“Why would I go looking for someone who I know wants to kill me?”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapters 4 and 5

Having escaped the Dursleys without any real consequences, Harry is basking in the glow of just being in the wizarding world. He is staying at the Leaky Cauldron and spending his days people watching in Diagon Alley. Chapter 4 reminds me a lot of the first time we go to Diagon Alley in the Sorcerer’s Stone. In that trip we also see Harry go through several shops to get his school things and his wonderment at being surrounded by magic.

Of course this happiness could only last for so long. When the Weasleys come to Diagon Alley to get their supplies, Harry overhears Arthur and Molly fighting about what they should or shouldn’t tell Harry about Sirius Black. Once again we see the adults struggling to decide what information Harry should have. This is where Harry learns that Black escaped in order to find him and kill him. Arthur thinks he should know so that he can be on guard. Molly however wants to protect him. Arthur ultimately does decide to tell Harry but he still won’t say why Black would be after him and why Harry might want to seek him out. Harry just assumes that it is because he was an ally of Voldemort’s but Arthur seems to be implying that there is more.

Harry tells Arthur of course he wouldn’t go looking for someone who wants to kill him. He also tells Ron and Hermione but they aren’t fully convinced. This brings up the question of whether Harry likes to play hero. He always claims that he doesn’t. He would rather be a normal kid who doesn’t have to fight Voldemort once a year. He claims that trouble finds him, not the other way around. And though that is often the case, there are certainly times where Harry seeks it out himself. He didn’t have to go after the sorcerer’s stone but he did because he thought it would save the school. He may not fully realize it, but there is a part of him that enjoys it. After years of torment and being made to feel like he doesn’t matter by the Dursleys, it makes sense that he would enjoy feeling important now.

In Chapter 5 (“The Dementor”) we meet some new characters, Lupin and the dementors! The trio meet their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher on the train to Hogwarts. Professor Lupin is “sleeping” for the entire ride to Hogwarts while Harry, Ron, and Hermione just casually chat about Sirius Black and the fact that he is after Harry. I’ve always assumed that Lupin was eavesdropping on a lot of this conversation, but who knows maybe he really needed the rest. He comes in handy though when the dementors board the train and start to feed on Harry. For once they seem to have a competent defense teacher.

The dementors aren’t really characters but they are a type of magical creature we haven’t encountered before. They guard Azkaban using the powers of making people miserable. They are truly terrifying creatures. They are only vaguely described in this chapter as Harry doesn’t really understand them yet himself. But already he can see that they affect him more than the others. Harry having faced more darkness in his past has a lot more for the dementors to feed on than most of his peers.

Miscellaneous

  • I have always wondered what Lupin has been up to for the past decade. His suitcase is described as saying “Professor R.J. Lupin” in lettering that was very worn down, implying he has had it a long time. Has he been teaching elsewhere? Is there anywhere else to teach in England? If not teaching what has he been doing for money?
  • On that note what makes someone qualified to teach a subject in the wizarding world? They don’t go to college. If you did well in school on the subject are you just allowed to teach it? Do you need real world experience using the subject?
  • Harry sees the first of his many “death omens” in this book while he is buying his textbooks. There is a picture of a big black dog on the cover of a book about death omens and it reminds him of the one he saw the night he left the Dursleys.
  • More Scabbers clues: he is much older than he should be. And while in the pet shop, Crookshanks pounces on Scabbers as if he can tell that Scabbers is shady.
  • Hermione buys Crookshanks, an ugly cat that causes a lot of bickering between her and Ron.
  • Percy has been made Head Boy and he is even more insufferable than usual.
  • Ron and Hermione are both excited about visiting Hogsmede but for very different reasons. Hermione is excited to visit the only fully magical village in Britain and see its historic sites. Ron just wants to go the candy shop.
  • Hagrid is also a professor now for Care of Magical Creatures. I have nothing against Hagrid but this only confirms that there aren’t really credentials required to be a professor at Hogwarts.

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