Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keeper of the Keys

I'm moving! - Across the street! - To an apartment run by the same property management company I currently rent from! Why am I telling you this? Because my awesome property manager is going to give me the keys early and I'll have about two weeks to move my stuff, mostly after work and on weekends. Now, if the weather stays awesome, I might manage to retain enough energy to blog after moving all I can stand everyday, but if I don't, I don't want you to think I've forgotten you. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, speaking of life changing events, Harry's about to experience a doozy. Time to see who's at the door!

The door crashes to the floor and silhouetted in the doorway is a huge man. He comes in, makes himself comfortable, introduces himself as Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts, and proceeds to fill Harry in on the fact that there's magic, that he's a wizard, that his parents were killed by magic, and that he's headed to Hogwarts to study magic. Hagrid also gives Harry a birthday cake (his first (that he can remember)) and gives Dudley a pigs tail. The Dursleys all hide in the bedroom and Hagrid and Harry catch a few more z's before going shopping.

While in some respects, this could be considered a boring chapter, it's pretty much just a bunch of exposition after all, its so chock-full of hints, clues and foreshadowing, the observant reader will find themselves fascinated. I count no fewer than five important points in this short chapter.

1. Harry meets Hagrid. (duh) Hagrid not only tells Harry who and what he is, but he is the first adult Harry has ever known to treat him well. He stands up for Harry, answers his questions and shows Harry more respect than Harry's ever encountered before. Not surprisingly, the meeting creates an almost instantaneous bond between the two that will carry them straight through to the Forbidden Forest and the walk to Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows.

2. "Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh've got yer mother's eyes." Hagrid's the first to say it, but we hear it from plenty of other people throughout the series. Observant readers quickly realized it had to mean something, and sure enough, this one, seemingly innocuous sentence, sets the stage for one of the most beautiful scenes in the series when Snape asks Harry to "Look at me".

3. Hagrid mentions the letter Dumbledore left. While it might not be as important as some of the other hints dropped in this chapter, we later discover that the letter Dumbledore left was not for Harry, but for Petunia, and that it was not the first time they had corresponded. That same letter may just be what later saves Harry's life at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix.

4. Speaking of Petunia, we start to see there's a little more to her than meets the eye. It's reasonably obvious the Vernon is against magic simply because he's an ass, but Petunia's vitriolic speech in which she calls her own sister a freak, could only come from a place of real emotion. We don't know yet what that emotion is, but we know there has to be more. I plan to talk a lot more about this in the future.

5. Hagrid tells Harry about Voldemort. Obviously this is a key bit of plot, for this book and the series as a whole. Before this moment, Harry thinks his parents dies in a a car crash and now he (and we) learn the truth...or as much of the truth as Hagrid knows. It's interesting to see how much Hagrid has guessed ("Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die.") and how much Hagrid got wrong ("You-Know-Who killed 'em. An' then - an' this is the real myst'ry of the thing - he tried to kill you, too. Wanted ter make a clean job of it, I suppose, or maybe he just liked killin' by then.) Regardless, the story Hagrid tells Harry is all Harry has to go on for the next four years in his battles with Voldemort.

One final thing this chapter brings up for me and that's the Trace. It seems obvious the Trace is being used to track Harry (how else would they know where he is?) but that brings up further questions as to how the Trace works. Is it attached to all wizards, or does it simply find magic? The way Voldemort modifies it in Deathly Hallows would imply the latter, but that would mean that Harry would have had to have (inadvertently) done magic in each of the places the Dursleys tried to hide, none of which is mentioned. Or is there some other, even creepier, big brother way of tracking wizards? If so, its either only for underage wizards, or Voldemort certainly would have used it in Deathly Hallows. Unless, perhaps there's some sort of self-destruct mode...

What do you think of my "important moments"? Would you add some? Do you disagree with me on any? What about the Trace? Does anyone else spend as much time trying to figure out how this stuff works as I do? I look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Wow, I never got that "Look at me" was about looking into Lily's eyes. Kind of pervy in a way. But poignant, yeah. It was poignant enough before, but thanks for deepening it for me.

    It's littlegeek, btw.

  2. I guess I always just figured DD just always knew how to find Harry no matter what. Plus most of the letters were delivered by owls who throughout the series never seem to actually NEED to know where a wizard is they just find them.

  3. It is a bit pervy now that I think about it...I'm going to try not to.

    Yes but how Mandy? Has he shown this magical ability to know where people are at any other time? He has no idea where Arthur is when he's attacked and he's the one who has them guarding the Dept. of Mysteries! I mean, sure, they know Harry's general whereabouts, and I'm totally cool with the owls being able to find people but how the heck do they know that he's moved from the cupboard beneath the stairs to the "smallest bedroom" or that he's sleeping on the floor in the shack? Does he have some sort of magical bug on one of the Dursleys?

  4. Yea, rereading my comment I lost my point that I was going to make, which was I just never gave it much thought. When you first start reading the books you just kinda think "well of course...IT'S MAGIC!" But as you learn more about the limitations that exist in the magic world, then the whole knowing exactly where he is, becomes puzzling. It's possible for the cupboard under the stairs as he was there for years and I can see possibly even knowing that he got moved to the bedroom, DD did have his neighborhood spy. But the others I'm with you on. How did they know enough to not just send the owls out but to write his exact locations on the envelope...curious.

  5. Reading "Look at me" even as a stand alone line still gives me chills. I'm going to choose not to think of Snape's last request as pervy -- more like desperate.