Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 9 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPCS BannerIn Chapter 9, we find out Mrs. Norris’s fate, see rumors starting to spread about Harry, and find out exactly what this Chamber of Secrets business is. Let’s go!

Filch is such a horrible, miserable person, but you have to feel sorry for him in this chapter. He is absolutely devastated by what has happened to Mrs. Norris. It’s hard not to be. I love cats. My goal in life is to become a crazy cat lady. I have two cats so far and would have more if my husband didn’t object so strongly (he loves our two cats, or at least one of them, but has put his foot down to having more). Mrs. Norris is a mean cat, no question, but she didn’t deserve this. I would be crying my eyes out too, Filch.

But Mrs. Norris is not dead! She’s only been petrified, and the mandrakes we saw a few chapters back can help create a potion to cure her. Yay! Can we talk for a second here how obnoxious Lockhart is here as well. His excessive, know-it-all, seen-it-all attitude is in such poor taste. Just stop talking, Lockhart! Nobody cares!

Filch thinks that Harry was behind the attack because Harry had seen his Kwikspell course and knows that Filch is a squib. I like learning these layers of how the Wizarding World works, even if they are unpleasant. It gives the world depth. Not everything is a bed of roses. In this case, squibs are the opposite of Muggleborn wizards – they are from magical families, but have no magic of their own. Because of this, they are looked down upon the same way Muggleborns are, in many ways.

This incident also builds up more suspicion about Snape, which is always fun. Snape has a strange reaction to finding Mrs. Norris, looking “as though he was trying hard not to smile.” After they are (for now) exonerated, Harry wants to get to bed “before Snape comes along and tries to frame us for something else.” Harry is almost always suspicious of Snape, the same way Snape is always suspicious of Harry.

Later in the chapter, we finally find out what the Chamber of Secrets is during their History of Magic class. Professor Binns is their only teacher who is a ghost, who also has the distinction of being the most boring teacher at Hogwarts. I know purists complained, but I’m glad they cut him from the movies and gave this scene to McGonagall, mostly because more Maggie Smith is always a good thing. Binns tells them of a secret chamber created by Salazar Slytherin, one of the Hogwarts founders, that contained a creature that only Slytherin could control. Only Slytherin’s true heir would be able to find the chamber and take control of the monster. The school has been searched, many times, and no chamber has been found, which has led Binns (at least) to believe that it is just a myth.

More misdirection, which is so much fun! Students are acting strangely around Harry, avoiding him like the plague, and Harry remembers that the Sorting Hat had wanted originally to put him in Slytherin. This makes Harry start to wonder the same thing everyone else is: could Harry be the Heir of Slytherin? Of course, he isn’t, but the first time I read the book, I have to admit, I wondered if it might be true. He was having all these weird experiences and couldn’t figure out what was going on. He also knew nothing about his dad’s side of the family. So it was, in theory, possible.

The three kiddos decided to poke around for clues, which quite frankly is such a dumb idea. You were already suspects, and now you are hanging around the scene of the crime. Why? It does lead to us learning about Ron’s biggest fear: spiders.

“It’s not funny,” said Ron, fiercely. “If you must know, when I was three, Fred turned my – my teddy bear into a great big filthy spider because I broke his toy broomstick . . . You wouldn’t like them either if you’d been holding your bear and suddenly it had too many legs and . . .”

Oh, Ron.

The spiders are behaving weird, marching in a line out the window. There is also water all over the floor, coming from Myrtle’s bathroom. Clues that don’t really lead to anything right now, but that become important later.

In the Common Room that night, they discuss who might be behind it. Of course, their suspect is Malfoy. And, let’s be honest, Malfoy seems like the type. He seemed really excited when Mrs. Norris was attacked. He hates Muggleborns, just like Slytherin was rumored to. His father seems evil enough to be involved. The first time through, I was ready to believe it was Malfoy, even if that did seem a bit obvious. He certainly had the motive.

So how do they go about finding out more information? With polyjuice potion, of course! Hermione has read about this potion, but knows the recipe would be in a book in the Restricted Section of the library. They would need to find a teacher, who wasn’t particularly bright, to sign off on a permission slip to let them get the book. Hmm. Wonder who they could ask?

Tune in next time for Chapter 10!

Books I've Read

Revisiting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I didn’t post a WWW yesterday because I have A). been stressed, B). been going through some personal issues, which has led to, C). the beginnings of a reading slump, which means that, D). there are no changes to what I am reading at the moment. Working through it though, as much as I can.

Sorcerer's StoneThis is not a review in the traditional sense. Most of my reviews rely heavily on what my first impressions are. With a book series like Harry Potter, which has been in my life for a long time and has impacted my life in many significant ways, there is no way that I can be impartial about reviewing them. I logically know that they are not perfect works, that there are plenty of flaws that people love to pick apart, but I will always revere these books and what they did, not just for me, but for their impact culturally towards the way we see fandom and how they invigorated the book world as a whole.

I was one of those readers who saw the movie first. I had seen all kinds of advertisements and interviews and hype for the film, but I didn’t really know much about it. I had heard the name, but wrote it off as just some kids book – probably good, if it was getting this much attention, but nothing I would probably pick up and read. My then-husband and I went to the theater to see another movie (I don’t even remember what it was now), but it was sold out. A showing of Sorcerer’s Stone was getting ready to start and still had seats, so we went ahead and purchased tickets, figuring that it was probably just a silly kiddie flick, but at least it would be fun.

Afterwards, we immediately left for the Barnes & Noble down the street and bought a copy of the book. We agreed that I would read it first, because I am a much faster reader than he is. It took me less than a day. I almost read it in one sitting. I was completely transported into the story and the world. I loved the characters, even more than I did in the movie. It was, in many ways, a truly magical experience (pun intended).

Discovering Harry Potter also happened during a time in my life when I desperately needed something to make me happy. The movie came out in November 2001. 2001 was a shitty year. We were all still coping with the after effects of 9/11, but for me, hating 2001 is personal. I had lost my father in February 2001 (hence some of the personal issues I mentioned – this is a rough time of year). Still reeling from that, I allowed myself to get completely lost in the Wizarding world. It was my escape from dealing with the emotions I couldn’t handle (The Lord of the Rings films also helped in a similar fashion, as Fellowship came out that December). Part of me connects both of these franchises to my dad, both because of the time they first came out, and also because I think he would have absolutely LOVED them.

Hence why it is hard for me to be impartial to Harry Potter.

So is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a silly kids’ book? In some ways, yes.

Is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone way more than just a silly kids’ book? Also yes. It’s so much more than that, to me, and always will be. It helped me find joy at a time where joy was hard to come by and kick-started my reading again, which had gone stagnant. For both of those things, I will always be grateful.