"[The Sorting Hat] only put my in Gryffindor," said Harry in a defeated voice, because I asked not to go in Slytherin." "Exactly," said Dumbledore, beaming once more. "Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
These wise words, spoken after Harry has emerged from the Chamber of Secrets, abate Harry's fear that he shares traits with Tom Riddle. Dumbledore explains the connection between the major heroic lessons in this novel. The bigotry of pure-blooded wizards, Harry's ability to defeat Voldemort, and Harry's own heroism, are all addressed by these words. Heroism is unconnected to a person's history, family line, or encounters. Both Harry and Voldemort are great wizards, but what they do with their greatness tells the most about who they are. Harry Potter saves Ginny Weasley and sets Dobby free; Voldemort manipulates the masses to commit murder. Dumbledore's words constitute the greatest truth in the book, and make Harry the appropriate hero. Harry takes what he is given and uses it to the best of his ability.