Hey guys! I don’t have to introduce myself because we’ve already met. I get the honor of being the first repeat blogger because the algorithm in Ashley’s head hath deemed it so.
I have to say that this fabulous medicinal re-read, coupled with really hard classes I needed to escape from, has kicked off some sort of Harry Potter Madness for me (I believe that’s the technical term). I started reading and I’m now almost through Book 4, and that wasn’t enough to feed the madness, so I watched all the movies and even started making Harry Potter references in class. Good thing I go to school with a bunch of nerds. This week, my classmate told me she was walking through the basement of the school library in the middle of the night once and saw a bedroom. Later, she couldn’t find it again. I asked her if it only appeared to students who were particularly tired. Obviously, my school has a Room of Requirement, which is pretty bad ass.
Despite all the madness, my brain is making its way back to The Chamber of Secrets again. If I were an organized, forward-thinking person, I would have done each post as I went along, but then I wouldn’t be me. I’ve got my glass of wine and I’ve banished my cats from the room. Let’s do this thing.
CHAPTER 8: THE DEATHDAY PARTY
This chapter starts out with just a little tiny breadcrumb about what’s happening with Ginny and her pal, Tom Riddle. Apparently all my chapters start out with breadcrumbs. I’m just that awesome.
Ginny Weasley, who had been looking pale, was bullied into taking some [Pepperup Potion] by Percy. The steam pouring from under her vivid hair gave the impression that her whole head was on fire.
There have been a lot of hints along the way that something is UP with Ginny. The problem is that we don’t really know her yet. She is not yet the confident heartthrob who captures the hearts of all Gryffindor boys with her bat bogey hexes; she’s just Ron’s little sister. She never really says much and turns red and runs away whenever Harry is around. Since we see through Harry’s eyes, we can’t really tell that something’s up because he basically ignores her.
Upon re-read, however, it seems so STINKING OBVIOUS that Ginny is the one opening the chamber, or at least that she is acting weird and her brothers are doing the thing that most people in the Potterverse do when someone tries to tell them something important; they are completely ignoring her and/or telling her she must be sick. These kids are always saving the world and stuff, but heaven forbid we actually listen to them when they speak.
Moving on, the rest of this chapter is spent with Harry getting in trouble with Filch and then going to the most depressing party ever. Harry tracks all kinds of mud in after Quidditch practice (Sigh, remember when Harry’s biggest day-to-day worries were winning at Quidditch and not losing too many points for Gryffindor in the battle for the House Cup?) and Filch is PISSED. All of this is a device so we can be introduced to the concept of Squibs, which I will cover in the next chapter. Harry discovers Filch’s Kwikspell course and Filch gets EVEN MORE PISSED. Peeves, however, breaks the vanishing cabinet (OMG, that will be SO IMPORTANT LATER) on Nearly Headless Nick’s suggestion and Harry gets away.
As a favor to Nick, whom he feels very sorry for given his rejection from the Headless Hunt, Harry agrees to go to his 500th deathday party. It becomes evident very quickly that ghosts throw the worst bashes ever complete with rotten food and stuck-up headless dudes. Harry has about this much fun:
It must be pretty bad to have to skip out on an awesome Halloween feast in an actual haunted castle to hang out with dismal ghosts and listen to their musical saws. This scene always amuses me because I picture Nick’s deathday party taking place in the part of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland where all the ghost holograms dance around. I was fascinated by that special effect when I was a kid. I thought it was real magic. Or real ghosts. I have always pictured it that way so I can’t shake the image, especially because they left it out of the movie.
Anyway, the headless hunt busts in and turns a boring, depressing party into an obnoxious one, and our heroes make their exit. Harry hears the terrible voice again talking about ripping, tearing, and killing people, which is extremely unpleasant, so of course he follows it. I’m pretty sure if I heard a voice saying it was going to do terrible things, I would be running in the opposite direction. He wouldn’t be Harry, however, if he wasn’t poking his nose where it didn’t belong! Also, these books wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.
They find Mrs. Norris hanging there (so the Basilisk doesn’t actually rip, tear, or kill shit) with creepy words painted above her.
“Enemies of the Heir, beware! You’ll be next, Mudbloods!” It was Draco Malfoy. He had pushed to the front of the crowd, his cold eyes alive, his usually bloodless face flushed, as he grinned at the sight of the hanging, immobile cat.
This is where I first realized that Draco wasn’t just some little boy who hated Harry and his friends and had appointed himself their bully and Enemy #1, but there was something seriously wrong with this kid. He was not being raised right, to put it mildly.
CHAPTER 9: THE WRITING ON THE WALL
All the lemmings think Harry is Slytherin’s heir. I mean, he’s the obvious choice, being in Gryffindor, of a partially muggle bloodline, and the chosen one who vanquished the dark lord. It’s totally him. Who else would it be? No one except Harry and the gang thinks “Hey, Draco said some really creepy shit when Mrs. Norris got petrified. Maybe it’s him.” Of course not. Poor Harry, he’s always alternating between adoration and disgust from the student body as a whole. After all, “fame’s a fickle friend!”
Filch thinks (correctly) that he is being targeted because he’s a Squib. This is where things get interesting prejudice-wise. Ron gets so mad about Hermione being called a Mudblood that he’s barfing up slugs for hours, but he ‘sniggers’ at the thought of Filch being a Squib. I think it would be pretty darn awful to be a Squib. I regret that I’m a muggle all the time so I can’t imagine what it might be like to be raised in a wizard household and not have any powers. The wizarding world doesn’t seem to know what to do with Squibs, either. They seem to either be shunted out into the muggle world or work in menial jobs at wizard institutions.
Dumbledore pronounces Mrs. Norris petrified while Lockhart flits around being supremely unhelpful and obnoxious, and McGonagall does one of my favorite things and shows what a big Gryffindor Quidditch fan she is:
“I personally feel he should be taken off the Gryffindor Quidditch team until he is ready to be honest.”
“Really, Severus,” said Professor McGonagall sharply, “I see no reason to stop the boy playing Quidditch. This cat wasn’t hit over the head with a broomstick.”
Rowling drops more crumbs in this chapter, discussing how Ginny seemed so disturbed about Mrs. Norris and that she has been upset and crying. Note how most of Ginny’s interactions are explained via tell rather than show, particularly through other characters assuming alternative explanations for her behavior. I think this is intentional, so that we are not tipped off completely that there is something going on with her. It makes her a sort of background character and thoroughly ignorable, one’s eyes basically sliding over those passages. Maybe Rowling really is a witch. It would explain a lot.
They all go to History of Magic and actually talk to Professor Binns for what seems like the first time ever, gauging by his reaction. He explains the chamber and how only Slytherin’s heir can open it and that no one really knows what’s in it. I’m always disappointed that History of Magic is so boring, but I think Rowling makes it that way so she doesn’t take up a ton of book space with fascinating yet irrelevant lecture materials. Snippets from the various classes are always more amusing than anything else. Even after seven books, we still don’t really know how to transfigure anything. I assume there are some sort of incantations?
In the end, they hang out in Myrtle’s toilet and hatch a plan to brew up some polyjuice potion to out Malfoy as Slytherin’s heir (because the invisibility cloak is broken or something???) and Percy gets mad that they are hanging out in the girl’s bathroom and takes five points from Gryffindor (whaaat? he can do that???).
And that’s, literally, all she wrote!