Mark Re-Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it’s clear that the Dursleys are just evil, evil people and the knowledge of Petunia’s motivation doesn’t help much. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to re-read Harry Potter.

Seriously, I tried to combine multiple chapters into one review and I simply had too much to say. Deal with it.

As the point of view switches to Harry for the first time, I already notice how much more simple Rowling’s writing is. So I am going to partially excuse myself for my ridiculous response to these first three chapters of the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was definitely being flippant and silly for the sake of it, but chapter two is pretty over-the-top in its own way as well.

Knowing Petunia’s backstory, I don’t seem to be able to empathize with her even in the slightest; if anything, her actions in this chapter make me hate her more than before. I am indifferent to Vernon because he never seems to evolve beyond being an evil foil to Harry, and Dudley doesn’t bother me nearly as much.

Shall we?

The room held no sign at all that another boy lived in the house, too.

That might actually be the most damning detail of the entire chapter: the Dursley family actively pretends that Harry simply doesn’t exist. And sure, they definitely abuse him in other ways that are certainly more painful to Harry, but there’s something disturbing about this specific action. It just rubs me the wrong way.

He rolled onto his back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a flying motorcycle in it. He had a funny feeling he’d had the same dream before.

Nah, that’s not a dream, Harry. That’s just the memory of the night your parents were murdered by Voldemort. I recall reading interviews with Rowling about this book and she said her mother’s death was all over the pages of Sorcerer’s Stone. She’s not lying. Hell, it’s all over the entire series, but I don’t know if I really appreciated how much this book centers around those deaths the first time I read it.

Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.

Oh, my adorable attachment to the spiders. How could I have ever known they would later lead Harry and Ron to near annihiliation? Man, my cluelessness was kind of adorable, no?

The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightening. He had had it as long as he could remember, and the first question he could ever remember asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had gotten it.

“In the car crash when your parents died,” she had said. “And don’t ask questions.”

It’s only apparent now just how much the Dursleys truly deprived Harry: of the truth about his parents, about the truth of himself, of the existence of magic, of the real reason he was in their house, and of the joy that comes with childhood. Maybe that last one hits me harder. I think most of us can pinpoint when we felt our childhood ended, or our innocence was taken, and sometimes I think about that moment for me and realize I didn’t even make it to twelve before I hit it.

But that’s a story for another time and another place. I can’t seem to forgive Aunt Petunia for what she and her husband did to Harry all those years he stayed with them. I now understand where it came from; rejection can do terrible things to people, as can feeling excluded. But to reverse that on a young child who has no idea about what made you the way you are? Ugh, it’s just deplorable.

(Completely unrelated: Do they ever explain why Harry’s hair is so strange and constantly grows disheveled? OMG YOU CAN ANSWER THAT THIS IS BEAUTIFUL)

Every year, Harry was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two streets away. Harry hated it there. The whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs. Figg made him look at photographs of all the cats she ever owned.

First of all, bless Mrs. Figg and her cats, but more importantly OMG DUMBLEDORE’S SPY. Set up on page 22. Amazing.

Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barbers looking as though he hadn’t been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his bangs, which she left “to hide that horrible scar.” Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and taped glasses. Next morning, however, he had gotten up to find his hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia sheared if off. He had been given a week in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he couldn’t explain how it had grown back so quickly.

Well, at the very least, we have some context for this: Harry’s hair was a reminder to Aunt Petunia that she was not magical and the boy was, that he mostly likely had a life full of it ahead of him. She shames him for this by cutting his hair and leaving the bangs, though he doesn’t know why she does it in that specific manner. It’s also why she gives him a week in the cupboard: his hair growing back was yet another way for her to remember her sister and remember what she missed out on.

THAT BEING SAID jesus god in heaven you are fucking terrible. You locked him in a cupboard for a week? You contributed to him being bullied? DIE IN EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THE FIRES, PETUNIA.

Also, why is it the saddest thing ever when Harry is pretty happy just to get a lemon ice pop? Oh, right, because the Dursleys gave him virtually nothing. I suppose all of this is written with an eleven-year-old in mind, and the exaggerated acts fit well with children’s fiction. I think it’s actually commendable that, on the second read, none of this seems to contradict what comes later. If anything, Rowling just expands on why this happened. Still, this is child abuse and neglect and oh hey there eleven-year-old fans what’s up

Let’s get some foreshadowing on, ok?

Obviously, as I clamed jokingly back in May (THAT SEEMS A LIFETIME AGO), Rowling is not a dirty racist at all, but in my quest to make a joke, I didn’t realize what a huge moment the snake scene was for Harry. I’m curious to exactly how far in advance she planned this whole story, because this is quite early in the story to be planning out so much foreshadowing. (In this case, Parseltongue OMG OMG OMG).

So let’s make this the subject of the conversation in the comments, if you don’t mind, because I’d like to know what evidence and information Rowling gave us about this story. I mean…she had to know about Chamber of Secrets at this point, at least in terms of general plotting.

One more thing to close out this review though, which is my favorite passage from this chapter:

When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed of some unknown relation coming to take him away, but it had never happened; the Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes he thought (or maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed to know him. Very strange strangers they were, too. A tiny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once while out shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley. After asking Harry furiously if he knew the man, Aunt Petunia rushed them out of the shop without buying anything. A wild-looking woman dressed all in green had waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day and then walked away without a word. The weirdest thing about all they people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a closer look.

At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley’s gang hated that odd Harry Potter in his baggy old clothes and broken glasses, and nobody liked to disagree with Dudley’s gang.

Who is already drenched in tears at this point. Fuck, this is just so sad. Harry had the chance to not be lonely, but he had no idea. Fuck the Dursleys.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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386 Responses to Mark Re-Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’: Chapter 2

  1. DragonTickler says:

    I missed the pictures and gifs

  2. Sophie says:

    There's no real magical context for why his hair's so wild – it's just genetic, inherited from James.

  3. elusivebreath says:

    Well, I can't answer your questions, but I just wanted to chime in to say how much I love that there are still Harry Potter reviews to be had. The Hunger Games is alright, and I do love me some Firefly, but there's really nothing like Harry Potter!

  4. EPCOT Explorer says:

    And now you get to experience the joy of rereading… what I've been doing for the past 3-5 years. It's amazing how much backstory there is, and foreshadowing. JKR is quite the master of making something memorable enough, then hiding it out of sight as more story unfolds, and WHAM, bringing it back to the forefront. It's great. The true mark of a story teller.

    Mark… Can we at least think that you are prepared this time around? 😉

  5. kissoffools says:

    Your innocence and cluelessness when you were reading the books for the first time around WAS adorable, let's be honest. 🙂 I know that I, for one, got so excited to watch you discover this whole world and all its plot twists and backstory. 😀

  6. kellythered says:

    From what I remember of interviews, Rowling had pretty much the whole series plotted out. She started right in on Chamber of Secrets after she finished Sorcerer's Stone.

  7. Hotaru-hime says:

    I think Harry's hair is just like that- they make a million mentions of how he looks just like his dad, so I guess he inherited the hair too.
    As far as planning out the series, Rowling had the whole bit plotted out before she started writing, so there you have it. She knew how this was all going to unfold, so every little tidbit that ties in later is deliberate.

    • myownmetaphor says:

      Yeah I think Petunia just really really hated James so she didn't want to be reminded of him.

      • andreah1234 says:

        Yeah, but she also hated her sister, which makes me wonder how she could handle having to look at Lily's eyes every time Harry looked up. God I hate this family, please just die in a fire Dursleys, like now.

      • chelcie1311 says:

        i don't think petunia had any reason to hate james, other than the fact that he was magical and (i suppose) married to her sister.

        i think the whole hating-harry's-hair thing has more to do with the fact that it is untamable, and that in itself goes against petunia's ocd nature about keeping things clean and in their proper place.

  8. auntypsycho says:

    In a way Harry DOES have a family come take him away from the terrible abuse he suffers at the hands of the Dursleys. He rejoins the wizarding world.

    One more thing … Harry says that Mrs Figgs always smells of cabbage. When the Trio make the Polyjuice potion in the second year they say it smells like cabbage . Is Mrs Figg making Polyjuice potion for those in the wizarding world to keep an eye on Harry without him being aware of it?

    • Elise says:

      wow. I love the polyjuice idea! This opens up all kinds of ideas. Anybody could have spent time with Harry when he was staying with "Mrs. Figg"

    • Hedjie says:

      Figg = squib. No magical ability at all. Potions does require some magic.

      • Zoe says:

        Making potion, yes, but not taking it. If she had copious amounts lying around the house that could account for the smell.

    • clodia says:

      I believe that the house smelling of cabbage thing is a British "batty old lady" signifier, the same way that cats are. In "Good Omens" a batty old lady/psychic makes sure to have cabbage boiling in the background to be soothing to her customers. So she doesn't seem too magical.

    • chelcie1311 says:

      i actually read in a book (can't remember which now, sorry) before book 5 came out a really interesting connection. "figg" means something like spy, and then harry says the apothecary smells like cabbage, and the authors basically figured out that she had a connection to the wizarding world before it was even revealed.

      jkr plays on words, especially names, to introduce significance about the characters/the world.

      additionally, just because mrs. figg IS a squib, doesn't mean she wouldn't be able to TRY to do some magic, right? what about the quik spells course (actual name is lost on me) that filtch had signed up for?

      • iloveharrypotter says:

        rowling has stated that those never worked for filch. if you're not a wizard, you can't do magic. when mrs. figg says she can see the dementors in book 5 to defend harry as his witness, she lied. she couldn't see them. she could feel their effects tho – just like a muggle. but a squib is just a muggle with wizard parents – no magical ability whatsoever. with magic, rowling has stated that you either have it or you don't – nobody has partial magical skills

      • porcupine8 says:

        Honestly, it wasn't too hard to figure out that she had a connection to the magical world between books 4 and 5 – at the end of book 4, Dumbledore tells the others to alert "Arabella Figg" among other people.

      • Zoe says:

        Most mega-fans knew she was connected before book five. In the end of book four Dumbledore (I think) tells Sirius to round up "the old crowd" i.e.: the Order of the Phoenix. He mentions Remus Lupin, Dedalus Diggle and Arabella Figg.

    • ldwy says:

      Ah what a cool idea! I've never thought of that, or heard anyone mention that theory before. BRAVO.

    • bookling says:

      No, but I remember when GoF came out, a lot of people latched onto the fact that the tent Mr. Weasley borrowed for the Quidditch World Cup smelled like cabbage, and wondered if Mrs. Figg had a connection to the wizarding world.

  9. Gabriel Rios Borges says:

    Mark, i suggest if you haven't read it yet, to read the Reader's Guide of Harry Potter from the Harry Potter lexicon.

    Here's the RG for HP1:

    And, also, to read the Mugglenet sections Things You May Have Missed and Death Clues. THEY WILL MAKE YOUR BRAIN EXPLODE BECAUSE J.K. ROWLING IS A GENIUS:

  10. Kaci says:

    I agree about Petunia and Vernon, and even Dudley to an extent, but I have to admit that one of my favorite moments in the entire series is in DH when Dudley shows that tiniest hint of remorse and worry for Harry. It's not redemption for what he'd done to Harry all those years, not even a little bit, but it IS hope that maybe, just MAYBE, he'll turn out better than his parents. Maybe he will eventually overcome the prejudices and privilege that have been drilled into him over the years and be a better human being. Doesn't mean he and Harry can suddenly be omgbffs or anything, but it IS slightly hopeful. The fact that people could change and become better human beings than they were in their pasts is a huge theme of the books, and it's one of my favorite things about them–both James and Sirius were bullies, Snape was a racist, and Dumbledore wanted to rule Muggles "for the greater good." But all of them became better people in the end, and learned from their mistakes. I like to think that's what happens with Dudley, though it's too late for his parents.

    As for Harry's hair, I think it's because that's the way his father's hair was, and it's genetic. Having hair like that, looking like James, it's another way to remind Petunia of what she couldn't have–Harry looks like that Wizard boy her sister married and Petunia herself never got to meet boys like that because she couldn't go to Hogwarts. It's another reminder of the life she didn't have. So she cuts it off, but it grows right back, and that makes it all the worse–Harry has magic, she doesn't, so she hides him out of sight in the cupboard as punishment.

  11. Kylie says:

    This is one of my few solid complaints of Harry Potter; he had to have had one friend or at least one person who talked to him. Even siblings of bullies and outcasts band together for protection and comfort. There's always someone, one kid, who's so out there that they talk to everybody and anybody who will listen and that includes people who no one else pays attention to.

    … Right? (*pure-hearted, naive wish*)

    • myownmetaphor says:

      I disagree. I have gone through periods of bullying where I had no one at all except my family, so if they'd sucked I would've been shit out of luck. Dudley was such a huge, intimidating bully I'm sure anyone who might've wanted to be befriend Harry would've been to scared to.

    • clodia says:

      Sorry, not necessarily true. Between my husband and myself and our elementary school experiences, I can promise that good people like that can be hard to come by.

    • Sophie says:

      Hate to crush the optimism here, but no. 🙁 Wish I could say otherwise.

    • andreah1234 says:

      I think it's sweet you think that, but no, his live sucked until he found out about magic, and there's nothing nobody could do about it.

    • Meru223 says:

      I have a friend who's childhood bullying is practically documented in Harry Potter.
      No friends
      Group of bullies intimidating everyone to make sure that one person remains alone
      All finished off with verbal and physical abuse

      Yeah I wish I could say there is ALWAYS one other victim around to share you pain with but that's not the case.

    • Splonkadumpocus says:

      I was bullied throughout elementary school and didn't have any close friends until I was almost 11, so Harry's situation is not unusual compared to what I went through.

    • I imagine there may have been a teacher or two who were nice to him, but it's not like they were there all the time. 🙁

  12. shawalt says:

    Rowling definitely knew everything, I think. Later on in Philosopher's Stone there's a reaaaal subtle foreshadow of The Lightning-Struck Tower chapter from HBP. At least I think it's that, but you could go either way, I guess.

    • shawalt says:

      This is what I was talking about, btw:

      "Harry told the turban he didn’t want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier and heavier; he tried to pull it off but it tightened painfully — and there was Malfoy, laughing at him as he struggled with it — then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, whose laugh became high and cold — there was a burst of green light and Harry woke, sweating and shaking."

      Apart from the turban part, the rest reminds me a lot of when Dumbledore died.

      • gredandforge says:

        Wow! That's crazy, I never even made the connection. Jk Rowling is a genius at foreshadowing and storytelling!

      • Caitlin P says:

        Wow that is mind blowing. It really does appear to be foreshadowing which is impressive because we don't even know about the killing curse yet. Good find.

      • Inessa says:

        I didn’t read it as foreshadowing of the lightning tower, I think it was the image of Snape, then turning to the memory of Voldemort when he tried to kill Harry. I think it’s more one of those clues that is sneakily presented – re him dreaming about the killing curse, and he only finds out about Avada Kedavra in GOF.

        • Nancy says:

          Well, who’s to say it’s not both? I think, coming at it post-HBP, it definitely works on a foreshadowing level, but it also works, before that, on a creepy-dream-melding-with-actual-memory level.

          And, even if it wasn’t intended as foreshadowing, it still works as such, which just adds another layer (of fun!) to Jo’s work.

      • PigRescuer says:

        I never took that for foreshadowing, I think it's just him remembering the night his parents died (when he was one… amazing baby memories!). But who knows!?

      • ldwy says:

        Hmm, wow. I never considered that! It's great because when we read Sorcerer's stone, we only knew so much, so I think it's safe to say we read that in the context of a bad dream encompassing several of the bad things in Harry's life…his fears of Slytherin, Malfoy the bully, Snape the horrible teacher, and the early memory he's always had of when his parents died. But now later, we can see another layer of meaning.

      • fawkesthephoenix says:

        I always thought this foreshadowed Quirrell's turban having Voldemort under it.

    • hick says:

      Because of this dream, my mother deduced, that Quirrell was evil. I don't know, how she did it, but long before she finished Philosopher's Stone, she told me (who had finished the book much earlier), that the dream probably means, that Snape and Malfoy are just red herrings, because the real danger in the dream is coming from the turban (=Quirrell).

  13. NB2000 says:

    I can't remember exactly where I read it right now, but there was something about how traditionally wild untamed hair was a sign of someone being a witch (or wizard in this case), Harry's hair was specifically mentioned as an example. I have no idea if Jo knew this (I wouldn't be surprised if she did, because she's awesome like that) but that might also explain Hermione's bushy hair.

    The more likely explanation is the one someone already mentioned, that Harry inherited it from James.

  14. Kaybee42 says:

    This was a lovely review Mark, HP makes me so happy 🙂 But I can't get over the American publishers changing fringe for 'bangs'… for some reason it really grates on me and I cringed when I read it just then! Also apologies if this comment is missing any spaces, my friend spilt diet coke on my keyboard last night and it is mostly fine now except for the space bar which seems to want to MAKE ME ANGRY!

  15. ladililn says:

    Yeah, she definitely had an insane amount planned out from the beginning–it took her something like seven years between getting the idea for Harry Potter and actually having the first book come to fruition, mostly because of all the extensive planning, I think. That said, she definitely changed her mind about various things at different points in writing the series, came up with new ideas, etc. So there was always a plan, but it was a flexible one. XD

  16. momzter says:

    A lot of fans thought Harry was a metamorphmagus because of his hair growing back. Rowling didn't really say why it was so untidy but did address that theory here:

    "A Metamorphmagus is a wizard who has the innate ability to transform their appearance completely, for instance, from black to white, young to old, handsome to plain and so on. In Harry's extreme youth, he produced some impressive bits of uncontrolled magic when under stress, including making his own hair re-grow overnight after a particularly brutal haircut from Aunt Petunia (a dream that had its roots in my own childhood. My mother, God bless her, had the idea that she was much more skilled with the kitchen scissors than she really was, and I had a couple of shockingly dreadful 'trims' at her hands. How I wished that I could simply stick it all back on…)

    [continued because of comment length limitations…]

  17. Miranda says:

    Haha. I love that you're re-reading Harry Potter. And isn't it nice, already knowing what's coming? This way you're not all "OMG HAVE TO FINISH THIS SERIES IMMEDIATELY WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN OMG CAN'T WAIT"?
    Knowing what happens is a wonderful thing. By the way, I appluade you for your being able to read it one chapter at a time. I can't do that to save my life. I was so involved in the story, I couldn't force myself to stop even if I wanted to.

    As for your question, there isn't a real magical reason for Harry's hair. It's just something he inherited from James, just like Harry inherited Lily's eyes.

    As for your request to keep the comments about Rowling's planning… I'm not sure exactly, but I believe she had the full seven years planned out, since she was in a contract for a full seven books. I'm not exactly sure how well she had it planned, but my guess is she at least had a general outline for the seven years.
    But isn't it amazing? Parseltongue already in the third (?) chapter, for something that's not even going to be mentioned AT ALL until the second book. Also, how she incorporated Sirius' name in the very first chapter, but then you don't hear anything at all about him until book three?

    That's some pretty awesome planning, if I do say so myself.

  18. for2005miles says:

    I think Rowling had the basic plotline planned out when she started Sorceror's Stone. There are so many hints and so much foreshadowing early on that it casts the series in a whole new light upon re-reading it.
    Yeah Mark, Vernon is just a horrible person, plain and simple. As for Petunia, she's also horrible but at the same time I pity her a little. She's so consumed with bitterness and jealousy that she takes it out on Harry, who's a constant reminder of what she cannot do. Not only that, she makes it a point to treat Dudley, a Muggle like herself, as special as possible. You know that she probably felt ignored and inadequate as a child because she couldn't do magic like her sister. She goes out of her way to treat Harry horribly, as if saying "Hey! Being a wizard doesn't make you better than everyone else and I'm going to make sure you know it!" She's basically a female Snape, if you think about it. Knowing this makes me admire Harry even more because he had every excuse to turn out like Petunia and Snape. Instead, he becomes a brave, loyal and selfless person (despite his moodiness and occasional arrogance). God, I love these books:)

    • grlgoddess says:

      She goes out of her way to treat Harry horribly, as if saying "Hey! Being a wizard doesn't make you better than everyone else and I'm going to make sure you know it!"

      That just made me think of something. Despite how horrible her actions were, she kinda helped Harry turn out as well as he did. Growing up thinking that he was nothing helped so that, when he found out how famous he was, he could balance that fame with the nobody he is in the Muggle world.

  19. maiaaa_ says:

    I'm not 100% certain but I think Rowling has outlined the whole series long before she even wrote Philosopher's Stone (about 5 years, I think). So yeah, most of the vital things in the whole series have been planned out already, all she needed was to write them. 🙂

    Also, OMG Mark, I just learned about this HP reread thing and it absolutely warms my heart! I'm soooo happy you did this! 😀

  20. ladysugarquill says:

    rejection can do terrible things to people, as can feeling excluded. But to reverse that on a young child who has no idea about what made you the way you are? Ugh, it’s just deplorable.

    And THIS is why I still don't like Snape.

    Poor Mrs. Figg, knowing who Harry is and what he's been through and still having to make Harry hate her house or the Dursleys wouldn't let him go again 🙁

    In my personal canon, they got together for tea after the war and she baked him the best chocolate cake ever 🙂

    Also, why is it the saddest thing ever when Harry is pretty happy just to get a lemon ice pop?
    This is one of Harry's main traits that I love; he's so used to have nothing, to receive no love, that even the littlest thing is great. Also, I love how he doesn't sit around crying about his fate, but instead adopts a "shit happens" attitude and is instead happy for the (few) good things in his life. We see this later in the series, he's angrier when bad things happen to other people than when they happen to him.

    IMHO this is NOT a good thing, actually – it's very sad he's so used to his life being crap. He should be able to recognize and be angrier about all the shit that happens to him, but I think as a character trait is awesome, specially for a hero type like Harry, and it is actually useful to him later.

    I’m curious to exactly how far in advance she planned this whole story, because this is quite early in the story to be planning out so much foreshadowing.

    After she got the original idea, she spent SEVEN YEARS planning the whole story and writing chapters here and there, before she sat down to write the entire first book.

    And SMeyer wrote Twilight in two months.

  21. lindseytinsey says:

    Haha, so funny reading this. In the British version it says "fringe" instead of "bangs" haha, was a bit confused when I read that just now.
    Oooh Mrs Figg! Who would've guessed we'd see her again. Ah, Order of the Phoenix right around the corner from Harry.
    This whole part of the book is so cute. Just to read the beginning of the series is so amazing. Much simpler times. No knowledge of Horcuxes, Voldy, Death Eaters etc.

  22. peacockdawson says:

    Mark, it's just hair. IT'S JUST HAIR.

  23. IsabelArcher2 says:

    So… will someone explain to me how I can put gifs and pictures in my comments? Pretend you're giving instructions to a child. I am terrible with computer stuff.

  24. Randomcheeses says:

    I cannot remember where I heard this (bear in mind it could've easily been a fanfic, curses upon my bad memory,) but I think Harry's hair is the way it is because James used to mess his up his hair so that he always looked as if he'd just come off the quidditch pitch. Add in magic plus Harry being downright identical to his father barring the eyes, and you get Harry's permanent hair problem.

    • chelcie1311 says:

      i think that's a really lazy explanation, if it's true. scientifically speaking (and i know, this is a book about MAGIC), that's not the way things work. you don't inherit a trait from a parent because they physically make their own appearance different. that's like saying harry inherited his green eyes form lily because she wore green contact lenses. and i'm sorry, but if that's what jkr intended, that's right up there with smeyer's bs about being able to make a different number of chromosomes by becoming a werewolf, vampire, or vampire-human hybrid.

    • Zictor says:

      I always had a similar hair to Harry's. It's almost impossible to comb my hair.

    • Laura says:

      Not in fanfic, actually in the books. Snape's Grudge, book 5 I think.

  25. phoebe says:


  26. Elise says:

    I think the fact that Jo had it all planned out (and you quickly started to realize it even with finding out about parseltongue in CoS…although it became a bigger plot point than I ever guessed) is one thing that really helped the fandom thrive and why it continues to grow. The world famous editorials and the well known theories (knight to rook) actually had proof and research and were based off the intricate details of the hp world.

    How many of us scrutinized the title names, looked for clues in the cover art, and later scoured the jkrowling website for minute clues? We knew by the end of the series how little intricate details were not meaningless.

  27. samibear says:

    See, this is why I wanted to hug Harry throughout the entire series. His childhood was just so unnecessarily sad. It hits me right in the heart.

    And am I the only one who was pissed at Mrs Figg when we found out she was a spy for Dumbledore? I mean, she knows who and what he is, she's there to keep an eye on him, Harry's left with her every year, and all she does is make him look at pictures of her cats? She couldn't think of anything mildly entertaining to do with him? Take him to the cinema, give him a treat, anything? And her flimsy excuse was something like 'I had to make sure you weren't having too much fun, or else the Dursely's wouldn't have let you come stay with me *wink wink*'. Hello, haven't you ever heard of LYING?

    I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but it gives me rage. :@

    • Randomcheeses says:


      I remember being so pissed off at her when I read that! It's such a lame excuse. Harry's a smart kid. I'm sure she could've trusted him to tell the Dursley's "Oh, her cats s*&t on me and it was horrible. I hate it there."

  28. From what I've heard and understood, the basics of the story were all down before she even started writing the first book completely. So basically the outline of what would happen in the story was already down. But originally Chamber of Secrets and Half Blood Prince were in opposite positions. It shows that she had an idea where she was going with this. Also the epilogue was written back when PS/SS was written and that's why it's so amazingly amateur compared to the rest of Deathly Hallows.

    • notemily says:

      She must have changed it at some point, though, because for years she said the last word of the series would be "scar," and that doesn't end up being the case.

      • hassibah says:

        Yeah I was kind of confused where people got the idea that the epilogue that was published was one she wrote like 15 years ago, I was under the impression that she was considering doing a different version untill relatively recently.

  29. albusseverus says:

    Mark, have you visited it's absolutely fantastic and has a lot of extra information and backstories including some of rowling's notes on how she plotted the books. also the last paragraph you quoted is also one of my favourites. it describes Harry's loneliness in such a simple but eloquent way.

  30. Pynki says:

    You wanna know how much she had planned. A major event in DH is alluded to in the middle of this one. I wont say where or what because t's always fun to pick up stuff on re-read but there you go. She foreshadowed book 7 in book 1.

    • Holly says:

      Pynki I may not know you, but I must certainly hate you.


      Ugh, what has this woman done to us?

  31. flaviageminia says:

    I know it's hard not to hate Aunt Petunia…but at the same time i feel bad for her. She was jealous of Lily, which manifested itself into anger when Lily was killed. I always thought she had split emotions on that: for one thing, vindictiveness toward Lily because SEE? SEE WHAT BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO PEOPLE WHO USE MAGIC? but at the same time that vindictiveness would have no satisfaction because no matter what, her little sister is dead.
    And she would have hated the magical world all the more, not only because it rejected her, but because it killed her sister.
    No wonder she wants to stamp it out of Harry. To her, magic represents the ruination of families and murder.
    Not that that excuses her from the awful way she treats Harry, just to get back at the magical world. Seriously, what is it with these books and adults taking out their past frustrations on children of the next generation??

  32. Hieronymus Graubart says:

    From J.K.R's autobiograpy on <a href="<br />
    I began to write "Philosophers Stone" that very evening" [in 1990]
    "I moved up to Manchester, taking the swelling manuscript with my, which was now growing in all sorts of strange directions, and including ideas for the rest of Harry's career at Hogwarts, not just his first year."

    So, yes, it seems that much of what was to come had already been planned when she finished the first book in 1995 (it took another year for her agent to find a publisher, and another year for production).

  33. meesha1971 says:

    Jo planned out the entire series while she was writing the first book.

    From Christopher Lydon's interview with J.K. Rowling (WBUR Radio), 12 October, 1999

    Part 5 {8:12}
    Lydon: I – I – I'd love you to read some – some of this, I'd also like you to say – you say you were writing this – er – in – in, you know, over tea in shops for five years before anybody saw it [JKR: yeah]. People – people maybe know enough about you, and your history, I'm not sure we do know enough, though, about how you – how you actually composed this?

    JKR: Erm – When I started writing it – erm – I had never thought of writing for children. I'd been writing almost all my life, I mean, the first story I ever finished, I was six years old – all I've ever wanted to be is a writer. And I have been writing ever since I was six. I'd never thought of myself as a children's writer, erm – but I'd never been so excited about an idea for a book as I had about the Harry books, so I abandoned the novel I was then working on and started on Harry. Erm – But it is a lot of work to create an entire world and it was about five years to finish the first book and to plot the remaining six books, because they were already plotted before the first book was published, and book two was started before book one was – was finished. Erm – Yes, so – so I spent an awful lot of time thinking about the details of the world and working it out in depth.

    Lydon: Are you sticking with that outline of the seven?

    JKR: Yeah, but each time I – I hit a new book, I will find that there's – there's other stuff I want to do, so al- you know, I have a basic structure for each book, but sometimes I'll decide 'well, we'll play around with that middle section,' b'cause I don't like it as much as I did back in 1992 when I originally planned it. (1:33)

    Source –

    And from "Living with Harry Potter", Stephen Fry – December 10, 2005

    SF: Is it really true that you've got it all planned out?

    JKR: Yes, it is really true.

    SF: That’s astonishing.

    JKR: Yes, I do know what's going to happen in the end. And occasionally, I get cold shivers when someone guesses at something that's very close, and then I panic and I think, "Oh, is it very obvious?" and then someone says something that's so off the wall that I think, "No, it's clearly not that obvious!"

    SF: Good.

    JKR: I always leave myself latitude to go on a little stroll off the path, but the path is what I’m essentially following. So much that happens in six relates to what happens in seven. And you really sort of skid off the end of six straight into seven. You know, it’s not the discreet adventure that the others have all been, even though you have the underlying theme of Harry faces Voldemort, in each case, and – you know better than anyone – there has been an adventure that has resolved itself.

    Source –

    And I just realized that I need to figure out how to do bold and such on this new site. LOL

  34. celestineangel1 says:

    Rowling pretty much knew everything. Things changed, of course, as the series went on and she realized certain plans just wouldn't work the way she wanted them too; like Mafalda, the Weasley cousin who was supposed to appear in GoF and be fairly important (as well as terribly horrible and smart enough to impress Hermione).

  35. Feed Your Head says:

    On Mrs. Figg: I love how Rowling even had her explain to Harry later that she had to try to make his visits terrible, so he could contine to visit, otherwise the Dursleys would never have let him.

    My understanding is that Rowling had the endings for most of the characters worked out before she even started writing. In fact, she had written out the epilogue (pretty much) and had it stored in a safe deposit box. So she always knew in what direction the story needed to move. So different from the Saga-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.

  36. Anaa says:

    I thinnk what amazes me the most is knowing that right now in the book Harry has a bit of Voldemort`s soul in him

    • Openattheclose says:

      It's a little mind-blowing, isn't it?

      You've just reminded me of a post that I once read from a Harry-hater defending the Dursleys because they had to raise a mini-horcrux and it must have been horrible and OF COURSE they should have treated him like that. It made me so angry (that post, not yours).

      • Starsea28 says:

        URGH. WHAT. Dumbledore didn't even know about Horcruxes at that point, it was the diary in CoS which set him on the trail, and like he would have told them his suspicions ANYWAY. That's not even mentioning that the piece of Voldemort was dormant for those first ten years because he was off being disembodied in Albania. Harry-haters sicken me.

        • Kiryn says:

          Actually, Dumbledore DID know about the Horcruxes at this point. All the diary did was give him the suspicion that Voldemort had more than just one Horcrux. Dumbledore knew right from when Lily and James died that Voldemort had at least one Horcrux, and he knew that a piece of Voldemort's soul was inside Harry. I do, however, agree that he would never have told the Dursleys about it, and that that particular brand of argument against Harry is quite ridiculous.

          • Starsea28 says:

            Hmm, really? I should read HBP a little more closely next time. Any argument in favour of the Dursleys' treatment is ridiculous and that's putting it kindly.

        • Openattheclose says:

          I apologise, I should have been more clear. They weren't arguing that the Dursleys knew he was a Horcrux, just that they could "sense" that he was evil or something. Because the evil tendencies of a 15-month old orphan are so obvious, don't you know? Especially next to their saint of a son.

          • Kiryn says:

            Hmm, that's actually very interesting. I'm not saying that this condones Harry's treatment and makes it okay. But we know that the presence of the locket emotionally affected Ron and the trio during DH (and come to think of it, it could have been affecting Sirius and Kreacher during OOTP, because they were both stuck with it in the house for long periods of time). It didn't make them feel anything they weren't already feeling, but just amplified their negative emotions. The fact that there is a piece of Voldemort's soul in Harry could explain the extreme reactions they sometimes had to him. But ultimately, the fact remains that there already had to be that negative emotion there for it to be amplified, the Dursleys would still have been abusers, and I don't agree with Harry haters. Potential influence doesn't give them a pass, for they already have multiple influences acting upon them. But it's interesting to think about, and something I would never have thought of.

          • Starsea28 says:

            Yes, the presence of a Horcrux would obviously justify locking him in a cupboard and not feeding him properly. /sarcasm (But the Horcrux wasn't even active!)

            • Openattheclose says:

              I just realized: If we go by the reasoning that people could sense that Harry had a piece of Voledmort's soul, then shouldn't Umbridge have really liked Harry? After all, she seemed to really enjoy having the locket.

              • Starsea28 says:

                Ha, true. I'm guessing the piece of Voldemort, although very active during that time, was swamped by the sheer goodness of Harry.

  37. Anwar says:

    This is copied from the last HP post. Not sure if you read it, but its important:
    OMG MARK! You commented on having something from the time the Potter were alive and I was like EPIPHANY!
    Well guess what?
    It is an 800 word short story written by JKR for charity in 2008 (if I recall correctly).
    Here is the link:

    The hair, I think, is just supposed to symbolize how similar Harry looks so much like James.
    This is fantastic 🙂

  38. sourgrapesnape says:

    I've been following your Mark Reads Harry Potter blog for a while, back when it was on Buzznet, but this is the first time I have decided to create an account to actually comment. I want to say thank you so much for doing this again. Rereading the series is just so amazing and I'm glad that you'll be writing reviews on them, putting the pieces together when you already know what happens. 🙂 Anyways, isn't this just so gkdksgkdghk! So many things in the first few chapters that play such a big part later in the series! Freaking genius.

    I have a question though. Will you be doing liveblogs of the movies again?

  39. lyricsandhearts says:

    I can never decide if I want to feel bad for Petunia or not. I mean, obviously she was being horribly petty, abusing and ignoring a child just because she was jealous of her sister, but… Wasn’t Lily always the “perfect” one? And then she finds out that not only does she have something Petunia doesn’t (and they’re still pretty young at this point, so it’s not like Petunia’s going to harbor some great understanding and compassion, of course she’s going to be jealous), but she’s also part of something that Petunia will never be a part of, no matter what she does or how hard she tries, something big and, well, magical, and now, from Petunia’s point of view, Lily not only has everything in the world, but everything in two worlds. And I dunno, I just think that for someone like Petunia, a control freak like her, it would be the worst thing in the universe for someone you feel obliged to love to have twice what you have when you have it pretty good to begin with. So I guess I feel bad for her, but that in no way condones her actions.

    If that makes any sense at all? Idk. Mostly that was just me rambling pointlessly, haha.

  40. Rimma says:

    One thing from DH that I really wished to read was Petunia's moment of explanation/apology to Harry. It was ALMOST there, when they looked at each other and she opened her mouth to say something and all I could think was, "YES THIS IS IT, SHE'S GOING TO SAY WHAT NEEDED TO BE SAID FOR SO LONG!" …and then she changed her mind, turned her back on him, and walked out the door after Vernon and Dudley. I was so crushed, and I knew the moment was gone forever.

    All my subsequent rereads of Petunia's scenes leave me so unsatisfied and begging for MOAR on her part. I just want her to own up to her actions so badly and it just never happens. The funny thing is, when I get to DH I obviously know she doesn't ever redeem herself, BUT I STILL WISH SHE DOES. Totes sad, huh?

  41. Fluffy says:

    "Man, my cluelessness was kind of adorable, no?"
    FFFFFFF— this. <3
    Seriously, every time this series broke your brain a small part of me went "awwwww!" I kinda feel bad about that, but oh well, I guess. xD

  42. Jenna says:

    "I now understand where it came from; rejection can do terrible things to people, as can feeling excluded. But to reverse that on a young child who has no idea about what made you the way you are? Ugh, it’s just deplorable."

    Story of Aunt Petunia's life? Yes. But when I read that, I totally thought of Snape.

    • Petunia and Snape seem to mirror each other when it comes to their treatment of Harry, but at least with Snape you get the feeling that he redeemed himself near the end. With the way he fought with Dumbledore about how they were just leading him to slaughter seemed almost as if he cared.

  43. andreah1234 says:

    Harry Potter. HARRY POTTER. Oh save heaven to the madness that is Hunger Games. sigh.

    I hated this first chapters when on my very first read. It was very boring and Meh to me. And then it was on my re-reads that I really realized how incredible JK's writing was. Because this horrible people is what made Harry so wonderful and kind, and even if we see this on later chapter is so nice to see she actually knew the kind of character she was writing from the beginning and what caused him to be the way he was. That's what makes her such an amazing writer.

    • helloimbella says:

      That just completely reminded me of the Doctor (as in Who). The idea that a person can have the shittiest things happened to them and instead of those things making the person cruel; they make him kind. *SADFACES*

      Mark, you really should review Who sometime.

      EDIT: HOLD UP. Is this considered spoilery? In that case: *kicks self*.

      • andreah1234 says:

        I don't think is spoilery, don't worry :D. And awesome things always have to be related. The Doctor+Harry Potter+Mark= The best things ever.

  44. andreah1234 says:

    And the Dursleys suck. Period.

    Mrs. Figg is awesome. Me thinks she really did care for Harry, and the fact she had to follow Dumbles order and give him hell while he was with her really bothered her and made her sad all along, which is even more tragic.

  45. Fluffy_socks says:

    You've got to wonder… was the drop of parseltongue to foreshadow Chamber of Secrets or the fact that Harry was a horcrux all along?

    • chelcie1311 says:

      i have an issue with automatically assuming the parseltongue ISN'T harry's own natural ability.

      hang in there with me for a minute:

      * harry's cloak is THE cloak from the peverel brothers
      * harry's a descendant of the peverel's
      * voldemort's ring is THE stone from the peverel brothers
      * voldemort is a descendant of the peverel's
      * voldemort is a descendant of slytherin
      * harry MUST BE a descendant of slytherin, as well.
      * therefore, harry totally could be a parselmouth of his own accord, and NOT JUST BECAUSE voldemort transfered some of his own powers to him.

      • Hieronymus Graubart says:

        Sorry, your argument doesn't work, and it doesn't matter if Slytheryn came before or after the Peverell brothers.
        Imagine the following: One of Ignotus Peverells granddaugters married a Potter, another of Ignotus Peverells grandaughters married a Gaunt. This Gaunt may have been a descendent of Salazar Slytherin or one of his descendants may have married a descendant of Salazar Slytherin. Or Ignotus Peverells second grandaughter may have married a Slytherin who was Salazar's ancestor. There are many ways how Voldemort and Harry can both be descendants of the Peverells, but Harry isn't a descendent of Slytherin.

  46. Smurphy says:

    Haven\’t actually read the review yet so I\’ll either comment twice or edit this later but…

    MARK!! I FINALLY FOUND IT! When I was originally reading this with you and you were asking for fanfic my mind immediately jumped to this one-shot piece that I had read shortly after the release of the 7th book. It was probably the only piece that quenched my longing for more book. Anyway I have been on a two month quest for this… And I finally stumbled across it. Hope you like it.

  47. LeeBea says:

    See now you know what we had to experience when you were reading this! We knew what was going to happen and could make the connections but we couldnt say anything! I am so glad you read this. It was like reading the series for the frist time.

  48. PigRescuer says:

    I do know that she wrote the Epilogue of DH (Nineteen Years Later) between books two and three! Which you can tell, the writing isn't so.. grown up? Is that the right word?

    Also kind of explains why it doesn't mention a single character who isn't in the first two books (except the awfully name kids) not even Luna!

  49. Slartibartfast says:

    Oh that last fanart is amazing. Is that the same person who drew Sirius and James where James had the antlers and Sirius goes "Nice rack, mate!"

    The Dursleys are to illustrate all that is wrong with people who cannot accept whats different from themselves. I loathe them.

  50. gredandforge says:

    LOL so funny. When I read that, I can't just read it normally; It always sounds like the song in my head, which makes it even funnier. JKR is so cute btw!

  51. Meltha says:

    The thing about there not being any pictures of Harry anywhere? We have neighbors across the street with two small kids, and the husband's teenage son by a previous marriage moved in and lived with them for at least three.

    They went on vacation once and had me take care of their dog. I'd never been in their house before. Every wall was PLASTERED with gigantic portraits of the two little kids, and a family picture hung over the fireplace… with no teenager. There wasn't a picture of him anywhere. I checked the windows in the kids' bedrooms each night: her son had a drawers and a bed. The teen put his clothes in a cardboard box and slept on a folding cot. For three years.

    She was always telling my mother what an awful kid he was and that he didn't deserve a party when he graduated high school (her kids had huge, wedding-like affairs). I took a dim view or her after that.

    She's my mental image of Aunt Petunia.

  52. Choices says:

    I think Harry’s hair is sort of like his life – unruly, often out of his control. Things just happen to him.

    Also, his hair is like his father’s was when he was young – wind blown and devil-may-care.

  53. lebeaumonde says:

    I think Harry and James suffer the same disorder I have… thick, frizzy hair with multiple cowlicks. I would love to cut my hair in a bob, but if it is shorter than shoulder-length, it sticks up at odd angles. 🙁

    • ldwy says:

      Same with me, but more puffy than frizzy. I tried short (chin length, bob type) hair once. What a disaster. It just stuck out from my head in a huge triangle, hahahaha.

  54. JaneMarple9 says:

    I love that Jo had the whole series more or less plotted out even in chapter 2 of book 1. I like the way the "Epilogue" of DH was written in a more childish way. It shows how much thought Jo put into the series. The idea that there are indications that Harry is a Horcrux, because he can understand Parseltongue has never occured to me, to be it indicated all the parseltongue in book two. Mrs Figg couldn't make Harry's visits to her too pleasent as the Dursleys wouldn't ask her to mind him any more. In regards to Harry's hair, I just took it to be like James 🙂

  55. Antskog says:

    You clearly haven't spent enough time in the fandom if you think we'll have a problem with one chapter per review. More HP is always good 🙂
    I love all the hints of things to come that you can't understand on the first read but get on the reread. It shows how well JKR had planed the series.

  56. Danielle says:

    Your innocence is PRECIOUS TO US.

  57. pica_scribit says:

    Harry has the same willfully-messy hair that his father had. It grew back via accidental magic from Harry's wanting it to so badly.

  58. AlliAnne says:


  59. chyeaitskim says:

    i heard somewhere that she began writing the last book first or something like that.. she is a freaking GENIUS.

  60. Jen says:

    I'm watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire while reading this. XDD Although, in high definition on a giant screen, it looks more like a bad soap opera. >.<

    It really is weird to imagine how much time J.K. took to think of all of this before ever pressing a key.

  61. Nancy says:

    Mark, I’ve noticed that the comments form (“Powered by WP Hashcash”, I guess?) here and at Watches doesn’t list img src as an allowed HTML tag. This is why no one can properly post gifs, sad or otherwise.

    Hope this helps in getting this sorted.

  62. Beatrice says:

    BARRY CUNNINGHAM [BC], former editor of Bloomsbury: The very first question she asked me was "How do you feel about sequels?" And then she told me the entire story of Harry Potter — all through the entire series. I realized, of course, that she knew exactly about this world and where it was going, who it was going to include, how the character would develop…

    From 'Harry Potter and Me,' a 2004 documentary.

    • Openattheclose says:

      I am so jealous of that editor. Can you imagine how he felt when the Harry Potter phenomenon exploded and he knew everything? I bet he wished he had taken notes.

      • Kiryn says:

        You know, looking back, the security measures taken to prevent things from being spilled ahead of time are kind of funny to think about. Security was of the utmost importance, and they planned how they were going to ship the DH books months in advance, and even made the paper mills be basically sworn to secrecy. I bet no such extreme measures were there to protect the Twilight books.

        • fawkesthephoenix says:

          My husband works at a printing factory that printed them all. There were security guards guarding the trash cans, even, by the time DH came around. He'd never seen anything like it.

  63. Roonilwazlib says:

    I'll just leave this here…

    <object width="450" height="250"><param name="movie" value="; /><param name="flashvars" value="id=186431372&width=1337" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed src="; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="450" flashvars="id=186431372&width=1337" height="250" allowscriptaccess="always"></embed></object>Harry's Magical Spank Dance by ~<a class="u" href="">Zani-alone on deviantART

  64. Roonilwazlib says:

    I'll just leave this here…

    <img src=<object width="450" height="250"><param name="movie" value="; /><param name="flashvars" value="id=186431372&width=1337" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed src="; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="450" flashvars="id=186431372&width=1337" height="250" allowscriptaccess="always"></embed></object>Harry's Magical Spank Dance by ~<a class="u" href="">Zani-alone on deviantART>

  65. Roonilwazlib says:

    okay apparently i fail at posting gifs! sorry! just click the link.

  66. Stephanie says:

    Jo Rowling said that when she finished revising the first book, she had the entire rest of the series planned out, down to who dies. The only thing that she changed was that she was planning for Mr. Weasley to die in OoTP, but couldn't bring herself to do it.

  67. leenwitit says:

    I love going back and reading your original reviews of these chapters, because YOU WERE SO NOT PREPARED:

    "Ok, so I actually think that, so far, this is all pretty fantastic and well-written and then Rowling goes and fucks it up. See, the snake in the glass cage is Brazilian, except when the glass vanishes through some weird power that Harry apparently has, the snake whispers, "Brazil, here I come…….Thanksss, amigo." BRAZILIANS SPEAK PORTUGUESE YOU DIRTY DIRTY RACIST. Ok, that's not that bad BUT STILL omg racism"

    Isn't it crazy how it's not racism at all but A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LANGUAGE WHAAAAAAT?! Idk, I just like that even some of the very few problems you had with the story are actually resolved upon rereading 🙂

  68. spiffy says:

    i am pretty sure rowling got the idea for harry in 1990. that's quite a few years before publishing. even for that, though, rowling knows a freakishly huge amount of knowledge for the series.

    I LOVE IT.

  69. ldwy says:

    Mark, I hope you see this. I just figured I'd comment here because I wasn't sure where else to. I LISTENED TO THE MADE OF FAIL PODCAST AND IT WAS AWESOME AND AMAZING!! I was laughing out loud sometimes, truly, like a maniac, and it was so cool to listen to the discussion.
    As a celebration:
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Hermione,excited,clap">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Hermione,dance">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Hermione,Harry,excited">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Draco,Harry,Hermione,Ron,excited">

  70. Revolution64 says:

    My reaction when you said you were going to do this chapter by chapter again:
    <img src=""&gt;

  71. Dementress says:

    Your snark and skeptism back then was almost so charming and endearing, Mark. You had no idea at that point in time how much this series has changed you. 😀

    Btw, isn't there a way to upload gifs here coming from our computer files?

    • ldwy says:

      I don't think so, I think you have to use a hosting site. I use photobucket-it's pretty easy, free, and gives you all the codes and stuff to include/embed/whatever the pictures, which is handy.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Not yet. I am working on a hack for you guys to host on my server, but for now, you have to host elsewhere.

    • Meltha says:

      You know, weirdly, Mark and HP reminded me of Ron and Hermione. You know he's fighting it. You know he's secretly attracted to her. And you know that eventually all the angst and worry and drama are just going to turn into massive lurrrrve.

      Mark/HP. Pairing of choice.

  72. BeautifulThief says:

    I always thought the hair thing was because he was a magical child, and I seem to remember something about when the magical children get upset or something, they can't control their magic and so it just reacts, and because Harry was so upset and worried about his hair, his magic acted out.

  73. murgatroid1 says:

    My love for the first two books is different from my love for the rest, and it mostly comes from rereading. SO MUCH is set up in the first two books, and you don't even realise. I'm pretty sure I didn't even notice Sirius Black's name RIGHT THERE in the FIRST CHAPTER the first few times I read it.

    I'm so excited for you to read Chamber of Secrets. Pretty much the entire sixth book is foreshadowed.

  74. dolphinsmile18 says:

    still not prepared.

    i think this is going to be my comment for every chapter for the rest of forever.

    deal with it B|

  75. Kripa says:

    Aunt Petunia is a female and Muggle version of Severus Snape. Discuss.

  76. Yesss! You cannot re-review with only a couple of posts per book!

    One of the greatest pleasures of the first book is how much we're allowed to hate the Dursleys. There's a cleanness to Harry's psyche that comes of having been unambiguously abused and neglected, rather than intermittently abused and loved. It's not a better or worse way to be abused, but it does make it easier for a kid to know that the problem lies with others and not with himself. About Mrs. Figg, I think she made the right decision to keep Harry completely ignorant of her sympathies. It creates far too much anxiety in a young child for an adult to enjoin them to secrets of that magnitude, especially when their guardians are so abusive and there's no chance of getting them away from those people.

    Lately, I've been reading Nagini as what happens to human desire when people are thwarted or abused or starved — witness the way Voldemort craves what does not belong to him — and then I realized that although Harry and Voldemort are both Parselmouths, Harry only ever uses Parseltongue for good. Here, he rescues a captive; later on, he tells a snake to back off Justin, or opens up the locket, or goes to save Ginny. It's one of JKR's ways, I think, of showing that even when you're so deprived that an ice pop is a miracle, you can still be good although messed up.

  77. halfbreedlover says:

    [youtube aoygOFQdsb0 youtube]

    Sorry, that might be better.

  78. Lesley says:

    I haven't read through all the comments, so forgive me if I'm repeating someone. But I'm about to say something kind of unpopular.

    I kind of, SORT OF understand Vernon and Petunia. I mean, I know they are horrible abusive people. But maybe I can kind of see where they are coming from. JUST A LITTLE BIT CALM DOWN.

    In chapter 1, the Dursleys are people who just think magic people are weird and embarrassing. But in chapter 2, the Dursleys are people who have lost relatives because of magic. Even though they hated/were ashamed of those particular relatives, they still walk away seeing magic as a thing that can kill you (AND make you look stupid).

    I kind of feel like Vernon and Petunia view magic as a sort of Weapon of Mass Destruction. They don't know much about how it works or when it could go off but they're terrified of getting blown to bits by it someday. And so they try to keep Harry from knowing what he can do. They absolutely lose their shit every time it looks like something magical has happened because they have no clue how many steps they are from bursting into wizard flame.

    (I feel like Vernon has more of an excuse than Petunia, since she grew up seeing Lily come home from Hogwarts and doesn't seem to have been put in danger by magic.)

    OBVIOUSLY they go too far. OBVIOUSLY keeping their home/family safe does not require them to be such dicks to Harry for his entire life. I think that part was tacked on to show that they were, in fact, not great people to start with. And when people are already kind of nasty/closed-minded, adding fear just makes the whole world turn to shit. And we see the exact same effect in reverse when we get to Deathly Hallows, because now it's the magic people plotting to force the non-magic people into submission.

    So, Vernon & Petunia = nasty, but I get it.

    (You guys totally don't want to be my friends anymore, do you?)

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I STILL DO.

    • pennylane27 says:


    • Kiryn says:

      I'd be your friend! Because your views are basically mine. I mean, yes, I still hate them, but that doesn't mean that I don't also understand where they're coming from. Because while I wouldn't take it as far as Petunia, I think I would be bitter too, if my sister was magical, and I was stuck with the knowledge that I never would be. And in a way, I think there's a sense of inadequacy in there–if I was Petunia, I would wonder if there was something about me that just wasn't good enough to be magical.

      And when I reread now, I find that I can't hate Dudley, any more than I can hate Draco or Regulus (and I love Reg). Because they're both products of their environment, that thankfully grow eventually to become better people. I can't hate them, because right now I just feel so sorry for them. I feel sorry for most of the characters in the series, except for those like Umbridge. That bitch won't ever get a pass from me.

    • I think that's very much a part of it, especially as we see at the beginning of book 5 when Vernon reaches his breaking point because it's confirmed that harboring Harry makes them a target.

      The other thing is that Dumbledore (or JKR's God, if you will) sometimes gives people burdens they didn't ask for and doesn't reward them for shouldering these burdens, just makes them feel guilty for not doing it well. I didn't get this until I re-read the series as the parent of a one-year-old, but seriously, what mother of a one-year-old who's a handful wants to be saddled with full-time sole care of another one-year-old who's a handful for entirely different reasons, a kid you didn't ask for or want or even like? With no support beyond a written order from The Big Guy (while still processing your sister's frightening death) and the knowledge that your husband may turn against you at any moment for this, so you don't dare ask for his help? It took guts for Petunia to stand up to Vernon trying to evict Harry in book 5. Her marriage was on the line in that moment. Of course the Dursleys are quite extreme in their abuse and neglect of Harry…but yes, there was a point when I got it, too, more than I did on first reading.

  79. stefb says:

    Here's something to ponder…

    The escaped snake in this chapter = Nagini ?

    Just in case, you know, the zookeepers are incompetent and can't catch this giant-ass snake.

    • Kiryn says:

      I don't think so. The snake in this chapter always struck me as male, whereas Nagini is female. And anyway, I think Harry would have recognized it if the two were the same snake.

  80. Ash says:

    She started on the books in 1990 the first was releases in 1997.
    So, a pretty long time was spent planning.

  81. hick says:

    As an answer to your question from chapter 1. I think Vernon is just rotten, and his hatred towards everything "unnormal" is not influenced by Petunia at all. It was already there. His sister is just like him, after all.

  82. silmarilien says:

    Mark! I'm so glad you're doing a re-read, you did cheat on us with the joint review with Kasper on the last one, I love all you other stuff with the firefly series. Hopefully I'll be able to find the hunger games in my neck of the woods to join the party.

    By now all the questions have been answered but, I have always wondered about the underground map. Jo did say she has an epic explanation for it but couldn't work it into the book, much like Dean's back story (up in her site).

    Let's hope for that encyclopaedia!!

  83. playmelikeapitbull says:

    Apparently, you're not the only one who wanted to make something happen between Harry and the spiders in the cupboard. This is what Steve Kloves says about one of his early drafts of his script: "And there was this spider in the corner that he had named Alastair — and Harry had conversations with Alastair." (

  84. aficat says:

    If you do the secrets on JK Rowling's website, she had a picture you could find of her blocking out the major plot points that needed to happen in order to keep her main plotlines going.

    Actually, I just found it : <img src=""&gt;

    It's from an early version of OoTP.

    • aficat says:

      Whoa, did I write something controversial? My rating went from 52 to 8…

    • Kiryn says:

      Holy fuck. I mean, I knew that she had it all planned out, and she keeps saying that she has boxes and boxes of notes, but it makes it even more incredible to actually see is. Wow, is all I can say.

      Oh, wait, except that I can say something else: Rowling is a goddess, in your face Meyer. Okay, done now.

    • blessthechildren says:

      That's awesome

    • Did you notice how the Order seemed to be called "Dumbledre's Army", and the DA "Order of the Phoenix"?

      First square below Ginny/Cho: "Cho in Hogsmeade – wants to join OotP" And below "ootp": "Recruiting" and "First meeting" 😀

      Also, there was more Tonks/Lupin 😀

    • Anonymous says:

      AUGH! Messy handwriting! Want plot! Can't read it!

  85. StarGirlAlice says:

    Apparently, JK Rowling planned out the entire 7 books before she started to right Philosopher's Stone.
    And, James' hair was always untidy, thus explaining Harry's hair!

  86. marylacey says:

    Well, I love the foreshadowing so fucking much. Rowling is a goddess. She had the entire thing planned out from the very beginning. She knew Dumbledore's backstory, and Snapes, Lily's, everybody's basically. She's just brilliant. This is the exact reason why I'll never be able to write a novel that's even half as good as these. I can't think of things like that and just slowly integrate them into the series like, 5 books later. That woman has skill.

    We're so creepy. We sounds like we've sucked you into our cult that we run in someones basement.
    OH WELL. Welcome to the insanely epic fandom that is HP. You can't leave. We've got you for life 🙂

  87. alexis says:

    LOL Buzznet is promoting Eclipse WIGHT NEEEAAAOOOW.

    Anyway, great review Mark, dear (I LOLed at the Swan = Mark). And btw, you are totally kicking ass in reviewing the Hunger Games. It's so cool to read your reviews without having read the book — you have a gift! Seriously, you should be hired purely on promoting books and receiving compensation, imjustsaying.

  88. Owlie says:

    What I loved, LOVED, when you started the series the first time around is when you had guesses that were so wrong. "Is Malfoy gonna kill Harry?!" I loved it because I knew you'd be shocked and I couldn't wait for the OMG fest. This is the best blog ever. GO MARK! TEAM MARK 4 EVAH!

  89. Quizzical says:

    the hugest thing i get from this is "and don't ask questions!"

    the distrust of adults, and the assumption that he had to do it on his own was so firmly embedded in harry. all the times we read later and think, "BUT WHY DON'T YOU TELL THE GROWNUP!" it is clear that he really, honestly, didn't know that he could.

    also, the image of harry in his cupboard will never stop making me meeeeep!

  90. phoebe says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAGRID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and someone seriously needs to show me how to upload pictures!)

  91. forthejokes says:

    The only thing I can think of in terms of Rowling planning out the whole story is that Chamber of Secrets was originally going to be called Half-Blood Prince, because some of the story for book 6 was originally included in CoS. So she had a fair idea of where she was going to go with it.

  92. phoebe says:

    <a href=";
    i really hope this works ive been trying to share it for a LONG time.
    (btw i hope its not offensive cuz i dont mean it that way)

  93. Meaga says:

    I fully support you re-posting in single chapter reviews.

    It's been a while since I've read the books, but when I last did a re-read, the plot points that showed up early made me blink and shake my head. This woman is a genius.

    Also: I thoroughly enjoyed you on MoF. Must do moar pls.

    Also also: I am reading your reviews of THATBOOKOMGHOWDIDITGETPUBLISHED and am sending you happy thoughts and hugs for surviving it.

    p.s. Hopefully I'm able to login with my details this time, I commented a few days ago on another post about adding you to my b-roll and no I'm totally not stalking you, why do you ask? 😉

  94. amythis says:

    I read most of the comments, but I don't think anyone talked much about how Sirius's motorcycle makes an appearance here, in Harry's recurring dream, and how it predisposes Harry to think his godfather is cool. Also, obviously it's a pleasant surprise that you're not doing just a couple reviews per book on this reread. There's so much "OMG this is the first time that so-and-so gets mentioned" (wait till we get to Hogwarts!), that that alone gives you stuff to comment on, along with the introduction of the big issues like prejudice and truth.

  95. Andrew (Chagrin) says:

    Oh man, regarding foreshadowing and being all "holy shit how early did she have this stuff planned out?!" I can't wait until you get to the end of chapter seven.


    (And yay I can say this kind of thing!)

  96. Kiryn says:

    By the way, Mark. Here's a bit of entertainment for you: a list of 100 reasons why Lupin/Tonks is a better couple than Edward/Bella:

    Personally, my favorite is #46: "Lupin brought baby pictures to a battle. How adorably dorky is that?"

    • Rafael Cordeiro says:

      Haahahhaha awesome!
      I laughed hard at this, never seen it this way!
      9. E/B can't have multicolored werewolf babies.

      • Kiryn says:

        Lol, I know. It's all so true, which is what makes it awesome. I most definitely agree with the number on the list that says that Tonks could totally kick Bella's ass.

  97. Fiona says:

    I always assumed that Harry's hair refused to be cut because his hair is a direct trait from James. He might not be aware of it–at this point–but his hair is really the one thing he has that is completely reminiscent of his father.

    • gredandforge says:

      I always thought he was a mini-version of James — because apparently all of his facial features, not just his hair, look like his father's except for his eyes that he inherited from Lily 😛

  98. sbchick2011 says:

    For some reason whenever I reread the first book and it mentions Petunia I think about what she was going to say to Harry in the seventh book. It's killing me because I just really want to know.

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