Monday, September 28, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapters 12 - 13

He's been looking dreadful for days

Fawkes, the Phoenix is Dumbledore's pet bird, although the books never say where he got him. Fawkes is an interesting pet for Dumbledore because Fawkes possesses traits that Dumbledore most highly values. It mentions in the books that Phoenixes make highly faithful pets. Loyalty is a character trait very highly valued by Dumbledore and we'll see that come out at the end of this book. If I could pick three character traits that describe this series as a whole, they would be friendship, love, and loyalty. We've seen a lot of friendship in Sorcerer's Stone, but those bonds will be tested further as the series goes on. Another ability Fawkes possesses is the ability to be reborn from its own ashes. This is another ability highly prized by Dumbledore, but we won't find out just how much and why he values this attribute until the last book.

Speaking of loyalty... how about those Weasleys, eh? They are not only extremely loyal to Dumbledore, but to Harry as well. We see that in some of the small acts of kindness toward Harry. For instance, in this chapter, Fred and George unquestionably believe Harry is not the Heir of Slytherin and go so far as to make light of it so as to convince others that the idea of Harry being the Heir is ludicrous.


I'm surprised I haven't talked about them yet. One thing has concerned me throughout the series: I could nail down the properties of ghosts about as well as I could grab a hold of one myself. They can walk through solid objects with ease, yet are sometimes subject to physical forces. Nearly-headless Nick, for example, is able to be wafted away by a fan. This must mean that he can have physical contact with air. Myrtle was upset by a book being flushed down her toilet. Maybe it was just an emotional thing, but she shouldn't have even felt the book go through her. Another thing Myrtle can do is flood the bathroom. How can she affect water like that if she goes right through stuff. Do ghosts have a limited ability to physically affect their surroundings? I don't know.

I'm Sorry Won Won

I ragged on Ron in my last post, so I feel I need to make up for it. Even though Ron incorrectly jumps to conclusions a lot, he does have one advantage over Harry: he know a lot more about the wizarding world. This proves useful in a lot of cases. In this chapter, Ron warns a naive Harry about Riddle's diary, citing many instances when books have proven harmful to their readers.

Extremely Important Connection

So, Harry keeps Tom Riddle's diary. It mentions in this chapter that Harry feel drawn to it and can't throw it away. We don't find out how important this is or why Harry can't throw it away until the 6th book. We also find out in the 7th book why Harry is drawn to this particular magical object. We find out in this book that Harry and Tom Riddle are very similar people. Their similarities, and differences, we play a larger role later in the series. One noteworthy piece of information in this chapter is that the diary was from a muggle shop. I think the diary is a symbol for Riddle himself. Riddle resents growing up in the muggle world and seeks to prove how special he is. He therefore, took a mundane muggle object and made it extremely special. It's interesting if you note that similarity and even more interesting if you've read the 6th book and know just how significant the diary is.

You Dork!

When Harry is inside Riddle's memory, he finds himself in Headmaster Dippet's office. Harry tries to get Dippets attention, but Dippet shows no reaction. So, fearing Dippet might be deaf, Harry speaks louder. How dense are you, oh "chosen one?" Deaf is deaf unless in England, deaf means "old fart who is hard of hearing."


Riddle mentions to Dippet that he is half-blood: muggle father and witch mother. It's interesting that in Half-blood Prince, the 6th book, that the real Half-blood Prince also had a muggle father and witch mother. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the only use of the words "half-blood" in the series until the 6th book.

How good are you?

Alright you Gryffindorks, lets see how good you are at solving plot elements. As we've already mentioned, several clues in this book lead us to the conclusion that the monster in the chamber of secrets is some kind of serpent. Harry, being a thick 12-year-old believes Riddles version that it was Hagrid's spider that killed the girl. Don't fall for the smoke and mirrors, readers, stick to the facts!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapter 11


Harry, Ron, and Hermione have had some good experience playing detective after they solved some of the mysteries in Sorcerer's Stone. They may be getting over-confident. Ron especially is quick to jump to conclusions, but usually the wrong ones. When it comes to detective work, it's usually Hermione or Harry who come to the right conclusions. I think Ron may be getting a little jealous of Hermione and Harry, but I also think it may be an attempt to prove to Harry that he's not a stupid sidekick. Another theory is that this may be an unconscious attempt to impress Hermione. Throughout the series we get little hints that there may be feelings between the two, but this is perhaps the earliest clue we get.

I'm right. You're wrong.

Even though our little trio are only 12, we see some teenage mentality coming out already. I'm talking specifically about their lack of faith in the ability of adults. They somehow think they know more than the faculty do about what's going on at Hogwarts. Here are a couple of examples: When asked about the disembodied voices, Harry lies to Lockhart and to Snape/Dumbledore/McGonagall. The trio also are certain Draco is the heir of Slytherin and rather than finding an adult, they decide to break into Snapes storecupboard to get incredients to make polyjuice potion.

Shouldn't the Ministry be involved?

When Hagrid was at Hogwarts, he had his wand snapped during his third year by the ministry. You should have figured out by now that Hagrid's wand in concealed in his umbrella. In this chapter, Hagrid has to ask Dumbledore for permission to put a charm around the hen coop. Does this mean that Dumbledore knows that Hagrid can still use his wand? That wouldn't surprise me. Dumbledore's been known to disregard the authority of the minisitry. Shouldn't Hagrid have to ask permission from the ministry to use magic since they were the ones who snapped his wand? Leave it to Dumbledore to do things his own way.

That Muggle-loving fool

At the end of the chapter when McGonagall takes Harry to Dumbledore's office, she says the password which is "Lemon Drop." If you will recall, I mentioned way back in the first chapter of Sorcerer's Stone that the fact that Dumbledore likes lemon drops is a metaphor for is unpredjudiced feelings toward muggles. His password is just another subtle reminder of that fact. I will keep bringing up these clues along the way. I think Rowling purposely places these small reminders along the way because this becomes a huge issue later in the series for Dumbledore, the ministry, and Voldemort.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapter 10

Pre-pubescent little puke

In this chapter, Harry finds himself in a mess after being smashed in the arm by a rogue bludger. One thing about Harry that is impressive is how he handles pain. Despite having his arm broken, he still manages to capture the snitch. As a 12-year-old, I would have been in the fetal position on the ground in tears. I think this resilience to physical pain was brought on by the years of physical neglect he endured from the Dursleys.

Someone needs to learn their anatomy

While Harry is in the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey tells Harry she has 33 bones to regrow in his arm. News flash, Poppy. There are only 30 bones in the human arm: humerus, radius, ulna, 8 carpal (wrist) bones, 5 metacarpal (hand) bones, and 14 phalanges (finger bones). By my count, that's 30. Even if you include the scapula and clavical as arm bones, that's only 32. Therefore, I can draw a few conclusions. Either Madam Pomfrey doesn't know her anatomy, J.K. Rowling doesn't know her anatomy, or Harry ended up with a few extra bones in his new arm.

Class system

So Dobby pays Harry a visit in the hospital wing. In their discussion, Dobby recounts his experience under Voldemort's rule when Voldemort was in power. This is the first time we see a definite class system in the wizard world. By Voldemort, at least, creatures with human or near-human intellegence were looked upon as inferior beings. I'm not sure if Rowling was drawing from stories of Nazi Germany, but it sounds pretty similar to Hitler and his Nazi regime.

Dobby also mentions to Harry that at home, he is treated like vermin. This is a good clue as to the family Dobby serves. This wouldn't be just any wizarding family. The fact that Dobby is treated so poorly is a good hint that his owner is a Voldemort supporter since under Voldemort's regime, house elves were treated the worst.

Powerful Magic of their own

I've already mentioned that house elves have powerful magic of their own. In this chapter, we get a few good examples of just how powerful that magic is. Normal wizards cannot apparate or disapparate within the walls of Hogwarts, but Dobby is able to do so. Dobby was also able to seal the barrier to platform 9 3/4 and bewitch a bludger to chase only Harry. I think the wizarding world underestimates the ability of house elves. Dobby's family certainly does. Otherwise, they'd keep closer tabs on him, preventing him from visiting Harry.

He knows. He always knows.

At the end of this chapter, Dumbledore states that the question surrounding the Chamber of Secrets is not who opened it, but how. This means Dumbledore knows who opened it last time, but is puzzled by how that same person could open it nearly 50 years later; and this, I think, scares Dumbledore more than he lets on.

Answers to the last quiz

1.) What is the incantation that goes with the movements "Swish and Flick?"

A.) Petrificus Totalis

B.) Aquamenti

C.) Wingardium Leviosa

D.) Expelliarmus

E.) Avada Kedavra

The movements for this spell are mentioned in Sorcerer's Stone.

2.) What is the spell Ron uses on Scabbers in Sorcerer's Stone?

A.) Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

B.) Rainbow, daisies, sunshine mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

C.) Sunflower, daisies, butter yellow, turn this stupid fat thing yellow!

D.) Sunbeams, daisies, butter yellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

E.) Avada Kedavra

Ron tries this spell out on his journey to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express.

3.) Which of these spells is used in the Harry Potter movies, but not in the books?

A.) Aquamenti

B.) Bombarda

C.) Point me

D.) Riddikulus

E.) Avada Kedavra

This spell was never used in the books, but was used by Hermione in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie to break down the Astronomy tower door. A variation of this spell, Bombarda Maxima, was used by Professor Umbridge to break into the Room of Requirement in the Order of the Phoenix movie.

4.) What is the incantation Gilderoy Lockhart uses against the Cornish Pixies?

A.) Peksipiksi Pesternomi

B.) Peskipiksi Pesternomi

C.) Peskipiksi Pesternami

D.) Peksipiksi Pesternami

E.) Avada Kedavra

Pesky + Pixie + Pester + No + Me

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapters 8 - 9

The Squib

So now we know why Filch is so nasty to students. He's the exact opposite of a muggle-born wizard. He was born to a witch and wizard, but has no magical ability. I'm guessing that there are very few jobs available to squibs in the wizarding world, so for some reason, Filch chose to take a crummy job in the wizarding world as opposed to work in the muggle world.

One thing I noticed in Chapter 8 that I had never noticed before is something that is critical to Book 6. Ever wonder how the Vanishing Cabinet got damaged in the first placed that caused Draco so much trouble in repairing it? We found out in this chapter that Nearly-headless Nick put Peeves up to dropping it over Filch's office. I never noticed that before.

Time line

In this chapter, we again get an exact date of reference so we know in what time this story takes place. Since Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington died in 1492, and he is celebrating his 500th deathday, then that must mean that Harry's second year takes place in 1992. If this is true and Harry turned 12 on July 31, then that means he was born in 1980 and that if he really lived now, he would have just celebrated his 29th birthday.

The Chamber of Secrets

So this is what the story is about. Apparently, there's some secret chamber inside the castle built by Salazar Slytherin. Didn't we just learn about a secret chamber hiding the Sorcerer's Stone? How many secret chambers are there in Hogwarts? We learn in this chapter the reason behind the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry in school. Okay detectives, if you're sharp, you should be able to figure out what kind of monster is hidden inside the chamber by now. Think about it. First, Salazar Slytherin's house color is green. Second, his name is Slytherin. What kind of animal slithers? Third, the Slytherin house mascot is a snake. If that doesn't give it away right there...