Summer vacation comes to an end and Harry and Weasleys pack up and head to King's Cross Station. Running late they quickly head through the barrier to Platform 9 3/4 in pairs. Harry and Ron are the last to go, but the barrier won't let them through. After a couple minutes of panic, they decide to use the car to get to school. They reach the school, just as the car starts to lose steam (gas? magic?). The car crashes into a tree that proceeds to beat the ever-loving poo out of it and them, breaking Ron's wand in the process. The car escapes into the forest and the boys head to the castle where they're intercepted by Snape. Snape gleefully leads the boys down to his office, informing them that they were seen by several muggles. They are soon joined by McGonagall and Dumbledore, who assign them detention and tell them they're going to inform their families. After a dinner of sandwiches, they head upstairs, where all of Gryffindor is waiting to celebrate their grand entrance.
I LOVE the Hogwarts Express. That symbolic journey between the real world and the magical world are generally some of my favorite chapters. This could certainly be one of the reasons that I don't like this chapter much.
I'm also rather intolerant of stupidity and this chapter's just chock-full of that. There are any number of ways that Harry and Ron could have gotten to Hogwarts without taking the car and the fact that they didn't think of any of them irks me. Maybe it's normal for 12-year-old boys to act on the first idea they come up with, I don't know, I've never been one. Even so, the idiocy of the idea in the first place is unbelievable.
I can understand why Rowling did things this way, the car, the willow and the barricade closing are all important later on, and she does make an effort to have the decision make sense: Ron wonders if his parents will be able to get through, Harry notices that they're being stared at, etc. but I need something more for this chapter to be reasonable to me.
What are your feelings on the Flying Ford Anglia problem?