Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Chapter Eight: The Deathday Party
October arrives, bringing rain. Quidditch practice continues. One evening as Harry is walking back through the castle corridors, he encounters Nearly- Headless Nick, the not-quite beheaded Gryffindor ghost. Nick is looking gloomy and Harry asks why, only to hear Nick explain that he has just been rejected from the Headless Hunt on account of his head being unable to come all the way off. The conversation ends in a flash, as they are spied by Mrs. Norris, Filch the caretaker's cat, and Nick warns Harry to hurry off, so as not to get in trouble for tracking in mud. Filch spies Harry and drags him into his office, begins to write up a punishment complaint, but is interrupted by a large crash. Filch rushes out. While he is gone Harry peers curiously into an open envelope on the desk and finds a mail-order course called "Kwikspell" for wizards who are not fully magical. He returns it before Filch returns, gleefully telling his cat that Peeves the Poltergeist will certainly be expelled for damaging a valuable cabinet. Filch stops mid-sentence when he notices that the Kwikspell envelope is so close to Harry's elbow, and he asks hysterically whether Harry read it. Harry lied that he hadn't, and Filch seems quite alarmed and lets Harry go.
Outside, Nick explains that he had told Peeves to cause a distraction, and Harry is quite grateful and asks if there is anything he can do to help with the rejection from the Headless Hunt. Nick replies joyfully that he could attend his 500th Deathday party, taking place on Halloween, and during it mention to the other headless ghosts how terribly impressive and frightening all the students find Nick. Harry agrees to come, and he invites Ron and Hermione. On Halloween, the three head to the dungeons where they hear awful, scratchy music, they smell rotting food, and they glimpse hundreds of see-through figures. Nick welcomes them and they take a look around, watching the ghosts dance and walk through the table of rotting food, trying to taste it. Hermione spies a ghost from the girls' bathroom, Moaning Myrtle, and quickly leads her friends away, hoping not to get into a conversation with her.
Peeves approaches at this point, mentions having heard the three speaking of Myrtle, and calls Myrtle over. Hermione says hastily that they were just saying how nice she looked tonight, but Myrtle moans that they were making fun of her, and she proceeds to list all the attributes they might have mocked: fat, ugly, moping. Peeves notes that she had forgotten pimply, and Myrtle flees tearfully from the party. Nick arrives at this point, introduces them to the (headless) head of the Headless Hunt, and the three living students are past ready to leave. They hurry off during Nick's speech, and in the passageway Harry hears an eerie murderous voice saying that it is time to kill. He tears off in the direction from which it comes, his friends close at his heels, and they arrive in a deserted corridor and see scrawled on a wall, "The chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir, Beware." Then from the ceiling they see a stiff, hanging cat-Mrs. Norris. Suddenly the halls rumble and fill with people coming out of the feast, and Draco Malfoy calls out, grinning and delighted, "You'll be next, Mudbloods!"
Not only is there life after death in the wizard world, but life's problems don't end after death. Peeves still acts bitter, mischievous and vengeful. Nick is excluded from the Headless Hunt and feels dejected. Myrtle is still self- conscious and miserable. None of these ghosts are particularly happy, but they get along. This landscape of the afterworld mirrors the other human landscapes in these novels. Whether a community is made up of Muggles, wizards, ghosts, students or teachers, it possesses all the interactions and triumphs and disappointments of the world that we experience. Nobody is exempt from life as we live it, but everybody has his or her own different tools while moving through it.
In this chapter, we are introduced to a new anomaly in the wizard world. We have learned of Mudbloods, wizards being born to non-wizards, but only when Harry reads Filch's letter do we learn of non-wizards born to wizards. Filch is one of these, and he is clearly quite self-conscious about that fact, growing flustered and self-conscious to the point that he even lets Harry go unpunished.
When Harry heard the voice a second time, his reaction is to run toward it-an instinctive quality that enables him to "live up to"-or rather, in a scale of fairness-deserve the fame given him at birth. When a frightening situation presents itself, Harry does not rest until he is certain that everybody is safe. He does not run away from the voice but toward it, hoping that he can stop the possessor of the voice from doing what it threatens to do. This is why Harry Potter succeeds, as we learn more further in the story. He does not survive situations without assistance-rather, he survives each one only with great assistance from friends and teachers.
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