Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Chapter Six

by thethreepennyguignol

Well, we’re back – back where we belong, knee-deep in a big, juicy pile of fantasy fiction and childhood nostalgia. Sorry for the break in recaps, but I’m back on a roll now, and hey, if you want something to make up for it, the first part of my new erotica series is free on Amazon for download right now. To the recap!

We left off last time with Harry picking up all his supplies from Diagon Alley and returning to the Dursleys for a month before school begins – I have to say, it’s a weird drop in momentum to have him just wander off from the magical world for a while, but it doesn’t take long for him to get dumped at King’s Cross Station with all his belongings. He swiftly realizes that he’s got no clue where Platform Nine and Three Quarters is, and starts to panic until he hears someone pass by him talking about Muggles.

And hear we meet the Weasleys for the first time, who are kind of secretly the fictional family who most remind me of my own. And it’s a testament to JK’s writing that, even though this is literally a family full of wizards and witches, she managed to ground them in such a way to make them feel relatable: the eccentric, overenthusiastic and single-minded father, the brisk but compassionate mother, the kids ranging from wildly confident and successful to also Ron, I guess.

Harry approaches Mrs Weasley (the only person in this book who even gets close to Hagrid in terms of crush-level) and she guides him on to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. And just like that, we’re in the wizarding world proper, where we’ll be spending the rest of the book. And man, reading this again, it’s no wonder that so many kids (yes, me included) were waiting on their eleventh birthdays for their letters from Hogwarts, because JK just makes it all sound so bloody appealing:

“Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowds, while cats of every colour wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to each other in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks…”

We catch a glimpse of Neville Longbottom and Lee Jordan as the Weasleys help Harry load his stuff on to the train, and this world already feels so full. I can remember reading this book for the first time, before I’d seen any of the movies, and knowing exactly how this scene looked, how it felt – the excitement, the profound weirdness, the thrill of being privy to something so secret and so normal all at once. Entering this world with Harry feels like a gift, someone beckoning you through a door and into the best surprise party of your life, and I just love coming back here, even after all these years.

Fred and George Weasley recognize Harry’s scar at once:

“Blimey,” said the other twin. “Are you-?”

“He is,” said the first twin. “Aren’t you?”

I think that the series explores really interestingly the impact that being a symbol for the death of a violent fascist regime has on Harry as an individual and in leading the war against Voldemort once he returns, but most of that is in the later books for obvious reasons. Still, I think the way that Molly reacts upon finding out who Harry is fills in some of the blanks about his place in wizarding history, especially for the older generation who lived through Voldemort’s reign as adults:

“Do you think he remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?”

Their mother suddenly became very stern.

“I forbid you to ask him that, Fred. No, don’t you dare. As if he needs reminding of that on the first day of school…”

I think it’s interesting to see her reaction here, and the reaction of her family. It seems like a lot of the adult wizarding world feel some guilt for what happened to Harry, and that his loss was ultimately the gain of the rest of their community so his great tragedy is their victory. But the younger generation has just grown up knowing that his actions, somehow, changed the world, and they can only see that as a thrill, something to celebrate, unable to grasp the reality of what Harry was forced to endure as a result of Voldemort’s actions. Indeed, after Ron joins Harry in his carriage, Harry mentions Voldemort’s name and Ron’s reaction says a lot:

“”You said You-Know-Who’s name!” said Ron, sounding both shocked and impressed. “I would have thought you, of all people-”

Harry is a legend within the wizarding world, almost more a myth to people of his own generation than a real person. As I mentioned above, this is something better explored as the books go on, but it’s a really interesting concept and I think Rowling does well balancing this aspect of his personality with his genuine humbleness so he doesn’t become too much of an Tortured Anime Chosen One Leading Man-type. Can you tell I’ve been watching Neon Genesis Evangelion again? Anyway.

Harry buys up a load of sweeties from the food cart on the train, and shares them with Ron – there are a few hints here that Ron’s family don’t have a lot of money to go around their large family, and I appreciate the effort in making a working-class family arguably the most functional and loving of the whole book.

Hermione rocks up for the first time, helping Neville find his lost toad (man, does Hermione spend a lot of time helping out hapless male oafs in this series, but I digress). It’s a brief appearance, wherein she reveals that she’s already been pulling off spells and has learned all the set reading by heart, but man, it’s good to finally have the only person other than Lisa Simpson who is such an utterly perfect representation of myself in the books once more.

Ron mentions that someone tried to steal something from a secret vault in Gringotts, seeding some of the Quirrel plot for later in the book, and then Malfoy rocks up to try and make a good impression on Harry now that he knows who he is:

“You’ll soon find out that some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”

He held out his hand to shake Harry’s, but Harry didn’t take it.

“I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks,” he replied coolly.”

SICK BURN. Malfoy starts some shit with Harry about his parents hanging out with the wrong type and winding up dead for their trouble, which is pretty fucking brutal to be honest, but Scabbers (Ron’s rat/the villain of the third book) takes a chunk out of one of his cronies and they scurry off. Again, just more great world-building, with the class system established within the wizarding community – and the impact of Voldemort’s reign mentioned once more, as Ron explains that the Malfoys were working with Voldemort and later denied conscious involvement with his cause. There’s a lot of Voldemort in this chapter, the weight of him hanging over Harry’s entry into his new life. Harry and Voldemort are intimately entwined, whether Harry really understands why or not, and it’s a subtle but doom-laden portent for what’s to come for Harry across the series – and in this book too, of course. Also, this scene launched a thousand Drarry ships into the deep, dark night so, you know, that too.

The train arrives at Hogwarts, and Hagrid (#BaeOfGiants2K18) is there to greet the first-years. They take boats across the lake towards the castle (and also return Neville’s toad to him, because animals, like me, are drawn to his raw sexual energy), and Hagrid knocks on the door to let them inside.

And that’s where we leave off for this chapter! Thanks for bearing with me over this break. If you enjoyed this recap and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon! You can also find more of my writing on my film site, No But Listen.

(header image courtesy of Gizmodo)