The Boy Who Lived

I have to confess that I really love Chapter 1. I think last time I wrote about it, I may have said it reminded me in tone a bit of Tolkien’s opening to The Hobbit.

Actually, yes, I did.

In looking back, it appears that I wrote four consecutive blog posts about just this one chapter. In addition to the Hobbit comparison, I discussed the overwhelming presence of owls, drew up a  Chapter map (complete with explanation), and wrote another whole long post about Albus Dumbledore and sundry other issues. I really went “into the weeds” with this chapter seven years ago!

But in fairness, this brief introductory chapter accomplishes a lot. It sets up the conflict between the Dursleys and Harry and the recent and future conflicts between Harry and Voldemort, shows the secret world of the Wizards and its fear of being found out, introduces part of our main cast of Wizards, and hints at the recent war with Voldemort.

It’s a writing tour de force, and in it J.K. Rowling announces her presence on the literary stage.

The Power Dynamic

In terms of our broader themes, this chapter sets up various versions of power. We don’t know yet how it’s all going to play out, but we can clearly identify four power centers in the chapter:

Vernon Dursley – Vernon is a non-magical person who abuses power and people and gets “enraged” at anything that deviates from his conception of social norms (such as older people wearing weird attire). Yelling “at five different people” at work in the morning puts him in “a very good mood.” Yet after hearing rumors about the Potters from the “weirdos,” he shrinks into worry and insecurity. With just these small character details, Rowling establishes Vernon as an abuser who will soon be placed in the position of having to foster his “weirdo” nephew (Hint: This will not go well),  but she also establishes him as something of a paper tiger. Just put some pressure on him and watch him crumple.

Voldemort (a.k.a. “You-Know-Who”) – We don’t really meet Voldemort here, just hear about him. But from the conversation between Professor McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore, we find he is a magical person whom Wizards have feared for the past eleven years – feared so much that only Dumbledore will say his name. In fact, Voldemort murdered Harry’s parents the night before… and even tried to kill the boy. On a first read, this is where it gets confusing, because apparently trying to kill the boy made him disappear. Before the night he disappeared, Voldemort clearly possessed astounding powers, but used them to evil purpose. As the story progresses and he finds a way to return, his ill intent will thwart him over and over again. It’s almost like Rowling is saying that “power is not enough.” (Hint: It’s not!).

Albus Dumbledore – Dumbledore is, in many ways, the antithesis of Vernon Dursley and even moreso of Voldemort. He’s an older man, dressed weirdly, yet Professor McGonagall (who can transform herself from a cat into a human being!) defers to him. He speaks gently, consolingly, and with a certain amount of wisdom. He’s also a bit naive. He thinks that if he just explains the situation to the Dursleys in a letter, they will accept Harry and eventually tell him who he is. In addition, Dumbledore has a bit of humility, as we can see from this snippet of dialogue:

“But you’re different” [said Professor McGonagall]. Everyone knows you’re the only one You-Know-Who – oh, all right, Voldemort, was frightened of.”

“You flatter me,” said Dumbledore calmly. “Voldemort had  powers I will never have.”

“Only because you’re too – well – noble to use them.”

McGonagall here effectively establishes Dumbledore as a man whose powers rival Voldemort’s but who restrains himself from using the more ignoble types of power. We will (much) later learn exactly why Dumbledore restrains himself, but for now, it’s simply worth noting that in the first chapter Rowling subtly establishes the possibility that life could have gone much differently for Albus Dumbledore had he just seized all the power he was capable of wielding. Instead, he has chosen a different path and consequently introduces us and the Dursleys to Harry.

Harry Potter – He’s just a baby, but he inexplicably broke Voldemort’s power just the night before. The implication here is that Harry has amazing powers of his own (we will later discover the extent to which this is true), and McGonagall argues that Dumbledore should not give him up to the Dursleys because…

“He’ll be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day in the future – there will be books written about Harry – every child in our world will know his name!”

Dumbledore wisely replies that anonymity with the Dursleys will be better for Harry until “he’s ready to take” the fame thrust on him by the Wizarding World.

Dumbledore is right on the face of it. He’s just missing one major detail: the Dursleys are not the people he hopes they will be. And then he leaves Harry on the doorstep to face his unwilling aunt and uncle.

Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours’ time by Mrs. Dursley’s scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley. . . . He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!”

It is a powerful conclusion to a magnificent opening chapter.

Pottermore, PoA Chapter 22 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. Judging by the new completion bar, I do appear to missing items from both scenes. :(

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…

CHAPTER 22: OWL POST AGAIN

Scene 1 (“Professor Lupin’s Office”)

  • Zoom 1:
    • Hover cursor to make the door to Lupin’s cabinet open and shut. Once it’s open…
    • COLLECT an empty inkpot.
    • COLLECT a chocolate bar.
  • Zoom 2:
    • COLLECT a roller.
    • COLLECT an old quill.
    • UNLOCK “Remus Lupin” (JKR-exclusive content).
    • Use cursor to unroll a scroll and knock a candle from its sconce. (Thanks, Let’s Call Me Lily… I knew about the scroll but not the candle).

Scene 2 (“Back to London”)

  • Zoom 1:
    • Riding on the Hogwarts Express.
  • Zoom 2:
    • Double-click makes you enter the compartment.
    • Use cursor to open and shut the window.
    • Hover cursor to make Pig hoot and Crookshanks purr and move his tail.
    • COLLECT a Pumpkin Pasty.
    • COLLECT Exploding Bonbons.
    • COLLECT a Gobstone. (Be quick! It’s hard to catch!).
    • COLLECT a Galleon from the rack above Crookshanks. (Thanks, Madam Pince!)
    • CLOSER LOOK at Sirius’ letter to Harry.
    • CLOSER LOOK at Sirius Black’s note giving Harry permission to visit Hogsmeade.

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

    • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
    • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
    • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
    • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
    • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

Pottermore, PoA Chapter 16 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. There’s also probably some stuff I’m missing. :)

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…

CHAPTER 16: PROFESSOR TRELAWNEY’S PREDICTION

Scene 1 (“Exam Time”)

Not long ago, I was challenged to write a fanfic using Lupin’s “Obstacle Course” concept. :) This makes it all the more exciting to see the beautiful Pottermore artwork for this scene. Still, I’m not getting everything right. The nifty new “completion bar” at the bottom of the scene tells me that I must have missed something. So I’m hoping you will help me find it.

  • Zoom 1:
    • With your cursor, you can make the Grindylow swim around its pool in the foreground.
    • COLLECT Knotgrass – at bass of the tank in which the Grindylow is swimming.
    • COLLECT Leeches – in the pool to the right of the Grindylow’s tank. (Thanks, Let’s Call Me Lily and Ritwik!)
  • Zoom 2:
    • The Red Caps are out in force! They will pop out of their holes with little prompting, but your cursor can help determine which ones pop out when.
    • COLLECT Horned Slugs – from the marshy area to the left back.
  • Zoom 3:
    • Your cursor can make the wispy Hinkypunk appear, holding his lantern to lead you astray.
    • COLLECT Fluxweed in the marshy area towards the back – by what I assume to be the boggart’s cabinet.

Okay, so now… I’m STILL missing something in this scene! (And yeah, I’ve had the Hinkypunk all along, so I’m not sure what I haven’t got or haven’t done).

Scene 2 (“The Committee”)

My completion bar is all the way full in this scene, so I know I found everything. This is actually one of the more disturbing scenes in PoA. I’m just glad Pottermore gave us plenty of activity to distract us… and that Hermione had her trusty Time Turner handy!

One thing that I learned as I went along with the new layout is that mouse movements (i.e., various actions) contribute as much to chapter completion as collecting things do. Since the old layout didn’t give us a completion bar, I didn’t realize this when I was first working with the completion bar in Chapter 16. At any rate, my completion bar for Scene 2 is full, but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily took note of everything necessary in order to make it full.

In the Comments, Ritwik asks: “in moment 2 how can your be filled when you didn’t shake the trees and let the crows fly and why didn’t you touch buckbeak’s ear”? And the truth is… I don’t know. I probably did all those things and didn’t say anything about them when I did them. So anyway, if your completion bar is not full in Scene 2, you might try shaking the trees to get the crows to fly and you might try touching Buckbeak’s ear. And actually, I do seem to vaguely recall doing those things when I first went through this scene!

  • Zoom 1:
    • COLLECT Tilly Toke Chocolate Frog Card. She saved Muggle lives when a dragon swooped down on a beach.
    • COLLECT Bertie Bott’s Aubergine-Flavoured Bean.
  • Zoom 2:
    • COLLECT Valerian Springs.
    • COLLECT Dried Nettles.
    • Make the door to Hagrid’s shack shake with your cursor.

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

    • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
    • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
    • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
    • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
    • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

December 25, 2009 – The Series’ Most Shocking Moment, The Story of Harry’s Past, and What Was I Dead Wrong About?

On December 25, 2009 – when I had been blogging here for nearly 10 days – I wrote my first posts on the Chamber of Secrets forum… and quickly got sucked in.

Here are the three content posts that I wrote on my first full day on the CoS forum:

Most Shocking Moment in the Whole Series?

Most shocking moment(s) for me:

Finding out that Harry had to let Voldemort kill him in order to destroy the part of Voldemort’s soul that was in him. This was probably the single most shocking moment for me…. as I think it was for Snape.
(Or, I should say, it was the most shocking moment for Snape in the Harry plot. Lily’s death was the most shocking moment for Snape in the Snape plot).

Finding out that Snape was the Death Eater responsible for delivering part of the prophesy to Voldemort. That stunned me.

Snape’s death and exsanguination at the fangs of Nagini. If there’s any single scene that shows just the complete self-absorption, coldness and depravity of Voldemort, this is it. He didn’t kill Snape because he found out he was a spy. He killed Snape thinking him a trusted servant who (he believed) just happened to have something that he wanted – the allegiance of the Elder Wand. Does Voldemort have any soul left?

Fred Weasley’s death. I don’t know why, but I never suspected Rowling would lay the hand of death on one of the Weasley twins.

Harry naming his younger son Albus Severus. I thought it was perfect, and it brought tears to my eyes, but I had to read it a couple of times to believe it was real.

I was not, alas, shocked at the death of Albus Dumbledore. I thought Dumbledore had to die in order for the hero to complete his Quest. And I was not especially shocked that Snape killed him… mainly because I knew before I read the books that Snape had done something in the course of the story that led to a huge debate over whether he was good or evil. When I did finally read the books, I personally believed that Snape was Dumbledore’s man and that the killing was most likely planned… but I had no idea as to the details of the plan.

Was the Story of Harry’s Past Told to the Children?

We don’t actually know if the children know the story of Harry’s role during the Second Wizarding War. What the epilogue indicates is that they apparently don’t know their father is so famous.

I like to think that Harry told them the story, but that he told them that battling people trying to murder you is not all that glorious when it’s actually happening – which is the same message he gave the members of Dumbledore’s Army.

I’m betting that regardless of what he said or didn’t say, he shielded his children significantly from his fame. I think that’s indicated by Albus Severus’ reaction to the other kids gawking from the train. The Potter kids are going to learn soon enough how famous their father is once they get to Hogwarts. To me, that seems an appropriate time to let them know – at age 11, the same age Harry was when he found out that he was “The Boy Who Lived.”

What Were You Dead Wrong About?

I thought Lucius Malfoy would die a horrible, horrible death.

I thought the Deathly Hallows would be a place.

I believed the mission was to protect Harry, when it was really to get him to sacrifice himself (or rather, the part of Voldemort’s soul in him).

I was right about Snape and Dumbledore working together to ensure Dumbledore’s death, but I was wrong about the immediate cause of that collaboration.

I suspected that Severus loved Lily, but I never imagined that he knew her before Hogwarts, or that he was the first magic person she ever knew, or that Petunia knew him and remembered him talking about dementors.

I was wrong that no Weasley twin could die.

I assumed Dumbledore was just a kindly, benign, immensely powerful elderly wizard, when he was in fact a master strategist and military genius, willing to ask his men to make extraordinary sacrifices in order to win the war.

Pottermore, CoS Chapter 18 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. There’s also probably some stuff I’m missing. :)

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…

CHAPTER 18: DOBBY’S REWARD

Scene 1 (“Dumbledore Returns”)
The key for Zoom Levels will be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1:
    • COLLECT Ginger Newt
  • Zoom 2:
    • UNLOCK “Sword of Gryffindor” (JKR-Exclusive Content)
  • Zoom 3:
    • COLLECT bottle of Nettle Wine
    • COLLECT 5 Galleons
    • COLLECT Mirabella Plunkett Chocolate Frog Card
    • COLLECT Transfiguration Today (Thanks, Rubix Cube!)

Scene 2 (“A Free Elf”)

Nice animation… but anybody find anything? I am assuming that they will perhaps add an audio excerpt later at some point to this scene and to other scenes in which there is no interaction, collecting, or discovering.

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

Pottermore, CoS Chapter 14 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. There’s also probably some stuff I’m missing. :)

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…

CHAPTER 14: CORNELIUS FUDGE

Scene 1 (“Another Attack”)
The key for Zoom Levels will be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1: I’m not seeing anything to collect or discover at this zoom.
  • Zoom 2:
    • UNLOCK “Ghosts” (JKR-exclusive content. Click on the partition, separating Nearly Headless Nick from the petrified students)
    • COLLECT 5 Galleons from the drawer in the table next to Nearly Headless Nick. (Thanks, Let’s call me Lily!)
  • Zoom 3:
    • COLLECT a bottle of SKELE-GRO
    • COLLECT Bezoar (there’s often one of these hanging around in the Hospital Wing. ;) )
    • COLLECT Salamander’s Blood (Thanks, Zara!)

Scene 2 (“Dumbledore is Suspended”)
The key for Zoom Levels will be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1: See the pumpkin patch outside Hagrid’s cottage. I’m not finding anything to collect or discover here.
  • Zoom OUT 2:
    • COLLECT Dried Billywig Stings (lots of these around Hagrid’s, aren’t there?)
    • COLLECT Flesh-Eating Slug Repellant
  • Zoom OUT 3:
    • COLLECT Infusion of Wormwood
    • COLLECT Dried Nettles (another standard collectable if you hang out at Hagrid’s)
    • COLLECT Key from the floor inside Hagrid’s hut (but you have to be quick before the door shuts!) (Thanks, FeatherElm!)

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

Pottermore, CoS Chapter 10 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. There’s also probably some stuff I’m missing. :)

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…

CHAPTER 10: THE ROGUE BLUDGER

Scene 1 (“Moste Potent Potions”)
The key to zoom levels can be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1 – COLLECT Moste Potent Potions. (I hope this means we get to learn how to do Polyjuice Potion!).
  • Zoom-OUT 2:
    • Make the desk drawer open
    • COLLECT a Bertie Bott’s Curry-Flavoured Bean
    • COLLECT the Beatrix Bloxom Chocolate Frog Card (author of The Toadstool Tales, which were banned because they caused nausea and vomiting – presumably because they were so… well… read it yourself) :)
    • From the Comments – COLLECT a Bertie Bott’s Cocoanut-Flavoured Bean. (Thanks, Let’s Call Me Lily!)

Scene 2 (“Harry’s Broken Arm”)
The key to zoom levels can be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1 – Sets the scene.
  • Zoom 2 (and additional zooms) – Move Harry closer by zooming or double-clicking repeatedly
  • COLLECT “Draco Malfoy” (JKR Exclusive Content). I’m not sure at what Zoom level you find this one because I collected originally collected it on Slytherin’s prize day and so it was already open for me.

Scene 3 (“Colin is Petrified”)
The key to zoom levels can be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1 – Nice eerie night-time scene in the Hospital Wing.
  • Zoom 2:
    • COLLECT Poppy heads
    • COLLECT the Merwyn the Malicious Chocolate Frog Card
    • COLLECT a Sponge
    • Move cursor around to make the film in Colin Creevey’s camera – in Dumbledore’s hands – sizzle. (Thanks hc and Jerri for reminding me that the thing Dumbledore is holding is Colin’s camera!)

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.