Transcript – Episode 1

[Show music begins]

Noah Fried: Hello, and welcome to Alohomora!, a new podcast brought to you by the staff of and Harry Potter fans all over the world. This is Episode 1.

[Show music continues]

Noah: My name is Noah Fried. I’ve been a staff member at for the past four years. I work on Fan Art and MuggleNet Editorials.

Kat Miller: And I’m Kat Miller. I live in Massachusetts. I’ve been with MuggleNet for just over five years, and I mostly do Fan of the Week and I help with the news.

Caleb Graves: And I’m Caleb Graves. I live in Washington D.C. I’ve worked on MuggleNet Interactive for the past five years, MuggleNet for the past year. And we also have a special fan guest host today.

Hope Forgey: My name is Hope Forgey. I live in Denver, Colorado, but I’m originally from Massachusetts. I teach here in Denver, I am a sixth grade teacher. And I am thrilled to be with you today, so thank you.

Noah: Okay, so we’re going to jump in describing what this podcast is all about. So, if you’ve been following MuggleNet news lately, there have been whisperings of a mysterious door on MuggleNet – a “Dumbledore” – in which you have been asked to go through. There have been keys and clues hidden all over the website. It is a brand new thing. is going to lead a re-read of the entire Harry Potter series for the fandom. Lately, we’ve sort of lost – you know, the movies have been released, and we’ve lost a little bit of the magic, a little bit of the text debates and discussions that we had leading up to the final movie release. This podcast is all about reading the books, and going in and looking at them in different ways, or looking at minute details and doing close reads, and having fun as we do so. We’re going to also do something very special with this podcast. We’re going to bring a new fan on every single show, and they’re going to join us to discuss everything, because every week and every new podcast we’re going to do another three chapters from the books. Now, the great thing about this podcast is that it’s also joined with a MuggleNet section. This is a brand new section, and you’re going to be able to discuss each podcast – and discuss the readings every day, in fact. You can just go online, meet new fans, and as you follow the story on Pottermore, you look at all the illustrations – now you can also go on MuggleNet, and you can share all the content that comes to you. You can be inspired, you can write an essay, you can share your own artwork, you can have a discussion based on the books. Basically, you really just have to be a great nerd if you’re going to listen to this podcast, because we’re going to go into each detail. We’re going to bring out everything in the chapter. So, without further ado, let’s start this. This week, we’re starting with Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Philosopher’s Stone. Are you guys ready?

Kat: Absolutely.

Caleb: So ready. We are starting with Chapter 1, when it all started so long ago – man, it’s taking me back – “The Boy Who Lived”. All right, so the first chapter. We immediately, when we jump into this book, get this comparison between the ordinary Durselys, and then these weird events that are starting to happen in this common British town. And we see Vernon as he makes his trip to work, and the first thing we see that’s pretty weird is – we see this cat who is not just looking at a sign, but what Vernon immediately thinks might be actually reading the sign. But he quickly tries to make himself think, “Cats can’t read, because that’s not really normal, right?” We see this big idea of something that is not really fitting in the normal life, which for me, remembering when I read it the first time, really pulled me in thinking, “Wow, there’s something really weird going on here, and I have to know what’s going on.” What about you guys? What do you think?

Kat: I mean, how did he know that the cat was reading the sign? Cats don’t have a particular look. I mean, I have two cats, and I’ve never looked at them and said, “Oh, they must be reading that.” I wonder what made him think the cat was reading the sign.

Noah: I imagine the cat on the sidewalk just holding the newspaper between its little paws, very clearly and obvious. I’d imagine this whole chapter is very cartoonish, and I’d love for Vernon to have seen that. I don’t think it was in the movie. That could have been a very cool scene.

Caleb: Yeah, it could have. Agreed.

Kat: It sounds to me like Vernon is trying to talk himself out of thinking anything strange is going on. Obviously, he knows about wizards. We don’t know that at this point.

Caleb: Mhm. Yup.

Hope: It’s tricky because after you’ve read it already, you have these notions already in your mind. But it’s interesting because the dichotomy between the Muggle world and the magical world is sort of already being established by this very first part of the chapter.

Noah: Yeah. I guess Vernon didn’t have to think that he was going crazy, necessarily. Because if I saw a cat just reading a newspaper, I would immediately seek help.

Caleb: Yeah, I agree. I think looking more as we sort of go into this chapter, we see these Dursleys as these people who are trying to completely ignore anything out of the ordinary. And something that I thought about more this time that I didn’t really pick up on later is as the series go on, we pretty much see the Dursleys as this sort of minor villain. Certainly not to the extent of like Death Eaters or Voldemort, but they’re the foil for Harry while he’s in the Muggle world. But really early on, we don’t really think about them that way – at least, not super early. Because we just see them trying to coddle their precious son, and keep him away from anything that’s not normal. And it made me think, what did I think about the Dursleys the first time I read this, before I really knew how they would treat Harry, how closed-minded they were about everything related to magic. So, what – do you guys remember what you thought about the Dursleys the first time you read?

Kat: Unfortunately, I saw the movie first. How they were portrayed in the movie was carried over for me into the book.

Caleb: Mhm.

Kat: But I do think that – just like you said, I think that they’re just coddling Dudley and just trying to – I think they’re overprotective, is what it comes down to.

Caleb: Mhm. Yeah.

Hope: I think I scolded you for that, Kat, if I remember correctly.

Kat: You did, thank you.

[Caleb laughs]

Hope: It’s interesting though, because I think even by the fourth page, my impression of Vernon is that he’s just kind of a pompous jerk, and I think more so because of sort of the interaction that it talks about with his coworkers. And it’s saying he had yelled at five different people already this morning, and then shouted some more, and so I think I had a pretty negative opinion of him from almost the beginning. It’s hard to say because, like Kat was saying, you do have sort of these notions already in your head after reading them, and of course seeing the film – the film definitely paints the picture right off the bat.

Noah: Personally, I found them a bit ridiculous.

Hope: Yeah, I agree with that, too. [laughs]

Noah: They were just extraordinarily cartoonish, just in every single action. Dudley especially, when we read through these chapters. He’s done terrible things. Why did Jo set them up quite so evilly and fake? She’s really setting up the discourse of good and evil in the series, and I really like how evil is going to get from cartoonish to a more real layer when we see Voldemort, you know?

Hope: Yeah, that’s true. It gets darker and darker as you go on. That’s a good point.

Caleb: Yeah. Because immediately, it’s like the set-up – like you said, this dichotomy of Harry versus whatever else is there. He is clearly, like, we are following him in this battle against whatever form evil takes.

Noah: And how could we not?

Caleb: Right.

Noah: Because he’s just this victim. So, she really sort of aligns with sympathies immediately. Let’s move forward.

Caleb: Thinking more about this denial of magic by the Dursleys – I thought more a lot this time about, what does that really come from? What are their motivations for trying to push this magic away, shutting it out of Harry, making sure that it’s nowhere in their house? And I thought a lot more about Petunia’s history, growing up in a Muggle family, but then they find out they have this magical-born daughter that’s completely different from the rest of them, who gets treasured by her parents and Petunia kind of gets pushed to the side. And I wonder if that has a lot to do with why particularly Vernon is trying to push it away so that he doesn’t upset his wife.

Noah: I think that’s true. I think all this magic stuff represented so much emotional torture for Petunia. Maybe Vernon even knew that, and that’s why he was so hasty in covering it up or pushing it away, because Petunia was really hurt by it all. So, maybe he’s trying to help her. And if that’s the case, it really humanizes his character and he’s not so bad, maybe. What do you think of that?

Kat: Do we really think it all stems from jealousy that Petunia felt towards Lily? Or is Petunia just so impressionable that after Vernon reacted the way he did, it was easier to hate it than to be jealous?

Noah: I don’t know what Vernon believes, necessarily, but Petunia’s jealousy was the biggest thing. In “Snape’s Worst Memory”, that was huge, right?

Hope: Yeah, that’s true.

Kat: Well, we learn on Pottermore, Chapter 2, Scene One – which we’re going to discuss more later – when Petunia told Vernon about her past and that her sister was a wizard, it says that he was “deeply shocked.” What does that mean? It doesn’t mean that he disapproves, it just means that he was shocked.

Caleb: Mhm.

Hope: I think he disapproves, though. I mean, I think based on the way that Jo paints his character, I think he’s quite a square, right? He likes things the way they are. That’s probably why he and Petunia got together so well. They like normalcy, they like things to be neat and orderly. The magical world doesn’t fit into [laughs] that behavior of being so square. So, I do like the idea that Vernon feels this protection towards Petunia, and so he kind of defends her fear and her jealousy, and all that. But I also think he personally has a real issue with anything magical. It just doesn’t fit into his world.

Noah: He certainly does.

Caleb: And I think Petunia was particularly striving to find someone like that, given…

Kat: So, you think he would react like that regardless of whether or not Petunia had a magical family member?

Caleb: Yeah, I think he does.

Noah: Absolutely.

Caleb: And I think she only reinforces that for him.

Kat: Okay, so what about the letter? When Harry was left on the doorstep, and Petunia, as we learn later, is the one that finds him.

Caleb: Right.

Kat: Does she show the letter from Dumbledore to Vernon? Or does she keep that to herself?

Noah: Yeah, I’m sure she showed it. Absolutely.

Caleb: What a moment that must have been. I wish we could have seen that scene.

Kat: So, do you think when he sees the letter that he knows the history? Do you think he knows who You-Know-Who is and what has happened, why this is important that Harry is with them?

Caleb: I don’t think he knows that in-depth. I think he knows that that world certainly exists, but I don’t think he, or maybe even Lily, knew that James – excuse me, Petunia knew that James and Lily were on the run, in hiding. Because they didn’t talk.

Hope: Well, I do question sort of how much he really knows though, because I remember that in this very first chapter, he sees the people dressed in cloaks and they make him uneasy, but it seems like he’s not sure why.

Caleb: Mhm.

Kat: But they’ve obviously discussed it before, because later in the chapter it says that he realized strange things were going on. He says…

Hope: Right.

Kat: He puts two and two together, with the owls and the shooting stars and the weird clothes.

Hope: Right. But I guess my point is he doesn’t seem to know all the details, though. And maybe that’s because Petunia doesn’t even feel comfortable to discuss anything detailed with him. She knows more than he does, right? I mean, that’s my assumption.

Caleb: Yeah, I think definitely she does.

Noah: He’s definitely heard whisperings, like when they went to the Potters’ wedding – which was the big blow-up. We can read into that on Pottermore. He just – maybe he didn’t necessarily hear about You-Know-Who, but he probably knows a bit about the wizarding world from the various connections that they’ve had over the years. Actually, it was only the two, so maybe not. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he knows exactly kind of what’s going on from the moment that the cat starts happening. He puts that out of his head, but I bet deep down he knows that the magic world is coming in.

Kat: Speaking of the wedding and such, we learn more about that in Pottermore, but we also learn that at that wedding, James and Vernon get in a really large fight. So, do you think that they were friendly before that, and the fight is kind of what jumped it off?

Hope: No.

Noah: No.

Kat: I mean, not friendly…

Caleb: Maybe civil to the point of where they didn’t fight, but – I always get this idea that Vernon certainly looks on their kind as a lower class.

Hope: Yes.

Caleb: I mean, he casts anyone who dresses like that as someone – I think there’s some text where he says they should have a collecting tin, and he didn’t see one so that’s what confused him. He always sees them as someone lower than him, so it’s something condescending, always.

Noah: Do we know what started the fight?

Kat: It says Vernon tried to…

Caleb: Patronize him, yeah.

Kat: James was amused by Vernon and made the mistake of showing it.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: He’s that kind of character. And I bet he would have been – James would have been upset that Petunia and Vernon were disrespecting Lily. He would have wanted to go up and – he and Sirius start a little fight. I wish – maybe that will be in the encyclopedia, we can read this scene. Wouldn’t that be cool?


All right. Well, so – yeah. That’s a lot to think on, with the whole relationship they have. And yeah, definitely to the fans out there, let us know what you think because it’s one of those scenes and back stories that we don’t have much on but it’s really, really interesting. Let’s see. Moving on. Another really interesting thing I picked out of this chapter – we first meet Albus Dumbledore as he comes to Privet Drive to see Harry to the doorstep of Number Four. Through the conversation between Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, I think we immediately get this idea of Dumbledore as this perfect leader, and it becomes a theme that continues throughout the rest of the series. And this really was vivid for me when he and McGonagall were talking first about using the name “Voldemort” versus “You-Know-Who”. We immediately get that idea that Dumbledore is not afraid of saying the name and McGonagall mentions that it’s because he was the only one that Voldemort worried about or feared. And then also, McGonagall questions the decision to leave Harry with the Dursleys, but sort of resigns to that decision once she hears Dumbledore’s reasoning, ultimately setting up this idea that everything Dumbledore says is right and that his judgement is what everyone falls into line with. Anyone have thoughts on that?

Noah: I think it also sets him up as the antithesis of Voldemort, or the equivalent, in a way. From the very start, we have Voldemort and Dumbledore, and it’s all tied by this relationship with fear, because Dumbledore is the only person that Voldemort has ever feared.

Caleb: Yeah, it was mostly interesting for me because McGonagall does raise these questions to Dumbledore and she sort of is silenced by what she assumes is the right answer because Dumbledore says it. I think that’s what we see a lot through the series, especially later when Harry starts making decisions and he questions some things about Dumbledore, and members of the Order say, “No, it was Dumbledore’s decision and I trust Dumbledore.” And Harry really questions them and this is really the first time we see that leadership that no one really questions, other than Harry.

Noah: Wasn’t it kind of weird to see McGonagall in this light? She never seems to quail before anyone.

Hope: No, that’s right. That’s exactly what I was going to say. We don’t know it yet, but I just think McGonagall is such an amazingly strong character throughout the books, you know?

Noah: She is.

Hope: It’s a very interesting point, Caleb, that you bring up, with her really just succumbing to, “Yes, Dumbledore. Oh, all right. Yes, you’re right, of course.” So, it’s an interesting thought. I never really picked up on that.

Caleb: And he’s really the only one she ever does that with. I mean, any other character, she stands up to and holds her ground throughout the whole series.

Noah: Except for Harry, in some moments.

Caleb: Mhm. True.

Kat: But I feel like she thinks of Harry as – I don’t want to say an equal, but definitely somebody who deserves to be heard.

Caleb: Well, yeah. Especially after Dumbledore is gone.

Noah: I wonder how much it hurt for her, knowing that Harry and Dumbledore were working on this track, and Dumbledore didn’t trust her enough to tell her about the Horcruxes, about the path, everything. That must have hurt her a great deal, yet she had to respect Harry.

Kat: Well, I think her strength comes from her past, and her story is yet another fabulous story that we learned about on Pottermore. I respected her before and now I have…

Caleb: Yup.

Kat: …so much more respect and love for her as a character, after knowing what she went through for love, and I think that’s ultimately – again – one of the biggest themes in this series.

Noah: Yeah.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: And all these characters seem to come from painful childhoods, or painful pasts, and that seems to make them great individuals later on. I wonder if that’s the case for all the characters in Jo’s books, and I wonder why that is, frankly. Maybe just in life, that makes you a sort of better individual in the long run. But there also seems to be a theme of, “It will get better,” and “Love in the darkness and you will succeed.” That theme carries on throughout.

Kat: Well, certainly not with Harry and the Dursleys.

Caleb: Yeah, but still in the end, when they part for the last time, you kind of see the flicker of that.

Noah: Right. This is his dark past, and I think it’s just sort of a common trope of the hero story. Anyway, moving on.

Caleb: Going back to that sort of decision that Dumbledore leaves Harry with the Dursleys and McGonagall questions it, what do we think about that decision? Dumbledore leaves him with the Dursleys, and we know it was kind of the last decision, but maybe it wasn’t the best decision. Dumbledore maybe didn’t do a good job of predicting that the Dursleys would take care of him well, McGonagall had an idea that that would happen.

Kat: I think that Dumbledore so often is afraid of making the wrong decision for the wrong reason, that sometimes he doesn’t consider all the possibilities. And we find out later that leaving Harry with the Dursleys had nothing to do with it being good for him, or that it was family. It was just purely to save his life…

Caleb: Mhm.

Noah: Yeah.

Kat: …and to invoke that ancient magic that was supposed to save him. So, in this case, I think Dumbledore – I think he did the right thing. I’m not sure. I’m not sure it was the right reason, but it was the right thing.

Caleb: Mhm.

Noah: It’s so interesting, the way that love works in the books. Like Dumbledore actually uses this force of nature in a very logical way, because it has very physical uses as magic. So, in a way, he’s sort of cold and calculating in the way he makes his decisions. But he’s using love, he’s using this very emotional force that bonds all. So, talk about the alchemy going on here, about using forces of nature to create actual things happening in the real world. That is this very deep kind of magic, and yet Dumbledore is approaching it so intellectually the entire time.

Caleb: Which is, I think, because he approaches it from that angle, maybe why he doesn’t fully invest in what can happen in this type of environment for Harry.

Noah: And he also doesn’t have to learn the most powerful dark curses, because he has this powerful love thing – love juice, if you will…

[Everyone laughs]

Noah: …which just kind of is the most powerful force in the series. I mean, it really is. It beats Voldemort in the end, I think it’s the most powerful magic. How hippie of Jo. [laughs] But yes.

Kat: I started wondering about that when I was reading. What if it had taken Voldemort, say, ten years to find the Potters? Say Pettigrew hadn’t betrayed them. Do you think the sacrifice still would have been enough? Do you think that it was more powerful because Harry was a baby, or do you think it just is what it is?

Noah: Had Lily not died, you mean?

Hope: Oh, no way.

Kat: No, if it had taken longer. If Harry was ten, say, when Voldemort tried to kill her, and she sacrificed herself to save Harry.

Noah: The only difference would be that he was a baby, then. I can’t imagine that would change it, you know? It’s still – I think it’s more in the act of dying for the other person. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Because then babies would get this special sort of privilege.

Hope: It’s an interesting question, though. I mean, I think if you had asked me that fifteen months ago, I might have pondered it longer, but now as a mother I would say it wouldn’t matter. He could be 35 and I would jump in front of a bus for him, you know? [laughs] So, it’s interesting to think about the sacrifice as a sacrifice, regardless of when it happens. So, I’d like to think that it would do the same protective kind of love juice, as you called it, [laughs] for Harry, regardless of when it happened, you know?

Noah: Yeah. I’m just – now, I’m just going to throw this out there, because this is a new kind of podcast and we talk about anything. Now, the dying for somebody else and then – with love, and therefore saving them and giving them this protection – this seems essentially Christian, a little bit. There’s some allegory going on in here here. Certain writers out there have played this up. What do we think on this? What are our opinions, just going in, as we embark on this journey of reading the books?

Kat: I think that it’s more than a religious thing. I think it’s a human thing. There are many people in the world that I would take a bullet for, or – as Hope said – jump in front of a bus. And I am not the most religious person in the world. I am spiritual, I like to say. So, I think it goes beyond religion. I think it’s just humanity…

Noah: It’s a human thing.

Kat: Yeah, and a love thing. It’s love.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: All right.

Hope: But I do see the connection of Christianity. I actually really agree with you. I agree with Kat also, but I think it’s a very valid point, because I think the fundamental belief of Christians is love. I mean, that is – I think that we would be foolish not to see that connection, but I also agree that it is sort of a fact of human nature and part of our humanity to protect the people that we care about.

Caleb: The theme is something that infiltrates so much of – not just literature, but something that is everyday for us. And as you read, it’s so easy to identify with that sacrifice of Lily. I can’t imagine there are many people that read that and didn’t think of, “Who is that person I would do that for?” And I think that’s why it’s so easy to empathize and just hold onto that as you read through it.

Noah: Yeah, I think the entire Harry Potter series really reflects Jo’s own personal spiritualism and beliefs.

Kat: So, moving on to Chapter 2 called “The Vanishing Glass” – this whole chapter kind of establishes Harry as a very weird…

[Caleb laughs]

Kat: …awkward, special boy. And at the start of the chapter, it’s nearly ten years after he was left on the doorstep. What do you think happened in those ten years? How did Harry talk about it? How did Harry ask about his parents? Who came up with the whole lie of the car crash?

Caleb: Hmm, yeah. That’s a good question. I can’t imagine growing up in that kind of environment and asking questions that were immediately shot down. I’m such a curious person, I don’t know how I would have been able to deal with that.

Hope: Yeah, those are great questions. I mean, I think over those ten years, I think Harry learned [laughs] probably very quickly to just keep quiet in that environment where he didn’t feel like he was treated equally. But he also seems to sort of take it in stride, too, and I wonder how much of that is just his natural personality and how much of that is just the way that he was nurtured, or the lack of nurturing. [laughs]

Noah: Right.

Hope: Sort of that debate of nature versus nurture. How much of it really is him just taking it in stride and how much did they kind of beat into him, “This is what happened. This is your status in this household. This is where you sleep because you’re below us and you’re beneath us.”

Noah: Oh man.

Hope: “And that’s the way it is.” I think that is an incredibly potent metaphor for the way that he sleeps under the stairs. [laughs] Wow.

Caleb: Yup.

Kat: I mean, we know that they know he’s a wizard.

Hope: Right.

Kat: We don’t find that out until later, but if he wasn’t showing signs of magic…

Noah: They know.

Hope: I think that they were just even those few little signs of magic is the reason why they treated him so poorly. I mean, here’s this kid that was plopped on their doorstep, they never wanted anything to do with him at all, and on top of that, he belongs to this magical world that is so outside of the way that they operate. It’s like he’s an alien, you know? So, it seems as though – and I guess later on you do really feel like Petunia feels protective of him, but you don’t see that until later. So, it seems like he is literally an alien in their household. He doesn’t belong and he’s so odd. He ends up on the roof at one point, you know? [laughs]

Noah: Yeah.

Hope: Those little odd things are already happening before his eleventh birthday.

Noah: I was reading through the scene and I was just thinking, if I were Voldemort and I happened to know this, I would possibly lock Harry Potter in a cupboard because I don’t think he’d like it and he wouldn’t try to fight me anymore. [laughs] He’d probably freak out. I imagine that he has some sort of emotional scar attached to that. You know what I’m talking about?

Hope: Yeah.

Noah: After all those years, wouldn’t it be rather funny [laughs] if Voldemort just came and mocked Harry in a cupboard instead of trying to kill him? That would pretty much do the same effect. Terrible, terrible. But I’m really surprised that Harry didn’t have any lasting damage from this, because it was terrible. Reading that chapter, all the things the Dursleys did. [laughs] Ridiculous.

Caleb: I wonder, really, what is that psychological effect that you were kind of alluding to, Noah, that it would go with Harry, growing up in that sort of environment where he is really, really suppressed? How much of that can be the reason for the way he acts the way he does as he’s growing up, despite having friends later? We see a lot of moments where Harry really struggles with growing up and being in all of those situations and how much of that is due to that psychological suppression that he faces.

Noah: Yeah, I’m trying to think of a scene and I can’t think of any moments where that even comes into play. He actually does surprisingly well, we were saying. Maybe it was that first year of love with his parents, or maybe just because of his DNA. But he does generally well for himself in the social sphere. He makes best friends immediately when he gets to Hogwarts. Can you guys think of a scene that he’s particularly very self-conscious or tormented by his past? [laughs]

Hope: I think you can argue that because of the environment he grew up in, perhaps he just developed a thicker skin. That happens. In our real boring world, [laughs] people have terrible things happen to them as children and they do come out the other side of it being really strong. So, perhaps that’s why. When you think about all the things that he goes through and the things that he comes up against and how well he does with them, maybe the Dursleys actually helped him.

Kat: Even with Dudley, so spoiled and – some could even argue – kind of messed up, but he ends up coming out of it actually appreciating Harry as a person. But do you think the Dursleys realized at all what they’re doing to their son?

Hope: No, I don’t think so. Again, like I said before, I find Vernon to be so pompous and Petunia is just bizarre. So, I think that they are not the normal kind of parents. [laughs] I mean, they’re maybe normal in the sense of they are spoiling their kid to the point that he’s rotten, but I don’t know.

Caleb: Yeah, as we think about Harry growing up, I’m really curious as to the Dursleys raising Dudley also. And we know that Petunia is this mega-eavesdropper. We see her listening in to people who are next door and their problems. She’s just obsessed with listening to other people. They raised Dudley to be this monster, but how do they actually think about that? And it makes me wonder, are other kids around them in their society being raised in similar ways?

Hope: I haven’t thought about that, but it’s an interesting point. I think in any environment there’s going to be parents that spoil their children rotten, so I think it’s probably – it was something that I could relate to because I had friends growing up where I looked at the way their parents treated them and I thought, “Oh my gosh, my dad would never do that,” or, “My mom would never buy me that,” or things like that. So, I wonder, is this really like a normal thing? Is Jo painting this picture because it’s a normal English family? [laughs] I don’t know. I think it’s relatable, though.

Noah: I don’t think this is a normal English family. This is definitely part of that very cartoonish part. It’s just ridiculous. And we’re going to get into it in the next chapter, but Dudley brutally murders a tortoise.

Hope: But you don’t think any boy has ever done that before? I mean, I have brothers. [laughs] I’ve watched what they do to living things. It doesn’t seem outside of the norm to me.

Noah: It was just never addressed, this poor turtle that died.

[Hope laughs]

Kat: After we get this large fight about Harry going or not going with them to the zoo, he ends up going, mostly because Mrs. Figg is not available to watch him. As they are looking at this boa constrictor, Harry starts talking to it. The boa constrictor, I think, realizes something in Harry, because she kind of stands up and looks at him. Winks, I think. But how do you think the snake knew that? How does magic manifest itself before it’s trained?

Hope: Maybe Parsletongue goes even as far as mannerisms, so that Harry was unconsciously doing some movements that the snake sensed as snake-like.

Caleb: Yeah, it would have to be something like that because the snake knew right off the bat. The snake was sleeping, Dudley is mad because it’s boring, and then Harry gets up to the window when they’re gone and the snake is on cue. So, mannerisms or just maybe the way Harry is unconsciously focusing on the snake, it’s almost like non-verbal communication through Parsletongue. I don’t know.

Noah: Or maybe the snake just winks at every kid because it’s bored out of its mind, and Harry was just the first one who saw it. [laughs]

Caleb: I hope that’s the answer because that’s hilarious. [laughs]

Hope: I mean, our emotions are really powerful. You can be in a room with someone who feels a certain way, whether it’s angry or elated, and you can almost feel it in the air. So, I wonder is it passed via emotion before he obviously knows he can speak Parseltongue?

Kat: Well, we know that untrained wizards, kids, use their magic through their emotions.

Noah: Pure emotion, yeah.

Kat: Because every time we see Harry frustrated or angry or worried, something happens to him.

Noah: Spoiler warning, think about Ariana, what she did. That was all sort of wandless – she had this burst of emotion and magic within her, and it just would manifest itself in very dangerous ways. So – I actually wrote a section, a speculative section on MuggleNet, about wandless magic in the Level 9 section, and it’s really just completely driven by emotions. It’s very hard to control, and Dumbledore is said to have some kind of control over it but I wouldn’t – it’s not ideal.

Caleb: Yeah, I mean, we – yeah, we see Harry doing this these first few chapters, when his hair grows back after – and then jumping up on buildings.

Kat: Do you think that happens all the time, though? We know – we find out later that Neville didn’t have any magical abilities until the day that he bounced.

Caleb: Yeah, I think it definitely had to vary, some.

Kat: Do you think it depends on the powerfulness of the wizard, like you’re either born powerful and it shows itself early, or you grow into a powerful wizard?

Caleb: Hmm.

Hope: That’s a good question.

Caleb: Well, I was thinking about this, growing up with these emotional moments where magic sort of just explodes. Siblings fight – growing up myself with two younger siblings, I can just only imagine using magic to get back at your brother or sister, like setting their hair on fire and then one of them going to run to tell mom or dad. Those kids that are raised in wizarding families, where they’re obviously going to be exposed to magic much more.

Kat: Yeah, they can unmake each other’s beds and then go tell on them and get them in trouble.

[Caleb laughs]

Hope: I wonder, in a wizarding family where the kids are – the children are raised, I’m assuming, understanding what this is that’s happening when they have – when their emotions are running high. Does is then happen more often? Because Harry doesn’t seem to have any idea as to why these things happen. So, I wonder does it happens more in a wizarding family where it’s explained to them from a very young age, or – like Kat said – is it something where you’re just born powerful and it happens more frequently, perhaps if you have more of a gift for it?

Kat: We later learn that Voldemort was using his magic years before he knew…

Hope: Right, right.

Caleb: Mhm.

Kat: …that he was a wizard, and he was using it – powerful spells.

Caleb: And maliciously, so…

Kat: Yeah, maliciously.

Noah: Yeah. I think some wizards – witches and wizards are just born with a better connection to their magic, because I don’t think it’s a matter of more powerful magic but it’s a better connection to it. What do you think of that?

Caleb: Yeah, exactly. Jo only chooses to show that with Harry and Voldemort. We never really hear much about it with the others. We know with Neville it takes him a while to really grow into his magic, but that early emotional connection we only see with Harry and Voldemort. And I think maybe Jo does that purposely, to show that comparison and contrast.

Kat: Right, but Harry has no reaction at all about being able to speak to the boa constrictor. Do you…

Caleb: Yeah.


Honestly, if I walked into a zoo and I could talk to a boa constrictor, I would say, “Okay, what’s going? Is it me? Am I hallucinating? Am I sick?”

Caleb: Well, I think maybe that’s because the Dursleys have for so long – every time something weird happens – try to come up with an explanation that is logical for it. Like when he tries – Petunia tries to fit that shirt or whatever over his head, and she tries to explain, “Oh, well I guess it just shrank in the dryer.” Yeah, I just think that maybe he’s become so – I don’t know, accustomed to finding logical explanations because that’s what he’s grown up around.

Kat: So, in a way, they succeeded in stamping the magic out of him…

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: …because he doesn’t believe in it at all at this point, at the end of Chapter 2.

Caleb: Yeah. Yeah, I think so.

Kat: Huh. Okay.

Noah: Okay, so Chapter 3, “The Letters from No One”. Harry is punished for a month because of the incident at the zoo, and I found this very weird because I know that the Dursleys don’t particularly want him to know that he’s magic, and yet it seems the worst way to do that is to punish him and make him think that he was the cause of it. So, for whatever reason, they do this and the Dursleys just – they’re still treating him very, very poorly throughout this chapter. At one point, Dudley and Harry are working out the new schools that they’re going to. It turns out that Dudley is poking at Harry and talking about how they’re going to end up ducking his head in toilets when he goes to his school, and Dudley just goes on and says [imitating Dudley] “‘You know, they stuff people’s heads down the toilet the first day at Stonewall’,” he told Harry. “Wanna come upstairs and practice?'” [back to normal voice] And this just seemed very weird to me, that Harry would just be so quick on the uptake, and he was like, [imitating Harry] “No thanks. The poor toilet’s never had anything as horrible as your head down it. It might be sick.” And I thought…

[Kat laughs]

Noah: …wow. That was very clever, Harry.

Caleb: This, ladies and gentlemen, is your first chance of getting to hear Noah do his wonderful character impressions. [laughs]

Kat: That’s right. [laughs]

Noah: Too bad you guys missed me doing the snake before. [laughs] Anyway, do you think that for a ten-year-old, Harry was a bit too clever here? Has Jo made him just a wee bit too intelligent? I mean, it’s great for us and I have a feeling that the trio and their conversations are going to be very engaging even though they’re ten years old. Maybe it’s because he’s also magical. I don’t know. But it’s so – I love his character, but is it real? [laughs]

Kat: No, I think that he’s perfectly clever. My nephew is ten – actually, he just turned eleven – but he and his older sister, this is exactly how they converse.

Noah: Really?

Kat: Yeah, quips back and forth. I think that’s something you learn from the environment that you’re in, too. I think it’s a defense mechanism for him in a way, but I also think that he’s just smart.

Noah: He really is. He’s got this cleverness from his parents.

Hope: I do have to agree with Kat that this is perfectly clever for this age. And I think it does of course indicate a high level of intelligence, but also I think that they’re – and I’m going to put on my teacher hat for a minute – but there’s a point, around the time of kind of fifth grade, fourth-fifth grade, where the sarcasm and the witty comebacks really start clicking with kids, and it’s not until that point that you really see that come out. And it’s part of them testing out their personality, and learning a little bit more about how to push the boundaries, and what’s acceptable and what’s not. So, to me it’s very natural to see the back and forth.

Caleb: Yeah, I agree because I definitely remember being that age [laughs] and being pretty similarly snarky and it getting me into a lot of trouble.

[Kat laughs]

Caleb: So, I can definitely relate to that.

Noah: Okay, so moving on, at one point we get another introduction to Mrs. Figg. I think it’s during the course of the punishment that he can’t stay at home because the family has gone away. She’s playing with her cats and she actually offers Harry some cake and he enjoys this. And I’m wondering, how much does Mrs. Figg know about – why hasn’t she been doting on Harry like this throughout the ten years? Maybe she doesn’t know the case at home with the Dursleys. Then again, she must know. I just feel like – this is the Boy Who Lived, this is – he’s a big deal. I kind of wish Mrs. Figg would have been a little more caring to Harry throughout all those years. Or maybe Dumbledore told her she couldn’t make him feel particularly special because then he might find out – no, that couldn’t be. What did you guys think?

Kat: I don’t think she knows anything, quite honestly. I think that Dumbledore merely asked her to keep an eye on him, and it’s not until much, much, much later…

Noah: Oh.

Kat: …that he tells her anything. I think that she is just there to be kind of his guardian angel, to watch over him, make sure nothing strange or abnormal happens within Little Whinging.

Noah: He just told her part of the truth, not the full truth. Yeah, that’s obvious.

Kat: She’s saying…

Caleb: So, you think she just knows that he’s the son of the Potters that – because she clearly knows his story, right? But…

Noah: Yeah, she’s going to learn the story so I’m thinking that she must be the best babysitter in the world.

[Hope and Noah laugh]

Kat: Except for all those…

Caleb: Sans the cats, yeah.

Kat: Yeah.

Noah: Love cats.

Kat: I do, too.

Noah: Yeah. [laughs] So, moving on, the mail. Harry gets his very first letter and for some reason – I have no idea – he brings it to the kitchen and starts opening it there.

[Hope and Noah laugh]

Kat: I would have read it in the hallway, myself.

Noah: Dammit, bring that letter to your cupboard, Harry.

Hope: Or like, shoved it under the stairs. Exactly.

Noah: Yeah. That was not – for this very smart kid, damn. [laughs] I was just thinking about the way the post works in the wizarding world . We haven’t really talked about this. We know that there’s a sort of mail system. There are owls that go back and forth, because in the next chapter Hagrid is going to pick up the Daily Prophet and then he pays – I believe it’s another owl, or maybe it’s a pigeon.

Hope: But is he only paying that owl because it’s a Daily Prophet owl?

Noah: That’s a good point.

Kat: No, because Hermione in a much later book takes out a subscription, and I think that she just kind of pays for that up front.

Hope: Are all owls paid, or is it owls paid by…

Noah: This was – yeah.

Hope: Just the ones that are delivering things like the Prophet? Or…

Kat: No, I think they’re paid in some way, because we learn in Prisoner of Azkaban that the prices at the post office in Hogsmeade – there’s different owls for different jobs, depending on what they’re carrying or where they’re going. I think that they’re probably paid in housing, food…

Noah: But it’s true. They have this intelligence, as do a lot of the animals in the series. Do they have unions?

[Hope and Kat laugh]

Caleb: I hope so. I hope they have unions.

Noah: I wonder…

Kat: What would happen if they went on strike?

Caleb: That is a good question.

Noah: They probably take a [censored] all over the post office. [laughs] But yeah, there are personal owls, and there’s no payment back and forth because those owls just do it out of love, and perhaps their owners feed them with some worms and such. Or – no, they go off hunting. That’s silly. But I wonder how animals are treated in business here, because that remains unexplained. And Jo, if you’re ever on this show, I’m going to ask you.

Kat: Encyclopedia. Maybe it’ll be in…

Caleb: Yeah.

Hope: That’s a great question, though.

Kat: What do you guys think? Let’s have the fans write in. Tell us…

Caleb: Yeah, definitely.

Kat: …what you think about the post office and the mail in the wizarding world.

Noah: Okay, so the letters keep on coming, and ridiculously so. They start – there’s that one great scene, if you remember from the movie. It’s also here in the book. The letter pops out of the chimney, and it just hits Vernon in the back of the head – or maybe it’s coming from the window. But there are letters everywhere, there’s nothing they can do. How do they at Hogwarts – I think it’s Professor McGonagall or Dumbledore sending these letters. How do they know where Harry is, what room he’s moving to? Because – is it some sort of Wizard GPS? Are they looking in with a window? Because I know a lot about Harry Potter, but I can’t think of a sequence of spells that does this. [laughs]

Kat: Maybe Hogwarts has, like you said, some sort of GPS that locates their students. Maybe they’re all…

Noah: All young wizards of – witches and wizards of magical age.

Kat: We learn – again in Pottermore, we learn that there’s this book…

Caleb: Mhm.

Kat: …that when you’re born a wizard, your name is put down in this book. So, maybe it just…

Caleb: There’s like some spell or something.

Kat: Yeah, or it just appears, or – I’m not sure. I have no idea.

Hope: Maybe there’s a gigantic Marauder’s Map, like a huge one.

Caleb: Big Brother. [laughs]

Noah: Big Brother is watching. The Ministry does this, too. They can instantly sense magic, any kind of magic that’s being done under a radius – under any students that are living in Muggle communities and are not of age. So, we know that there is some kind of system of checking. But what does Hogwarts have? Do they have a magical computer next to the Chamber of Secrets that allows them to – [laughs] somewhere deep in the bowels. I don’t know.

Kat: They have Dumbledore. Maybe that’s enough.

Noah: He just knows so much. His logic is such that he knows where any person is in the world and what they will do. Now, why couldn’t they track down Voldemort, with all this technology?

Hope: [laughs] Yeah, great question.

Kat: Because Voldemort has a scrambler.

Hope: [laughs] A scrambler!

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: I’d imagine that he’d have Death Eaters working to prevent that. All this is done with magic, by the way. I don’t think anybody in the wizarding world has modern technology, unfortunately. [laughs] But it’s kind of true, and it’s kind of – I was actually reading an article the other day. I wanted to post it to the site, I didn’t get a chance. They don’t really learn about technology at Hogwarts, they don’t learn about sex ed particularly – math? They have Arithmancy, but no basic addition and subtraction. This is troubling. Anyway, [laughs] we’ll move on.

Kat: I think they’re expected to know that when they get there.

Noah: True.

Kat: They probably can’t learn how to turn rats yellow if they don’t know how to add two and two.

Hope: Well, for all intents and purposes, we’re talking about middle school, right? By eleven, you would be doing beginning algebra.

Noah: And now we know that that’s all the math you need in the wizarding world.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Getting back to the chapter…

Noah: Yeah, here’s a line from the narrator. After we see on the letter address – or Vernon sees that it was addressed directly to Harry in the cupboard under the stairs – for some reason, Vernon thinks it’s a great idea to move Harry upstairs, as if – I don’t really know what that would change, exactly. But anyway, it creates some drama, and Harry goes and enjoys the room. But before he goes, there’s this one line from Jo: “It only took one trip upstairs to move everything he owned from the cupboard to this room.” And then we just get another line. And if you think about that, and you just sit and you’re like, “Wait a second, this is terrible. What a poor kid.” But Harry doesn’t lament it at all, there’s no other comments about it, and the narrative just skips on. I read Oliver Twist back in college last semester, and a lot of Victorian writers, they just kind of playfully talk about – the narrators distance themselves from the protagonist characters, and it turns out with Oliver – he grows up in that workhouse and it’s just a terrible situation, but the narrator is playfully cold and distant from the character. And that almost makes you feel it all the more, because nobody is lamenting about it. Did you guys have that experience? Because I sure did, reading this now with a college level education. What did you guys think?

Caleb: Yeah, I’m glad you brought it up, because it’s something I really didn’t even think about. I mean, it’s definitely something I noticed – like you mentioned with other Victorian writers – and I didn’t really think about it here. I was so caught up in – so anxious over what was in that letter the first time I read it that I almost moved right over the fact of what a little tragic statement that is when you really break it down.

Kat: I noticed it, but knowing what we know about Harry and how awful his life has been up until this point, I just figured that – he wears Dudley’s old clothes, so why would he have possessions? It didn’t strike me as…

Noah: Yes.

Kat: …odd or out of place for this character.

Noah: Right.

Kat: Although it is tragic and very sad.

Hope: Really excellent point, Noah, because I think that what you’re touching on here is something that I would imagine Jo purposely did, which is to kind of happily sort of skip along through it. And what is the impact for us as a reader? Like, Caleb said he missed it. I can honestly say I completely missed that. Certainly the first fourteen times that I read the book [laughs] I didn’t pick up on it, and only after I’ve learned how to analyze a text would I have caught that statement and thought, “Wow, really how sad.” So, I wonder – was it her intention? Did she write it that way purposefully, or are we reading too much into it? I don’t know, but it’s a really good point.

Noah: Yeah. Well, as you know, this entire book is omniscient. Or, at least, these three chapters are written relatively differently, because later we get so much more dialogue and that kind of gets in the way. But here, we’re just getting Harry’s consciousness but also filtered through this playful narrator who’s just showing us all. Especially the first chapter. It’s purely the narrator. Harry is not even there and that means these sections are like a goldmine for critical analysis and I would ask all the fans: go. Go there for us and with us, and let’s read into this stuff. I’m actually going to post a little section on the front page of the Alohomora! section and right there you’re going to be able to comment on what you think. Like, really look close at the text and look at what Jo does because it’s not – it’s very – she does it on purpose. She’s very smart. I think in this particular place, she kind of distanced the narrator a little bit to make Harry – as you guys have been saying, to show that Harry didn’t really care or it wasn’t important that he didn’t have these many possessions. He was so indifferent about it. So, he’s indifferent, the narrator’s pretty indifferent, but we as the readers are troubled because of this indifference. It is striking.

Hope: Right, it makes the reader, I think, connect with Harry even more so in that case, to feel that longing for him to get out of that environment – the excitement, of course. Like Caleb mentioned, what’s in the letter? Is he going to get away? I mean, it’s just another connection we form to the protagonist, right? It’s exciting.

Kat: Especially with the contrast to how the narrator is treating Dudley.

Noah: Oh absolutely! There are a million places in this one chapter alone where Dudley does a number of terrible things. I was shocked. He chucked a poor tortoise through the roof just because Harry got this room. And I just – when I was younger and I was reading this, I would be like, “Yeah, that’s Dudley. He sucks,” but now I’m thinking, a tortoise is a living creature and he just brutally murdered it! We just read a brutal murder, the first one in the series. I mean, if you don’t count the Potters. And personally I want to resolve this on the show. We have to name it…

Caleb: Oh no.

Noah: …I want to have a service… [laughs]

Kat: For the turtle?

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: I want to at least give it a name.

Hope: So, is this one of those tangents that you were speaking about earlier?

[Caleb laughs]

Kat: It is. Yeah, I think we’ll just call him Myrtle because it rhymes and we’ll stick with that.

Noah: Myrtle the Turtle. Okay.

Hope: Wait, is that from Dr. Seuss? No.

Noah: That’s better then. Yes.

[Caleb laughs]

Hope: Really, I think it might be from Dr. Seuss.

Kat: It might be. Someone Google it.

Caleb: I’m on it. Yertle the Turtle.

Kat: We could call him Yertle, whatever.

Caleb: I like Yertle better. We already have a Myrtle in this series, so…

Kat: Oh, that’s right. We do. Okay, Yertle it is!

Caleb: There you go, Noah. Do you feel better?

Noah: Yeah, I’m satisfied. He’s dead and buried. Anyway…

[Everyone laughs]

Noah: We have another scene where Vernon is trying to fill all the holes again around the door, or now around the downstairs window, and he’s singing the song, “Tiptoe Through The Tulips”. And for those of you who don’t know, this song was – let me bring up the information I just – another cool thing I’d like to do with this chapter discussion is – there are a lot of different references of various artists, especially here, and I actually wanted to listen to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” because Vernon was nervously humming it. So, on the Wikipedia page, it was:

“…a popular song originally published in 1929. The song was written by Al Dubin (lyrics) and Joe Burke (music).”

And it was actually made more popular in 1968 by Tiny Tim, and the version charted at number 17 that year. So yeah, I’d like to play it. I’m willing to bet that Vernon was thinking of this version because he would have been not necessarily youthful but within that range. He’s probably listening to this song, and it’s a weird song. Let’s give it a listen.

[“Tiptoe Through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim plays]

Noah: Oh my goodness.

[Song continues]

Noah: [laughs] Vernon is singing this!

Caleb: I don’t like it at all.

Hope: I know. Does anyone else have that sort of initial reaction of wanting to shiver? I don’t know, there’s something about this that makes me…

Noah: Make it louder.

[Song continues]

Caleb: Yeah, there is so much wrong with everything that’s happening there, I can’t even…

Noah: Now what we do, we’re bringing in a different text. This text has been referenced in the books and now we’re going to use it to analyze this section – we’re going to analyze the chapter. So, what does this “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” – what kind of weight does this have on Harry Potter, on Vernon Dursley? Go!

Hope: Okay, interesting question. So, obviously – I mean, the most obvious connection I see: tiptoeing. So, we’re tiptoeing around the issue that the magical world is trying to contact Harry Potter, right?

Noah: Yes.

Kat: Ooh, nice!

Hope: Okay, so we’re tiptoeing, we’re walking on eggshells, kind of idea. We’re not addressing the issue head on. Tulips – boy, I have nothing on tulips right now. I’m still creeped out by that song, I’m not going to lie to you. So, I’m going to pass torch now and let somebody else try. [laughs]

Noah: Okay.

Kat: I think that he’s just incredibly happy that he thinks he has figured out how to get these letters out of his house, and this is the most cheerful song he can think of.

Hope: Cheerful?! [laughs]

Noah: My goodness.

Kat: Messed up, cheerful.

Noah: Horrifying.

Caleb: Let us not delve into the mind that is Vernon Dursley.

[Hope laughs]

Noah: It also said that he was on edge in that section, so he just must have been imagining that there were little devils around the house sneaking letters in. He couldn’t imagine what was doing it. These little things – why would he want to sing a song about that? That is very frightening.

Kat: What better voice to put you on edge than Tiny Tim?

Noah: Yes. That was – hey, it was popular. It was the ’60s, though.

[Caleb laughs]

Kat: So great, that’s the end of Chapter 3. I’m excited to hear what the fans have to say about what we’ve brought up.

Caleb: Yeah, be sure to let us know because we obviously don’t have all the answers and we want to be able to hear what you guys have.

Kat: Right, go to to send us your thoughts.

Noah: Firstly, we’re going to have different discussions on the main page where you can comment. If you want to discuss the podcast directly, there will be another page for that where you can talk about everything we talked about. If you’d like to send an e-mail question directly, feel free to e-mail us at alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com.

Caleb: So, what we’re going to do now, every episode we’re going to have, at this point in the show, some sort of special feature. It’s going to vary week to week depending on what we decide to pull in. This week in celebration of Pottermore finally opening to everyone…

Kat: Woo-hoo!

Caleb: Yes, cheers everywhere. Hopefully everyone is starting to really get in now. So, this special feature we are calling Pottermore, In-Depth. So, basically we’re going to, in this feature, look at the chapters and the scenes that align with the few chapters we have chosen from the books, and so for this episode we are looking at Chapter 2 of the Sorcerer’s Stone, obviously. Scene One, “The Cupboard Under The Stairs” is the scene we are looking at. And now that we have sounds on Pottermore, you’ll be able to hear what we’re assuming is some sort of Dudley playing video games in the background. This scene is really interesting. The new content on this page is on Vernon and Petunia, and as we mentioned earlier in the episode, we start to really get more of the backstory on Vernon and Petunia, how they met, and also this really strange relationship between the Dursleys and the Potters, and why there’s this breakdown between the two. So, what were some of the big things that you guys really got out of this section?

Noah: For me it just humanized the characters a great deal. We get them in the beginning as these ridiculously very private – they’re very private people but rather mean to Harry, but that’s really the only viewpoint we get. But here you see their past, you see their love was there – it was in a way kind of beautiful in simplicity. But they are real people and I think – maybe Jo feels like she wrote these characters a bit too hastily and then that’s why in the seventh book she brought it back a little bit, you see a little bit more in depth. But they are people. She really wanted to make them people. And I love this, that we can have the opportunity to look in all their lives, including all the characters we get.

Hope: Yeah, I agree. I think this is the most exciting part of Pottermore, was some of these kind of backstories. So, hearing – particularly the section that talks about [laughs] the first meeting between Lily and, at the time, her boyfriend James, and how [laughs] Vernon tries to sort of patronize James, and James just thinks Vernon is ridiculous, and kind of the back and forth that happens, like Vernon asking what kind of car he drives – he describes his broom.

Noah: [laughs] Yeah.

Hope: I can just kind of imagine these scenes playing out in my mind, of how that would look. And it’s comical but also it’s so important, as you said, that it does humanize these characters and that they are truly people and they have their own stories, stories that we don’t hear about in the books but very important pieces that help make them who they are. So, it was really enjoyable to read.

Kat: It makes me sad for sisters out there who can’t be sisters for whatever reason.

Noah: It was a rough relationship there, that we only got at the end. And it really was jealousy. I mean, we know that Petunia wrote that letter to Dumbledore. Utter jealousy. She wanted to be part of the world, which is weird considering we know the character she has grown up to be. So, maybe she could have ended up completely different.

Caleb: Yeah.

Hope: Yeah, and they do talk about how – I mean, Jo – talks about how once Petunia is married she grows more like Vernon and I think we talked about this earlier on in the podcast, that she really likes everything being kind of neat and orderly. And she feels that she’s kind of escaped the world where things are strange and that’s more comfortable for her. But it also does make us so sad, too, because as readers of course we’re fascinated and in love with the magical world, and she’s like, “Get me as far away from that as possible.” [laughs]

Kat: But there’s people like that in our world, too.

Hope: Sure.

Kat: I mean, think about all the people who have burned the books and said they’re evil and they’re awful. And I think that Petunia is one of those people.

Hope: Right. Yeah, you’re right. I think that you can relate her character to some people within our own society, whether out of fear or ignorance, form opinions about things and feel very strongly about things, and it’s – yeah, it’s kind of amazing.

Kat: I particularly enjoy the very first paragraph where it talks about how Petunia and Vernon met. How they met at work, and he was large and neckless.

[Everyone laughs]

Noah: It was perfect. Love at first sight.

[Hope laughs]

Kat: He had the perfect car and he wanted to do ordinary things, they went on dull dates, and everything about him was predictable. And – I mean, that’s what made Petunia fall in love with him.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Does anyone recall the first detail about Petunia’s neck? Between them they have enough neck for two people. It’s beautiful.

[Hope and Kat laugh]

Kat: Do you think that Dudley’s neck is perfectly proportioned?

Caleb: No, no, no, I think it says that his is pretty much like Vernon’s.

Noah: Because you’d think when two necks of that caliber come together you get a normal sized neck, [laughs] but evidently not because they are the Dursleys. Well, I think it’s beautiful that these abnormal necks finally got together in the end.

Kat: Yeah, and we even learned here in the third paragraph about how she told Vernon about Lily and her “freak of a sister,” which I think is fascinating, how it says Petunia threw herself upon him in violent gratitude.

Hope: Right. It’s exactly the reaction she wants, right? Be horrified by what my sister is and take pity on me because I’m related to her. [laughs]

Noah: I think that must have been part of the attraction. Honestly.

Hope: Of course. Oh absolutely.

[Noah laughs]

Kat: How much do you think she told him? Do you think she just said, “Hey, my sister – she’s a freak, she’s a witch, and she’s marrying a wizard.”

Noah: I’m sure there was one night where it just all came out in tears and she just – she let it all out in whatever confused form she knows of the magical world. Because it says at the bottom of the page that she doesn’t know a lot, she has a rather ignorant view, which is weird because Lily grew up in that house…

Caleb: Mhm.

Hope: Right.

Noah: …for seven years. So…

Hope: Oh right, that’s the comment about when they tried to escape that old superstition about witches cannot cross water.

Caleb: [laughs] Yeah.

Hope: Which is why they took off to the…

Caleb: The shack, yeah.

Kat: Okay, so maybe she doesn’t know much about the history of witches and wizards, but she obviously knows about the world because…

Noah: She knows about the world.

Caleb: Yeah.

Hope: Oh yeah.

Kat: …later we find out when she spits out what a Dementor is.

Caleb: Yeah.

Hope: Oh, that’s true. Good point.

Noah: Yeah. I’d imagine it was one crazy night she told all and Vernon was slightly appalled but he hugged her. He hugged her quietly and he was, “We will not let this magic get to our child! Do not worry!”

Caleb: Wow.

Noah: [unintelligible]

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: Anyway, bringing the conversation slightly – not necessarily darker but a little bit more serious, we know that if you die for someone in the wizard world under a certain circumstance if say Voldemort or crazy killer is trying to kill your child and you instead block it with your own self, they are magically protected. Now, I’m wondering if Petunia – it’s a terrible situation, but if the same thing happened to Petunia and she was trying to save Dudley – I mean, I’m not going to – I’m sure that she loves Dudley as much as Lily loves Harry. That’s just the truth because love is the same throughout. But obviously she doesn’t have any magic in her, but would Dudley have any sort of form of protection? Because isn’t love so powerful that there is a kind of magic that transcends the “if you are of magical blood or not”?

Caleb: No…

Kat: No, I don’t think he would.

Caleb: …I don’t think so.

Kat: He’s not a wizard, so therefore the protection of her blood is not in him.

Noah: Isn’t that unfair?

Caleb: Well sure it’s unfair, but I mean…

Kat: But it does pose the question, what about wizard parents who give birth to a Squib?

Caleb: Squib, yeah.

Hope: Mhm.

Kat: Would they have magical protection?

Noah: I think there is a lot of ambiguity there, and I sort of want to put this to Jo and ask her why she has posed the wizard community of humans as more divine than Muggle humans or able to protect each other in this way. It just – because it doesn’t – why should wizard love be more powerful than Muggle love? Because it all seems to speak to this real human love, you know?

Hope: Could you argue that maybe there’s more danger within the magical world and therefore that’s the reason behind her creating the love protection, the love juice? I mean, we could say love has magical qualities, period.

Noah: That’s what I’m saying. And if your son is being threatened by a killer, it doesn’t matter if it’s Voldemort or if he’s got a gun. It’s the same thing.

Caleb: I agree with Hope. I think that there is a balance aspect of it because magic brings inherently more danger. Like there’s this other side of it where they give the advantage of the love actually creating a more protective shield than with Muggles.

Hope: Maybe it’s just an amplified version of what we have in our normal world, right?

Noah: Yes. Yes, I like that a lot. Because it’s a real natural thing but when you have magic and it’s like exemplified or it’s brought out hugely. But we’re going to talk about love juice all the time, so…

[Hope laughs]

Kat: Oh yeah. I mean, throughout everything, yeah. So, go to the forums, write about it. And you can also answer this question. It’s another one of our special features. Every week we are going to pose a question to the fans. This is something that we want you to answer, to write about on the forums, and these questions – usually more often than not – will be what we read on the show the next week. So, if you give us a great intelligent answer, you could be on the show. So Noah, what is our posed question of the week?

Noah: The question is: In the last chapter, we find Vernon, a Muggle, vainly trying to fool magic and the wizarding community. This case is extraordinary, so Muggles manage to do anything – it seems that Muggles don’t seem to do anything of significance in the Harry Potter series. By and large, they seem to just be a mess of ignorant obstacles and victims, really, especially looking at the Dursleys. So, given the narrator’s view of Muggles and what we know of the series – so I really want you guys to focus on that language – is there any likelihood at all of these communities ever joining or even communing in the future? Because we know that a big, big plot question of the Harry Potter series is, with the Statute of Secrecy in place, can Muggles and witches and wizards ever sort of connect? Can there ever be some form of connection or sharing? Could wizard-kind share some magic or teach some magic tricks? Could the Muggle side perhaps teach the wizard community some math and maybe some basic history? [laughs] We know that Dumbledore, Grindelwald, and even Voldemort had different ways of viewing this question. Possibly, just bringing the humans and putting them on a lower standing and just sort of dominating the earth, or possibly connecting. But this question is still left unanswered, even when the series is over. So, I’d like to know what you guys think. We’re going to post this question right on the front page, and you can just comment below.

Hope: I think it’s a really great question, first off, and my personal opinion would be that [laughs] the answer is yes and no. I think that there’s probably people within the Muggle world that will happily sort of engage in that cultural interaction, so to speak, and there are others that are so narrow-minded they would never be able to get past the fact that there just is a magical world. [laughs] So, I think that it’s certainly a possibility, but it would probably be a select group of Muggles that would engage. And vice versa. I mean, there are, as we know, witches and wizards that certainly believe that Muggles are just the lowest of the low and so, in that case, wouldn’t be able to have that sort of communication between the two groups of people.

Kat: I definitely think that there would be a power struggle, but I agree that it would definitely be possible with a select group of people from each side.

Caleb: I agree. I think it’s – without trying to go too far off the deep end, I think it has a lot of parallels to the societal issues we have to face and have faced in history, without trying to go too much in detail with all of those, and some of them that we are still facing all the time with certain groups of the population.

Noah: Racism.

Caleb: Yeah. Racism is a big one, for sure. And obviously it took us a long time to be able to get to that place – and we’re still not completely there, I would argue. Yeah, it’s a great question, and I don’t think it’s something that’s going to come too easily, and there will always be those that aren’t really sitting well with any sort of compromise, no matter what happens.

Noah: Yeah. I mean, it’s all about the – we see the pureblood, Mudblood – not Mudblood, Muggle-born – thing going on throughout the entire series. It’s a power struggle. But we know those pureblooded families are slowly dying off as it gets more and more into the Muggle community, so this to me seems that we’re – it’s moving towards the Muggle world, whether they know it or not, whether they want it or not, and it’s just the way things go. And to me, that signals that at a certain point, there will be this great joining, which is what I think Jo had intended. But I really want to see what you all think in the comments, so please go to the Alohomora! section right on the main page, and comment, have a discussion.

Kat: Well,

Noah: Right.

Kat: And if you’re – if we like your answer, if you give us a great piece of something to think about, we’ll mention you on next week’s episode. We’re going to be covering Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, Chapters 4 through 6. So, read up. That way, you can join in the conversation.

Noah: Yeah. And thanks a lot, Hope, for coming on the show.

Hope: Absolutely.

Noah: You’ve been great.

Hope: Thank you for the invitation, it was great. Shout-out to my kids at Denver Montclair International School. But really, just a huge hello and a thank you to the fandom in general. I’m thrilled to be a part of this, I’ve been in love with Harry Potter for years, so it’s so nice to be a part of it. So, thanks.

Noah: Well, thank you for coming, and you should definitely come on another show at some point.

Hope: Absolutely. In the meantime, I’ll be listening and writing.

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: I just want to quickly put something out there. We’ve been working on MuggleNet – the three of us – for a while now. And as the last movies have come out, stuff has seemed to slow down a little bit. There has been a little bit of aftermath or fallout. A lot of fans are wondering, “Where is MuggleNet going to go? Where is the Harry Potter fandom going to go?” And I don’t want to get too big, but we just spent a little while having a very good discussion. We’re not doing much, we just created a space for fans everywhere to just continue the discussion. Let’s go back to the books – we’ve likely read them all – so we can use this knowledge to just have more interesting conversation, and keep talking about it. We can understand these books in new ways, we can go through the “Dumbledore” – this mysterious place – and we can just have a lot of good times. So, MuggleNet is going to be deeply invested in this section. It’s going to be doing some other stuff, in terms of academics in comparing Harry Potter to big literary theories as well. And you can listen to both of these, but just know that we’re going to continue to do this. We’re like a moving train, there’s no end in sight. We’re going to bring this to new generations. Harry Potter is still there, and we’re just going right back to where we left off.

Kat: Noah, why don’t you tell the fans how they can be a part of the show?

Noah: If you would like to be a host on the show, please send us an e-mail at alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com with a recording attached of yourself telling us something you found interesting about a particular passage in the Harry Potter series. It’s very important that your audio quality is top notch, as that’s going to weigh quite heavily on who we choose to be our next host.

Caleb: And just for everyone, to sort of highlight all of our contact information – of course, all of this is going to be on our website which I’ll remind you again is We do already have a Twitter and a Facebook up. The Twitter handle is @AlohomoraMN – so M as in Muggle, N as in Net. Go ahead and start following us. Our Facebook is, and go ahead and like our Facebook page so you can keep up with the updates there.

Noah: That’s it. I’m Noah.

Caleb: And I’m Caleb.

Kat: And I’m Kat. Thanks for listening to Episode 1 of Alohomora!

Noah: [whispers] Open the Dumbledore!

[Show music begins]

Noah: Oh, one moment. Ian is feeding me some steak.

[Kat laughs]

Noah: [makes chewing noises] All right, so…

Kat: Wait, finish chewing before you talk.

Noah: [makes chewing noises] One more. We can keep this on the show. It gives us character and humanizes us. Anyway…

[Caleb laughs]

Kat: I’ll leave that up to Laura.

[Noah laughs]