Chapters on the Hogwarts Express are some of my favorites in the series (with the notable exception of Half Blood Prince, because I think Harry's pretty much a complete moron in that one) and this one is probably top 3 all-time Hogwarts Express chapters. There are a lot of reasons to love this chapter, not the least of which is the introduction of the Weasleys, so expect some serious Weasley love to come as we dive in.
First, a quick, nit picky dialogue thing. How stupid would Mrs. Weasley have to be not to know the platform? "Now, what's the platform number?" There's no indication throughout the series that it's ever been anything different. It's still platform 9 3/4 in the epilogue. Why wouldn't Mrs. Weasley, a graduate of Hogwarts herself who has been dropping children off at the station every year for at least the previous 9 (i.e. since 1982 at the latest) know what the bloody platform was?! I'm open to your suggestions.
This chapter presents a microcosm of the evolution of my undying love for Fred and George. While my twin-love continued to grow throughout the series, it definitely started here. When Fred fools his mother into thinking he's George and then immediately tells her he's not, you're not sure if he's a bit of a jerk, or if he's to be the comic relief. When George calls Fred over to help Harry get his trunk in, you become certain they're not jerks and will therefore probably be comic relief. When they feign surprise that Percy is a prefect, you know they're going to be the comic relief. When they try to stop Ginny from crying by promising her letters and a toilet seat, you know they're comic relief with a heart and for me, that was enough to make me fall in love.
One of the reasons I love the Weasleys so much is they remind me of my own family. There weren't as many of us, and we were all girls, but we loved each other and generally liked spending time together. Sure we had fights, I'm sure my sisters would tell you that I had my Percy moments (as did at least one of them) but we were always family. I'll probably get into more of that as we spend time in the Burrow in future books, but I saw that family mentality in this chapter and identified with it immediately.
Lets talk sweets. Personally, I have never tried a Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean, I'm not a big jelly bean fan in the first place, throw in flavors like dirt and I'm going to have to say no thanks, but I have eaten and enjoyed several chocolate frogs. What I'm very excited for though, is my trip later this year to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, where I've heard they will have many of the other sweets listed in this chapter. I can't wait to try pumpkin pasties and chocolate cauldrons!
***Sudden random thought***
Ollivander's uses three different cores, phoenix feathers, unicorn hair and dragon heartstring. Does anyone else find it odd that two of those can be obtained fairly humanely and one has to be procured through the death of the donor? Are there vegan witches and wizards? What if a wand with a core of dragon heartstring chooses them? Would they go with a wand that won't work as well for them, or would they put aside their principles for the sake of their spell-casting? As a vegetarian myself, I would find myself in quite a moral dilemma! (Comments encouraged)
Its an eventful train ride to say the least; the boys almost get in a fight and are saved by the man who got Harry's parents killed and Ron meets his future wife, but for me the beauty of this chapter is in its seeming simplicity. We meet the cast of characters and learn a little bit more about the world we're about to immerse ourselves in. Our appetites have been whetted, and we're ready to see who answers Hagrid's knock.