Snape who was the bad guy. So, surprised, in fact, that I seemed to overlook how absolutely evil Quirrel ended up being. It’s a wonder that Dumbledore didn’t catch on to this. He seems so all knowing, I’m surprised Quirrel even made it into the school to teach at all.
Sasha: This brings up a good point. To those of you out there hopefully undertaking a re-read (or first time read) along with us, do you think Dumbledore knew Quirrel was up to no good? I will be interested to ask myself as we tackle each book, just how much danger does Dumbledore knowingly put Harry in front of? Does he use him as bait, knowing the son of Lily and James will rise to the occasion?
Being a first time reader, it also surprised me just how much danger Harry was in. I expected the first book to be relatively tame, when it came to how high a chance Harry had of actually dying. But the troll alone could have killed him, if the tests beyond the trap door didn’t.
The Boy Who Lived:
Jenny: What makes Harry who he is in the second half of this book? His bravery, of course! The Sorting Hat may have suggested he belonged in Slytherin, but it is obvious by the end of the book that there was no better place for him than in Gryffindor, alongside Ron, Hermione and, of course, Neville!
Sasha: I love how level-headed Harry is, but I must also mention how cool it is that Rowling allows many of the characters to have a destiny they are working toward, not just Harry.
How is the movie different from the book?
Jenny: Here are few differences I noticed when watching the movie after I read the book.
First, Hagrid doesn’t tell Harry about who he is until after their visit to Diagon Alley, which all seems to take place the day after Hagrid comes to tell him he’s a wizard. At this point, Harry has already started to piece the story together from things he’s heard while shopping. This is difficult to swallow for me. When Hagrid discovers Harry has no idea who he is to the wizarding world, he really should have told Harry straight away. Especially because he knew the reception Harry would get in Diagon Alley. You’d at least want to warn him, right? Harry goes straight to school after their trip shopping, rather than going back to the Dursley’s, like he does in the book.
In the movie, Harry doesn’t help Hagrid get rid of Norbert, either. Instead, Dumbledore finds out about it and sends him to Romania himself. Film viewers never get to see the lengths Harry goes through to keep Hagrid from getting caught with an illegal dragon!
In the book, Hermione passes the final test to get Harry to the stone by figuring out a riddle. The riddle tells her which potions out of a row that Harry can drink to get through a bunch of fire and to the stone. This particular test showcases Hermione’s brain the same way the Chess game showcased Ron’s skill and finding the right key showcased Harry’s ability as a seeker. This was cut out of the movie. Not too big of a deal, though, as Hermione has plenty of opportunities throughout the movies to show just how clever she is, so we won’t be disappointed.
Sasha: The pacing at the front end of the movie was uncomfortable for me. Just as Jenny said, Hagrid wasn’t saying and doing things he had done in the book, things that could have easily been worked into the script. I would have adored meeting Malfoy in the robe shop in the film version, too. It wouldn’t have taken much screen time to achieve at all. I loved the fact that Draco wanted Potter as a friend, and it was Harry’s decision to stick with Ron.
Spells we learned in this book/movie:
Lacarnum Inflamare: Spell used to set things on fire
Alohomora – Unlocking charm
Wingardium Leviosa – Levitates objects
Oculus Reparo – Spell Hermione uses to repair Harry’s glasses
Interesting Charmed Objects:
Put-Outer/Deluminator – Device Dumbledore uses to remove the lights from the street lamps.
Remembrall – Ball Neville’s grandmother sends him to remind him when he’s forgotten something.