Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by: J. K. Rowling

Quotes

"Pass the frying pan." "You've forgotten the magic word," said Harry irritably. The effect of this simple sentence on the rest of the family was incredible: Dudley gasped and fell off his chair with a crash that shook the whole kitchen; Mrs. Dursley gave a small scream and clapped her hands to her mouth; Mr. Dursley jumped to his feet, veins throbbing in his temples.

This early breakfast table scene from chapter one shows the attitude of the relatives with whom Harry lives when he is not at the Hogwarts School. These Muggles, or non-magical people, subject Harry to terrible treatment because he is magical and therefore different from their idea of "normal." Any mention of magic, as we see here, angers the Dursleys. Although this passage is humorous, it is emblematic of how the novel explores the issue of bigotry. The Heir of Slytherin's plan to wipe the school free of all wizards whose blood isn't "pure" is reminiscent of more serious attempts at ethnic cleansing that have actually occurred in history. The Malfoys also have a bigoted attitude; they express their distaste for anyone who does not share their pure blood. When Malfoy calls Hermione a Mudblood, he uses what amounts to a racial slur. One purpose of the novel is to teach that anyone, regardless of his or her background, can achieve great things.