Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Novel Summary: Chapter 5

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Hagrid takes Harry away from the rock in the sea by boat, even though he slightly accelerates the vessel's speed by magical means. On their trip back to shore, he tells Harry about both Gringotts-the wizard bank, guarded by goblins-and the Ministry of Magic, headed by one Cornelius Fudge: "Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there's still witches an' wizards up an' down the country . . . Why? Blimey, Harry, everyone'd be wantin' magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we're best left alone." Hagrid takes Harry to London to buy supplies for his first year at Hogwarts, but they do their shopping in Diagon Alley, a secret (to Muggles, at least) place, parallel to the mundane world, accessible through a brick wall at the back of the Leaky Cauldron-"a tiny, grubby-looking pub" which Harry feels only he and Hagrid can see, and where they encounter Professor Quirrell, who teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. In Diagon Alley, Harry notes all manner of magical stores and persons. Hagrid takes him to Gringotts, where they retrieve some of the fortune-counted in wizarding currency, of course; galleons, sickles, knuts-left to Harry by his parents. While at the bank, Hagrid also makes a discreet inquiry about "the You-Know-What in vault seven hundred and thirteen," about which he says no more to Harry. After taking some of Harry's money, he and Hagrid go to the mysterious Vault 713, which, to Harry's eyes, contains only "a grubby little package . . . . Harry longed to know what it was, but knew better than to ask."
Hagrid and Harry continue their shopping. At Madam Malkin's robe shop, Harry meets Draco Malfoy, an arrogant and unpleasant boy who strongly reminds Harry of his cousin Dudley. Harry's initiation into the wizarding world continues with trips to Flourish and Blotts for spell books and the Apothecary for potion ingredients. At Ollivanders, a store selling magic wands, the shopkeeper outfits Harry with a wand with a core of "holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple" . . . and virtually exactly the same as the wand that gave Harry the scar on his forehead eleven years previously. "The wand chooses the wizard," says Mr. Ollivander. "I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter . . . . After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things-terrible, yes, but great."
In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers note that the hero is aided in his or her quest by "a stranger who shows up and gives him [or her] some instrument . . . . not only a physical instrument but a psychological commitment and a psychological center." Throughout The Sorcerer's Stone and at various other key points in the Harry Potter series, these mentor figures do come alongside Harry to help him in his quest for identity (see Analysis of Chapter 4, above). The most important of these mentors in the series, as of this writing (through the release of Order of the Phoenix) are, arguably, Albus Dumbledore and Sirius Black, yet Hagrid is the first member of the wizarding world whom we see giving Harry both the "physical instruments" (in taking him to buy his books, robes, wand, owl, and so on) and "psychological commitment and . . . center" needed for his impending quest. Hagrid tells Harry, "Don' you worry . . . . You'll learn fast enough. Everyone starts at the beginning at Hogwarts, you'll be just fine. Just be yerself. I know it's hard. Yeh've been singled out, an' that's always hard." In other words, Hagrid orients Harry to the new life awaiting him. He prepares Harry for its challenges by lending physical and moral support and by sharing from his own experiences ("But yeh'll have a great time at Hogwarts-I did-still do, 'smatter of fact").
Chapter 5 also develops a theme which will take on increasing significance as Rowling's series continues, a theme hinted at in the previous chapter: the theme of identity. Specifically: how is Harry like and unlike Lord Voldemort? This question will resurface again and again. Finally, faithful readers of the series will note in Chapter 5 the first appearance of Draco Malfoy (though we do not learn his name until later in the book). Like Voldemort himself, albeit on a lesser but more day-to-day scale, Malfoy will function as a foil to Harry; that is, a literary character who "through strong contrast underscores or enhances the distinctive characteristics of another" (C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 3rd ed. [Indianapolis: Odyssey Press, 1972] 226).


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