Welcome to Chapter 4! As always, there are spoilers afoot, so read at your own risk.
Let’s start off with one of the saddest lines ever:
What Harry found most unusual about life at Ron’s, however, wasn’t the talking mirror or the clanking ghoul: It was the fact that everybody there seemed to like him.
Okay, y’all. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how on earth did Harry end up to be such a decent, well-rounded person? He grew up in such a toxic, horrible (and most likely abusive) household and yet doesn’t seem to suffer any side effects from that. It is shocking to me, honestly.
Also, love love LOVE the Weasleys so much! They don’t care who Harry is or that he’s famous. He’s a kid who needs a loving home and they treat him just like their other kids. They are awesome.
Also, also, poor little Ginny! It’s so hard to feel awkward around your crush, but to have your crush living in your house? I would die. Harry even notices that Ginny always knocks things over when he’s around.
We also learn about floo powder in this chapter, which is my least favorite means of wizarding travel. Seriously, who wants to show up to your destination covered in soot? Especially since it is such an imprecise form of travel? You need to speak clearly, keep your elbows tucked in and eyes shut, don’t fidget in case you call out of the wrong fireplace. It’s no wonder Harry ends up in the wrong place. And what a wrong place it is. Our first introduction to Borgin & Burkes in Knockturn Alley.
Again, this is another place where Rowling drops something that seems insignificant in an early book and it turns out to be huge later on. We don’t know anything about Borgin & Burkes, except that it seems like a dark magic shop, but we know now that several items in the shop were used by Deatheaters in later books and that a young Voldemort actually worked there. So cool.
We also get to see Draco being a little snot, but also see that his father is quite horrible. Hints of the hatred towards Muggleborns here, as Mr. Malfoy is upset that Hermione, “a girl of no wizard family,” got better grades than Draco did, and Mr. Borgin laments that “wizard blood is counting for less everywhere.” We also hear Mr. Borgin mutter to himself that the Malfoys probably have a ton of Dark artifacts that no one else knows about. Who’s surprised by that? Show of hands? Oh, right. No one is surprised by that.
Also, Borgin was super creepy in the video game adaptation, just saying.
A nice little red herring thrown in here, as Harry is rescued by Hagrid, which sets up the suspicions about Hagrid later in the book – if Hagrid is hanging around Knockturn Alley, a place known to cater to Dark wizards, could he be hiding something? It’s very neat and tidy the way Rowling does that, putting just the slightest suspicion in the reader’s head.
I just want to have one little shopping spree in Diagon Alley. Just one. That would make me very, very happy.
Finally, towards the end of the chapter, we meet one of the center pieces of this book: Gilderoy Lockhart. And can we just say, he was portrayed to perfection in the movie by Kenneth Branaugh. This guy is so smarmy! I really don’t understand why the ladies love him so much. I don’t think I would have fallen for that, no matter how handsome he is. He clearly uses Harry as a prop to get even more publicity and announces that he will be teaching at Hogwarts.
This last part of the chapter is so important and gets completely missed when you read the book for the first time: the confrontation with the Malfoys. Lucius is able to plant Tom Riddle’s diary on Ginny during a scuffle with the Weasleys and NO ONE NOTICES. I have always wondered what Lucius’s intentions were. Why was he even carrying it with him that day? He couldn’t have planned to plant it on the Weasleys, but even if he did somehow, what was the point? Was it just to mess with them, or to rid himself of a very Dark artifact that could get his family in trouble? It seems odd to give it to the youngest of the bunch, although Ginny would clearly be the more vulnerable of them, easier to influence.
Tune in tomorrow for chapter 5!