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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Re-read Part One
Jenny: The beginning of Chamber of Secrets starts out just as clever as Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry is back at home with the Dursley’s, where we meet Dobby for the very first time. There’s no end of excitement in the first part of this book. We meet Dobby, see Harry and Ron fly a car to Hogwarts, meet Gilderoy Lockhart, and start seeing attacks on the Muggle-borns after the Chamber of Secrets is mysteriously opened.
Sasha: Anytime you deal with a series, whether it is television or movies, there is a tendency to mention something at the beginning of a given chapter or episode that just so happens to become very important in the course of that episode. Let’s say our hero stumbles upon a key, quite by coincidence, only to discover later that it opens a very important door. Well, Rowling, in a magic all her own, doesn’t wait to introduce something she’s going to need just before her heroes need it. With brilliant foresight, she reveals things far in advance of when our heroes will need them and even has them use the same spells and items time and time again, each time with the stakes higher. Case in point, could it be that the cabinet Harry hides inside of in Borgin and Burkes is the very same cabinet that will become the center of a dark plot in The Half Blood Prince? I find that quite amazing.
Jenny: Who doesn’t love the part where Ron’s wand malfunctions and causes him to throw up slugs?! Malfoy laughs so hard he is on his hands and knees, and Ron throws up slugs all the way to Hagrid’s house. The movie doesn’t do this scene justice. In the book, even though you feel sorry for Ron, you can’t help but laugh at his misfortunate backfire!
Sasha: I guess I have two favorite parts this time. I like Mr. Weasley’s fascination with Muggles and his excited interrogation of the Grangers. I also like the charm of The Weasley Burrow, its warmth even in its imperfection, and am so glad Harry gets to experience it, given all he knows of home is life with the Dursleys.
Best Character in this Section:
Jenny: Professor Lockhart, undoubtedly! Rowling makes Gilderoy Lockhart so real, you can’t help but laugh at the things he says while still feeling everyone’s annoyance with him. He honestly believes the stuff he says. “Celebrity is as celebrity does, Harry.” What does that even mean? He cracks me up, especially when he constantly thinks that all unfortunate events that occur to Harry are either his cries for attention or things that Lockhart himself could have stopped, if “he’d only been there.” After all, he knows the perfect counter-curse for everything!
Sasha: I must say, Rowling’s ability to give each character such a unique voice is amazing. If she removed all the tags revealing who is saying what and just printed the dialogue, you would always know when it was Hagrid, Hermione, Ron, or Lockhart speaking. As I writer, I quite envy that. But my favorite characters in this section are Ginny and her older brothers, George and Fred. Ginny is adorable, but brave when necessary, and who wouldn’t want George and Fred as friends?
Jenny: This book is intense! From Dobby’s very first warning that Harry shouldn’t return back to Hogwarts, Harry is catapulted into a very serious series of life threatening events. Harry is only twelve years old in this book! He can’t even get through a simple game of Quidditch without something very dangerous happening to him. I envy Harry, though. When I was twelve, I never would have gotten on a broom, let alone played Quidditch or investigated the opening of the Chamber of Secrets!
I am surprised at how small a role Severus Snape has in this book. This is probably the only book where we don’t really see much of him or suspect him of the evil that is occurring. Just thinking about him makes me quiver with excitement knowing the things that are in store for the Potions Professor.
First Time reader’s notes:
Sasha: I just now realized that technology has scarcely any part to play at all in this series. There is no mention of cell phones, of video games, or of email. I think it adds a timeless quality, because technology is always changing, but kids forever will be able to appreciate these books without feeling like they are antiquated. I also find it astonishing that wizards live without electricity.
The Boy Who Lived:
Jenny: It’s amazing how nervous Harry is to tell Dumbledore or any of the staff what he has been hearing in the hallway. He’s still so nervous that maybe the Sorting Hat put him in the wrong house. If he had told Dumbledore what was happening in the first place, do you think it would have changed the outcome of the story? I have to ask the same question we asked in the last book. How much does Dumbledore already know when he asks Harry, “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”
Book vs. Film
Sasha: I do think it is noteworthy that in the movie the existence of the flying car is never quite explained. You might even wonder if all wizards have flying vehicles. In the book, however, it is quite clear that the flying car is a result of Mr. Weasley’s fascination with Muggles and their artifacts. He enjoys charming them in secret. I appreciated that the car wasn’t some random magical item, but that Rowling made sense of it. Traveling by floo powder may be introduced in this book, but Ron also tells Harry (in the book if not in the movie) that his parents can apparate. It is only underage wizards who are not allowed to do so. I was so excited to read this because of all the apparating our fab trio will be doing in the final books.
I must say one thing in the favor of the movies, though: I am glad the professors at Hogwarts aren’t constantly wearing pointy hats. It would be totally distracting. In the film Gilderoy’s puffed up appearance is better served by his fantastic hair than some black witch’s hat.