Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapters 1-5

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone[By J.K. Rowling]

Chapters 1-5 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, in which we meet Harry Potter and his unpleasant adoptive family, and Harry meets Hagrid, discovers the hidden truth about his parents, and goes on the greatest birthday shopping spree of all time.

    4 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapters 1-5”

    1. Rebecca says:

      Just some quick thoughts on me… I’m actually surprised at how long it takes to get Harry to Hogwarts, since he hasn’t even left yet in this chapter. And I’m really surprised at how long is spent in the Dursleys’ POV, since so much of the book is so tightly in Harry’s — I’d basically forgotten we ever got outsider perspective.

      I basically squeed at the passing reference to Hagrid borrowing the flying motorcycle from “young Sirius Black,” though I’m curious about the timeline. Maybe this will be cleared up when we get to PoA months from now, but at what point did the wizarding world basically decide Sirius was responsible for the Potters’ deaths? But I also love the moment when Sirius is referenced because it shows how much JKR really did know about the overall arch ahead of time. Considering how much the series changes as you go, that’s pretty darned impressive.

      Ummm, lately there’s been internet rumor that the snake Harry frees near the beginning is actually Nagini. I don’t know what the source is, but unless it’s JKR, I’ve got to say it’s not true, since the snake was bred in the zoo.

      Hey, do we want to keep any running counts through the series? How about the number of times someone says Harry has his mother’s eyes? (Or is that mostly just gratuitous in the movies? *shrug*) Anyway: Hagrid says so shortly after he arrives.

      “Harry — yer a wizard.” Sorry for the pun, but… that line’s kind of magical.

      The reference to how Hagrid was expelled — that’s another nice bit of series-setting. The first three books are the only ones I remember clearly; I wonder if there are other bits and pieces around here that prepare for later books and I’m just not recalling enough?

      Draco’s first appearance: he’s so delightfully obnoxious from the get-go.

      I find Ollivander really interesting. He’s a bit more ambiguous than most of the characters in the series (with a couple of big exceptions, obviously).

    2. Jessica says:

      Don’t have time for long comments now, but re: yours:

      – In PoA Hagrid says that he bumped into Sirius at the Potters’ house and Sirius tried to take Harry, but Hagrid insisted on taking him to Dumbledore, so Sirius gave him the bike and went to track down Peter instead. Peter accused Sirius of betraying the Potters and faked his own death, thus framing Sirius.

      – The “source” for the “Nagini is the snake in the zoo” thing is a Rickroll. It’s not true. (Also, at least according to the movie, the zoo snake is male.)

    3. Jessica says:

      Every time I reread the first book I am delighted anew by how well-constructed and charming it is. The prose is delicious, and the story is tightly plotted while still packed with all the future hints Becky pointed out above. I think both of those aspects fell by the wayside as the books got longer, more rushed, and less strictly edited, but one thing Rowling always retained was a wonderful ability to describe a character in a few short phrases. Her description of the Dursleys is perfect.

      McGonagall on Muggles: “Well, they’re not completely stupid.” Tolerance!

      I love how Harry’s line about how he “can do, you know, math and stuff.” Enjoy that 5th grade education, Harry, because you will never learn anything else. Algebra? WHO NEEDS IT.

      Hagrid on Muggles: “An’ it’s your bad luck you grew up in a family o’ the biggest Muggles I ever laid eyes on.” I love how even the nice characters use “Muggle” as a mild, disdainful insult.

      Vernon insults Dumbledore, so Hagrid attempts to turn Dudley – painfully – into a pig? That doesn’t seem fair.

      “Blimey, Harry, everyone’d be wanting magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we’re best left alone.” I’ve read a couple of interesting essays on how wizarding society is essentially parasitic, and Hagrid sums it up pretty nicely here. You definitely wouldn’t want to cure horrible diseases with your magical abilities, wizards. You have very important games of wizard chess to play. Best to stay in your towers and let the Muggles get picked off first by every evil racist wizard who comes along.

      (I know it sounds like I’m picking on the book, and I don’t mean to, honestly! But the casual prejudice and violence are fascinating to me.)

      Do we ever find out why James and Lily left such a huge fortune behind? Weren’t they still super young when they died?

      Draco is so delightful in his opening scene, and such a good depiction of a child repeating what he hears his parents say. HE LEARNED BY WATCHING YOU, LUCIUS!

      More casual prejudice: Harry tells Hagrid that Draco said Muggle-borns shouldn’t even be allowed into Hogwarts, and Hagrid’s first response is, “Yer not from a Muggle family.” Oh, and also racism is bad or whatever.

      “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin.” The books are often taken to task for presenting a whole house of evil wizards and thus failing to truly convey a message of tolerance and fellowship, but this book and CoS make it very clear that what house you’re sorted into is a matter of choice: Harry chose Gryffindor. In other words, Hogwarts takes a bunch of 11-year-olds and gives them an infallible litmus test for evil, then puts all the evil ones in a dungeon to fester together for seven years. Why doesn’t the Sorting Hat just respond to all the kids who think Please sort me into Slytherin, because I hate mudbloods and want to learn how to kill people with “Annnnnd expelled”? Instead of, you know, teaching them poisons and hexes?

    4. Rebecca: “Harry — yer a wizard.” sends chills up my spine, even as I delight in things like pictures of Hagrid telling Harry that he is, in fact, a lizard.

      Jessica: I find the casual prejudice very interesting this go round—I’m rereading the books via audiobook, so I’m a little ahead of you guys (even though I’m commenting on an old post!). But, seriously, those Slytherins need to be handled in a way that does not involve equipping them with deadly skills.

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