Harry Potter Re-read: The Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone

Well, friends, here we are – at the very beginning, where we find ourselves on a quiet street.  Where we learn that You Know Who has been destroyed, where we meet a woman who can turn into a cat and a man who can put all the lights and put them back again, where we meet Harry himself, tiny and alone, with friends that must surrender him into the care of his closest blood relatives.

The first HP book starts out very much like any classic Hero’s Journey plot – Harry, who’s had a rough life, finds out that he’s special.  And not just that he’s special, but he managed to kill the most evil wizard ever seen when he was just a baby.  A lot of the book lays the groundwork for the future books, introducing people, places, and objects that will be important later on.  (Including, but not limited to: Harry’s first snitch, the Forbidden Forest, the Invisibility Cloak, the Mirror of Erised, Firenze, Devil’s Snare, unicorn blood…)

And, while the plot is wrapped up in the book, it also hints at things necessarily for the overarching plot – things like the fact that Lily’s death protects Harry, that Voldemort is still around, that Harry needs to stay with blood relatives until he comes of age, etc.  It also leaves the first hints that make us wonder how much Dumbledore really knows, as he tells Harry that he used the Mirror of Erised because he knew that Harry would succeed where Voldemort would fail.  (Not to mention you get to see Neville take the first steps towards being the badass he is at the end of Deathly Hallows.)

You also see two things that hint at the conclusion of Deathly Hallows – Harry’s ability to speak Parseltongue and the fact that Harry and Voldemort’s wand shares the same core.  Sneaky of her, isn’t it?

Questions for discussion (and please, feel free to add your own in the comments!):

1. The very first kid that Harry encounters is Draco Malfoy.  Why do you think JK Rowling chose to introduce him first and not either Ron or Hermoine?

2. What difference does it make if Harry is raised in an environment where he is ignored and reviled as opposed to one of acceptance and love?

3. Why, when the other houses are showed to be mostly balanced, is there no one from Slytherin that shows any sort of redeeming characteristics?

4. Why, when the Forbidden Forest is off-limits, is Harry told to serve his detention there?

5. Do you think Dumbledore suspected and/or knew about Professor Quirrell?  Why take the risk of letting him in the school?

6. Where does Voldemort go after Quirrell’s demise?

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