Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

So, in preparation for 21 July, I am re-reading the previous six books. I gave myself plenty of time to do it, forgetting that they are all pretty easy reads. I just finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and it’s amazing how riddled it is with little hints and clues. I must have been aware of that on some level, but since I’m savoring it slowly looking for meaning, a bunch of things jump out. Many of the things foreshadow later events, leaving me to wonder how much of book seven is actually included from the very beginning, if only I knew where to look. Mainly, the book leaves me with some questions.

For example, when Harry and Hermione get caught out of bed after handing Norbert off to Charlie’s friends, why didn’t they lie about what they were doing? I should think that “studying” is a pretty darn good excuse for being on top of the astronomy tower in the middle of the night, especially when Hermione is involved. And clearly they lie about other things, so it’s not as though Rowling thinks that lying is a problem. Granted, the resulting detention leads to an important scene in the forest, but it seems a little weak to me. Couldn’t there have been another way to orchestrate that? Or is it a subtle message that accepting punishment leads to greater rewards?

What is the deal with socks? Is it really just a throwaway? Or does Rowling have a secret sock obsession? Or is it possible that socks will play a vital role in the end of the saga? I’m not exactly sure how that would work, like maybe Voldemort would be trapped inside of a sock and then unraveled, but there are too many sock references for comfort.

How about that Draught of Living Death? It comes up in the first Potions class, but not again. That suggests, to me, that it might be important later. I know we’ve been over this before and it’s probably wishful thinking, but…are we sure that Dumbledore is dead? Especially when he says that he would trust Hagrid with his life…and note that Hagrid is the one who handles the body in book six.

Snape. Oh, Snape. I really do think he’s good. And I think that Rowling sends an important message, that it’s possible to dislike someone and still help them. And is it conceivably possible that Snape is conflicted within himself over his own emotions? Perhaps he hates the sight of Harry because it reminds him of episodes in his past…and perhaps he also secretly cares deeply for Harry because he liked Harry’s mother, and Harry is a living connection to Lily. Especially when Snape passed on the information which led to Lily’s death…might he feel just a bit remorseful about that?

And Malfoy. I really do think that Malfoy is the worst sort of little wanker. Desperate for power and social status, he goes to any lengths to get what he wants, and doesn’t really care about the consequences. I know that some people felt sorry for Malfoy after book six, and I just don’t. Malfoy got what he deserved. That might not be quite how Rowling wants me to view it, but there it is. I think she intended to suggest that striving for power at all costs was dangerous, and that it could land you in a great deal of trouble. I also think that Malfoy might try to redeem himself in book seven. Possibly.

Is there a Horcrux in Hogwarts? It seems possible. We’re told that Gringotts is the safest place for anything (is there a Horcrux in Gringotts?) “‘cept maybe Hogwarts.” I’ll bet our dear friend Voldemort hid a Horcrux somewhere on his visit back to Hogwarts to lobby for the Defense Against the Dark Arts job. Knowing Voldemort, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it somewhere in Slytherin house, one of the few places in the castle we haven’t visited. Is it possible that Kreacher is going to retrieve it for Harry?

Will Harry live? I’ve been pretty firmly saying “no,” but then there’s this at the start of chapter 16: “In years to come, Harry would never quite remember…” This is an interesting choice of construction, because if he’s going to die in six years, framing things in terms of “years to come” seems a bit excessive. Perhaps Rowling included that for a reason, suggesting that there would in fact be “years to come” for Harry?

What do you see in the first Harry Potter book? I’ll be posting my individual thoughts on each book as I finish, and you all should jump in on them.

[Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone]