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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

J. K. Rowling

Chapter Three: The Burrow

Chapter Two: Dobby's Warning

Chapter Four: At Flourish and Blotts

Summary

Harry, awakened from a dream in which someone is tapping at his cage, peers out his barred window to see his best friend, Ron Weasley, inside a car suspended in midair driven/flown by his twin older brothers, Fred and George. Ron explains that he was worried when Harry failed to answer his letters and so came to rescue him from the Dursleys. The four boys work together to yank the bars off Harry's window. Fred and George, two avid pranksters, pick the lock on Harry's door and tiptoe downstairs to collect Harry's trunk. They manage to escape out the window, but without Hedwig, who screeches loudly, waking Uncle Vernon, who runs upstairs in a fury. A game of tug-a-war ensues. The Weasleys pull on Harry's arms and Vernon pulls on his legs. The Weasleys win, and the boys all drive off through the night sky.

In the car, Harry recounts his experience with Dobby, and Fred and George inform him that house-elves usually belong to old, wealthy wizard families. This information leads Harry to believe that Dobby must live with Draco Malfoy, Harry's least favorite person at Hogwarts. Harry believes that Draco must have sent his house-elf to prevent Harry from coming back to school. Harry mentions the incident to the twins, who inform him that Lucius Malfoy, Draco's father, was a loyal follower of Voldemort, an evil wizard. The boys discuss Mr. Weasley, who works in the Ministry of Magic in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Department, reversing the damage caused when bewitched objects do strange and dangerous things. The Weasley twins explain that their father loves anything having to do with Muggles, and bought this car so that he could tinker with and put spells on it.

At dawn they arrive at the Weasleys' crooked and disorderly house, The Burrow, and they are met by a furious and frightened Mrs. Weasley. She greets Harry warmly, and then stormily chastises her boys, setting them to work de-gnoming the garden. Harry decides to tag along on this venture. Before they begin, Mrs. Weasley consults a book by Gilderoy Lockhart on how to remove household pests, and when she admires his moving, winking cover photo and praises his knowledge, it is obvious that she has a crush on the author. The de-gnoming consists of peering through their untidy lawn and pulling small, leathery potato-like gnomes from bushes and violently flinging them out into a nearby field, rendering them too dizzy to find their way back. Harry tries politely to drop a gnome over the fence, but it senses his hesitation and bites him, so he resorts to flinging them.

By the time the de-gnoming is finished, Mr. Weasley has arrive home from a long night of work, and he talks for a moment about odd charms he saw throughout the evening. His wife is livid with him for enchanting their car. He apologizes but his guilt is clearly overridden by his childlike excitement at hearing the details of the car-flying experience. Ron takes Harry up to his bedroom, passing his younger sister Ginny on the way up, who blushes shyly and quite clearly has a crush on Harry. Ron's room is small and covered entirely with posters of Quidditch, a sport played on broomsticks; Ron is clearly self-conscious and apologetic about the small size and shabbiness of his house, but Harry is wide- eyed and thrilled by all of it.

Analysis

This is the escape/transition scene which occurs in some form in each of the four Harry Potter books. Harry wrangles his way out of the clutches of the Dursleys in order to get to Hogwarts; he must escape the Muggle world to enter the world of magic. The difficulty of transitioning demonstrates the rift between the two worlds. Uncle Vernon, who is quite disgusted by the idea of anything magical, does not want Harry to cross the threshold, away from the certainty of 4 Privet Drive. We are to assume that part of his hesitation comes from the fact that he enjoys tormenting his nephew, and that part comes from the fact that he does not want to acknowledge that magic exists. But we know that Harry must leave 4 Privet Drive, simply because he must enter his own element. For the first time in the book, Harry feels at home. The Weasley children and parents enjoy Harry's company, treating him as a friend and equal-they do not fawn over him as Dobby does, nor do they regard him distrustfully the way the Dursleys do.

We see, once at The Burrow, the normalcy of the wizard world. The Dursleys seem plastic and grotesque in contrast to the lively, palpable Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley experiences the anger and fear that any human mother would when she wakes up in the night and finding her sons and the family car missing. Mr. Weasley returns from his job tired, yet immensely curious when confronted with a topic he loves (Muggle artifacts). The boys are sentenced to do yard work when they misbehave; they jest and bicker as boys typically do. When Ginny sees Harry, the object of her affection, she blushes and drops things. Nothing is unusual about the actions and reactions of these people, other than the fact that they are, by the nature of their being wizards, unusual. The Weasleys are loving, quirky and human; with this in mind, we are first led into the wizard world in its full, multi-dimensional state.

This chapter makes several allusions to events that will become of greater significance throughout this story. Rowling frequently uses foreshadowing, mentioning a name or a situation in passing that later resurfaces as a key figure in the plot. One of these instances is Ginny Weasley's crush on Harry; we see it begin here at The Burrow, and we can expect it to reappear in the plot. another is the mention of Gilderoy Lockhart, a vain and well-traveled wizard who is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. Finally, the Weasley's lack of money, which stands in stark contrast to Harry's abundance of it, becomes important in the following chapter.

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