Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 14 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 14, Harry & Co. wonder what to do about Hagrid, Riddle’s diary is stolen, the monster strikes again, and we meet the Minister of Magic. Let’s go!

Ugh, this is so hard. How would it feel to find out that someone you genuinely liked and trusted could possibly be behind horrible attacks against students? Like Harry, even the first time when I read this and thought Hagrid might be responsible, I never for a moment thought that he did it to deliberately harm someone. Hagrid likes interesting creatures. It is so easy to believe that he could have tried to take care of Slytherin’s monster and lost control of it.

It leads to another conundrum: what do they do? Do they confront Hagrid? Do they go to Dumbledore? If Hagrid was expelled before, wouldn’t Dumbledore already suspect? It also leads to questions about Tom Riddle. He turned Hagrid in, but only because he didn’t want to be stuck at a Muggle orphanage. Harry understands this, given that he is stuck with his unpleasant Muggle relatives over the summer. It builds up sympathy for the person who will eventually become the main villain of the entire series, even if we don’t know that yet.

But life goes on and, for the time being, the attacks have stopped. We get to see some more normal activities at Hogwarts, like picking their advanced classes for next school year.

Hermione took nobody’s advice but signed up for everything.

That’s my girl!

The next mystery to come their way: Harry’s belongings in their dorm is ransacked while he is at Quidditch practice. Things are torn up and thrown everywhere, but there is only one thing missing. Riddle’s diary. Only a Gryffindor could have stolen it, as they would be the only ones to know the password to get into Gryffindor Tower. I don’t remember who I suspected at this point the first time I read this. The only person to have shown any interest in the diary was Malfoy when he saw it during the singing Valentine incident. He shouldn’t have been able to get into the Gryffindor Common Room, but then, Harry and Ron shouldn’t have been able to get into the Slytherin Common Room either, and they did. So maybe I suspected Malfoy, or maybe I thought that someone else was no involved. Either way, the mystery deepens.

The next attack happens, and this time it hits closer to home. During a Quidditch match, Professor McGonagall comes onto the field and tells everyone to go back to their dormatories. She catches Harry and Ron and brings them to the hospital wing, where they see that Hermione has now been attacked, along with a Ravenclaw girl. She had been carrying a small mirror, which McGonagall asks them about, but Harry and Ron have no idea what she was doing with it. After returning to Gryffindor Tower, McGonagall tells the students that the school might be closed if the culprit isn’t caught.

It’s a clever mirroring of the Riddle situation. If the school is closed, what does that mean for Harry? Would he be stuck living with the Dursleys again? Where else could he go?

It’s serious now. Even though they don’t want to, Harry and Ron know it’s time to talk to Hagrid. They sneak down to Hagrid’s at night and Hagrid seems to know that he might be a suspect – he’s nervous as can be. They are interrupted by the arrival of Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic.

Side note: it drives me crazy that the movies kept saying “Minister for Magic.” That’s not right and sounds weird!

Harry and Ron hide under the Invisibility Cloak as they watch Hagrid basically get arrested in front of their very eyes. This made me angry – he isn’t being taken away because they think he’s guilty, he’s being taken away because the Minister wants to be seen as at least trying to solve the problem. Fudge knows full well that removing Hagrid will do absolutely nothing to fix this, a fact that Dumbledore drums into him. To make matters worse, Lucius Malfoy also shows up with a letter from the school governors to remove Dumbledore as Headmaster because he hasn’t been able to stop the attacks.

This is all so stupid. Removing Hagrid and Dumbledore will do absolutely nothing to fix this. At all. Everyone knows that, but they are doing to do it anyway.

Before they are escorted out, Hagrid and Dumbledore each give some very cryptic information:

“However,” said Dumbledore, speaking very slowly and clearly so that none of them could miss a word, “you will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”

Okay, I guess . . .

. . . Hagrid stood his ground, took a deep breath, and said carefully, “If anyone wanted ter find out some stuff, all they’d have ter do would be ter follow the spiders. That’d lead ’em right! That’s all I’m sayin’.”

Um, what??

See you next time for Chapter 15!

Categories: Chapter-A-Long

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