The Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 3: Escape from the Dursleys

I know everyone’s been posting about how they came upon and fell in love with Harry Potter in their first post but I’m not going to do that. Well, I mean I am – I’m not over here all “I do what I want, you’re not the boss of me, blog!” or anything. But I have things to say about Harry Potter and why it matters to me that are better said another day.

ImageToday, we’re cancelling the intro post!*

*Brought to you by the Society For Putting Idris Elba In All The Things

I get to recap the first time Harry comes to the Burrow and oh man, you guys. It’s the Burrow. The magical building currently tied with Howl’s Moving Castle for Magical Dwelling I’d Most Like To Live. It’s a home to Ron and his family and it’s immediately a home for Harry, too. And it was so nice that this was my first chapter to write about. This post is going up late because I spent my weekend with family and then later recovering from the emotional drain that is attending a second funeral in two weeks. Tired and wrung out and, like a comforting chat with a friend, I got to read this charming chapter. Chamber of Secrets is universally accepted as everyone’s least favorite Harry Potter but this chapter is so lovely and it was soothing after a hard few days. Reading Harry Potter after that is like coming home.

ImageI know this is for Goblet of Fire but why the hell is there a balloon?

CHAPTER THREE: THE BURROW

The chapter opens with Ron and the twins arriving in a flying car to sneak Harry away from the Dursleys. This is amazing to me. Kids these days won’t even walk to soccer practice by themselves and Harry has absolutely no problem climbing into a flying car piloted by a 12-year-old and his two 14-year-old brothers. Man, living with the Dursleys must be terrible. The Weasleys happen to have a rope with them, which is pretty convenient when you think about it. Who keeps rope in their car? Were they were afraid they’d have to tie it down or it might fly away?

They tie the rope around the bars outside Harry’s window and once they’re pulled away, Fred and George, the little menaces, use their lock-picking skills to break out Harry’s trunk from the cupboard under the stairs. They’re nearly away when Hedwig screeches, reminding Harry that he left her behind. This leads to my favorite moment in the entire chapter as the noise brings Uncle Vernon thundering into the bedroom just as Harry’s getting into the car.

Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley were all hanging, dumbstruck, out of Harry’s window. “See you next summer!” Harry yelled.

I love Harry so much in that moment. Vernon, who is so invested in keeping Harry prisoner that he wakes his entire family with cries that Harry is getting away, has to watch his hated nephew leave the house in a flying car of all things, and then he gets the ultimate kiss-off. Harry’s the best.

ImageAfter a drive through the night, Harry, the three Weasleys, and Hedwig arrive at charming rundown house held together with magic and love. They think they can sneak Harry upstairs and pretend to Molly Weasley that he turned up in the night. Incorrect.

Molly, of course, noticed her children gone, and when they get home safe and sound, she lets them have it the way only a panicked mother who spent the past few hours imagining her children smashed to death in a flying Ford can. She yells at them all and then makes them breakfast.

In the few pages, we get our first introduction to Ginny who, poor girl, turns up to breakfast in her nightgown only to find her crush there and promptly vanishes. I feel you girl. I’d die of embarrassment if it were me, but don’t worry, Ginny, you’ll grow out of finding your pajamas embarrassing. Some days they’re the only thing you ever want to wear and if the pizza guy thinks you’re going to put on pants with a zipper just for him, he’s got another thing coming.

Ahem.

We also hear of Gilderoy Lockhart, when Molly suggests they use his method to de-gnome the garden as punishment for sneaking out. Nobody thinks this is a good idea. Probably for the best – knowing Lockhart the gnomes probably would have spontaneously combusted or something. The name Mundungus Fletcher is mentioned by Arthur as well, when he comes home and talks about all the raids he conducted the night before. This is either evidence of Rowling’s amazing ability to casually mention things that become important much later or, having invented an awesome name like Mundungus Fletcher, couldn’t resist getting a bit more use out of it.

Anyways, Ron, the twins, and Harry troop outside to de-gnome the garden which mostly involves picking up little men with heads like potatoes, spinning them around, and then throwing them like the shot-put at the Wizarding Olympics. Chore done and with Molly still giving Arthur a piece of her mind for charming the car to fly, Ron and Harry climb the stairs to his bedroom. I love the detail here; the lived in feeling that comes from a boy collecting comic books and the place being a bit of a mess, and his pet there. It’s the little things that make the world feel real enough to touch and this is one of the great ways Rowling shows us wizard life instead of telling us how great it is. Ron has decorated his room in everything Chudley Cannons, another little detail that separates wizards from Muggles. After all, what Muggle would have the patience for fanatical devotion to a losing team?

Image“Let’s all just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

Ron is surprised and pleased to hear Harry proclaim his the best house in the world. So often Ron sees himself as failing to measure both to his impressive brothers and to a society that judges his family for the number of siblings he has, his father’s job, and how poor they are. He rarely feel the best or special in anything. And Harry, coming from a house where he was literally a prisoner on a street where they take pride in uniformity, can’t imagine a better home than this.

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20 thoughts on “The Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 3: Escape from the Dursleys

  1. Gretchen Alice says:

    Ron’s a better friend than I am. If someone didn’t return my dozens of letters that I’d written over the summer, I’d be all, “Forget you, Harry Potter! I’ll become friends with Seamus Finnegan instead. He seems like fun and probably won’t put me in life-threatening situations over the next several years.” But NO. Ron’s like, “Let’s go save Harry Potter!” and his family is on board with it.
    Gosh, I just want to live at the Burrow.

  2. Kevin O'Shea says:

    My dad always kept bungee cords in the car, because every so often he needed to strap something to the top or help someone secure something. It’s a practice that I’ve continued, because seriously, it’s better to have a bit of rope in the car and barely use it than to have a stranded friend’s bike fall off the top of your car when you hit a bump. And honestly, I imagine that since Molly didn’t know that the boot was bigger on the inside, she thought that they’d be strapping everyone’s school trunks to the top of the car.

  3. Alyssa says:

    What is this Idris Elba society you speak of and how do I join?

    The Burrow is the best!

    I love how Harry is always so awed by Ron’s life. Because he’s used to having nothing in the Muggle world, when he enters the Wizarding World where he suddenly has everything, he’s still able to appreciate so much that Ron takes for granted simply because it’s new and magical. I don’t know, it’s just an interesting parallel between them and one of the great things about their friendship. Harry genuinely loves Ron’s life, and it makes Ron feel all special and stuff, and it turns me into sentimental goo.

  4. Ashley says:

    I love this chapter. Ron is so used to his life he doesn’t even know how lucky he is, and yes even though the Weasleys are poor, how wonderful it is that they have each other. Harry knows what’s important, though. The Burrow represents everything he never had as a child, and for the Weasleys to welcome him so warmly into their home is basically just the best.

  5. curryalley says:

    Hey wordpress, WHY DON’T YOU MAKE THE GIFS WORK? THIS A WEBSITE ON THE INTERNET AND WE DEMAND GIFS.

  6. Dan says:

    I don’t think Chamber of Secrets is my least favorite. I actually find a huge chunk of Goblet of Fire to be insanely boring…and I’ve never verbally abused a book before Order of the Phoenix because OH MY GOD WHY AREN’T ANY OF THE ADULTS STOPPING UMBRIDGE!!??!! and WHERE ARE YOU GOING FRED AND GEORGE? YOU GET YOUR GINGER BUTTS BACK TO SCHOOL RIGHT NOW!

    Ahem.

    I guess the reason a lot of people like this book the least is because it’s clearly a soft reset before shit starts getting real in Book Three.

    • Jen says:

      It’s nice to go back and read about how their gravest concerns were poor exam grades, before there was this total feeling of dread all the time.

  7. Jennie says:

    Oh man, I love the Burrow. I know the Weasleys are poor and all but the Burrow just seems like the perfect place. Like, it just seems like a home where there would always be freshly made cookies in the kitchen.

  8. […] Charlene mentioned that Chamber of Secrets is everyone’s least favorite Harry Potter book, which I would have completely agreed with before this reread. Now I’m not so sure. Ask me again when we’re done with all of them. Maybe I’ll still agree WHO KNOWS. I don’t have a time turner (spoiler alert) so I can’t say. I’m not sure WHY this one is my least favorite. I guess it’s just because one of them has to be. Honestly, picking a least favorite Harry Potter is kind of like picking your least favorite kind of chocolate chip cookie. I mean, they’re all delicious, right? […]

  9. […] Charlene mentioned that Chamber of Secrets is everyone’s least favorite Harry Potter book, which I would have completely agreed with before this reread. Now I’m not so sure. Ask me again when we’re done with all of them. Maybe I’ll still agree WHO KNOWS. I don’t have a time turner (spoiler alert) so I can’t say. I’m not sure WHY this one is my least favorite. I guess it’s just because one of them has to be. Honestly, picking a least favorite Harry Potter is kind of like picking your least favorite kind of chocolate chip cookie. I mean, they’re all delicious, right? […]

  10. ladysugarquill says:

    “Chamber of Secrets is universally accepted as everyone’s least favorite Harry Potter”

    What? Why? I’d never heard that before! If anything, people seem more upset with Order (CAPSLOCK HARRY) or Prince (OMGWTFSHIPPINGWARS).

  11. nundu says:

    ‘Who keeps rope in their car?’
    *raises hand*
    Perhaps UK driving laws are similar to those in Germany in the 70’s (when and where I learned to drive) which required you to keep an emergency kit in your car. Said kit contained first aid kit and warning triangle (minimum), but most also contained a blanket, jumper cables and a rope. Even though I’ve been back in the US for thirty years, I still carry an emergency kit in my trunk.

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