The Wizarding World Book Club has moved onto Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. The questions for the rest of book one were alright but none of them sparked any discussion post ideas for me.
From the week of August 4th there were two questions that interested me. Both of them centered around the concept of home and how it is defined. Home is one of those words that has numerous definitions. For most it is a house but it does not always have to be. A lot of the times people talk about the difference between a house and a home. The house is the building you go to at the end of the day whereas a home is where you feel safe and loved. Both of the questions from this week center around how Harry and Ron define home.
The first question was pretty simple to answer; “Why is The Burrow so appealing to Harry?” The Burrow is appealing to Harry because it contains what the Dursley’s house does not, love. The crooked structure contains a family that adores and loves one another.
Harry grew up with nothing but anger and disdain thrown his way. No one wanted him around, no one gave him a second thought, no one cared about him. He had no purpose and no power in the Dursley household. He just made it day to day. Privet Drive was just house to Harry, somewhere for him to sleep and eat.
Harry meets the Weasley and realized that life could be better. He is welcomed into their home and their family with a smile and a hug. Mrs. Weasley treats him as one of her own. He is treated as someone who matters, someone who has a life that matters.
The Burrow itself is falling apart, it is crooked and nowhere near perfect, but it is what is on the inside that matters. Ron is ashamed of his house, not realizing what it means for Harry.
The way Ron talks about The Burrow reminds me of the way my parents talk about my childhood home. It is too cramped, dirty and broken. To me and Harry all those marks and scars are what make the building a home. It represents a family, a safe place and love. When I go home I am content and happy no matter what dishes are in the sink or what holes are in a door. It is somewhere where I am wanted and loved and I think it is the same for Harry. For Harry The Burrow is the definition of what a home means, it contains love and comfort and makes Harry feel safe and wanted.
The second question was a little tricker and required a bit more thought. “Where do you think Ron feels most at home?” I don’t think there is a particular place where Ron feels at home. I think it is more about the people that around Ron and what they make him feel. For him most of the time he is at home when he is with Harry and Hermione.
Ron grew up overshadowed by his siblings. He never got a real chance to stand out. We see in the first book that when he looks into The Mirror of Erised he sees himself the best of all his brothers and sister. On top of that he has a piece of himself that feels ashamed for his family’s status.
Unlike Harry The Burrow isn’t Ron’s favorite place. It isn’t a bad place to him, he loves his family and he knows that he is safe at The Burrow. When he is at The Burrow he is reminded of the people that overshadowed him. It is a safe place but it isn’t a place where he can find who he truly is.
When Ron is with Hermione and Harry he is able to stand out. Ron has a place and a purpose inside their group. He is not just a name in the middle of a giant family. He is an essential part of the group. I think for him that is where he feels most a home, a place and time where he feels like he matters, is wanted and needed and can make a difference.
In the end Harry and Ron were able to provide homes to each other. Both of them felt loss and powerless at the time when they met and in the end they gave each other places where to they could feel safe, wanted, cared for and needed.
My obsession with Harry Potter is not a secret. When Pottermore announced that they were going to start a Harry Potter book club a few months ago I was excited. One of my friends saw the announcement and passed it on to me. It sounded like a perfect place for me to geek out about Harry Potter with fellows Potterheads.
The bookclub officially started in mid-June, unfortunately for me it is limited to a Twitter chat (as of right now). The chat takes place on Friday at 11am which is when I am at work (damn bills needing to be paid!). So I can’t take part in the official chat. I glanced through the feed though and saw that some of the questions they asked were interesting.
After looking through the chat I decided that, once in a while, I am going to do blog posts on the questions that I really like or have a strong opinion about. It won’t be something I do every week, just when I like the questions asked. I figured this would be a fun way for me to still take part in the idea of the bookclub in some way.
The way it appears to be working is that they are going to break the books down into small sections. Last Friday was the first few chapter of the first book. They had three questions that they asked and the question that I found the most interesting was “Why do you think the Dursleys are so afraid of magic?”
From the first chapter I knew that the Dursleys were going to be people who feared and detested anything that was different or unexplainable to them. I knew that they were going to be people who liked life one way and one way only. Vernon came off as the worst of the three of them.
They are the kind of people who believe the world should run in a way that they can define and understand. If something different happens or comes up that is beyond their comprehension they want it gone. The last thing they want to do is learn a new way of life. For Vernon, especially if he can’t define it, it is dangerous.
The Dursleys are the type of people who don’t want to learn anything new. They don’t want to find out that their way of thinking may be wrong. To them the “other” is wrong and thus dangerous. Unfortunately today this attitude is all too prevalent.
I feel like Vernon was always this type of person from when he was a child. I feel like he grew up thinking he was superior and looking down on anyone different than him. Whereas Petunia was more open-minded at one time but jealously and resentment clouded that aspect of her personality. She was so hurt to not be a witch and to be rejected by Hogwarts that she internalized that anger and turned it into fear.
She met Vernon who thought in that narrow minded way and it fit in with her anger. He allowed her to build this wall and then hide behind it. She didn’t have to deal with why she was upset and angry, instead she made it so that the wizarding world and magic were to blame. She fell into this blackhole of fear and anger. It became so deep that it took having to hide and leave Harry behind to even begin to crack that exterior.
Dudley is his parents son and we know he inherited their narrow-mind set and fear of the “other.” Though his parting words with Harry showed that redemption is possible; if he wanted it.
Why do you think that the Dursleys fear magic?