The Quidditch season begins, and Harry is about to play in his first match against Slytherin. To prepare, Harry borrows a book entitled Quidditch Through the Ages from Hermione. Professor Snape discovers Ron, Harry, and Hermione out with the book one evening and confiscates it from Harry on the feeble pretext that library books may not be taken outside. Harry’s suspicions of Snape continue to grow. Harry notices that Snape is limping. Going off to retrieve the book from Snape, Harry overhears Snape talking to Argus Filch about the three-headed dog, which makes Harry even more suspicious.
The next morning, the Quidditch match begins. Harry plays the position of Seeker, which means he must capture a little object called the Golden Snitch. He spots it and is flying toward it when the Slytherin Seeker pushes him out of the way and is penalized. Later in the game, Harry’s broom begins moving uncontrollably. Hagrid comments that only dark magic could make a broomstick so hard to manage. Hermione notices that Snape is staring at Harry and muttering to himself. As the Weasley twins try to rescue their teammate Harry, Hermione rushes over to Snape, sneaks behind him, and sets his robe on fire. Suddenly, the spell on Harry’s broom is broken and Harry is once again in control. He starts speeding toward the ground and lands, catching the Snitch.
Hagrid takes Harry back to his hut with Hermione and Ron, who tells Harry that Snape was putting a curse on his broomstick. Hagrid does not believe this charge, asking why Snape would try to kill Harry. Harry tells Hagrid about Snape getting injured by the dog in the third-floor corridor. Hagrid involuntarily reveals that the three-headed dog, Fluffy, is his, and that what the dog is guarding is a secret known only to Albus Dumbledore and a man named Nicolas Flamel.
The good and the wicked sides of Hogwarts become more distinct in these chapters as the novel’s major characters begin to move into opposition. Just as the Quidditch players are divided into two opposing teams, Hogwarts separates into those allied with Dumbledore’s rightful authority and those, like Snape, who seem to be plotting some wrongdoing against it. Harry’s success at Quidditch foreshadows his later successful role in the more important standoff between good and bad in the story, and so it is significant that such an outright sign of evil occurs during the Quidditch game. We see that identifying one’s enemy is a key part of any game strategy, and when Hermione notices that Snape seems to be muttering a curse on Harry’s broomstick, it is suggested that teamwork is equally necessary. Hermione is playing on Harry’s team just as much as his Quidditch teammates are, only in a different and more important game. Her role is just as important as Harry’s, because without her assistance Harry might have fallen from his broomstick to his death. Though it is merely a game, Quidditch is given such significance throughout the story precisely because it demands both individual talent and teamwork in equal measure. Harry’s education at Hogwarts teaches him not just that he has unique magic powers, but also that he needs to cultivate friends and allies if he is going to be able to use these powers effectively.
Read more about the symbolism behind Quidditch.
The game takes on greater significance, however, with the idea that it is not merely a contest between noble Gryffindors and cunning Slytherins but between good and evil. Hagrid’s comment that only dark magic could make Harry’s broomstick wobble so much indicates that the game has evolved from being a relatively friendly competition to being one of outright hostility. The use of dark magic forces Harry to face a more urgent threat—the need to survive. Hermione’s decision to help save Harry’s life by setting fire to Snape’s robe demonstrates how the game’s heightened stakes result in heightened motivations and consequences. As the forces of good and evil in the story draw closer, these motivations and consequences continue to intensify.