Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The Leaky Cauldron
Harry spends much of the next couple weeks wandering around Diagon Alley, purchasing school supplies, doing homework and ogling broomsticks. Eventually, other Hogwarts students start showing up and finally, on the last day before term, Ron and Hermione appear. Scabbers is looking a bit worse for wear and Hermione wants to get an owl, so the trio head to a magical creatures store, where Scabbers is attacked by a cat that Hermione subsequently buys. That night Harry and Hermione join the Weasley's for dinner at the Leaky Cauldron. After dinner, Harry overhears Mr. and Mrs. Weasley arguing over whether Harry has the right to know that Sirius Black is after him. Harry's not really all that phased, it's not like Black's the first person to want to kill him after all, and Harry feels quite safe with Dumbledore around.
This might be one of my top three favorite chapters in the entire series; it certainly makes the top ten. Basically, I desperately want to stay in the Leaky Cauldron and wander around Diagon Alley all day for two weeks, it sounds like the best vacation ever! As I've said before (I think, though I can't seem to find it to link it right now) what keeps me coming back to Harry Potter is the wizarding world and how much I wish I could live there. That's one of the big reasons I so enjoy this chapter, the first half in particular. There's no real plot developments (yes we learn about the Firebolt and the Grim), it's mostly just Harry enjoying the world, and we get to come along for the ride! I'm going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida with a bunch of fellow Potterheads this winter and the thing I look forward to most is meandering through Hogsmeade, exploring the shops and drinking butterbeer. This chapter is exactly what I'm hoping for from the trip.
Now that I've finished rhapsodizing, I do have a couple questions that came up as I was reading:
*What's the difference between a wizard and a warlock?
*Why can't you just pass through the entrance to Diagon Alley like Platform 9 3/4?
*How does Harry manage to eat a sundae every half hour without being violently sick?
*Why on earth would anyone give away a free sundae every half hour to the same person?
*Where is Mrs. Weasley's sense of humor?
My brain also went off on a more lengthy tangent when the trio went to the Magical Menagerie (pet store). I wondered if there are magical pet rescues where one could adopt magical creatures or whether there were magical creature mills (like puppy mills) turning out magical creatures to meet the high demand. Obviously, as a pet store, they don't seem to bother much about whether the witch or wizard purchasing the animal will be a good pet guardian, just that they can lay the money down to take it home. Also, is the witch working at the store a magical vet? Did she take other courses of study beyond Care of Magical Creatures (which doesn't exactly seem to focus on domesticated magical creatures) for her to be able to give care advice?
People had mixed feelings about my concerns about mandrake ethics, I'm curious to know your thoughts on other magical creatures. The domesticated ones in particular. Also, if anyone would like to take a crack at trying to come up with an answer to any of my other questions or just agree or disagree with my thoughts on the awesomeness of Diagon Alley, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section!