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Week 1: Philosopher's Stone, Ch. 1 - 9

Discussion in 'Bookclub' started by Taure, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. Erotic Adventures of S

    Erotic Adventures of S Denarii Host

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    Remember we are getting Harrys point of view, so when he says twice as tall as a man and three times as large, it probably just means very big. Harry is a smallish 11 year old, i think you are right at putting him at Andre the giant size plus like half a foot. Hagrid can walk around muggles and attract attention but not be seen to be outrageous.

    And Vernon is the director of a firm, I would guess his wage as being comfortably 6 figures.
     
  2. Palindrome

    Palindrome Magma Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

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    For some reason, I'd always pictured him large enough to fill most of an entire corridor on his own. But I googled around and couldn't find much more than your quote on Hagrid's size. Here's a decent discussion on it at SO, though: he started off at five times as wide as a man and changed to three times as wide in the goblet of fire.

    However big he is though, it's pretty damn big. :)

    [​IMG]

    I've seen this! In a fic about necromancy. He revived the spiders and they became his pets and thoroughly creeped out the Dursleys. Maybe it was CareOtter's fic, The Gravesong Requiem?

    I kinda see it as the sort of people who spent all the money they had on material possessions. Since Dudley's so demanding and Vernon's probably the type to splurge, all of their funds go into dumb stuff. They might actually be struggling to make ends meet despite a considerable income if they can't keep up with their purchases.
     
  3. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    I'll finally start reading today as well >_>

    Anyway, that might be an explanation, Drome, because what always struck me was the disconnect between how well-off the Dursleys sound, and how they live. Listening to the descriptions, you'd consider them -- perhaps not rich, but well off. There's Vernon's job (director, it's possible enough he owns the company, actually), Dudley's presents, and don't forget, the talk in CoS is about buying a vacation home in Mallorca. On the other hand, their house in Privet Drive is just not impressive at all. It's a fairly small, at-most middle-class home. It fits Mrs. Figg. But the Dursleys?
     
  4. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    A spacious, detached, 4 bedroom house with a garden in a good area of Surrey is actually moderately impressive from a financial standpoint. We're talking in the region of £600,000 for such a house today.

    The house is small in international terms, but UK houses in general seem small in international terms.

    I think it's perfectly reasonable that a couple with such a home would have the financial means to buy a holiday home as well, as well as a nice car etc.

    And of course, without knowing how large/successful Grunnings is, the fact that Vernon is a director doesn't tell us much about his likely pay packet.
     
  5. Rhaegar I

    Rhaegar I Unspeakable

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    For some strange reason, I'm genuinely caught off guard Vernon was the director of the drilling place. I've always taken it for granted he had some lower position, like a salesman or something. On the other hand, his business dinner in COS makes a little more sense now: if you're trying to close a deal with a major client, you should make sure a higher-up is on it.

    Also, it's pretty hilarious how the first few chapters alone singlehandedly throws God knows how many Fanon and FanFic cliches under the Knight Bus. It really reminds me how so many FanFiction authors probably haven't read the Books in ages, if ever.
     
  6. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Hm, maybe I had a wrong image of the house, too. The movie version does seem kinda small, at least, but right, it's quite possible I have a wrong baseline. Anyway, to wrap the wealth discussion up:

    The Dursleys had everything they wanted. (Ch.1)​

    Something else I wondered, regarding the very first chapter: It's November, so wouldn't there be school? I mean, McGonagall and Dumbledore should've been there, no? Yet they kinda sound as if they haven't seen each other in a while -- or at least McGonagall can't find any more practical way of talking to Dumbledore than waiting in Privet Drive, and even if this is an aberration, it still definitely means there was no school that day, anyway.

    I agree with this.

    I read this as people sometimes buy another wand, and this was Lily's first. It doesn't necessarily say that she bought another one, though it's possible. And good work on the wands Harry tries. I hadn't yet looked up their meanings in Pottermore.

    --

    I really enjoyed the first chapters. I love Rowling's humour, it's exactly mine -- dry in tone, with lots of hilarious images (Vernon tearing his moustache apart in agitation), absurd situations (the letters, when he nails shut the door, humming "Tiptoe through the Tulips", because "if they can't deliver it, they won't send it, see"), and something children won't notice: the clearly satirical ways in how Vernon and the Dursleys are depicted. It's a pointed riff on the typical well-off, bigotted, narrowminded and terribly dull suburbia family, and Vernon is their star:

    He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn’t approve of imagination.

    This is pointed, funny, and spot on: satire at its best. There's also the obligatory dig at private schools:

    Smeltings boys wore maroon tailcoats, orange knickerbockers, and flat straw hats called boaters. They also carried knobbly sticks, used for hitting each other while the teachers weren’t looking. This was supposed to be good training for later life.

    In those early chapters, HP is almost political.

    --

    Now, Trivia Time!

    “All right, we’ll take you to King’s Cross. We’re going up to London tomorrow anyway, or I wouldn’t bother.”

    “Why are you going to London?” Harry asked, trying to keep things friendly.

    “Taking Dudley to the hospital,” growled Uncle Vernon. “Got to have that ruddy tail removed before he goes to Smeltings.”

    I can only conclude this means Grunnings is, in fact, not in London. Was it ever said that the Dursleys lived in the outskirts of London? Surrey is not that small, after all. I could imagine Grunnings being in Woking or Guildfort and Little Whinging being close to that, or even in Reading, if they are living near the eastern fringe. If Harry gets up at 5, and they are leaving "two hours later" (at 7), and reach King's Cross at half past ten, that is some fair distance, morning traffic jam or no.

    Next:

    The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats. Harry pushed his cart off down the platform in search of an empty seat.

    It's important to have the right image in your head here. The right image is something like this (if you've watched, say, Downton Abbey, you'll know what comes now):

    [​IMG]

    The Hogwarts Express does have a corridor connecting the compartments, but the doors should be opening into the compartments, and most (if not each) compartment has one, and that is why Harry is moving along on the outside of the train, looking for an empty compartment. It's far easier, and he can always look into the compartments anyway. Similarly here:

    Harry pressed on through the crowd until he found an empty compartment near the end of the train. He put Hedwig inside first and then started to shove and heave his trunk toward the train door. He tried to lift it up the steps but could hardly raise one end and twice he dropped it painfully on his foot. [...] With the twins’ help, Harry’s trunk was at last tucked away in a corner of the compartment.

    He's standing in front of the open door, and tries to get his luggage (and himself) directly into the compartment. Interestingly enough, though, this is kinda contradicted when they exit the train,

    They crammed their pockets with the last of the sweets and joined the crowd thronging the corridor. The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door and out on to a tiny, dark platform.

    But perhaps the platform in Hogsmeade is on the other, corridor-side? I'm still pretty sure the above picture is what Rowling intended; carriages like those were A) common in the early (steam) days, and B) still in use long throughout the 20th century, so she'll have used them herself.

    Then:

    “You’ve already seen him, Ginny, and the poor boy isn’t something you goggle at in a zoo.”

    Probably not the London Zoo. I want that magical zoo, now.

    And:

    Ron was more interested in eating the frogs than looking at the Famous Witches and Wizards cards, but Harry couldn’t keep his eyes off them. Soon he had not only Dumbledore and Morgana, but Hengist of Woodcraft, Alberic Grunnion, Circe, Paracelsus, and Merlin. He finally tore his eyes away from the druidess Cliodna, who was scratching her nose ...

    Give me a big fat XD

    Wiki says: "In some Irish myths, Clíodhna is a goddess of love and beauty ..." I propose she looks something like this:

    [​IMG]

    (That's her greek cousin, but who cares). Yeah, I'd stare too :3


    Finally, here's a question: The usual POD is Harry not meeting Draco, and hence getting sorted into Slytherin. All things considered, do you think this is realistic?

    Obviously Draco does all the wrong things: He behaves like the spoiled brat he is, reminding Harry of Dudley, insults the person that fetched Harry from the Dursleys and got him his first birthday cake etc. Later on, at the train, he shows his prejudice, but at this point I'd argue Harry's mind is already set, and he ends up with:

    Perhaps it was Harry’s imagination, after all he’d heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked like an unpleasant lot.

    So how much of the bias is Draco, how much is Hagrid (“There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one.”) or even Ron's? I think I think Hagrid is the bigger influence here -- Draco is one thing, but to end up in the House where Voldemort was, who killed your parents?
     
  7. Distaly

    Distaly Third Year

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    1.11.1981 was a Sunday, so there is that if we search for an explantion.


    And I can just say how much I forgot how light and wonderful canon and especially PS are written. Reading it (even the german version I (only) have here, which btw is amazing translated) really brings me a smile. It's hard to pinpoint the exact diffrence but few fics ever get that feeling of wonderlike across.

    Furthermore, again to point out how diffrent PS is still in contrast to later books. I am sure we will talk about this in detail later (latest when we reach the end of GoF) but important already to say it here, PS shows how you a) introduce a world and b) get a good opening for the later story.

    It is refreshing to see how canon handles the Dursleys, they clearly dont like Harry; but it dosen't seem to be really absuive. More like a bit exaggerated, loveless upbearing.
    I also forgot how annoying Hermine was, I mean damn she makes a bad first impression even for a eleven years old girl.
     
  8. Goten Askil

    Goten Askil DA Member

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    Except it doesn't work, canon doesn't follow the real calendar (first of september is always a Monday, for example).
    It's explicitly mentioned the story starts on a Tuesday, and Vernon goes to work.
    I guess you could imagine school being closed for the day to allow students to go party with their families, but it seems kinda stupid with all the Death Eaters still in liberty.
     
  9. FriedIce

    FriedIce Seventh Year

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    Honestly, I think this is likely to just be Rowling sucking at Maths. It takes ~3.5 hours to get from Exeter to Kings Cross after all - no way it takes that long from anywhere in Surrey - traffic or no traffic.

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir/M...d6bb9!2m2!1d-0.1322312!2d51.5333335!5i1?hl=en

    That said, if they were taking the train I could see an argument for leaving three and a half hours for a trip for a hospital appointment. When I take the train into London (from Hampshire, the next door county to Surrey) I'd give myself two and a half hours to get to Kings Cross (20mins trip to station, 5mins wait for train, 1.25hr train, 25mins tube, 10mins leeway). I could see adding an hour of leeway onto that for something as major as a hospital appointment so that even if you get held up for an hour on the train (which totally happens) you'd still make it.

    Hmm, going from Surrey you'd be going into either Waterloo or Victoria (maybe Charring Cross if you're in the far east) and I'd expect it to take less time (1hr to 45mins) by train but that's nothing that can't be explained by wanting some leeway so that you don't miss your hospital appointment.
     
  10. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    FriedIce: Perhaps, though 2.5 hours I could see -- putting up Google Maps says from the southernmost edge of Surrey (Haslemere) to King's Cross is ~80 km and takes 1:30, add an hour of rush hour traffic jam and you're there.

    And yes, they are taking the car; Harry loads his stuff into the boot. I guess the point here is that you definitely want the Dursleys to live as far away from London as possible, while still being in Surrey.

    This runs counter to the usual idea that they live directly in the London suburbs -- and Grunnings not being in London then fits also.

    Edit: The train is probably a plot hole anyway, as Harry leaves from Paddington Station after the shopping in Diagon Alley, and no lines serving Surrey end in Paddington.
     
  11. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box Prestige

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    I'd forgotten that Scabbers attacks Crabbe and Goyle on the train. It's a fun moment anyway, but it's even better when you think about Wormtail trying to avoid Crabbe and Goyle Sr post-GoF.
     
  12. Yumehayla

    Yumehayla Squib

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    My, it's been a while since I've reread the series, and this is a wonderful idea! After going through this thread, I noticed just how many little things I missed, and, even more so, how much the multitudes of fanfiction I've read skewed my image of Harry's home life! That being said, I forgot how full of attitude little Harry was, I need to look for some fanfiction that follows those personality traits, rather than skewing him too far into either angry kid, or aloof kid...
    The version I have is in Polish so I won't be able to quote as I go, but it amused me somewhat that I missed Sirius Black being introduced there when he reappeared in volume 3 due to translation - I don't know if the translator thought 'Black' is a nickname, but it landed itself a polish translation :)

    I'm also quite surprised with the snake's behaviour in the zoo - though after thinking about it for a bit, it seemed more like, it didn't really want to talk to that weird kid looking at him, so it just shrugged and gestured when asked questions, hoping it'd be left alone?
     
  13. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    If anyone has opinions, I really would like to talk about this, before we have the next batch. Here's all mentions of Slytherin until the sorting:

    Draco talking about it, at Madam Malkins:

    “Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they, but I know I’ll be in Slytherin, all our family have been — imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?”

    Hagrid afterwards:

    “And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?”
    “School Houses. There’s four. Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers, but —”
    “I bet I’m in Hufflepuff,” said Harry gloomily.
    “Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin,” said Hagrid darkly. “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’tin Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one.”
    “Vol-, sorry — You-Know-Who was at Hogwarts?”
    “Years an’ years ago,” said Hagrid.

    Ron on the train:

    “What House are your brothers in?” asked Harry.
    “Gryffindor,” said Ron. Gloom seemed to be settling on him again. “Mom and Dad were in it, too. I don’t know what they’ll say if I’m not. I don’t suppose Ravenclaw wouldbe too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin.”
    “That’s the House Vol-, I mean, You-Know-Who was in?”
    “Yeah,” said Ron. He flopped back into his seat, looking depressed.

    The Sorting Hat:

    Or perhaps in Slytherin
    You’ll make your real friends,
    Those cunning folk use any means
    To achieve their ends.

    And the already quoted line:

    “Bulstrode, Millicent” then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harry’s imagination, after all he’d heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked like an unpleasant lot.

    And that's all. Not really much, if you think about it. So what had that much of an impact, that the result is

    “... So where shall I put you?”
    Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.

    especially considering that right before, Harry fears not getting sorted at all? Strange to limit your options then, and conversely, implying he'd rather not be sorted than sorted into Slytherin. That's quite something.
     
  14. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box Prestige

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    Personally I'd put it at about a 50/50 split between Hagrid and Draco; Hagrid is literally the first person to treat him kindly (apart from, hypothetically, staff at his school) and introduces him to magic, and Draco reminds him of Dudley. Not saying that the other quotes don't contribute, but I'd say they're pretty minor compared to Hagrid and Draco.
     
  15. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Speculatively, I would say that Voldemort is the decisive factor. I think even without meeting Malfoy, even without Hagrid saying the house is evil, once Harry knows it's Voldemort's house he won't want anything to do with it.
     
  16. Majube

    Majube Seventh Year

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    They could've just allowed them an off day. At my old school when there were really big stuff (Olympics,World cup) most teachers would've allowed us to bum off to the library and watch the big game on screen. I imagine a war just ending would let them have no school for a day or two even if they weren't allowed to go home.
     
  17. Peter North

    Peter North Dark Lord

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    That actually makes Harry seem really shallow if he is willing to shun an entire house over one man's actions.
     
  18. Majube

    Majube Seventh Year

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    Somebody who killed his parents came from a house thats supposed to be 'Your family at Hogwarts'. I'm sure he looked at all the mean faces and thought 'I wonder what kind of family raises Voldemort'
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
  19. VanRopen

    VanRopen Auror

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    A shallow decision from an eleven year old? Say it ain't so!
     
  20. Peter North

    Peter North Dark Lord

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    I suppose you have a point there. However it only took until Snape died for Harry to realize that maybe not every one in Slytherin is a total asshole.
     
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