January 18, 2013

Harry Potter Readalong: Sorcerer's Stone Part II

This week we've finished our first book in the Harry Potter readalong!  Here's my post from last week, and you can click here to see the rest of this week's posts.  

So let's jump right in.  Quidditch is awesome, the movies sucked the hilarity out of the Weasley twins and Lee Jordan, Hagrid's a lovable idiot, and the trio have survived their first year at Hogwarts.  And they've done it in style.

"Why, yes, I am a prepubescent magical bad-ass."
I will always maintain that one of the creepiest scenes in the series — hands-down the creepiest until the lake scene in Half Blood Prince — is the unicorn in the Forbidden Forest.  First of all, what an incredibly morbid punishment for children!  A walk through a dark forest populated with all manner of scary and evil things, on the trail of a creature dying from a wound terrible enough to leave splashes of blood for what sounds like miles.  Of course, as these are first year students, if they get in trouble they are told to "send up sparks" to alert Hagrid, who will thunder through the forest and come to their aid.  Because, you know, they're eleven and can't do any real magic to defend themselves yet.

And to cap it all off, the image Rowling creates of Voldemort drinking the dead unicorn's blood is enough to terrify any child into never going into the woods again. 

Horrible disciplinary scale aside, let's talk about Snape.  I forgot just how much Harry, Hermione, and Ron hate him from the beginning.  It's not like he does much to ingratiate himself with students, though.  Severus Snape knows how to intimidate.
 

At the end of Sorcerer's Stone, we get the first hint of Harry's parents' story when Dumbledore refers to the mutual hatred between James Potter and Snape.  This little snippet about Snape resenting James for saving his life will essentially shape the way Harry (and, by extension, the reader) views Snape in later books.  I think it's interesting to note that Dumbledore chooses to mention this to Harry without giving him any context or additional anecdotes about his parents.  Perhaps JKR didn't have all of James and Lily's lives mapped out yet, but you would think Dumbledore would throw Harry a bone here and tell him a bit more about the parents he's never known.

Another thing that really impressed me on this reread was the series of obstacles that the trio have to get through in order to reach Quirrell.  Sure, the troll is kind of a cop-out (Was it stuffed in that room the whole school year?  Did Quirrell bring it food?) but the chess game and Snape's potion puzzle are awesome.  I'm not sure I believe that Ron is better at chess than McGonagall, but we can all agree that Hermione works that riddle like it's her job. 


The Quirrellmort reveal is as awesome as ever, and all I can think of is how Voldemort passed his days while being softly muffled with turban.  Did he play word games in his head?  Silently berate schoolchildren when they gave incorrect answers in Quirrell's class?  Compose rock ballads about world domination?  I guess we'll never know.

I will always prefer A Very Potter Musical's heartwarming version of Quirrellmort to the actual canon.
See you next week for Chamber of Secrets!

31 comments:

  1. Rock ballads. Absolutely.

    I'm so glad everyone is picking up on the WTF nature of their detention. It just seems mental to me and WAY more dangerous than the scene that's actually supposed to be dangerous and risky. Lame job teachers, was it like the day before summer and your heart's just weren't in it?

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    1. Ugh, hearts. Damn auto-correct.

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    2. Especially because JKR apparently realized the error in her detention parameters and had Ron clean out bedpans in Chamber of Secrets...

      I guess it was the only way that she could think of to get Harry into the Forbidden Forest so he could see Quirrell draining the unicorn (blecchhh).

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    3. "Draining the unicorn" sounds like slang for taking a fancy pee.

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    4. Omg! I'm going to demand everyone says "draining the unicorn" when they go to the bathroom.

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  2. The scene with the unicorn is so intense and sad for 11 year olds. WTF kind of punishment was that? Just make them sit in detention or clean trophies or something that's less "you could die at any second".

    Aww Quirrellmort. I'm going with he composes rock ballads of world domination. I like to think sometimes he'd get really excited about a line and he'd shout and Quirell would have to cover it up with some vigorous coughing or something.

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    1. Have you seen A Very Potter Musical? It's brilliant at spoofing Quirrellmort. Like, was Quirrell never able to sleep on his back at night for fear of suffocating his master?

      The questions are infinite.

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    2. I have not and I feel I need to rectify that problem.

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    3. You probably should, because about a third of my HP gifs are from the musical.

      Also, you know, it's campy and hilarious:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmwM_AKeMCk

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  3. These are all excellent points about the troll and Voldemort. And thanks for not ragging on the tests like EVERYONE ELSE DID.

    Maybe the Forbidden Forest isn't as bad as one might think? I mean, sure, there was something in it killing unicorns, but...no, I got nothing. But I'll bet Hagrid knew what he was doing.

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    1. Seriously. Like THEY could come up with better obstacles. Puh-lease.

      Hagrid definitely knows what's up in the Forbidden Forest, but at the same time he's charged with protecting four children who can't do magic while HE also isn't allowed to do magic.

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    2. Aren't there GIANT FUCKING DEADLY SPIDERS in the forest later? Or am I thinking of the Hobbit? Or are GFDS standard fantasy fare now? Point being, Things Eating Unicorns aren't the only danger AND HAGRID KNOWS IT.

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    3. Yes, well, I don't think anyone's ever accused Hagrid of being overly bright...

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  4. Hahaha, what DID Voldemort do? I mean, being all boring about it, he possibly wasn't strong enough to like think and stuff alllll the time, but still... Imagine if Quirrell had gotten pissed off by him eventually and was just like 'UGH get out of my head already' and then ripped the back of his head off.

    Actually, don't imagine that. That would have been gross.

    The Forbidden Forest bit is INTENSE and OMG the unicorn! I can't deal!

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    1. I wonder how they had conversations. Did they never look at each other? Or did Quirrell hold up two mirrors so that they could chat properly?

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  5. Oh man, I love book!Lee Jordan and the Weasley twins - their exchanges are priceless.

    The mutual hate thing always got to me - I understand that Snape redeems himself (a lot later) by looking out for Harry, but it always annoyed me that he took his hate out on the poor kid.

    That potion riddle was the best - I wish the bottles were described so we could figure out the riddle alongside Hermione. I love that Snape wrote everything out so that it rhymed!

    HAHA! Quirrellmort. I try not think too hard about it. How does Quirrell take a shower or drop a #2 knowing that Voldemort's on the other side? Ewwww.

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    1. It would be so cool if we could figure the potions riddle out on our own... But I guess it's enough to live vicariously through Hermione.

      Ewww, I never took my curiosity quite that far... D:


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  6. I love the rock ballad thing. He was probably re-writing the lyrics to We Are the Champions so that he could spring it on his DeathEaters later.

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    1. Death Eater sing-along? Yes, please.

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  7. Oh my god, you've asked so many questions I've never thought of! The troll? How Voldemort kept busy? Such excellent observations. Here's another question you made me think of - why doesn't Harry ask people about his parents? He knows that most of the faculty and staff knew him - why not ever be like hey, what was my mom like? And he NEVER does this until given reason to believe that his dad is a giant bogey (which Dumby conveniently avoids mentioning, thus contributing to Harry's bloated impression of his father's greatness).

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    1. SERIOUSLY!

      I mean, SIRIUSLY. Ahem.

      Apparently all an orphaned child needs to know about his parents is which one gave him the green eyes, because god knows JKR crams that detail in 17 times per book.

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  8. Okay so obviously I'm the only one who is totally okay with punishing kids by sending them into the forest. They had Hagrid! And wands! They were totally fine.

    I have got to see this Potter musical, which I haven't even heard of before I started seeing all these GIFs! I am intrigued.

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    1. Dude, wands they barely know how to use and Hagrid is only with TWO of them. He also admits that Fang is a wimp and no protection.

      It's crazy how ok you are with the punishment!

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    2. Kayleigh, you raise an excellent point. If Hagrid stayed with all four of them, I wouldn't have as much of an issue with it.

      But then I guess we wouldn't get the special centaur moments.

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  9. First of all, those are the best gifs!

    Secondly, you're right - the night in the forbidden forest was totally morbid. Not to mention detention started at like midnight - which really, is that appropriate for a bunch of 11 year olds??! Are they expected to not sleep and just go straight to class afterwards?

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    1. But didn't you know that all 11-year-olds are like college kids in the wizarding world? They subsist on naps.

      And magical ramen.

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  10. I love how creepy the scene is in the forbidden forest, which I think I was calling the enchanted forest until just now. I liked creepy as a kid. I loved The Dark Crystal and The Last Unicorn, which are both super creeps.

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    1. I'd totally forgotten how creepy Sorcerer's Stone is until I reread it.

      Also, don't feel bad about calling it the enchanted forest... Apparently I've been spelling Sorcerer wrong for about a decade and a half and autocorrect only saw fit to tell me now.

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  11. Harry side eye gif. Excellent.

    These are good questions - I LOVE the idea of Voldie composing rock ballads. "Something something kill Harry Potter. Something something Nagini." I dunno. He's the Dark Lord - I'm sure he'd come up with something great.

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    1. But what rhymes with Nagini?

      Fellini? Panini?

      I'm sure this exact question kept Voldemort busy for weeks under that turban.

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    2. I bet it drove him NUTS that he couldn't write down some really good lines when he thought of them, cos Quirrell was all busy with class or whatever.

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