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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Re-read Part Two
Jenny: The end of this book is even more deadly and dangerous than the last book! Harry and Ron travel into the forbidden forest to find an enormous nest of overgrown spiders, from which they narrowly escape. Then, when Ginny is kidnapped by the heir of Slytherin and carried away to the Chamber of Secrets, it’s up to Ron and Harry to save her. They can’t even rely on Hermione’s cleverness, either, because she’s been petrified, though she still manages to be quite helpful! This is the second time in the course of two years that Harry will face Lord Voldemort and live.
Sasha: Rowling reveals just how clever she can be. She introduces, with some subtlety, Akzaban prison, so we can file it away for the next book. She introduces Dobby and the Weasley car, and yet we go quite a length before they show up again. What is Percy up to? That was driving me nuts! Loads of mystery here. And Ron survives it all with a broken wand!
Jenny: My favorite part is the constant mentioning of the mandrakes. I’m not sure why this makes me laugh so much, but I really like how Rowling keeps referencing their status as if they are adolescent children. “The mandrakes were becoming moody and secretive, meaning they were fast leaving childhood. The moment their acne clears up, they’ll be ready for repotting.” Mandrakes are fully matured once they start trying to move into each other’s pots. How absolutely clever!
I also wanted to make a note about Dobby here. He’s not one of my favorite characters. In fact, he drives me insane! But I love when Harry tricks Malfoy into giving him the sock. It shows that even though Dobby was obnoxious and put Harry in quite a bit of danger, Harry realizes his heart was in the right place. A little thing I learned this week about house elves? In Faerie lore, if you have a brownie that lives in your house, at night when you are asleep he will do your chores for you. All he asks in return is you keep a tidy house and you perhaps leave him some honey or cream. If you gift the brownie with clothes, however, he will leave the house and never return. Stories vary on whether the gift of clothes is offensive to the brownies or just makes them feel too special to continue doing chores, but either way, we can certainly tell where Rowling got the idea for her very funny house elves.
Sasha: Oh. My. God. The line about moody and secretive mandrakes was my favorite in the entire book. Thisby and I often act like a hive mind, but this is ridiculous! In an attempt to be the littlest bit original, I must say, the Valentine’s Day portion of the book was very cute, and I feel should have been added to the movie for the sake of sheer fun.
Best Character in this Section:
Jenny: Without a doubt, the best character in this section is Hermione. She’s the one who makes the polyjuice potion. She’s also the one who figures out the monster plaguing the school. Yes, she was petrified for most of the end, but if it hadn’t been for Hermione, the boys would have probably ended up dead the minute they ran into the Basilisk.
Sasha: This is tough. For a moment I wanted to choose Snape if for no other reason than it was delightful to see him try to be his slimy self with Lockhart bumbling about. Rowling’s descriptions of Snape are always a delight. I can see every sneer in my mind’s eye. BUT, I have to say my favorite character must go to Harry. He never throws a pity party. He never gives up. Certainly, life at Hogwarts is a good deal more deadly than life at Privet Drive, but no matter the trouble, no matter the puzzle, you get the faintest notion he is enjoying it all. And why shouldn’t he? He’s a wizard!
Jenny: I never noticed this before, but by the end of this book, Harry has already defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named three times. This is a task no other wizard to date has been able to accomplish. Yes, it’s true that Harry would never have accomplished the second two victories without the help of his friends, but there is still something to be said of a boy who can defeat such horror when not even Dumbledore was able to vanquish it. He’s already accomplished these victories, and he’s only twelve! If that’s not a hint of the difficulties Harry will face in the books ahead, I’m not sure what is. As we enter the next book, Prizoner of Azkaban, we must prepare ourselves for the story to get more intense. Chamber of Secrets is, undoubtedly, the book where Harry leaves his youthful innocence behind.
First Time reader’s notes:
Sasha: It really was driving me nuts, wondering what Percy was up to. I’m so glad it was finally revealed at the tail end of the book, because I would have gone mad otherwise.
The Boy Who Lived:
Jenny: At the end of each book, Dumbledore seems to impart upon Harry a nugget of knowledge that is poignant and beautifully worded. These lines sum up Harry’s difficult experiences so well that the reader should stop and read them very carefully, so as not to lose the message.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Dumbledore is telling Harry to stop worrying about whether he might have belonged in Slytherin. He’s telling Harry that as people, we are a myriad of qualities. We aren’t just brave and kind, we can also be cunning and sneaky at the same time. It’s the choices that Harry makes at the end of this book that show the world he is a Gryffindor. It’s how he chooses to use these abilities.
Book vs. Film
Jenny: This movie is not significantly different from the book. There are subtle differences. For instance, Harry doesn’t discover Caretaker Argus Filch is a Squib (a person born in a wizarding family who can’t use magic). In the book, Filch believes Harry opened the Chamber of Secrets and attacked his cat, Ms. Norris, because Harry knows he’s a squib and wants Filch to pay, just like the muggle-borns. This is an important difference only because in the book we see why people begin to suspect Harry. He has a motive, after all!
The other thing to point out is that the ending scenes in the movies where Harry fights the bad guy, they always seem to be changed to suit the filmmaker and to make it more visually exciting. The movie drags Harry’s end scene with Tom Riddle out a little longer than it actually happens, and it also rearranges things. I think the ending scene in the book, however, is a lot more exciting, even though it’s quicker
Sasha: I noticed Percy plays a much bigger role in the book than in the film.I also would have liked to learn about Squibs in the film. Everyone who is petrified has a good reason to be petrified, according to the heir of Slytherin, but if you don’t know what a Squib is, you wouldn’t understand why Mrs. Norris might be attacked aside from being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Also the book makes it more clear as to why the Weasley car rescues the boys from Aragog in the Forbidden Forest. In the film I always thought Dobby had sent the car. In the book, Ron suggests the car has sort of gone wild, like a domesticated animal returning to freedom. It made up its own mind to rescue the boys and is painted with camouflage. What a lovely, wild idea. I like that very much. Watch out werewolves and centaurs…there’s a new creature in the woods.
Spells we learned in the book?
Expelliarmus – disarms opponents when dueling
Aparecium – Makes invisible things reappear again
Confundus – A spell to erase someone’s memory
Hover Charm – Makes things float
Obliviate – Spell that throws a bomb-like force
Rictumsempra – Tickling spell
Serpensortia – Produces a snake
Tarantallegra – a dancing spell