Thu
Jun 12 2014 1:00pm

The Harry Potter Reread: The Chamber of Secrets, Chapters 3 and 4

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

Summary

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.

Commentary

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.

<3

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

Summary

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.

Commentary

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—

DAD FIGHT

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.


Emily Asher-Perrin cannot believe they left the brawl out of the movie. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

59 comments
Chris Nelly
1. Aeryl
They had to buy Lockhart's books secondhand, as each child needed a complete set. Harry kindly gave the free ones Lockhart gave him to Ginny, as he has the money to buy them.
Sophist
2. Sophist
The Weasley twins are so perfect sometimes you just want to cry.

Really? I think the twins are jerks much of the time. Practical jokes? NOT FUNNY. They're part of the horror of school, especially at this age.

The set up at Borgin & Burkes is pretty impressive, considering how the items Harry sees there get used in HBP.
Emily Asher-Perrin
3. EmilyAP
@Aeryl - They are buying all of Ginny's books secondhand to my knowledge; Lucius Malfoy pulls a beginner's transfiguration guide out of Ginny's cauldron, not one of Lockhart's books.
Sophist
4. Random22
I agree with Sophist, the Weasley twins are nightmares as far as any students not in their clique are concerned. I'm putting the blame for Percy's desire to be Not-A-Weasely 100% (okay, maybe 85%) on them. Hell, if I had them for siblings I'd be wanting out of the family too. The Weasley kids can be broken down into the two older ones who didn't have to deal with their shit due to the age difference, the guy immediatly older who wants the hell away from them, the guy immediatly under them who has an inferiority complex a mile wide, and the girl one who grew up after the twins were mostly at school.
Adam S.
5. MDNY
Chapter 3: Just perfect. The fliying car was great- though I have long wondered why the heck it was a Ford Anglia, so thanks for that info, Emily.
Fred and George are awesome, I try to model my older brothering on them, and NOT on Percy. The gnome abuse never really upset me at all. Remember that Harry at first felt bad for them, then one bit him and he flung it really far and got into the whole thing. The gnomes always wander back into the Burrow anyway (we see one wobbling his way back, I believe, don't have the book on me), because Arthur likes them and treats them so well. I get the sense that they're pretty tough and resilient, and no lasting harm comes from the lawn clearing.
The Burrow is amazing, I love the little details like the chickens, or the fact that it would clearly fall over if it wasn't magically held together, or the back yard infested with gnomes and filled with strange plants, or the homey touch of boots by the door.
Arthur and Molley are each adorable in their own way. Arthur's got to be one of the worst people in the world at his job, considering he works in an office specifically devoted to stopping wizards who pursue his biggest hobby. As the flying Ford illustrates quite nicely.
Chapter 4- Yeah, floo powder doesn't sound like a lot of fun (it sounds even less so when the Weasleys attempt to use it to get to Privet Drive later in the series, and I'm not all that claustrophobic).
Gilderoy Lockhart is a total caricature, but in the very traditional sense of Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens. He's hilarious, totally self-absorbed and actually a complete failure in real life, but he gets by on his good looks (and his good memory charms).
Paul Rando
6. SerDragonReborn
I can't help but wonder, because I don't remember, if they ever mentioned Arthur's car-tinkering as a misuse of Muggle artifacts? Does he get special permission to misuse Muggle artifacts because he works for the Ministry?

You mentioned the perfect plotting--how true that is! That's what makes CoS one of my absolute favorites (the entire series is 'one of my favorites' but obviously there are some I like slightly more than the others).
Thomas Thatcher
7. StrongDreams
@6,
I recall Arthur does get told off by his boss. However, I also recall that, being the one who writes the rules, he is able to classify a lot of his own interests as "legitimate research" or some such. Which is, of course, yet another example of political corruption in the ministry, although more benign than most of what we later encounter.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
8. Lisamarie
Wow, I never realized so many people had that strong of an opinion on the Weasleys. I feel that way about Sirius/James, but the twins always seemed a bit more good-hearted, and I viewed their jokes as mostly funny, and not actually out to ridicule or make somebody feel bad. They were always quick to help (like helping Harry with his luggage in the vfirst book) too...I always personally really liked them.

Floo powder sounds totally horrifying. Is there anyway to trace it? What if some little kid ends up halfway across the country?

I also thought the de-gnoming was a bit mean, but overall agreed that they are probably not actually hurt by the procedure...although I do wonder what happens to the ones where there is no Arthur Weasley to dote on them. They seem more or less sentient.

I have more to say about Hermione and Lockhart, but I'll get to that wen we get there :)
Sophist
9. Sophist
I feel that way about Sirius/James

Their behavior was problematic, but 2 points about it: (1) I suspect Snape, who was no prize himself at that age, gave as good as he got; and (2) while we see James do bad things, we see them through Snape's eyes and he's hardly an objective source.
Don Barkauskas
10. bad_platypus
SerDragonReborn @6: In Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's argument, he notes the law has a loophole that as long as he didn't intend to actually fly the car, the modifications are perfectly legal. Mrs. Weasley than accuses him of deliberately writing the loophole into the law to allow for his tinkering.

Side note 1: When my parents first got an in-car navigation system, they named it "Mrs. Weasley" because they needed a name for a female voice that kept telling them what to do. :-)

Side note 2: Two spellcheck-proof typos: "leaving" should be "living" and "recused" should (presumably) by "rescued."
Sophist
11. Dr Batman
Pratical jokes lose a bit of their horrendousness when you go to a school that contains poltergeists, killer trees, and is surrounded by a forest of giant spiders. I'm reasonably sure Fred and George never utilize pranks to cause anyone harm, I think some folks are being a little tough on them.
Chris Nelly
12. Aeryl
And Ginny's only three years younger than the twins, they were around her entire childhood. And don't forget how protective of her they are, like when Percy's badgering her a bit.

They aren't mean spirited, though yes they can be a pain in the ass to authority and bookworms like Hermione(and I do think they were out of line testing their stuff on first years, testing it on themselves is NOWHERE near a large enough sample size to determine if the effects are harmless)

Oh, wow, now my mind has gone down the rabbit hole of wondering if there are wizarding allergies? Like someone could allergic to newt's eyes, and if they ingest a potion with it, they'd need a bezoar like an epi pen or something.
Sophist
13. Gregor Lewis
Ah! The Burrow...

Such an apt name for the Weasleys' home...
...for the core of their integrity is deep.

And it's all Heart.

It makes me cry when Harry FEELS that.

grl
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
14. Lisamarie
@9 - I didn't say I thought Snape was awesome or anything. But it doesn't excuse Sirius and James' behavior.

Also, while James did at least seem to mature (from what we see), I still thought Sirius was really irritating even as an adult. Which may be understandable given that he never really had a chance to grow up, being in Azkaban during formative years, but...I never really liked him as a character, much.
Sophist
15. Amaryllis
I abominate practical jokes and practical jokesters.

I adore the Weasley twins.

Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself.

In, I believe, the next book, Arthur Weasley calls out Harry on a piece of evasiveness by referring to himself as "the man who raised Fred and George." I always felt that it was not the least of his accomplishments, and Molly's too of course, that Fred and George grew up to be reputable businessmen instead of criminal masterminds.
Sophist
16. Sophist
I agree that Snape's character doesn't excuse what James and Sirius did. I'm not a Sirius fan either. One of my biggest criticisms of the series is how underdeveloped Harry's sudden affection for Sirius is.
Emily Asher-Perrin
17. EmilyAP
Agreed on the Weasley twins' pranks not being particularly harmful, for sure. Some of their practices might be what you'd call questionable, but to me, this is entirely offset by the fact the Fred and George are incredibly loving people. I'd say, outwardly, the most loving of all the Weasleys excepting Molly. They are helpful, kind, and affectionate to anyone who seems to deserve it. They razz people, but they're not cruel. Saying that they might have driven Percy to anything seems unfair; at the heart of Percy's character is a desire for power, which is the ultimate reason for leaving his family behind. Percy has some real issues, sort of an extreme version of Ron's embarrassment at their family.

@Aeryl - Wizard allergies? I really want this to be a thing now.

@bad_platypus - Thank you for the typos!

It was also pointed out to me via Twitter that Ron seems to need his First Year books again for continuing studies, although I'm still not sure this solves the weirdness of needing to buy Ginny's books again - ostensibly Fred and George needed a double set, so there should still be more of them lying around?
Sophist
18. Sophist
The twins are pretty hard on Ron. He's not my favorite either, but he doesn't need to be teased by his brothers. And whether mean spirited or not, ANY jokes at the expense of kids like Neville is inexcusable.
Chris Nelly
19. Aeryl
Maybe the Beginner's Guide to Transformation covers all their pre-OWL levels?
Sophist
20. SKM
@11--Didn't they shove another student into a broken vanishing cabinet for trying to dock house points from them at one point? IIRC, the student was trapped in there for over a month...
Paul Rando
21. SerDragonReborn
@7, 11

Thanks for clearing that up, I'd forgotten! And yeah, it's indicative of some political corruption even in the beloved Weasley family.But I think we're all willing to let it slide because Mr. Weasley is so very, very lovable and could not have possible forseen how the car would end up being used...unless he has Divination powers. But if he does, well, I like to think he'd have made it anyway, so his sons could save Harry from the injustice of being locked away.

Also, it means the twins didn't pull their tricksy nature out of thin air--it runs in the family!
Chris Nelly
22. Aeryl
What's interesting to me is what Molly says, that she and Arthur were going to check on Harry this weekend anyways.

What were they gonna do?
Sophist
23. Bonneykate
I hate to be "that guy" but there is one more typo:

"then meet back with everyone to get there school books". Should be "their school books"?

I am adoring this reread. Thanks so much, Emily
Matthew Glover
24. themightysven
The Beginner's guide to Transfiguration covers the first two years, so Ginny needs her own. If you look at the list the only new book the second years need (aside from Lockhart's collected works) is the Standard book of Spells, grade 2, so all the other books are still in use. It's been almost a year since I read the series (always start in July), and I can't tell if it's a good thing or not that I remember that.
Sophist
26. Bonneykate
Also, just noticed that your signoff at the end of every post is different, Emily. Then I had to go back and reread all the previous posts' signoffs. Fun little easter egg.
Sophist
27. Kaeleigh
I always figured that kids learned how to floo by starting with their parents and then practicing flooing to the next fireplace (probably the neighbors) or something. Or there being a way to set the floo to go to only certain fireplaces for a set amount of time and having the kids practice flooing to relatives' houses.
Sophist
28. Dr. Cox
Interesting post and comments on the Weasley twins . . . I was reminded of the scene in which Harry sees them talking consolingly to a younger child who'd been severely punished by Umbridge.
Sophist
29. Masha
"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."

From what I remember about being that age, this was perfectly possible :) I remember my parents asking me all kinds of things about my friends that I was unable to answer (like what their surnames are!) because they were the kinds of things only adults find interesting. Maybe I was odd, but adult things like what jobs my friends parents did, were simply not part of my world.
Sophist
30. Masha
Sorry for off topic post - I have a question about the commenting system. My previous post I had my name as "Masha du Toit" and I got an error message "please choose a different name as your alias Mash du Toit is in use"

What does that mean? I'd like to post under my full name if possible, not sure why it's stopping me?
Birgit
31. birgit
Ginny could use the books of the brothers who already left school if the others still need theirs. If they are still using the same potions book Snape used when he was at school there aren't likely to be new books in other subjects (except Lockhart's self-promotion).

Isn't Harry hiding in the Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin & Burkes? Why is he not vanishing?
Thomas Stessl
32. tommythecat
@18

Actually, being an older brother myself, it is their duty as older brothers to tease the hell out of their younger siblings. ;)
Ian Gazzotti
33. Atrus
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.

Why? I was never interested in my friends' parents when I was a kid. "What does your father do for a living" is the kind of information that is usually only interesting to the parents themselves.
Unless the answer is "astronaut" or "librarian", that is.
Kit Case
34. wiredog
Masha @30
Presumably someone else has already registered the username "Masha du Toit".
David Levinson
35. DemetriosX
I'm another who hates practical jokes, yet loves Fred and George. As others have noted, unlike most practical jokers, they are never really meanspirited. Their targets tend to be people like Percy rather than people like Neville, who would normally be the butt of such jokes. As their younger brother, Ron is a special case. They aren't perfect, but they have definitely absorbed the Weasley family values.

This isn't the first we see of Ginny's crush on Harry. She rather gushes over him in the first book. I think she might even be the first to realize who he is at the train station. Now that was more hero worship, and it is now giving way to something a little different, but it's not completely new.

There's a lot of great characterization in these chapters. Ron's embarrassment at his family (partiularly their size, level of wealth, and living conditions, all of which are outside of wizarding norms) is something that will plague him throughout the series. Hagrid's presence in Diagon Alley connects back to things like his acquisition of Norbert and as we will eventually learn his life between his expulsion and Dumbledore making him gamekeeper probably brought him into contact with the seedier side of the wizarding world. Gilderoy Lockhart is a very Dahlesque character (though he acquires some depth by the end of the book). The foreshadowing with Percy as someone already mentioned. There's so much just in these two chapters.
Bridget McGovern
36. BMcGovern
Masha@30: It seems that there's already an account registered in your name (and the same email address you're using to comment now; username: Mashadu), but it's been inactive for several years. You can request a new password by clicking the "forgot password" option in the Log In box at the top of the page if you'd like to sign in and use your account. You can also contact webmaster@tor.com for further help or any other account questions--that's the best way to get in touch with us about account/commenting issues or problems using the site. Thanks!
Kit Case
37. wiredog
I think Ron is based closely on someone Rowling knew. Or possibly herself. Exaggerated a bit, but not too much.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
38. Lisamarie
I agree that the Vanishing Cabinet 'punishment' for the Slytherin prefect (or was he part of Umbridge's army?) was pretty harsh, and that actually always seemed to be a bit of a dark off note to me.

As for Harry in this chapter, if I remember correctly, Draco had to fix the other one to get it to work. Great foreshadowing though! Was it intenentional, or just serendipitous?

My favorite character-building Weasley moment is actually in the first book, when they force Percy to sit with the family on Christmas. I also have a large family (well, only one sibling, but lots and lots of aunts, uncles, cousins and children of cousins) but now live in another state, and so I really miss those big family dinners.

I actually do enjoy practical jokes a bit too and have been known to play a few - but, I only like jokes that a)the fooling only lasts for a few moments, b)the fooling doesn't cause any serious fear or pain and c)the fooling doesn't cause any damage or a serious amount of wasted time (or you clean up after yourself). And of course, the intent is not to make somebody look/feel bad, stupid or foolish.
Chris Nelly
39. Aeryl
My understanding of the Vanishing Cabinet, is that you vanish. If someone looked in the cabinet for you, they wouldn't see you.

The Hogwarts Vanishing Cabinet doesn't get damaged for a few more chapters, Peeves shatters it, and NHNick's request to rescue Harry from Filch.

So it was "repaired" but wasn't quite functional, as once you vanished inside it, you couldn't step back out. Now, were F&G aware of this when they shoved Montague inside it?
Emily Asher-Perrin
40. EmilyAP
@Bonneykate - Thanks so much!

@wiredog - Rowling has actually said that the character based most on herself is Hermione all over. But I'm sure Ron has plenty of traits drawn from friends she loved.

In regard to Harry not caring about what Arthur's job might be, I'd agree that kids generally don't care. On the other hand, Harry knows nothing about the wizarding world and is completely fascinated for the first few books with everything. He has no idea what kind of jobs wizards can even have. With that in mind, I'd have expected him to ask sooner.
Sophist
41. Sophist
Isn't Harry hiding in the Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin & Burkes? Why is he not vanishing?


I assume that's because he didn't close the door entirely.
Thomas Thatcher
42. StrongDreams
@Vanishing cabinets,
It's never really clear how one cabinet alone is supposed to work. Two cabinets make a passage (but is it any two or just those two), but how does one work? If you hide in it to avoid trouble, where do you go? How are you retrieved? If you can't reappear by yourself (as seems evident from someone getting lost in one), then you need an outside helper, but who? Is there a secret knock or wand tap, or does it simply alternate ever time someone opens the door (there-gone-there-gone-etc). But in any of those cases, it wouldn't really be a good hiding place once someone knows the trick of opening it.
Chris Nelly
43. Aeryl
@42
If you hide in it to avoid trouble, where do you go?

Into non-being, according to Professor MacGonagall.

So I don't see why you couldn't just walk back out of it. It's only when it was broken that Montague couldn't leave it.

Now I don't know that the fact that you can make a path between them is common knowledge. Hogwarts has all sorts of magical protection to prevent unathorized entry, also having the Vanishing Cabinet that could just allow someone to walk into the school, means none of that matters.

So, finding out you can make a path is new knowledge about them that Draco gleans from Montague(probably explaining Dumbledore's pleased expression, he always loves it when people learn).
Chris Nelly
44. Aeryl
And Harry did vanish, just not to himself. If Draco opened the cabinet Harry wouldn't have been there for him to see, but the doesn't mean Harry doesn't still feel aware of himself.
JoeNotCharles
45. JoeNotCharles
It's possible some of the "beginner's" books are used in both first and second year - I had a bunch of courses like that in grade school, where we'd get a textbook one year and only get through the first half of it. Which would mean Ron is still using his so Ginny needs to replace it. If there were 2 years between all the other children (and the twins shared when they were in the same classes) then they would have been able to reuse books like that until now so they wouldn't actually have a second copy.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
46. Lisamarie
Hmm, I always assumed that the Vanishing Cabinets were intended to be in pairs and that they wouldn't do anything if both cabinets weren't functional - but I could definitely be misremembering and confusing the timelines as well (including the timeline of when it was broken, vs. Montague getting shoved in). But that is an interesting tidbit that Draco basically discovers this for himself based on what happens to Montague.
Chris Nelly
47. Aeryl
Dumbledore acts surprised, so he apparently didn't know, or else why allow a functional Vanishing Cabinet that allowed access from a shop with known Dark Magic dealings inside the school?
Lauren Sibley
48. Yuallica
The way I read it, Harry didn't Vanish because he left the door open slightly to spy on Malfoy. If he had shut it properly, he would have gone to the one in Hogwarts- which isn't broken until later this year.

As for children learning to floo, I imagine that they get used to the sensation of flooing first as really small children being carried through the floo network by their parents. I mean, a baby or toddler isn't going to go by themselves, are they? And then at some point the parent would start letting them be the one to say the place name, which means they're basically doing the flooing, just with a parent there if they end up in the wrong place.
Chris Nelly
49. Aeryl
@48, Don't you think that's a giant hole in the school's security? It's Unplottable, and you can't Apparate within it, why do all that, and leave a huge honking door that brings you straight inside?

In HBP Dumbledore is unaware that this can happen, and it seems to never have occurred to Borgin either.

When you step into the Cabinet, you don't go to another one, as Professor McGonagall says in DH, you go into non-being, otherwise stated as, into everything. You can use the Cabinet to travel to another one, but before Draco actually did it, no one had ever figured this out.
Lauren Sibley
50. Yuallica
@49 It is a big hole in security, and I wonder if they just didn't realise the Vanish Cabinet was one of a pair- and certainly not that the other one was somewhere as shady as Borgin and Burkes. There's so much junk in Hogwarts (just think of the room of hidden things!) that no one can be aware of all of it and what it all does. Vanish Cabinets aren't exactly everyday objects and who's to say that they all work in pairs like that?

On what McGonagall says in DH, she's talking about vanished objects and I kind of assumed that a living person wouldn't be able to go into non-being for a bit and then be fine again. In fact, maybe even linked Vanishing Cabinets aren't supposed to transport living people until Draco tinkers with that pair. I know the cabinet is broken by then anyway, but it really doesn't do Montague any good in OotP when he's shoved into it. They might have been originally linked for transporting objects, which wouldn't be anywhere near such a problem.

Also on the subject of security problems though- that is one problem I've always had with the floo network. So, anyone can just floo into your house? Into Hogwarts even, as we see Sirius floo call Harry in GoF. It's only in OotP that the fireplaces start being monitored. So really, there's already a huge security hole in Hogwarts, albeit one they think to block once the war gets going.

Hogwarts isn't half so secure as they all assume it is, especially once the secret passageways are taken into account. In PoA the school is supposed to be completely shut down, on high security, nothing getting in or out- and yet Harry just uses a secret passageway and it's fine, nothing guarding that way at all.
Don Barkauskas
51. bad_platypus
From HBP, Ch. 27:
“I had to mend that broken Vanishing Cabinet that no one’s used for years. The one Montague got lost in last year.”

“Aaaah.” Dumbledore’s sigh was half a groan. He closed his eyes for a moment. “That was clever. . . . There is a pair, I take it?”

“In Borgin and Burkes,” said Malfoy, “and they make a kind of passage between them. Montague told me that when he was stuck in the Hogwarts one, he was trapped in limbo but sometimes he could hear what was going on at school, and sometimes what was going on in the shop, as if the cabinet was traveling between them, but he couldn’t make anyone hear him. . . . In the end, he managed to Apparate out, even though he’d never passed his test. He nearly died doing it. Everyone thought it was a really good story, but I was the only one who realized what it meant — even Borgin didn’t know — I was the one who realized there could be a way into Hogwarts through the cabinets if I fixed the broken one.”
So clearly it is well known that Vanishing Cabinets can be (but aren't necessarily) paired up to allow travel between them.
Chris Nelly
52. Aeryl
@53, That doesn't prove anything, for travel to be possible, them being a pair is a no brainer, that doesn't indicate prior knowledge.

@52, Floo network, Since we never hear about flooing directly into Hogwarts until HBP after the security is increased, and that the prior example of floo communication comes from Amos Diggory calling on Arthur, I assume that communication varies from travel.

The Weasleys wouldn't allow anyone to enter their home from the floo network, but you can call them. So when Sirius called Harry, he was okay, so long as he never tried to enter Hogwarts.
Ursula L
53. Ursula
Forget about the Hogworts book list changing from year to year. It doesn't even seem to change much from generation to generation. As shown by Harry using Snape's old Potions book, from his parents' years in school, when he was taking Potions his sixth year.

And that's for an advanced class. It isn't even as if the basics for younger students stay the same, but there are advances that the older students learn. The education, and the state of magic, seems almost static.

In the shorter-term, the Standard Book of Spells seems to have a volume for every year, while the books for Transfiguration and Potions seem to be Beginning/Intermediate/Advanced, with each book serving for two or more years.

Textbooks for DADA don't seem to be standardized, but are chosen on the whims of the teacher of the year. With very little oversight of the classes - didn't Dumbledore think it strange that Lockhart wanted all of his students, from first through seventh year, to be using the same textbooks?
Sophist
54. Random22
I think I know why the kids have to keep buying fresh textbooks every year, when the actual reading list and lesson plan barely changes from decade-to-decade. If you are a book seller, particularly for academic books, then to make money, if the faculty won't change the reading list, you have to change the books. So Edition X bought two years ago will yeild a different result if you are told to turn to page 394 than edition Y bought this year. Loads of ways to achieve that, from messing around with the order it is printed in to just plain old yanking stuff out or inserting new snippets (but not too many snippets since you want to keep printing costs low and [b] want to hold something back for the next edition. Either way, you can only recycle textbooks so often.

In many ways it is what regular academic book publishers do. Just send the school/university/whatever a copy of the "new" edition free so they can plan their lessons and no one will argue too hard. Except the students and their parent's, but you gotta get cash out of them somehow.
Adam S.
55. MDNY
@53 Remember that Slughorn was an old teacher, he had been there when Tom Riddle was a student back in the day, way back when Dumbledore was just a transfiguration teacher and not the Headmaster. So it makes sense that he would still be using an old textbook that existed back in the day. However, the only class that really seems to require new books each year is DADA, mostly because no one keeps the job there for longer than a year. Most of the others seem to require new books every couple of years (e.g. transfiguration, charms, etc...). I imagine that History of Magic might all be covered in one book for the 5 OWL level years, same goes for Potions and Herbology.
Birgit
56. birgit
DADA is a strange subject anyway. Why is fighting dangerous magical creatures Dark Arts? The only real Dark Arts they seem to learn about are the forbidden curses.
Alex Wilcock
57. AlexWilcock
Reading all the comments on Fred and George above does make me realise how ‘lucky’ it is that the author makes sure they never do any real harm, which might stop our dangling belief in their basic goodness… But the key to them is, as many have said, that they’re not mean-spirited. I’m probably also affected by their portrayal in the films, which is much more appealing, and not least in Dr. Cox’s point above, when they talk “consolingly to a younger child who'd been severely punished by Umbridge,” which they never do in the book but which seems entirely in character with the movie versions.

Which reminds me of something doubly off-topic, probably, and slightly bonkers, even more probably, that struck me last time I watched the fifth movie (shortly after re-reading Tolkien). While in general people compare old, wise, starts-off-silly-but-gets-serious bearded Dumbledore with Gandalf, in The Order of the Phoenix on screen the Weasley twins are much more for me a pair of Gandalfs, if you take his defining element as fire in several ways to comfort and inspire people against cruelty and domination. It’s Fred and George’s fireworks, of course, but it’s not just that they’re showing off, and not just that they’re anarchistic, or confounding the great constrainer – it’s that, put with the heartbreaking scene of them quietly comforting the little first year over their torture, the great dragon and tearing down of the rules is comforting the entire school.
Sophist
59. Elyn
About the vanishing cabinets, didn't someone say that people used them during the first war against Voldemort? Maybe Lupin or Arthur when they're all in the infirmary after the battle in Half-Blood Prince.
The abbreviation DADA always cracks me up: in French it means a childish name for a horse (like horsie maybe?).
Sophist
60. ProfessorFlitwick
Hi All! Newbie here :-)

I just had to say this: perhaps the transfiguration textbooks are workbooks as well? Which would, of course, make their resale value (and cost) much lower, plus including some helpful previous answers? We know this isn't strictly illegal, since Snape's previous text with all of its notes wasn't discarded either. Double appeal to the intelligent-but-underfunded Weasleys?

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