Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by: J. K. Rowling

Chapters 5–6

Summary Chapters 5–6

Harry’s acquisition of his magic wand is a key symbol of his new identity. It symbolizes his fate, as he does not choose the wand he wants, but is chosen by it, just as he is chosen by fate to be a wizard. His own will and preference do not matter; his wizardry is beyond personal choice. The wand also connects Harry to his past and to his future. The storeowner remembers clearly the wands he once sold to Harry’s mother and father, which were made of willow and mahogany, respectively. These details give Harry a more concrete view of his parents than he has ever had (foreshadowing the family photos that Hagrid later gives Harry). Furthermore, because Harry’s wand is similar to the wand that Voldemort used to give Harry his lightning-bolt scar, this wand directly connects him to the trauma of losing his parents, a loss that changed his life. Yet the future is suggested as much as the past; it is clearly foreshadowed that the wand and the wand’s twin, which is in Voldemort’s possession, will be used in a final, climactic standoff between good and evil. Finally, the wand is a symbol of Harry’s new hero status—it is as though Harry is to redeem the world’s goodness. As Voldemort’s ultimate rival, Harry is set up as Voldemort’s potential equal. This hero status is evident on the shopping trip and on the train, where Harry’s new acquaintances are all aware of his fame. The magic wand, still unused but potentially powerful, is a fitting emblem of Harry’s immense and untapped skill.