On Bad Parents
Now that Vernon has lost his fight to “protect” Harry, he (and Petunia and Dudley) just turn mean. I mean, dropping Harry at the non-existing platform and leaving him there, laughing at him, that’s just mean. Before that, there was at least a warped sense of honor involved for Vernon. I guess this is his way of regaining his dignity. (he had the strongest agenda before, so I’m assuming that Petunia and Dudley are taking their cues from him now; this was Vernon’s idea.)
On Good Parents
Of course, the time of the Dursleys is then past for now because Harry has reached the Wizarding World, stepping onto the platform that will take him to his new life. That world will become his retreat and his home and now that Hagrid is gone and he’s on his own, first thing he sees is the Weasleys. Of course. Harry hides on the train and observes the Weasleys, and there’s nothing about their family dynamic that’s not warm. Yes, Percy gets teased for making prefect, but he’s also gotten new robes from his mom to celebrate it, and she points all that out “fondly.” There’s no malice, just familiarity. It’s the opposite of everything Harry knows. The twins are loud and make a lot of jokes, but at that point, they’ve already helped Harry with his trunk without fuss, they just did it, then went about their day. And then it’s Molly who elevates the Weasleys into Perfection Land when she talks about Harry to them (the twins found out that he’s the famous Harry Potter), calls him a “poor boy” and “ever so polite” and protectively tells the twins off for wanting to quiz Harry about Voldemort. Soon after Ron and Harry will bond over finding each other’s family much more interesting than their own dull and annoying one, which helps in transforming the idealized impression of Harry’s into something more real and sustainable.
And then of course we get Ginny running after the train and waving, emulating the iconic movie image of the female love interest running after the train, like for example in war movies. Which is a beautiful, subtle way to establish her as the romantic interest character long before either she or Harry have a clue. I remember how this used to be a strong argument in the shipper wars back in the day. ^^
The Heart And The Brain
You always know that a character is going to be important to Harry because they get a physical description right away. Draco didn’t get one, only his voice (”drawling”), but that’s an accent marker that tells us something about his social status rather than his physique. Ron does, though, who has big hands and feet and he’s gangling and freckled, and Hermione has a bossy voice, large front teeth, and lots of bushy hair. They both look a bit odd, much like Dumbledore and Hagrid. By the logic of this world, odd is good, though. Odd is always positive.
First thing Hermione is seen doing is helping Neville, who she just met, find his toad. She’s also not snobbish at all. She comes across as bossy, but that’s because she’s so knowledge-focused, and she has none of the “feminine” behaviors of being sweet and shy and not taking up space. Makes sense for two dentist (upper middle class) parents who give her smart daughter space to thrive academically. She tells Ron she doesn’t think his charm is any good, and that all the charms she tried have worked. But if he’d countered by saying, “Well I tried this one and it worked but then the other one didn’t,” they’d have a conversation about why that is and Hermione would be in heaven. Her sole reaction to Harry’s fame is, what books is he in, and why doesn’t he want to know what books he’s in? That’s what she would want to know!
Thoughts On Peter Petttigrew
It will be another two books until we will clue in that Ron’s pet rat really is an Animagus, but since we do now it’s quite interesting to follow what Scabbers gets up to. So here he is! Being “useless, he hardly ever wakes up.” So seven Weasley kids have tried to play with the rat, and Peter Pettigrew groaned inwardly every time, thought “Fuck this shit,” and went to sleep out of self-protection. Imagine a grown man having to play toy for little children for ten years. He had it coming. But still I can sympathize.
Nevertheless, Peter is to become the hero of the chapter. Draco, Goyle and Crabbe arrive to do the bully thing, just to get defeated by Scabbers, who bites Goyle when he tries to steal a chocolate frog. What’s that, Peter? Don’t like bullies? Hate stupid bully children even more than annoying Weasley children? 😀 The next time I see Peter characterized as meek and cowardly, I shall point out that he bit Goyle to defend Ron! Or James’ son. Either he feels loyalty to the Weasley kids, or he just really hates bullies, or it was a whiff of nostalgia for James. But my bet is on one of the first two. He’s lived with them for a long time, after all.
One for the pants fandom
“He and Ron took off their jackets and pulled on their long black robes.” Didn’t somebody recently claim in a very heated, pants-centered debate post that wizards don’t wear anything underneath their robes? Well, sounds like Ron and Harry just wear them as jacket substitutes here in this scene.