The Harry Potter Reread is thinking about an art project where we recreate the books via GIFs from various popular tv shows… that’s a lie, that project was never considered, though it does sound like the sort of creepy thing that might crop up fifty years from now in a Harry Potter Museum of some sort.
This week we finally get to see the inside of a wizard home! We meet Gilderoy Lockhart! Throw some gnomes around! Also, there’s a flying Ford Anglia, which is a super classy way to travel. We’re on chapters 3 and 4 of The Chamber of Secrets—The Burrow and Flourish and Blotts.
Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.
Chapter 3—The Burrow
Ron shows up at Harry’s window in a flying car with Fred and George at the wheel. They yank the bars off of Harry’s windows, nab his stuff, and fly him away from the Dursleys to their home, The Burrow. (This after telling him that he shouldn’t put much stock in what that house-elf said, since they can apparently only do magic with their master’s permission.) Molly Weasley finds out what they’ve done and tells her boys off, then tells off her husband Arthur Weasley for enchanting the car to fly in the first place. Arthur works for the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts department at the Ministry of Magic, and has been conducting raids on wizarding homes of late. Harry helps the boys de-gnome the garden, which involves whipping the little guys over your head until they get dizzy and then throwing them.
Ginny, Ron’s sister, seems to have developed a crush on Harry, and will not speak to him at all. Ron’s brother Percy largely keeps himself locked away in his room. Harry and Ron get their letters from Hogwarts and a letter from Hermione suggesting that they meet up to get their school books together at Diagon Alley. They have been advised to get a set of books by a man named Gilderoy Lockhart.
Harry is completely enchanted by Ron’s home, full of magical implements and mess, nothing like the Dursleys polished, proper residence.
The Weasley twins are so perfect sometimes you just want to cry. They should have their own wizarding heist team—Weasley’s Eleven. I had forgotten that Fred and George boned up on proper muggle skills, like lock-picking (totally proper skill). It’s sweet because it makes them like their dad, just more practical about their views of the muggle world. With logical thinking like that, it’s no wonder they make great businessmen.
(Quick note: the car being a Ford Anglia was in honor of Sean P.F. Harris, to whom this book is dedicated; Rowling said that he had the same car, and they spent a great deal of time in it, escaping some rough times in life.)
We find out about Arthur’s job while they’re driving back to the Burrow, but it’s sort of an awkward info dump—for the whole year that Harry and Ron knew each other, Harry never asked Ron what his dad did for a living? That seems unlikely. I’d also forgotten that Fred and George make mention that their mom wishes she had a house-elf to help around the house. It’s so ubiquitous that even kind people like the Weasleys would see nothing wrong in having one. *shudder*
This is one of the best reintroductions to a character ever:
Mrs. Weasley was marching across the yard, scattering chickens, and for a short, plump, kind-faced woman, it was remarkable how much she looked like a saber-toothed tiger.
“Ah,” said Fred.
“Oh, dear,” said George.
A couple of set-ups take place here, some less important than others. We do eventually find out that Percy’s secretiveness is due to his having a girlfriend he is communicating with all summer. But yet again, like the first book, we find Percy spending all of his time deliberately separating himself from the family, a clue-in on what’s coming. We also get the first glimpses of Ginny Weasley’s crush on Harry, which is unfortunate in many ways. I think some fans really couldn’t divorce little star-struck eleven-year-old Ginny with the woman she becomes. And she’s not even really that timid to begin with—Ron is first to tell Harry that normally Ginny “never shuts up.” It’s just swift phase that she quickly grows out of.
The de-gnoming is unsettling, even if it’s meant to be funny. It’s sort of abusive, though I assume that gnomes are pretty hearty and not actually hurt by the tossing. It would be nice to know exactly what they do to gardens that makes them pests. It looks like they dig holes? I do love that Harry’s sensibilities align so clearly with the Weasley family, however. Rowling makes mention that their untidy, rambling garden is exactly what Harry thinks gardens should be like, though the Dursleys would hate it. Harry knows he belongs with these people—they make him feel at home in every sense.
And still, Ron’s need to apologize for his family is practically pathological. Knowing how the Dursleys have treated Harry, he is still afraid that Harry will think poorly of his family and his home. Kid has got a real complex.
The touches all around the Weasley house are excellent, from the titles of Molly’s cookbooks to the clock that reads what needs doing rather than the time of day. The house may be ramshackle, but the way that Rowling describes it instantly gives one the feeling of being well-loved. And that’s the Weasleys all over.
Chapter 4—Flourish and Blotts
Harry enjoys his days at the Burrow, but time comes for them to journey to London for their school supplies. They are traveling there by floo powder, which Harry knows nothing about. He mismanages it and ends up in a shop in Knockturn Alley, a place full of dark magic and evil-looking items. Harry hides as Draco and his father Lucius arrive to sell some items from Malfoy Manor in case the Ministry decides to raid their home. Draco is complaining about Harry all the while.
Harry finally gets rescued from Knockturn by Hagrid, who claims to be there buying some flesh-eating slug repellant. He gets Harry to Diagon Alley, where he meets back up with the Weasleys and Grangers. Arthur Wealsey is fascinated by Hermione’s muggle parents and takes them away for drinks. Harry, Ron and Hermione go exploring for a bit, then meet back with everyone to get their school books.
At Flourish and Blotts, Gilderoy Lockhart himself is having a signing for his autobiography. When he spots Harry, he immediately pulls him up for a photograph, insisting that the two of them could make the front page of the newspaper. He offers Harry his works for free, then makes an announcement that he will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts this year. Draco shows up there and makes fun of Harry for being a spotlight hog. Ginny rushes to his defense, as Lucius and Arthur start exchanging words. Lucius Malfoy gets rude and a fight ensues between he and Arthur in the shop. As Molly scolds Arthur for the fight, they all head home.
So… traveling by floo powder sounds terrifying. How the heck do you get kids to do it right the first time? It seems utterly baffling.
Harry landing right in Knockturn Alley is a great twist, and allows us an earlier glimpse at the seedy side of the wizarding world. Our introduction to Lucius Malfoy is telling—he’s clearly a nasty customer, but he has none of Draco’s whine and whimper. He feels powerful and he expects others to treat him that way. Draco understandably expects the same because he is his father’s son—which handily explains why he never. stops. whinging. about Harry. Wow, Draco. You need to get a hobby or something. You're only twelve, there should be other thoughts to occupy your time. Daddy thinks so too. (Which is probably why Draco clearly favors his mother.)
Got a great set-up with Hagrid, hinting at the possibility that he might be doing wrong hanging out in Knockturn Alley, which is the biggest red herring of the entire book. Arthur’s fascination with Hermione’s parents is adorable, as is Harry’s eagerness to buy his friends ice cream. (I want strawberry peanut butter ice cream now, thanks Rowling.) I do wonder why the Weasleys need to buy Ginny second-hand books at all for first year. Unless they changed the list, couldn’t she use Ron’s? Whose books probably belonged to his brothers before him?
And then Lockhart. Poor Hermione, she’s so excited to meet the guy who authored the books, and they’re faced with Gilderoy in all his forget-me-not blues. Rowling makes it quite clear exactly what we can expect from Lockhart in a few sentences of description, and his appeal to middle-aged housewives is likely meant to give you that daytime television vibe. Of course, then the Malfoys turn up and start snarking and—
I just love that this happens at all. In retrospect, we should all realize that something’s off about this; Lucius Malfoy is so perfectly in control when we first meet him, how could that man allow himself to start a brawl with someone he considers so beneath him? It’s just subtle enough. And when the reveal comes at the end of the book that this was the cover for him slipping Ginny Tom Riddle’s diary, it’s just too perfect. Such smart plotting. With the added bonus of DAD FIGHT.
Do you think Arthur Weasley tugged at Lucius Malfoy’s perfect tresses? I do hope so.