Chapter 4 – The Keeper of the Keys
I love this chapter, I really do! The Dursleys needed to be put in their place and, gosh darn it, Hagrid is the perfect person to do it!
And besides, it’s Hagrid! Hagrid Hagrid Hagrid! I love Hagrid, I truly do.
But let’s start this off by looking at it from Harry and the Dursley’s point of view. Something is banging on the door, so hard that the door completely falls off the hinges and crashes to the floor. Then this enormous man comes through said door and asks for a cup of tea. I might be a little freaked out about this, especially since he recognizes Harry immediately.
I also found in incredibly funny that Vernon is packing. Have you ever seen anyone less likely to know how to handle a gun?
Vernon tells Hagrid in no uncertain terms to leave, but Hagrid will have none of it. He destroys the gun, showing just how strong and powerful he is – don’t let those friendly crinkly eyes fool you. Sure, he’s a big ole teddy bear, but if you get on his bad side, Hagrid can tear you apart.
This part of the chapter also begins the list of things that Hagrid manages to fit into the pockets of his coat. This is one amazing coat and we’re going to keep a tally of what all he can pull out of that thing.
- A slightly squashed box containing a birthday cake
- A copper kettle
- A package of sausages
- A fireplace poker
- A teapot
- Several mugs
- A bottle of booze
Harry is, of course, confused by all this. Hagrid explains that he’s the Keeper of Keys for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which just confuses Harry even more. He has no idea what Hagrid is talking about. And now we have another example of why, even though Hagrid is a sweetheart, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Hagrid is livid when he discovers that the Dursleys have kept Harry completely in the dark about his past, about what he is, and particularly about who his parents were and what they did. Vernon tries to step in, but you really don’t want to try and interrupt Hagrid, now do you?
“Harry – yer a wizard.”
And now Harry’s life will completely change. Hagrid gives him a copy of the letter that Harry has been trying so hard to receive (and now its addressed to “Mr. H. Potter, The Floor, Hut-on-the-Rock, The Sea” – this will never stop being funny). It is the now famous Hogwarts letter, the one eleven year olds all over the world now hope to get. Oh, and we need to add a few more things to our list of what’s in Hagrid’s coat.
- Harry’s Hogwarts letter
- An owl
- A roll of parchment
- A quill
The Dursleys give one more try to reassert their . . . something. Vernon says that Harry is not going to wizard school and, when questioned further, Petunia looses it. She vents her feelings about her sister, who was clearly the favorite in their family growing up (and for good reason it seems), about how she was accepted into Hogwarts and always came home doing weird things. Petunia thought Lilly was a freak and hated the fact that everyone else loved that Lilly could do magic. Petunia also lets slip that the Potters got “blown up” instead of dying in a car crash, which leads Hagrid to explain to Harry what really happened to his parents.
I can’t imagine what this was like for Harry. It’s sad enough to be orphaned, to loose both of your parents before you can even remember their faces. It’s bad enough to be left with horrible family members that treat you like dirt. But then to find out that your parents were murdered by the equivalent of Wizard Hitler, who tried to also kill you, and for some reason couldn’t do it. Something about Harry completely destroyed Wizard Hitler (or Voldemort, which is his actual name). Oh, and by the way Harry, you’re completely famous.
As Hagrid keeps talking, Harry realizes that a number of things are starting to make more sense – how he had been able to do seemingly impossible things whenever he was angry or scared (remember the snake at the zoo!!). Of course, Vernon has to be there to mess it all up. He insists that Harry will not be going to school, finally taking things a step too far.
“I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!” yelled Uncle Vernon.
But he had finally gone too far. Hagrid seized his umbrella and whirled it over his head, “NEVER – ” he thundered, ” – INSULT – ALBUS – DUMBLEDORE – IN – FRONT – OF – ME!”
While I would have loved to see Hagrid do something to Vernon, who clearly needs to be taken down a peg or two (or five), Hagrid instead gives Dudley a nice curly pigs tail. That’s it for the Dursleys. They scream and run into the next room, slamming the door. Hagrid tells Harry that he really isn’t supposed to do magic because he was expelled from Hogwarts in his third year. Harry asks why, but Hagrid changes the subject. He gives Harry is coat to use as a blanket, which leaves us with the last thing to add to our list of stuff Hagrid has in his coat.
I’m a little concerned for these mice, since Hagrid usually carries an owl as well. But that brings us to the end of the chapter. Next week, we’ll read chapter 5!
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