Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews October 1, 2023
September 24, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
*See discount terms and conditions.
When Harry arrives downstairs for breakfast, nobody blinks an eye. Uncle Vernon is buried behind the morning paper, and his son Dudley is sulking furiously about the grapefruit that Aunt Petunia is slicing into quarters. Dudley's school has written to the Dursleys, saying that they have no knickerbockers to accommodate his gigantic behind. Dursely has gone on a diet. Aunt Petunia has placed the whole family under Dudley's diet, which Harry has survived by asking his friends to send him food by owl.
Breakfast is interrupted by the arrival of the postman with a letter, and Uncle Vernon calls Harry into a side room. He is furious that the letter is from Ron's mother, Molly Weasley, who is inviting Harry to attend the Quidditch World Cup and stay with her family for the rest of the summer. What most infuriates Uncle Vernon is that the letter is in an envelope covered in dozens of stamps. Uncle Vernon makes it clear that he doesn't want Harry around for the rest of the summer, but that he doesn't want Harry to get his way by getting to leave. Finally Harry mentions casually that he must finish a letter to Sirius Black, and Uncle Vernon looks terrified and grumpily tells Harry to go, not wanting a convicted murderer to show up thinking that Harry is being mistreated.
Harry bounces upstairs delightedly to find that his snowy owl, Hedwig, has returned from a night flight, and that another, smaller owl is zooming around the room. The smaller owl, Pig, is Ron Weasley's new owl, and it delivered a note from Ron saying for Harry to be ready to leave for the Quidditch Cup the following night at five. Harry writes back to Ron and sends his letter out to Sirius, feeling most optimistic about the end of the summer.
Harry packs his trunks and is ready to leave by noon the next day; the Dursleys are all silent and terrified. Uncle Vernon makes several snide comments about how he hopes that the Weasleys will think to dress properly. Five o'clock comes and the Weasleys have not yet arrived. Finally, at a quarter past five, loud banging sounds come from inside the Dursleys' boarded-up fireplace, and Harry knows instantly that the Weasleys have tried to travel by Floo Powder through the fireplace network. Arthur Weasley's voice warns Harry to stand back, before the fireplace explodes, revealing the red-haired figures of Ron, the twins Fred and George, and their father, Arthur. They greet the Dursleys politely, but the Dursleys simply stare, while Dudley disappears, clutching his bottom, which spouted a pig's tail during his last encounter with a grown wizard.
Fred and George head upstairs to retrieve Harry's trunk from his room, while Mr. Weasley bravely attempts conversation with the Dursleys, who are unresponsive. When the twins return with Harry's trunk, one of them drops a pocketful of sweets on his way back to the fireplace. Harry and Mr. Weasley are the only two wizards remaining in the living room. They find that Dudley has devoured one of the sweets, thus enlarging his tongue. Aunt Petunia shrieks and tries to pull his tongue out of his mouth, while Uncle Vernon throws ornaments at Mr. Weasley. Mr. Weasley tries to restore the tongue.
These chapters contrast the real world that we recognize and the magical wizard world. To reach Hogwarts, one only must walk casually between two train platforms; here, we also see the boundary between those worlds, and the ease with which Harry steps into the fireplace and crosses it. This makes the Wizard world familiar and imaginable. J.K. Rowling has said that one of her goals was to create a world accessible to those who know where to look. Furthermore, Harry's craftiness in getting permission to join the Weasleys is as new step in Harry's ability to overcome the boundaries imposed on his life by his relatives. With each book, his escape into the world of Magic requires Harry to take more initiative. In this fourth book, Harry is bolder, cleverer, and more experienced in escape tactics.
The introduction of the two families portrays each character humorously. The kind and curious Mr. Weasley does everything he can to make conversation with the Dursleys, who stare at him in frightened and confused dismay. The Weasley twins are polite and helpful, but their manners are laced with mischief. Harry watches everything with amusement and fascination, as does Ron. This face-off between extreme representations of the two respective worlds provides a transition that reflects Harry's shift from one to the next.