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08 October 2006 @ 18:01
PS - Chapter 1 - The Boy Who Lived  
This post covers the analysis of the first chapter of the Philosopher's Stone.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 8th October 2006 19:34 (UTC)
The first thing that grabbed my attention in this part, is that it is written from Vernon's point of view. It is obviously important that we get to know the Dursleys, that we know about their dislike for anything unusual, their dislike for the Potters etc. But why choose Vernon, the biggest Muggle around?

I feel that Petunia is kept intentionally 'out of it'. She had a "perfectly owl-free morning", she even missed the news broadcast about flocks of owls and shooting stars. We know from later books that Petunia knows more than she is letting on. I am convinced that this omission is deliberate; that information we aren't supposed to have would have been revealed if we had been allowed in her head that day.

I know we can only speculate about what type of information Petunia would have revealed to us. What does grab my interest though, is that Jo does this really often in the books. Just by having them written from Harry's point of view (with the exception of 4 chapters), we are kept in the dark about many things while thinking we know a lot.

Basically, I feel that we should read these books with not only the question, "What is she telling us?" in mind, but the question, "What isn't she telling us?". Although finding answers to those questions will be almost impossible, I think acknowledging them is a good beginning to solving the riddle that faces us.

So, I am acknowledging the fact that we AREN'T learning anything from Petunia's point of view in any of the books so far.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 9th October 2006 05:16 (UTC)
The amount of information that had leaked out is quite astounding. For something that had happened that previous night, it seems as though the entire wizarding population knows about it, and in detail too, no less. The news had been out since sunrise. Although I wouldn't put it past the Daily Prophet to have printed the story, I am decidedly curious as to how they would have got so many details.

The details that are known at this point are that:
1) Voldemort is gone.
2) Harry Potter was involved.
3) Lily and James Potter are dead.
4) Voldemort tried to kill Harry but couldn't.

That last piece of information, in my opinion, is rather fascinating. I can't see how anybody could have known that - without having been there, and witnessed it. After all, we learn in the TLC/MN interview with Jo that no one before had ever survived the killing curse. So this was a freak occurance. How did that information leak out? Who would have told? In fact, how was that piece of information even gathered?
Ianus Incantatusjanus_incantus on 10th October 2006 15:15 (UTC)
I think part of the the fast spread of information is explained by the starnge owls phenomenon observed by muggles. The number of details is indeed intriguing, and further, we see that McGonagall is at Privet Drive already early on the morning and yet, she seems to be fully aware of all the details.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 11:14 (UTC)
Yeah. That bit of news definitely spread like wild fire - which as you said is explained by the gatherings and owls.

I think it is safe to assume (although that is generally the first fatal flaw in Potterverse), that Hagrid told McGonagall some of the information at least.

As to how the 4th point became common knowledge, though, is a mystery. I can't see it in Dumbledore's nature to reveal much information (he has always been portrayed as very discreet. So this leads me to wonder if someone else knows and/or witnessed the events that took place that night.
Ianus Incantatus: janusjanus_incantus on 10th October 2006 15:09 (UTC)
For the first 14 pages, I merely have acouple of silly observations in addition to rhose already made by WD:

First thing I'm wondering about... what is the wizard population of Britain? I think it was mentioned somewhere, and was quite small. However, from Vernon's point of view, there were 'strange folks' everywhere. Perhaps his office is somewhere near Leaky Cauldron. Not that I can deduce any significance from that.

Second insignifican observation: Emerald green seems to be one of the favoured colours by magical people. The first wizard (not counting cat-McGonagall) mentioned in the book is wearing an emerald green cloak, and so is McGonagall later. In HBP funeral scene, we see at least Slughorn and Fudge with robes of that colour.
Ianus Incantatus: Alberforth Avatarjanus_incantus on 10th October 2006 22:12 (UTC)

And here are some comments regarding the latter part of the chapter:

  1. Sirius Black - Hagrid tells outright he got the motor bike from Sirius. How come all the other news spread so fast, and yet it seems that Sirius being the main suspect (as the believed secret keeper) is not widely known. Even though we know that Hagrid is not easily frightened, it would seem odd that he would have just casually asked a trairot Death Eater to lend his motor bike for rescuing what his treason was to destroy. Neither was there any reaction from either Dumbledore or McGonagall to the news.
  2. Time gap - where was Hagrid all day. Was he with Harry somewhere else, or did he only go pick him up on the aftrenoon?
  3. The characters: McGonagall and Hagrid - The first chapter introduces four characters that we shall see frequently in all following books. However, the roles of both Hagrid and McGonagall haven't seemed very critical to me for revealing important things about the plot when reading the books before. I'm definitely going to look at these two characters closely during this reread to see if there is something more there than meets the eye.
  4. Dumbledore's London Underground map scar - not really a new observation, but as this relates to my favourite tinfoil hat theory, I mention it here. The idea is that Lupin has been said to be 'underground - almost literally', which could imply werewolves would be hiding in London Underground system, and Dumbledores scar... well ok, I leave it here.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 12:16 (UTC)
On point 1.

Actually, I think Dumbledore did have a reaction to that information.

Hagrid says he got the bike from 'young Sirius Black', and Dumbledore's only response is, "No problems were there?"
Hagrid takes it that Dumbledore is asking about retrieving Harry, but I think Dumbledore was actually asking about the encounter with Sirius. As Hagrid's response showed that there wasn't, there was no need to push the matter or clarify the question. After all, if Hagrid had had problems, he would have understood the question.

Since I mentioned it in an earlier comment, I will mention this here. It seems the Wizarding World knows that Harry survived the killing curse, but as Fudge says in PoA, "The worst [Sirius] did isn't widely known." I don't understand how that piece of information could have been kept secret. Is there a reason that that has been kept secret? (And I doubt it was for Harry's sanity.) The Fidellius Charm perhaps, or the fact that Dumbledore knew that the Potters were being looked for and thus had security? (I suppose it would have blown Snape's cover as a spy if that information was leaked.) Thoughts?
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 12:33 (UTC)
Point 2 is difficult to assess. I have made some headway into guessing/working out the sequence of events that night, so I will post that all as a separate comment. It is a bit... loooooong.

Point 3:

Very interesting.
On Hagrid we learn that Dumbledore feels that he can trust Hagrid with his life. Ones life perhaps, but not their secrets at any rate - but I will keep my personal opinions out of this. Obviously there is a fair amount of loyalty in this relationship. But more on Hagrid in later chapters.

I do have something to note about McGonagall here. When she asks Dumbledore about Harry surviving the curse, Dumbledore's answer is very discreet once again. His reply is, "We can only guess... we may never know." But by this point Dumbledore DOES know (or at least he has made a very good guess). He has that letter in his pocket and the blood protection all worked out in his head. Why doesn't he feel fit to confide in McGonagall?
Just as a note of interest here, in HBP, it is Harry who refuses to confide in her.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 12:34 (UTC)
Point 4

Hee hee hee!
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 11:45 (UTC)
I have always been a bit disturbed by Dumbledore in this chapter.

Here are my observations:
"... when you could have been out celebrating..." (Dumbledore to McGonagall)

Is this perhaps an indication towards Dumbledore's 'less than caring' attitude, or merely an very strong indication as to just how bad things really were before the fall of Voldemort?
Both Dumbledore and McGonagall were close to the Potters. [They had been their mentors at school (which the Potters had left not very long before this happened). James had thought it fit to lend Dumbledore his cloak - so obviously they were still in contact. The Potters were a part of the Order.] They had just been murdered roughly 24 hours before this.
Surely the idea of celebrating just doesn't fit in with the idea of murder.

Yes, Voldemort was gone. But at a cost.

"It would be enough to turn any boy's head..."

I am sure that Dumbledore was probably just trying to convince Minerva that sending Harry to the Dursleys was perhaps the best move. I also think it was a ploy for us, as readers, to not question why Harry was sent there (we only learn that in OotP).

In OotP, Dumbledore says to Harry that he knew he was "condemning him to ten dark and difficult years". He said he knew Harry was in incredible danger from the Death Eaters; AND that he knew Voldemort would, at some point, return. Was Harry just another, nameless, faceless person at this time? Was Dumbledore more concerned about him 'being alive' than anything else? Because one can't argue that Harry had a pleasant upbringing.

Couldn't he have done something else? I know he isn't a Seer. But he did say that he 'knew'. If he even suspected that Harry could have had a less than decent childhood, why didn't he intervene, check in on him throughout the following years? Dumbledore knew Riddle as a child. He saw some of the conditions that could possibly have made Riddle what he was. Why risk that with Harry?

I don't know. I just can't seem to justify Dumbledore's lack of action here.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 14:23 (UTC)
The night before Chapter 1

First thing. This is a school night. (31 October) The school year has been in session for 2 months already.
So, I think we can assume that McGonagall was initially at school, and that there is a strong likelihood that Dumbledore and Hagrid were there too (allowing for the fact that either of them could have been doing something for the Order at the time).

1. Dumbledore learns SOMEHOW that Voldemort is gone AND that James and Lily are dead. BUT he knows that Harry is still alive. (This is a massive HOW question in my mind.)

2. Dumbledore tells Hagrid to get Harry out and probably to take him to 4 Privet Drive. I suspect that he told him to only take Harry there the following night at a particular time. [In PoA, Hagrid says that when Sirius asked to take Harry that he had his orders from Dumbledore. Also, the fact that when Hagrid meets Dumbledore, the conversation they have seems to reflect that they haven't communicated since the initial instructions were given. "...house was almost destroyed but I got him out all right..."

3. Hagrid tells McGonagall where Dumbledore is going to be. The reason I think this happens before he collects Harry is that he didn't tell McGonagall that Lily and James were dead - which he would have known if he had rescued Harry already, nor that Harry was going to be there. "And I don't suppose you are going to tell me why you're here, of all places?" McGonagall wouldn't have asked that if she already knew why Dumbledore was there. McGonagall is also surprised to hear that Hagrid is bringing Harry to Privet Drive.

4. Hagrid gets Harry from Godric's Hollow. I suspect this didn't take too long, as it appears that Hagrid can Apparate (refer to the chapter Diagon Alley, where Harry turns to see Hagrid, and he is gone.)

5. Hagrid meets Sirius and gets the motor bike. From PoA, we know that Sirius saw James and Lily's dead bodies at Godric Hollow. Sirius doesn't mention seeing Harry though, which is odd perhaps. I have wondered if they met somewhere else, and not at Godrics Hollow. The text, if looking at it that way, does seem to be unclear. The reason for me wondering this, is that a flying motor bike around Muggles was not likely to be a good idea (and according to Hagrid, the Muggles were starting to swarm in). But when looking at PoA, this does look rather 'iffy'.

6. Sirius goes off to hunt for Pettigrew, not informing Hagrid of what he is doing.

7. Morning - McGonagall arrives at Privet Drive.

8. Sirius is arrested after his confrontation with Peter.

9. The rest of the day passes. ????
I wonder if Harry was taken to somewhere in Wales, as, if Harry feel asleep over Bristol, it would be in the right direction. I have also toyed with the idea of Harry seeing someone in the medical field. (According to Hagrid in PoA, he had a gash across his forehead, and they didn't send him to Privet Drive all bloody.) I think we can rule out that Harry was taken to Hogwarts, as the time covered on the motorbike is likely to be similar to that of the flying car in CoS. They would have needed more time to get that right. Also, flying that distance on a charmed Muggle vehicle was not likely either (refer to CoS) as they probably would have been seen. St Mungo's though, is in the wrong direction, and probably too public too. I think it is likely that Harry was delivered at night because of the secrecy that darkness provides.

10. The meeting at Privet Drive.

Hmmm... if I have forgotten something, or overseen something, let me know.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 14:40 (UTC)
Point 9, addition. If Godric's Hollow is near Scotland then it could work out as far as travelling time goes.

Anyone have the foggiest where 'wild moor' might be?
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 15:00 (UTC)
Just out of curiosity...

Does anyone have a clue why Dumbledore left Harry on the doorstep. I wouldn't leave anything on a doorstep and expect it to be there the next day. The thought of leaving a baby - and one that had just 'defeated' the most evil wizard - on a doorstep distubs me.

Dumbledore said in OotP that Harry was in danger. I know the likelihood of a Death Eater finding him in Privet Drive was minimal... but still!!!

I initially thought it was the blood protection that would have kept him safe, but Dumbledore says in OotP that Petunia finished the charm by taking him in. So I get the impression that Harry was defenceless before he was accepted into the home.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 11th October 2006 15:04 (UTC)
Questions and themes that might/are going to become relevant in later chapters:

1. The letter to the Dursleys.

2. What does Petunia know about the Wizarding World?

3. The blood-protection.

4. The missing day.

5. What happened that night in Godric's Hollow?

6. Harry's scar.

7. Who knew where the Potters were staying? Who was told the secret?

If you can think of any more from this chapter, feel free to add them.
wandrin_dreamerpan_alchemist on 13th October 2006 15:58 (UTC)
8. (Can't believe I forgot to add this) How did Dumbledore know what happened that night in Godrics Hollow? No one had survived a killing curse before. How did he work out what Lily had done?