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"There is a plot, Harry Potter."


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#1 Casca

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 10:25 AM

Let the discussion commence!

Chapter One: The Worst Birthday
Chapter Two: Dobby's Warning
Chapter Three: The Burrow

"Don't you have a conscience? If Jiminy Cricket was here, he'd be puking in his hat."
-Balki Bartokomous


#2 Casca

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 12:43 PM

You know I forget how much I love this book when I haven't read it in a while. It's not my favorite of the series by any means, but there are so many great signature scenes and character moments.  Harry seeing Ron outside his window in the car is such a nostalgic scene for me. This line always makes me grin like an idiot:

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"And someone was goggling through the bars at him: a freckled-faced, red-haired, long-nosed someone."

I remember just loving seeing Ron again. I swear, I get very upset when Ron is not around for long periods of time. I've probably loved him the most from the beginning. He makes me happy, he really does. :D I also remember being so awestruck by the image of the flying car when I first read it. Not having the British cover, my imagination came up with such great imagery of that turquoise car flying in the starry sky, hovering outside the window, the twins in the front seat, Ron leaning out the back window… just makes amazing visuals. Seriously though, a world in which teenaged boys pick up their friends in flying cars is just… cool. It's cool. And speaking of cool… Fred and George. How much are we supposed to love them, being the getaway driver, climbing through the window, sneaking downstairs in a strange house to get Harry's trunk?  I can totally picture Harry, Ron and George - in their adult years - sitting around reminiscing and talking about the night they broke Harry out in the flying Anglia. And how devastating is it that Fred is gone? It's so hard to imagine that he will die. He's Fred! He can pull bars out of windows with his flying car. He's half of the ever-present comic relief. He's indestructible. How can he possibly die? And can't you just see how he is the spotlight twin? I mean, I think the community was in agreement that Fred was the one spotlighted throughout the series, (I know in writing fic, I always tried to spotlight George just because Fred seemed to get more air-time in canon) and the fact that Rowling said his death had been planned from the beginning… gosh. Here I just thought he was her favorite and that’s why he got the better jokes.

Also, I just love how Rowling not only gives carefully placed hints to the mysteries, but also literally addresses them head-on. We just watched Murder on the Orient Express, which lead to a great discussion on mystery novelists and the clues they give in their mysteries, and how difficult it is to really deliver in the end and not overdo it. What an amazing technique Rowling has with giving us the answer in plain sight, and still surprising us in the end. I'm talking about the discussion the twins, Harry and Ron have in the car about whether or not Dobby could be the Malfoy's house-elf. And she still manages to make it a surprise in the end. Don’t you just hate it when, in a novel or mystery film, the characters have to have a level of stupidity in order to keep the plot moving, the mystery hidden? I love how she doesn't need to sacrafice her characters respectability in order to move plot or make a mystery more dramatic.  Because really, it's all about the characters for me. If I don't believe in the characters, and respect them as real individuals with a degree of intelligence, the story doesn't mean anything to me.

This one is going to be fun!

"Don't you have a conscience? If Jiminy Cricket was here, he'd be puking in his hat."
-Balki Bartokomous


#3 blacktag189

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 05:42 PM

Where the heck is everyone?
I hope people didn't just drop off the face of the earth after the first book, because I am finding the second one even more interesting!

I am going to work on my reply tonight, so far it's three pages long, and post.  Maybe I should go nag some people to do the same...ahh  the power of nagging turns on us!!
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#4 blacktag189

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 11:46 PM

I have a lot to say so far on this book!  Maybe I’m reading into it, but there is a lot of complex things going on when we start to go through it again.  Let me just give you guys some context for some of the ideas that are surely going to be popping up in my posts in the next month.   When I wrote my critical essay on Hermione I had to find articles and books that had critical essays on Harry Potter, one such book was called “The Ivory Tower”.  One of the articles that I read, but didn’t use too much was about the class/caste system created in Harry Potter, as well as the role of slavery.  I thought it was stretching at first glance, but after reading these chapters again…it popped into my head immediately and really surprised me.  

I just love to see these much deeper contexts and social commentary in what even my professors thought was a ‘children’s book’.  Imagine my professors’ surprise when I turned my essay in!  At any rate, here I go:


The Worst Birthday

“…had been locked in a cupboard under the stairs by Uncle Vernon the instant Harry had come home” (pg. 3).
~How very fitting that they lock up all the items that make Harry ‘magical’ in the cupboard where they used to lock him up because he was magical!  They continue to deny and ‘contain’ his magical side while in their presence.  What makes it even better, to me, is that the harder they try to contain his magic the worse it gets for them.  First the owls, now Dobby!  I just love this little spot of commentary by JKR.


“But the long silence from Ron and Hermione had made Harry feel so cut off from the magical world that even taunting Dudley had lost its appeal—“ (pg 8).
~I couldn’t help but have a plot bunny explode in my head at this sentence.  We know that their relationship (Ron, Harry, and Hermione) continues to constantly change sometimes for good sometimes for frustrating, but I couldn’t help but feel for Harry.  Ron and Hermione are both his best friends and the brother and sister he never had (evidence enough by DH when he tells Ron ‘I think of her like a sister’).  So, I couldn’t help but think that Harry (perhaps even sans Ginny) in the future would feel this way once Ron and Hermione start to date and then get married.  There is nothing worse then losing both of your friends to each other (it happened to me and it sucked).  And that idea alone could be an excellent stand alone.  Perhaps someone is interested in writing it????


Dobby’s Warning

“He wanted to ask, ‘What are you?’ but he thought it would sound too rude…” (pg 13).
~Here we are at the first appearance of Dobby, the last character in the world I thought I was going to cry about.  And with their first meeting we have set up exactly why Dobby was able to save Harry’s life, and why Dobby was worthy of that task.  Harry never though of him as anything ‘less’, and by doing that created the worship and also respect that saves his life.  I think a part of me was so upset about Dobby because I hadn’t really thought of him that way, I had passed him off as that annoying thing that made an appearance from time to time (like Jar-Jar….shudder).  But to my surprise (and embarrassment when re-reading) I realized I had done exactly what the Malfoy’s had done, pretended he wasn’t there or even important.  


“’This makes the Dursleys sound almost human.  Can’t anyone help you?  Can’t I?’” (pg 15)
~Bare with me, but this is where all the class/caste/slave ideas actually start in the series.  We are aware that ‘some wizarding families are better then others’ (thank you Malfoy), but until this point you can’t really pick up on anything other then general poor versus rich.  When we throw Dobby and his story into the mix we can start to see the outlines of this caste (in the beginning) and eventual class system set into place in the wizarding world.

For example Dobby would be in the lowest class because he is both not a wizard and a slave to his master.  Then you would have ‘half-breeds’ because they are not slaves to anyone, but are still not wizards.  Then (if you’re going off of Voldies way of thinking) you have Mudbloods, and then pure-blood wizards that don’t marry other pure-bloods, thus creating Mudbloods.  Finally you have pure-blood wizards that marry other pure-blood wizards.

But!!! What we also have in place here is the fact that Harry is pretty high on the wizarding caste system, but the lowest in the muggle world.  The Dursley’s treat him like a slave!  And we see the evidence of this right at the beginning of this chapter!  So when another ‘slave’ comes into contact with him it starts to throw the entire system set in place on both the wizarding and muggle worlds spinning.  They are able to bond because they share this bond of being slaves and mistreated, they were both used as slaves and punished for their insubordination to the class/caste systems set up around them.  Harry is punished for being a wizard and hold that over his ‘masters’ heads, and Dobby is punished for being a house elf that has his own thoughts and motives.

I could keep going, because this idea is fascinating to me, but I’ll stop here.  Okay maybe just a little bit more…


“I don’t belong here” (pg 16).
~ This simple little sentence has so much inside it.  The fact that Harry knows being treated like a slave is wrong even at 12 years old when it’s all he ever knew.  The fact that Harry knows that he lives in two separate worlds with two different class systems set in place.  And the fact that Harry is so attached to Hogwarts as well as the wizarding world that it sets him apart from the rest.  Both he and Tom Riddle had disturbing parallels when it comes to Hogwarts, which we all know.  But it is Harry’s ability to see that he doesn’t belong in the muggle world but at Hogwarts specifically that makes him able to separate from the rest to make his final sacrifice to save them all.  If he belongs at Hogwarts then he must protect it and all those that he associates with it.  Which is where he differed from Tom Riddle, and the reason that he was able to separate his destiny from that of Voldemort, the ability to love.


“He is too great, too good, to lose” (pg 16).
~To continue this thread Dobby’s ability to rebel against his masters makes him the bridge for Harry between his muggle slavery and wizarding superiority.  Because of Dobby Harry is able to be both reminded and feel comrodery for someone that is being held down by a system set in place.
~This devotion that Dobby has for Harry because of their likeness as well as his obvious hero-worship makes it that much more gut wrenching when Dobby makes his final sacrifice.  Because Harry was able to set Dobby free he was able to give up the one thing that meant the most to him, his freedom, in order to save Harry’s life…I am still reeling at how in depth and complex Dobby’s character can be when you really take a look at him.  Just another example of the several layers JK set up.


“Harry Potter must say he’s not going back to school—“ (pg 19).
~How strange that the first time Harry meet Dobby he tries to keep him out of Hogwarts, yet, in order for Dobby to save Harry he had to have been at Hogwarts.  Was this some twisted sense of humor from fate (aka JKR) or was it another one of those things that Dumbledore somehow knew would help Harry down the line?  Because in the end it was Dumbledore that accepted Dobby into the castle with all the other house elves as a free house elf.

“’It’s no good turning your beak up at it—‘“ (pg 22)
“He dreamed that he was on show in a zoo,” (pg 23)
~I loved the correlation made between these two quotes within a page of each other at the end of this very loaded chapter.  Harry has literally been caged up like an animal in his room, with only a slit for food to come in from.  Yet, here he is, with all the wonderful humility and character he possesses giving what little food he has to his ‘animal’.  
~What was also very interesting to me, in terms of the class/caste system set into place happens at the very end of this chapter.  The fact that we see Harry ‘caged’ and being a ‘slave’ to the Dursleys it makes sense that a wizard would have to liberate him from the muggle world and free him back into his rightful place.
~It was also really interesting that after this point the Dursley’s treat Harry less and less like a slave and more and more like air…he ends up being an annoying dust bunny to them by the final book.


The Burrow

“’It’s not much,’ said Ron”(pg 32).
~It’s almost comforting to me to have this constant about Ron, the fact that he’s embarrassed he’s poor.  It’s just this wonderful flaw in him that gives him that rounded edge of normal.  His other siblings don’t seem to mind being poor, or at least don’t bring it up all the time, but here’s Ron with being poor again.  I think it really starts to dig in here.  What also makes this interesting is if you throw in that wizarding caste system I keep talking about.  At this point in the story Ron and Harry have a very interesting caste for each of them.  Ron would be higher then Harry because he is a pure blood, but Harry has more money then Ron.  Also it throws a wrench in it all when we learn about Harry’s heritage.


“At that moment there was a diversion in the form of a small, red-headed figure in a long nightdress, who appeared in the kitchen, gave a small squeal, and ran out again” (pg 35).
~I can’t help but see/think/hear Seeking Ginny here! ‘strong, worshipful love’…sigh, this is where it all really starts.  The great Ginny Harry love affair, the love that saved them all.  I can’t help but get that fuzzy nostalgic feeling when I think of where they start and where they end up.  I think we can all have that nice little flashback of when we meet that certain someone and you just knew that this time it was something much larger, something much more important.  Maybe Ginny didn’t know it here…maybe she didn’t know it then…but if she only knew.  I can just see Harry teasing her about it!


“’Harry?’ said Mr. Weasley blankly.  ‘Harry who?’” (pg 39)
~I LOVE how Molly just adds Harry to her list of sons, she barely knows him but lumps him in.  It’s Aurther’s surprise that makes us remember that he still is Harry Potter!  Gotta love the Weasley’s!


“’It’s a bit small,’ said Ron quickly (pg 41).
~I had this very strong image in my head when I read this little passage.  First it was Harry and Ron, 12 years old standing in that room.  Then it was just Ron and Hermione in that small room.  Ron always felt so unrecognized being the last boy in a large family, and being poor was always such an issue for him, I couldn’t help but think what his proposal to Hermione would be, or even just some time alone with Hermione would be like.  I mean, sure Hermione was his best friend before she ends up being his ‘pretend’ girlfriend (all the torment of books 4 to 6), and then his actual girlfriend by 7, but I think Ron would still feel some of that embarrassment.  And that strong image of the two of them in his bright orange room…


So that's all I got so far.  I really hope other people post.  This thread has been a little dead, I hope  it gets lively again.
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#5 Casca

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 03:14 PM

*Hugs Blacktag* Thanks for responding! I was so lonely in here by myself.

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“He wanted to ask, ‘What are you?’ but he thought it would sound too rude…” (pg 13).
~Here we are at the first appearance of Dobby, the last character in the world I thought I was going to cry about. And with their first meeting we have set up exactly why Dobby was able to save Harry’s life, and why Dobby was worthy of that task. Harry never though of him as anything ‘less’, and by doing that created the worship and also respect that saves his life.

That is a terrific point. We will see Harry's selflessness and morality shine through again, with Griphook in DH, which causes Griphook to put faith in him reguarding breaking into Gringotts. It is going to be fascinating to read about Harry making these bonds that touch peoples lives and consistently gain their loyalty and trust throughout the series.

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“I think a part of me was so upset about Dobby because I hadn’t really thought of him that way, I had passed him off as that annoying thing that made an appearance from time to time (like Jar-Jar….shudder). But to my surprise (and embarrassment when re-reading) I realized I had done exactly what the Malfoy’s had done, pretended he wasn’t there or even important.

I actually rather loved when Dobby made his appearances, but I kinda know what you mean. A part of it for me was the horrible way that Dobby was depicted in the film. If there is one character I really cannot stand in the films it's him. I know the annimation was stiff, but that doesn’t really bother me too much. It was the voice for me, not at all how I imagined Dobby's voice.

"Don't you have a conscience? If Jiminy Cricket was here, he'd be puking in his hat."
-Balki Bartokomous


#6 Daily Prophet Reporting

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 04:04 AM

OK, for the moment, at least, I'm back. I'm still trying to juggle too many things at once, but I've finally started read CoS. ...

And, while I'm not going to do as good a job analyzing it as Blacktag did, I couldn't help but be struck by the contrast in Chapter 2. On the one hand, we've got the Dursleys at their absolute worst and at the other we've got Harry in one of his most glowing character moments. The difference couldn't be any more stark.

I think it tells you all you need to know about Harry's personality when he enters his room on his birthday 'pretending he doesn't exist' and feeling completely forgotten by his friends, and he immediately recognizes how much worse Dobby has it does everything he can to comfort the poor creature. And he does it while all Dobby offers is more trouble and bad omens.

On the other hand, a few pages later Harry's locked up in his room and starving, with his only faint hope being the possibility of someone showing up from school to look for him in a month. Vernon realizes Harry's vulnerability when the Ministry letter arrives and apparently decides to lock away his problem forever. To me -- as bad is the closet was, as bad as being 'Heir of Slytherin' or the Daily Prophet's punchline would be later -- that's got to be one of the most depressing moments in the series (perhaps behind only the period of time Ron's gone in DH) because Harry has tasted what his life should be like and it's looks like it's denied to him so horribly. But fortunately, it's only a moment, and who better to play the saviors than the Weasleys?

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What an amazing technique Rowling has with giving us the answer in plain sight, and still surprising us in the end.

I noticed that too, Casca, and I agree that it's amazing because she does it again and again and again, and I for one, only caught on a few times at the very end of the series. She does it so subtly, though, that it always blends in. I mean, who else could Harry have suspected besides the Malfoys? I guess in that case she's just letting her characters tell the story, and letting us readers lead ourselves on, off, and eventually back on track.

-KC
*Campaigning for unbiased Quidditch coverage in the pages of the Daily Prophet since September 2003
*H/G lurker since November 2002

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