Transcript – Episode 2

[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 2, for May 6th, 2012.

[Show music continues]

Noah: I’m Noah Fried.

Caleb Graves: I’m Caleb Graves.

Kat Miller: And I’m Kat Miller.

Noah: And our guest fan this week is Meg Falasco who actually hails from Muhlenberg College just like me. Right now she’s studying in Ireland. She’s an English major with a concentration in Narratology and Irish Drama. So without further ado, Meg?

Meg Falasco: Hi everybody!

Kat: Hey, welcome to the show.

Caleb: Thanks for coming on.

Meg: Thanks for having me.

Noah: What’s Ireland like?

Meg: Cold and wet.

Kat: Oh.

Meg: Right now. We get a few sunny days here and there, but mostly it’s rain.

Kat: And very green?

Meg: That’s putting it mildly. [laughs]

Kat: Oh okay. Super green!

Noah: Would you say that there’s some Irish myth in Harry Potter?

Meg: Yeah, I think Rowling has a lot of Irish influence because she lives in the U.K., so it’d be interesting to see what she’s got in there.

Kat: Great. We’re excited to hear what you have to say.

Meg: Oh thanks.

Noah: It’s going to be a whole new perspective.

Kat: Right.

Noah: It should be interesting for the show. All right.

This podcast is brought to you by Audible, the Internet’s leading provider of audiobooks, with over 40,000 titles to choose from. Head over to to get yours for free right now.

So, we launched the show last week, and little did we know, thousands all over the world would tune in. And it’s just been – it’s been lighting up. We launched a Tumblr site. That’s instantly been getting views. We asked fans to submit images of their old copies of Philosopher’s Stone just because this whole project is about reading the books, starting from the beginning, and analyzing them. And on this episode we are going to analyze Chapters 4 through 6 of Philosopher’s Stone. And already on our companion website where fans can discuss the series, we already have about 1,800 constant readers in there, and the forums – they’re lighting up. So, we’re just really happy we started this. And it’s gotten a lot of support and love from all over the world, and we’re going to keep going with it. So, let’s begin the discussion this week.

Caleb: So, on our first episode you guys listened in as we jumped back into the Sorcerer’s Stone, and as Noah just mentioned, we went through the first three chapters. And we went back to the story of Harry growing up, weird things happening to him, and we met the Dursleys all over again. And we threw a lot of discussion points out in the show and we left some questions for you guys to ponder on the website. And Noah, did you get some pretty good responses looking through those questions?

Noah: Yeah, we did. We got like twenty-four responses. And let me just bring us back to what the question was. At the end of the last few chapters we had Vernon Dursley, a Muggle, valiantly trying to take Harry away from all the magic influence that was surrounding him as Hogwarts was actively trying to give him his letter. Vernon took him to an island, took the whole family there. And I was just – I really was wondering, we know that over the course of the seven books that Jo was all about going towards equality – bringing groups of people together because even though there is all this difference by the end of the books, there is this one for the houses to get together. Or purebloods and half-bloods and even Muggle-borns to sort of join in a way, just as humans. And I wanted to know, considering Vernon Dursley is completely inept at stopping magic – possibility that Muggles and magic folk can never join. Considering they are both humankind, can they ever truly find a peace? And the general census online was that no. In fact, the worlds are just too different. The power that magical folk have is simply too much, and it would really be impossible. Some fans were saying that it might be possible. They are all humans. They could learn from each other. We even made some funny points on the last show about how Muggles know math and maybe witches and wizards don’t really.

[Kat and Noah laugh]

Noah: But the general consensus was they should stay separate because they’re clearly – the power struggle would be too much. Now, let’s revisit this again, you guys. What do you think about this? Especially Meg. You didn’t get to answer this last time.

Meg: Especially with the Muggle world mixing with the wizarding world, I think there’s too much animosity between them at this point because we have people like Vernon continually saying, “No, you shouldn’t be weird like them.” But then we have mentioned – and we’ll talk about this later, I’m sure – the term “Muggle” is such an offensive word as much as Vernon is calling them freaks.

Noah: Oh yeah. And of course…

Meg: So, it’s definitely something to look at.

Noah: Yeah, and we’re going to see that Vernon in the next chapter has just so much fear of anything magical and this would reflect a lot of Muggles’ intentions. I mean, think of the Salem witch trials which actually are a part of the history of the Harry Potter universe. There’s just so much fear of the other, and maybe it goes both ways to an extent. I don’t really know, but…

Meg: Intermutual xenophobia floating around. [laughs]

Noah: Yeah. And of course, this struggle really speaks to race issues that Jo is kind of playing with. We’ll talk about that later as well. [laughs] What do the rest of you think?

Kat: Well there’s a great comment on here. It was made on by username Snodge, I think. If I pronounced it wrong, I apologize. It says that:

“The Muggle prime minister was also aware of the wizarding world, one of the very few Muggles unrelated to a witch or wizard to have this knowledge, and while he may have been perhaps exasperated or worried about the events that may be related to the wizarding world and would perhaps rather be in a state of ignorance, there was nothing mentioned to suggest that he disliked the wizarding world as people.”

I just thought that it was a really interesting comment, that he pretty much tolerates it because he has to.

Noah: Right.

Kat: And I think that that’s what some people would do.

Noah: Because what is the alternative? What would the society be like if they were just hanging out with each other? So, we’ve asked you in following with this podcast to submit some content to the site, and especially with that of artwork and essays, we also want some questions or some different points. And we’ve actually had a few members of the forums who have been actively participating, and here’s one comment from SnapeScape:

“At one point in the podcast, you mentioned how Dumbledore sort of comes across as the ultimate leader that no one really thinks to contradict. Many people just take his word for it because he is Albus Dumbledore, renowned genius. McGonagall seems in awe of him from the very first chapter where she says, ‘But you’re different. Everyone knows you’re the only one You-Know-Who was frightened of.’ I just wanted to broach the question: is Dumbledore overly glorified in the books? Is he given too much credit for what he has achieved and does he deserve all this merit? Or is he more, for want of a better word, actually more ‘normal’ than we expected, that is, able to make mistakes and overlook certain facts?”

That’s a good question. [laughs]

Kat: It is a good question, and I think at this point in the book we know so little about Dumbledore and his past. I mean, it’s not until really the last couple of chapters of the last book in the whole series that we learn so much about Dumbledore. So – I mean, at this point for me I think maybe he’s not overly glorified. I think that he is just perceived as being extraordinary. Very smart, very special.

Caleb: Yeah, I would agree. I think he’s this somewhat mysterious figure to us at this point in the book. He sort of exhibits these, like you mentioned, extraordinary qualities that we’ll sort of get a better idea about later. At this point, I think it’s a little early for us to know.

Noah: Remember that one line where he is – what SnapeScape actually brings up, the fact that Dumbledore was the only one that Voldemort ever feared. So, we know that Voldemort is this ultimate evil, so that does potentially set up Dumbledore as this ultimate good, wouldn’t you say?

Kat: Yeah, definitely. I agree. But we still don’t know that much about him.

Noah: No. Now, what would you say coming from the standpoint of having read all the books? Not going into too much detail, would you say that Dumbledore is more of a human character or does he really reflect this God-like power?

Kat: Oh no, he is so human it’s not even funny. It’s proven by the end of the books that he makes a lot of mistakes often. But he learns from them, which I think not all people do.

Noah: Interesting.

Meg: I think the point of the matter here is, though, he is so humanized but he’s set up here in the very beginning as this ultimate good. So, I think it definitely shows that even people with flaws have capability to become the end-all, be-all of good.

Noah: Yeah, I like that a lot. [imitating Dumbledore] “It is our choices, Harry.”

Caleb: Yeah, the theme of redemption plays a lot with characters and it definitely plays a lot for Dumbledore.

Noah: That’s huge, and it’s one of the big points of the book. So really, to all of you followers, you can be good. It’s just a matter of choice. It’s not a matter of if you have virtue from birth or not.

Kat: Right.

Noah: I’d say that’s her general belief about it. Okay, so here we have another comment about the podcast in regards to something we were talking about, about how magic in smaller children before they go to Hogwarts – like when Harry can suddenly do magic when he’s on top of the kitchens. Just when any sort of youngling presents magic in a weird way and it’s unexplainable and it’s without a wand. So, we asked the listeners to wonder where this came from and how they could do it. So, here’s one comment from Sirisnuffles:

“About the manifestation of magic in children, I think it depends on how often terrible things happen to them and how often they have bad or scared emotions and need magic to survive – Harry and Tom Riddle both had awful childhoods, and magic presented itself to them early – probably to help them survive. It also probably depends on self-confidence and if you knew magic existed or not in the beginning – Neville, of course, is so unconfident that he couldn’t use magic early on.”

Mmm, that’s good. Great comment, Sirisnuffles.

Kat: Yeah, I definitely think that that’s true, although Harry didn’t know anything about magic. I mean – and he was still using it, so I’m not quite sure about that. I think maybe he knew deep down that he was special in some way but the Dursleys had so stamped it out of him that he just – he didn’t believe it. I don’t know.

Noah: No, I don’t think that’s what Sirisnuffles is saying. I’m saying – I think he or she is right in saying that it comes out in a desperate situation if you are magic, like whether you know about it or not, but the idea of having known it or not can present difficulty in bringing it out. Like in the case of Neville, Sirisnuffles argued that there was so much pressure by his gran to do some magic that he really couldn’t all the time until…

Kat: So, it was so suppressed almost.

Noah: Right, exactly.

Caleb: Yeah, and Neville’s – correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the story is that his first use of magic is when he’s thrown out the window or something.

Kat: And he bounced. Yeah.

Caleb: And he bounces, yeah. So, that kind of plays into what this user is saying, these sort of drastic situations where magic is…

Noah: Yeah.

Caleb: …sort of necessary.

Noah: Man, why does this always happen to Neville? [sighs]

Kat: I know, poor kid.

Noah: And his parents were mentally deranged from youth, and almost dead inside. That sucks!

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: He had a rough childhood. No…

Noah: Well, at least he knows how to bounce.

Kat: That’s right.

[Kat and Noah laugh]

Kat: Great, so we want to thank everyone for the awesome comments we’ve been getting on the forums. Please go there, and put in your comments. Anything from any show we’ve ever put out, anything we’ve ever talked about, there’s lots of discussions going on right now.

Noah: We’re going to – yeah, exactly, and we love reading them. And we even engage in the conversations with you. And if you say a lot of cool stuff, we’re going to probably invite you on the show. So…

Kat: Absolutely.

Noah: …look for that. Before we continue, a word from our sponsors.

[Show music begins]

Announcer: The Potter books may be over, but there’s plenty of good reads to fill the gap. Head over to to receive a free audiobook now!

[Show music stops]

Kat: So, with that let’s jump right into this week’s discussion. We’re going to be discussing Philosopher’s Stone Chapters 4 through 6, and we are starting with Chapter 4, “The Keeper of the Keys”. So, at the end of Chapter 3, we find Harry and the Dursleys camping out in the hut on the rock. And literally the minute Harry turns eleven, the minute it is his birthday, there’s a huge boom at the door. Do you think there’s a significance of the fact that a giant of a man has broken down the door at exactly midnight?

Caleb: Yeah, I think it’s just a lot for dramatic effect. I mean, there’s the noise leading up to it, Harry is excited for his birthday, even though he doesn’t think it’s going to be a very big one, I mean, it’s built up pretty well for this huge momentous event to happen right at midnight, no later, no sooner. And it enters with a bang, quite literally, and this huge guy comes in and…

Noah: Actually, it’s boom.

Kat: So, it’s just a really good cliffhanger at Chapter…

Caleb: Yeah, yeah, my bad, my bad. Boom, not bang.

Noah: It’s a boom. Notice the use of onomatopoeia here. This is very clever.

[Kat and Meg laugh]

Noah: You don’t get it much in the later books but…

[Caleb and Noah laugh]

Noah: …this one was for eleven-year-olds.

Kat: So, did any of you think immediately that this large man was Hagrid, who we were introduced to back in Chapter 1?

Noah: I thought Harry and the Dursleys were about to die, frankly.

[Meg and Noah laugh]

Noah: But that’s just me.

Caleb: No, I didn’t make that connection. I had – thinking back to the first time I read it, I think I had pretty much forgotten about Hagrid at this point and was so wrapped up in what was happening with Harry that I didn’t even make the connection until he introduced himself as Hagrid.

Noah: This is the first time you read it.

Caleb: Yeah, yeah.

Noah: [laughs] Okay.

Meg: I have to agree. The first time I read it, I was – okay, I was like nine or ten, but I was terrified and I seriously – you see this giant of a man come in and you think, “Oh my God, he’s going to either harm the Dursleys, which I was okay with…”

[Caleb and Kat laugh]

Meg: “…or he’s going to kidnap Harry.” It’s not a good association at first.

Noah: In fact, this could have become a much darker book in which a child – his parents are killed, and then he grows up and he’s abused his entire life, until a strange man finds him at sea and eats him.

[Meg and Noah laugh]

Kat: Oh my gosh.

Meg: Puts him in his coat.

Noah: Puts him in his pocket, one of his numerous pockets, and flies off into the night. Terrible.

Kat: So, this can be like one of those alternate fandom books, kind of like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Caleb: Oh gosh. [laughs]

Kat: No?

Caleb: I mean, I can see that happening.

Meg: No, I completely agree.

Noah: Jane Austen?

Meg: Just have a mash-up going.

Noah: What’s that…

Meg: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Noah: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Meg: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Noah: Hagrid – okay.

[Kat and Meg laugh]

Kat: So, the first line that Hagrid even directs at Harry, except for the obvious greeting, is that he looks just like his dad, but has his mother’s eyes. Did anyone see any significance in this at all? I mean, obviously we learn much later that it’s incredibly significant.

Noah: It repeats. It repeats over and over again. Especially the eyes.

Kat: Yes, this is the first of many, many times we hear this.

Caleb: And I think that’s why it’s significant. It’s the first time that Harry comes to terms with being a wizard, and Hagrid immediately draws that connection between Harry and his magical parents, which sharply contrasts…

Noah: But even deeper than that, it’s like a connection with his parents. He’s never had it in his entire life and suddenly in this first sentence he’s identified with his father and his mother, which – for an eleven-year-old who is an orphan – must be huge on a personal level. You know what I mean?

Kat: That’s true, I hadn’t thought of that. I mean, he knows so little about them, how was he to know what they look like?

Noah: Exactly.

Meg: That’s what I’m thinking. The first thing he’s told is what his parents look like. He’s been denied information his whole life and he doesn’t get a story, he doesn’t get, “Oh, your parents were great people.” He gets, “Oh, you look like them.”

Noah: I don’t even think he got that.

Meg: I think that’s interesting.

Noah: Well, maybe he got that a little, but it was also just that they died in a car crash and he was forbidden to ask any other questions.

Meg: Yeah. But either way, the first information he’s getting is this physical, very basic level of his parents. He’s not getting who they were as a person, just he resembles them physically and I think that’s drawing – he’s very connected blood-wise to his parents now by doing that, I think.

Noah: Yeah. And we know how significant the blood is.

Kat: Right, of course.

Noah: Eyes are the window to the soul.

Kat: That’s right.

[Noah laughs]

Kat: So, then Vernon tries to stand up to Hagrid with hilarious results. I love this part of the book. And even in the movie it’s pretty hilarious.

Noah: I thought it was terrible.

Kat: Terrible?

Noah: This was the valor scene where Vernon, against all odds, is trying to protect his family. And he doesn’t love Harry, but he’s still trying to protect Harry from this strange giant man who has broken down the door and is screaming. I think we have to remember that Hagrid doesn’t really understand – I mean, not Hagrid. Vernon Dursley doesn’t understand the full measure of – to what depths the magical world is willing to go to get him. I mean, he knows about it, but what if in this scene he’s also protecting his family – and Harry to some degree, out of some weird love – that this is my property, in a way, and you have to – this is weird, you have to get out of here.

Kat: No way is he protecting Harry.

Noah: Think about it.

Kat: He is purely – no way. No, I don’t think so at all. I think that this is just another attempt for him to squash it out of him. I don’t think he cares about him at all.

Meg: Do you think if one of the Malfoys or Bellatrix were to come and pull the same thing like, “Oh, you’re a wizard, come with me,” would he have reacted the same way?

Caleb: Well…

Kat: They’re not quite as trusting looking, are they?

Caleb: Yeah, I guess…

Meg: Okay, say they act trustworthy, they put on the Hagrid act.

Noah: I don’t know, guys. I feel like if they really didn’t care about Harry, why did they take him in in the first place? Why didn’t they just leave him on the doorstep?

Kat: Because I think Petunia had love for Lily. I don’t think she cares for Harry at all.

Caleb: Yeah, I think it’s…

Noah: No, but that’s – the Fidelius Charm. The reason that it works and Harry is protected is because there is some element of love there, even if it’s really hidden.

Caleb: Well, I think there’s a difference between them having this familial care and some sense of obligation. I don’t think that Lily – excuse me, Petunia would – I don’t think she – even though as much as she detested Lily being different, I don’t think she could live with herself if she put Harry out on the streets and didn’t have that some sort of obligation toward taking care of him.

Noah: Exactly, yeah.

Kat: Yeah, I agree. I think there’s a part of Petunia, albeit probably a very small part, that is probably very nice and very caring. We see that – like you said last time, Noah, she really does care about Dudley, albeit in the wrong way.

Noah: Well, spoiling and it does cause some damage.

Kat: Right.

Caleb: Mhm.

Noah: But then again, some other stuff does, too. Which I will bring up later. [laughs]

Kat: [laughs] Right, exactly. So, Hagrid proceeds to ask for a cup of tea and he starts pulling things out of this humungous overcoat. I mean, tea kettles, sausages, a teapot, mugs, an amber liquid, and even an owl.

Noah: There are even some dormice in there.

Kat: Yeah. I mean, how big – I mean, we know Hagrid is big, but wouldn’t this coat be kind of bulky?

Noah: From SnapeScape:

“I made a little observation based on Hagrid’s introduction to Harry. One of the first things Hagrid does is take out all these objects (sausages, kettle, cake, even an owl!) from his big coat, to the amazement of Harry. This very much reminded me of Mary Poppins and her seemingly never-ending bag. And this got me thinking that Hagrid is similar to Mary Poppins in other ways, too. He is the first to really show Harry magic when he gives Dudley his pig tail, like Mary Poppins did with the two children (I’m thinking of that bannister scene and when she floats down from the cloud). He also brings Harry into ‘another world’ like Mary Poppins does with those sketched pictures on the ground. What’s more, they are both protective of the child under their care and obviously care for them.”

Kat: I thought that was great. I mean, I had never…

Noah: Mary Poppins!

Kat: …thought of that before. I mean, I’m actually going to admit that I haven’t seen Mary Poppins the whole way through.

Caleb: What?

Kat: I know…

Noah: What?

Kat: …it’s a travesty.

[Caleb laughs]

Kat: Don’t hate me! Please, don’t hate me. But I do…

Caleb: Just wait until the fans get after you now.

Kat: I know. My Twitter handle is – no, I’m just kidding.

[Caleb and Kat laugh]

Kat: But I do know about her and who she is, and I had never thought of this before. So, out of the things Hagrid pulls out of his coat, there’s some sausages and he starts to fry them up, and there’s finally kind of life in the hut. And he offers some to Harry, and Dudley kind of makes a move, like he wants to eat some, and Vernon tells him, “Don’t you dare eat anything that he gives you.” Did Vernon really think that Hagrid’s food was poisoned or bad in any way, or is this just his way of saying that he doesn’t need or want anything from him?

Meg: I’m going to argue that point a bit. I don’t think he necessarily thought it was poisoned or anything, but I think he’s under the assumption that anything that Hagrid touches could have – he treats wizarding like a disease, almost. And if Dudley were to eat that, he’d kind of be infected with the weird. If we’re going to go the whole archetypal route, drawing up the Persephone myth, where Persephone has to remain in the underworld with Hades because she ate the food of the dead, he could possibly think if Dudley eats the sausage, he’ll have to go to Hogwarts with Harry.

Kat: Oh, that would be his worst nightmare. I guess – I see where you’re coming from. Yeah.

Meg: So, it’s definitely got that old myth type of feel. Like, you don’t take food from strangers, or they take you away because you do that. I know you see it in a lot of movies. The one I’m thinking of right now is Tenth Kingdom, and they’re with a bunch of gypsies and they say, “Take everything they give you but don’t eat it, or you’ll have to go with them.”

Noah: Yeah. Actually, Meg and I were also in an Irish Studies class, I might as well bring up, and…

Meg: Go ahead. [laughs]

Noah: …there was a – there would be – in Irish myth, there are all these magical creatures, and where there is a magical creature there is also a community of a human population that are actively scared of them, because there’s always a threat that these magical creatures will come out of the sea or out of nature somewhere, and steal children, and they’ll – I don’t know, they’ll woo the women. And just this sort of fear of anything magical is all – it’s in a ton of different cultures, and we can certainly read Hagrid as this beast-like thing, un-human, coming in and invading the Dursleys who, as we know, are so normal it hurts.

Meg: If we’re going the Irish route again as well, there’s always the myth of the Wee Folk around here that you’re never supposed to eat their food or go to their festivals, because they’ll keep you there for fifty years and you’ll never see the people you loved ever again. So, I think – again, they live in the U.K. This could be a myth they’ve heard as children, and so they have fear of eating food from any of these magical type of folk.

Noah: Yeah. And Hagrid is the biggest of the Wee Children, of the Wee People. Anyway, it was a really cool connection, Meg, and we want to keep trying to bring new lenses and stuff, and I just think it’s really awesome that we could use this.

Meg: Sorry for going a little English major.

Kat: Oh no, please. That’s what you’re here for.

[Meg laughs]

Noah: Please do.

Kat: So, Hagrid reacts quite loudly and is very offended by the fact that the Dursleys didn’t tell Harry all about his past, his parents, and even Hogwarts. However, didn’t Dumbledore say that Harry would be better off not knowing? That was a part of his reasoning for placing him with the Dursleys, right?

Caleb: Yeah, definitely. I think Hagrid may have thought, as Harry got older, the Dursleys would give him something of an answer. He would naturally ask about his parents’ past, but clearly, the Dursleys don’t really fulfill this for him.

Noah: I thought it was necessary. Absolutely necessary. I mean, these are valiant witches and wizards – Lily and James, they always fought for the good, and I’m even willing to bet that when Hagrid was gamekeeper, obviously they were friends with him. They probably treated him very nicely. So, they were deep, personal friends to him in the Order and while they were students at Hogwarts. So, a perfectly normal reaction.

Kat: Even though Dumbledore said that Harry would be better off not growing up knowing all this information?

Caleb: Yeah, I mean, I just think that – Hagrid may have expected him to not know a lot of information, but that he would know at least something. But then again, thinking back to what’s actually said in the text, Hagrid is surprised he doesn’t know about Hogwarts and more magical things, which – thinking back to what you mentioned, it’s pretty much what Dumbledore wanted Harry to not know. So, there is a bit of inconsistency there. Now, thinking more on it, I am a little surprised that Hagrid is surprised himself with that.

Kat: But I mean…

Noah: Yeah.

Kat: …the good thing is Harry does know how to do math.

[Caleb, Meg, and Noah laugh]

Caleb: Which is a really important skill, so…

Meg: A key wizarding skill.

Kat: Yeah, exactly. So, on page 50 of the U.S. edition, it says here that, “Uncle Vernon, who had gone very pale, whispered something that sounded like ‘Mimblewimble.'” And I thought this was great, actually. Noah pointed this out to me, thank you. It’s a spell that is brought up later in the books that prevents the opponent from accurately casting their spell. Is this merely a coincidence, or is this yet another clever foreshadowing by Jo?

Caleb: I think this is…

Noah: Or does Vernon secretly know magic?

[Kat laughs]

Caleb: I think this is brilliant. I mean, I’m so glad that you pointed this out. I didn’t even think about this. But I think it’s our brilliant author playing, something we see later. And also, the fact that Vernon is trying to use it with a – I mean, obviously he’s not trying to do a spell because he wouldn’t know, but he’s – I mean, it’s what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to stop magic because he hates it so much, and that’s pretty much what the spell is for. I think it’s just so clever.

Meg: But doesn’t it kind of work? Because Hagrid, later on, says when he gave the pig tail to Dudley that, “Oh, I was intending to turn him into a pig entirely,” but he just gave him the tail. So, did Vernon inadvertently stop his son from being turned completely into a pig?

Kat: Huh, do you think that that would work? I mean, he’s a Muggle, so…

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: …he has no magical ability.

Noah: No, no, what if he does? What if he does?

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: Meg, you just pointed something out.

Meg: [laughs] Oh God!

Noah: Unheard of in the Harry Potter fandom!

Meg: Vernon Dursley…

Caleb: Oh no.

Meg: …is a wizard. [laughs]

Caleb: Well, I guess what is Hagrid’s justification is that he was already so much of a pig there wasn’t much left to turn. But…

[Kat laughs]

Noah: And also, we should also mention that Hagrid is using the two pieces of his broken wand inside of his umbrella, which is going to create not perfect magic.

Caleb: Yup.

Kat: Supposedly. I mean…

Meg: Okay.

Kat: …there’s never been confirmation on that.

Meg: Supposedly.

Noah: Oh, I see. Yeah, that’s true.

Caleb: Yeah, his magic isn’t super. It’s not working. He doesn’t have the whole thing going.

Noah: It’s either that…

Kat: Yeah, he did only make it to his third year.

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: So…

Noah: Well, it’s either that or Vernon is one of the most secret, powerful wizards in London.

[Meg and Noah laugh]

Kat: Well, Hagrid keeps calling him a “great Muggle” and he uses it quite offensively, kind of – almost as though Muggles are beneath wizards. And we know that there are families who truly believe that, but…

Noah: Yeah.

Kat: …did this taint anyone’s view of Muggles in the series? Or were you only able to kind of directly relate it to the Dursleys?

Noah: Can I just jump in real quick? I thought “great Muggle” was in reference to his weight. Great Muggle…

Kat: Oh!

Caleb: Really?

Noah: …fat – yeah. I think…

Meg: Oh.

Noah:[laughs] maybe – because he kept talking about how fat Dudley was, I wouldn’t be surprised if [imitating Hagrid] “What is a great Muggle like you going to do?” – [back to normal voice] “great” like he’s heavy. A fat guy.

Kat: Like rotund.

Caleb: Oh.

Noah: Oh, very rotund.

Caleb: Interesting. I never read it that way, but I mean, it’s definitely possible. I mean, otherwise…

Kat: Okay. Well, say he was using it in a demeaning fashion.

Caleb: I mean, yeah, I never really saw it as completely representative of all Muggles. Especially as we hear later Hagrid talking about how some Muggle-born wizards and witches, particularly Lily, are great workers of magic. So, I don’t think this is Hagrid’s full view of Muggles. Probably just a more localized perspective on…

Kat: And I guess it makes sense if he was calling him a “great Muggle” because he was overweight. I never thought of that.

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: Yeah.

Meg: To me, it’s almost kind of demeaning. You were talking in the first episode how Vernon uses all these words to demean the magical folk and he’ll do anything to demean them, and here we have someone using “Muggle.” And why can’t we just call them “non-magical folk”? I mean, why do we need to create a title for this?

Noah: Racism. And it’s just sort of the accepted way. Maybe in the peace between magic and non-magic – [laughs] I was going to say “Muggle” – there could be some kind of a word change. Because, as we know, Meg, the way that you use language and words really shapes how you think about stuff.

Meg: Yeah.

Noah: So, there’s just…

Meg: But, I mean, what if you were to talk to a non-magical person and be like, “Oh, by the way, we call you a Muggle”? If you told that to the nations at large, how do you think they would react to that?

Kat: It sounds dirty…

Meg: It does, a little.

Kat: …when you say it like that. Yeah.

Meg: Like, “Oh, you’re just a Muggle.” It’s almost setting the superiority complex in the wizards’ favour because “I’m a wizard. What are you? You’re a Muggle.”

Noah: Yeah. Except it’s widely accepted and used. Like, no one has even addressed this…

Meg: It’s only widely accepted with the wizards. The Muggles don’t know they’re Muggles.

Noah: That’s true.

Kat: After this blow-up, Petunia decides to go on her anti-wizarding rant and admits to knowing that Harry was a wizard. And she says everything that happened to James and Lily. We learn a short synopsis of their past, so to say. And Harry really only seems upset about the fact about that they lied about how his parents died.

Caleb: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a pretty great scene. We see Petunia, as Harry observes, really release stuff that she has held in for a long time. She has definitely, probably, talked to Vernon about it, but maybe not as candidly and definitely not in front of Harry. It’s her character’s breaking point. She finally releases all this pent up anger and bitterness.

Kat: Why do you think it took so long?

Caleb: I mean, I think she didn’t want – or she just wasn’t going to do that in front of Harry. And then the fact that someone is barging in, claiming to take Harry away, in the same way that – well, not in the same way, because Hagrid didn’t show up to take Lily away. But she is seeing a parallel. Harry, who she has tried to suppress, being taken away by something magical. It reminds her of Lily being taken away, and I think it’s just too much for her all at once.

Meg: It’s almost like what she would say to Lily, had Lily still been alive.

Caleb: Yes, definitely.

Noah: Keep in mind as we go on, and there has been so much conflict about this in the forums, the Dursleys really are – they are people. As much as they are drawn cartoonishly, they have all these deep emotions and stuff. Especially tied to magic. I mean, for Vernon and Petunia. So, we can also read this as Petunia – at first, she wanted to keep Harry away from it because she didn’t want it touching Dudley, or maybe to some extent – didn’t we talk about how Harry was a reflection of Lily and it was – she was doing it better this time. She was going to make a normal Lily because she was so jealous. So, they really are people, so it makes sense that when this finally – the [censored] hit the fan, that it was an explosion. Because the magic secret is this biggest held secret between Vernon and Petunia.

Kat: Okay, so at one point Harry finally gets around to asking how his parents died, and Hagrid gives us a little background of the past twenty years. He…

Noah: Between getting angry about how little he knows.

Kat: Right, exactly. And he has a flashback of what happened the night that his parents were killed, the green light. And for the first time, he hears a high, cruel laugh – high, cold, cruel laugh, sorry. Do you think Hagrid is triggering that memory, or is Harry finally starting to believe the past and this is why the memory of the laugh has finally come to the surface?

Noah: And another question, how powerful is his memory to remember this at one year old? I mean, it was a terrible…

Kat: Yeah, I think we talked about this last time briefly, yeah. I mean, how much does a one-year-old really remember? So, after Harry asks – or after Hagrid explains what happened to James and Lily and explains to him who Voldemort is, Harry asks him what happens to Voldemort. And Hagrid tells him that he, “Disappeared. Vanished. Same night he tried to kill you. Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die.”

Noah: Ooh.

Kat: So, Hagrid is obviously talking about Voldemort’s humanity, the fact that he had gone so dark he didn’t care about killing anymore. But was he? I mean, Dumbledore didn’t seem to confide in many people, but he trusted Hagrid with his life, as we learned in Chapter 1. So, did Hagrid know about Dumbledore’s theory, or is this just…

Noah: Of the Horcruxes?

Kat: Yeah.

Noah: Well, I think Hagrid prides himself on this trust. All the time we get this, even in the beginning. So, I kind of believe that Dumbledore has, over the course of a few years, let Hagrid know bits and pieces so that Hagrid could come up with this sort of theory, probably which is a reaffirmation of something Dumbledore has said before. But he doesn’t know exactly what is going on. And yet, because he has gotten these bits and pieces from Dumbledore, he believes that Dumbledore is the greatest wizard of all time, and that the trust goes both ways. What do you think of that?

Caleb: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think Hagrid definitely knows quite a bit. Probably not everything, but he knows what Dumbledore theorizes to some extent. And Hagrid is going to automatically side with whatever Dumbledore thinks because he practically worships him. So…

Noah: I mean, he saved his career or his existence after he was expelled.

Caleb: Exactly.

Noah: Yeah. There’s like a deep love there. I mean, like a friend love. We’re not getting into fan fiction.

Caleb: Right. Oh God.

[Kat and Meg laugh]

Caleb: Do you know what you have just done?

Kat: Yeah, that would be one scary story. [laughs] Hagrid and Dumbledore.

Noah: Well, that’s…

Meg: It probably exists.

Kat: Oh, I’m sure it does.

Caleb: If not, it does now.

[Kat and Meg laugh]

Kat: Yeah, absolutely.

Meg: Rule of the Internet.

Kat: So, I really liked this line towards the end of the chapter. It says that Hagrid looks at Harry with “warmth and respect blazing in his eyes.” What do we think that means? Is it simply because he had a hand in vanquishing the Dark Lord, or is Hagrid projecting his feelings for James and Lily onto Harry? Or does he just truly care for him already?

Caleb: I think there is a lot of projection there. I mean, Hagrid feels this need to care for Harry. I mean, you think about the fact that Hagrid was the one that pulled him from the rubble at Godric’s Hollow. Like, he was the one who essentially saved Harry from that scene, brought him to Dumbledore. So, there is a lot of sense of nurturing there that Hagrid probably feels.

Noah: Absolutely. And he carried him as a baby over Bristol…

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: …after the aftermath, so caring for Harry is all wrapped up in the death of his parents, we have to also remember. So, it calls up so much emotions probably, every time he looks on him. Every time Hagrid looks at Harry.

Meg: I’d say it’s about fifty percent nurture, fifty percent projection, just because the first thing that Hagrid does say to Harry is, “You look like your parents.” Like, “By the way, you have her eyes.” So, I think it’s half him recognizing the people that went into making this child, and at the same time he did care for him that first night…

Noah: Yeah.

Meg: …on the way to the Dursleys. So, I’d say it’s half and half.

Caleb: Mhm.

Noah: Definitely agree.

Kat: So, at the bottom of page 58 of the U.S. edition, Hagrid is talking about Dumbledore, and Vernon basically blows up and says that he is “not paying for some crackpot old fool to teach him magic tricks.” And Hagrid becomes very defensive of Dumbledore and…

Noah: Rather over-dramatically, I would say. [laughs]

Caleb: Mhm.

Kat: A little bit, yeah. But do you think they had this relationship while Hagrid was a student, or is it merely because Dumbledore is kind of empathetic towards him, being an orphan, no family really to speak of, same situation as Dumbledore, even though we don’t know that?

Caleb: Yeah, I think it has a lot to do with the family aspect. I mean, Dumbledore was drawn to him. I mean, Hagrid had came in with not a very strong family, a lot of issues that we find out later. So, I definitely think that Dumbledore was drawn to him while he was a student, and then that was even…

Noah: Then he was brought on as gamekeeper.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: And then for the next forty-five years. Think about it, Hagrid is old.

Caleb: Mhm.

Noah: He was at school when…

Kat: Is he that old?

Noah: He was at school when Voldemort was.

Kat: That’s true.

Caleb: Yup.

Meg: I mean, they’ve had time to be buddy-buddy for a long time.

Caleb: Yeah. And they’ve gone through a lot of things together. I mean, the first part of the war.

Kat: Right.

Meg: Right.

Kat: Lots of brandy has been consumed in the cabin.

Caleb: Mhm.

[Meg laughs]

Noah: A shameless plug: For all your fan fiction needs, go to MuggleNet Fan Fiction.

[Kat and Meg laugh]

Meg: You have just started a new fan fiction trend.

Kat: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. Rosie is going to be very happy about that.

Noah: Oh boy. [laughs]

Kat: [laughs] Yeah.

Meg: Brandy in the cabin.

Noah: No, but in all seriousness though, they are so close and I think Dumbledore represents a father to Hagrid. Not the little father he could balance on his leg because he was so [censored] huge, but the…

Caleb: [laughs] Woah.

[Kat and Meg laugh]

Noah: A real father, like the model of intelligence. Ever since he was thirteen, Dumbledore was helping him out. That’s just great. And I’m sure James and Lily, Lupin, Sirius were there along the way. I want those stories someday, but clearly they have this great bond and we see it here, and that – I think Harry aside, Dursleys aside, that’s why with any sort of insult to Albus Dumbledore, Hagrid is going to go ballistic. Yeah.

Kat: So, the next thing that happens after Hagrid kind of thunders at Vernon about this, he brings his umbrella around and “there was a flash of violet light, a sharp squeal, and the next second, Dudley was dancing on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat bottom, howling in pain.” So, Dudley now has a pig tail, and Hagrid’s umbrella, as we touched on quite earlier, is – obviously his wand is in there.

Noah: Yes.

Kat: But how do wands work after they are snapped? Ron’s never really worked properly after his broke in Chamber of Secrets, although – spoiler warning here – because Dumbledore has the Elder Wand, did he repair it for Hagrid?

Caleb: I mean, there is definitely something really strange going on. We’ll talk about this a little bit in the next chapter, but Ollivander pretty much freaks out at the thought of Hagrid maybe still using his wand after it snapped. But I think it’s a good point you bring up about the Elder Wand, and it’s something – we don’t know – I wish we knew more about what extraordinary capabilities the Elder Wand had, what it really could do. I mean, I think it’s definitely possible.

Kat: Well, Harry repairs his wand with it, so…

Caleb: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true.

Noah: That was a nice narrative closure, but it was kind of – that was a bit dramatic.

Caleb: Did it only work because Harry was the – they were both his wands? I don’t know.

Noah: Oh wow. We can really talk about that when we talk about wands later in the episode. [laughs]

Caleb: [laughs] Yeah.

Meg: He’s expelled, he can still do magic, and I know Hagrid – the only reason people don’t know he’s doing magic – he tells Harry, “Don’t tell the people at Hogwarts I’m doing magic.” What does this mean for other expelled students at Hogwarts? I mean, can they get their hands on someone else’s wand and just continue wrecking the world? We have a bunch of…

Noah: It sounds like…

Meg: …people expelled from school at thirteen, running around with wands and magic powers.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Yeah, that’s an excellent point, Meg, because it sounds like if you’re expelled from Hogwarts or your magical school, your life is ruined or something. You can’t – what exactly do you do? Because there’s a ton of legal stuff attached.

Meg: But you can still do magic and no one will know…

Caleb: Well, the Ministry…

Meg: …as long as you’re over age.

Caleb: But the Ministry would be able to trace it, I would think.

Kat: I was just going to say that, because…

Meg: Oh.

Kat: …why doesn’t an owl or something get sent to that hut on the rock?

Noah: Because Harry is in that room.

Kat: Because Harry is in that room, and they know Hagrid isn’t supposed to be doing magic.

Caleb: Hmm. Well, I think that also has to do with Dumbledore’s ability to kind of weave about the legal system as he wants.

Noah: Oh brilliant, Caleb. I would say that’s it. Otherwise it’s an oversight.

Caleb: Yeah.

Meg: I’m still interested in what the other expelled students are doing. Do they have to go to the Muggle world? I mean, what’s up with them?

Noah: Well, your wand is broken.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Or maybe just in this one case.

Meg: But you can still someone else’s wand.

Caleb: Which would, in theory, be illegal. But I don’t know.

Meg: True story. But still, if you’re a dark wizard who is expelled for being a dark wizard, and you steal someone else’s – I’m sure there’s a lot of people in Azkaban for this problem.

Caleb: Oh, I’m sure. Yeah, that’s a great point. It’s something I’d never thought of. But I think more – they would be much more likely to go rogue, then try to find some…

Meg: Like become an accountant or a security guard. [laughs]

Caleb: Yeah, exactly. I would. If it was me, I would. [laughs]

Noah: I mean, guys, Hogwarts can only have so many gamekeepers.

[Caleb and Meg laugh]

Meg: Fail Hogwarts? Become gamekeeper.

Noah: Yeah. But I like that you brought that up. I’d never thought of that before. A serious issue. And then what about offenses in the wizarding world? They can’t send everyone to Azkaban for the smallest offense. You could pay a fine, I assume.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: It’s probably a fine or a few days in Azkaban. Let us know in the comments!

Kat: That’s right. So, then I started thinking about Dudley and his pig tail. Where did they take him to get that removed?

[Meg laughs]

Noah: Wait, before we – just the hospital, I guess. But before we do that, think about this: Hagrid comes in, barges down the door, yells at the family, crushes Vernon Dursley’s gun in half, and then he attacks his son – his eleven-year-old son. Isn’t this child abuse? Isn’t this answering child abuse with more child abuse? I know we read this scene and it was totally funny, but let’s look at this seriously. Do we think he acted a little bit too harshly with Dudley [laughs] who then had to have that tail for a month?

Kat: Well, doesn’t this just add to the idea that the Dursleys are cartoons?

Noah: They’re cartoons, but they’re also real people. Think about the implications of what Hagrid did in this moment.

Kat: I think that maybe in his eyes, this is in some way a punishment to them for not sharing with Harry everything that he believes they should have.

Meg: Is this a Muggle hate crime?

Kat: Yeah.

Noah: This is a Muggle hate crime.

Caleb: Yeah, and it also plays into Hagrid’s – in general, his impulsive nature, I think.

Noah: Yeah. Now, did any of you guys think about the emotional repercussions of Dudley when reading this the first, second or forty-second time? I certainly didn’t.

Kat: No.

Caleb: No.

Noah: I feel like that’s the…

Meg: Not at all.

Noah: …brilliance of Jo in writing this narrator. We’re told to hate the Dursleys for three chapters, and then this [censored] happens, and then we just don’t – we don’t even care! So, why don’t we care?

Kat: Because I think we’re made to not care about the Durselys. I think that’s kind of the point. I think that’s just how she writes them.

Caleb: Yes, I think it’s – like you said, it’s the brilliance of her writing.

Noah: It’s a certain mastery. So, we have to – I’m just saying, as we go forward, we have to be aware of when we’re being sort of…

Meg: Played by J?

Noah: Yes. She’s very deceptive.

Meg: Played by J. [laughs]

Noah: Played by J. She’s very deceptive.

Meg: I’m on a first name basis, let me say.

Kat: Lucky you.

Meg: [laughs] I know. I try.

Noah: It’s just something I like to be aware of, and if anybody out there – I’m on Dudley’s side in all this because in the next chapter – a few chapters later he’s still freaking out. This kid is emotionally damaged, not only by his parents but also Hagrid. I’m just saying. [laughs]

Kat: Okay.

[Meg laughs]

Noah: Guys, come on! It’s not that out there.

Kat: So, right here at the end of Chapter 4, after Hagrid asks him to please, “don’t tell anyone at Hogwarts that I did this magic,” Harry immediately agrees. And being the ever curious lad, he does ask Hagrid how he got expelled, but Hagrid completely dances around the subject and ignores him completely.

Caleb: I think it’s just – obviously with the subject, Hagrid knows obviously that it has something to do with the start of Voldemort’s story, at least at Hogwarts. And it’s not something he’s really – I mean, it’s certainly embarrassing. He doesn’t want to get into this really – this story in particular when he’s just now getting to know Harry, I’m sure.

Meg: If you begin discussing why he was expelled, you’d have to get into the story of the Chamber of Secrets, and even though Harry deals with that when he’s twelve, I don’t think he’s ready for it as an eleven-year-old. It’d be like saying, “Oh, you’re a wizard. By the way, there was this kid and he killed a girl in a bathroom.” It’s a little much for your first day on the job.

Kat: Then we would be combining also Book 2 with Book 1, and that would be no good.

Noah: He would have ruined the second book for us. [laughs]

Kat: Yeah, exactly.

[Meg laughs]

Kat: No, that’s true.

Meg: Spoiler warning.

Kat: That’s true.

Noah: Wow. But Jo was planning this series from even this first book. She must have been putting all her cards in this. [laughs] Damn.

Kat: Again, brilliant woman.

Caleb: Mhm.

Noah: Yeah.

Kat: That’s the end of Chapter 4. Hagrid and Harry go to sleep with promises of going to buy school supplies the next day.

Caleb: All right, so then we finish up Chapter 4. We move in to Chapter 5 when Harry starts to get more into the wizarding world, “Diagon Alley”.

Noah: [hums “Diagon Alley” from Sorcerer’s Stone film score] Do you guys remember that? I’m just…

Caleb: Yes.

Kat: We do. That was lovely.

Caleb: Thank you so much for that memory, Noah.

Noah: [sighs] Tears in my eyes, guys.

[Caleb and Kat laugh]

Caleb: I love it, I love it. So, the – I thought it was really interesting when the chapter opens up. Harry is waking up from what an eventful night, and the first thing he immediately thinks is, “It’s all just a dream.” And this is used in a lot of literary works, this idea that something great happens or just something huge in general, and I think that’s why it connects with the audience – it certainly did with me – our own desire to escape to a fantasy to get away from reality. And that’s definitely what Harry is going through, even though his is real. Did you guys catch on that any?

Kat: I mean, honestly I can say that I remember dreaming vividly about the wizarding world for quite some time during and after reading the books, so I can easily see how Harry would think this was a dream. But lucky him, it wasn’t.

Noah: And of course, as you said, Caleb, it’s kind of a narrative convention. Often the young boy, as it were, launches into this new world, and he becomes the hero of this world. So, we’re automatically drawn in because we know the part. We kind of know – of course we didn’t know exactly what to expect, but we’ve been this track before.

Meg: I think it also starts to place an emphasis on Harry’s dreams, which become so important later on through the series. So, already we have the wizarding world associated with dreaming, so when Voldemort starts infiltrating them later – I mean, this could possibly be the briefest hint of foreshadowing.

Noah: Dreaming. Ahh. That’s great.

Caleb: That’s a really good point.

Meg: Yay! [laughs]

Noah: No, there are a few dreams throughout the book. There’s – these are just perfect places to close read. Just take the passage and analyze kind of what it means going forward.

Meg: Yeah. We already have associations – he thinks he’s dreaming, but it’s real. So later, in Book 4, the dream he has of Wormtail and Voldemort talking – we can automatically assume this is actually happening, this is not a dream.

Noah: And there’s another one, actually, in this book where I think Draco turns into Snape who turns into Quirrell, and – we’ll get to that later, of course, but dreams feature very highly in these books. They’re kind of rare, but yet again, great places to analyze.

Caleb: Definitely. But as we know, Harry realizes quickly that it was not all a dream. He finds Hagrid still there asleep on the couch, and they get into this conversation that we touched on a bit earlier. Harry is asking about the whole relationship between the wizard and Muggle world, and when he’s talking to him about it, Hagrid basically says, “We’re best left alone,” speaking about the wizarding world. Something we’ve kind of talked about, is this something he gets from Dumbledore, like most of his other viewpoints? Or does Hagrid just have this somewhat cloaked disdain for some of the Muggles that he’s encountered?

Kat: Yeah, I think definitely to some point this is just Hagrid being Hagrid. He’s a pretty independent dude. Although, I do have to wonder if somewhere deep down, Hagrid has a little bit of prejudice against Muggles. Not all of them, of course, but ones like Vernon or those who would kind of misuse and abuse the wizard’s gifts to be asking all the time for help.

Meg: I mean, if we’re calling Vernon the “great Muggle,” is he possibly the Muggliest of the Muggles, then?

[Noah laughs]

Meg: And can you measure [laughs] how much of a Muggle someone is? Like, is it a scale from one to ten? Are you only a five on the Muggle scale?

Noah: Well, we already know he can do magic.

[Caleb and Noah laugh]

Caleb: Someone should make a fan art of a Muggle scale.

[Meg laughs]

Caleb: Like, how do you quantify it? I want to see it.

Kat: Perfect. Oh, that sounds great.

[Caleb laughs]

Meg: He only dislikes Muggles like Vernon, and I’d say Vernon is a very Muggle-y Muggle.

Caleb: I agree.

Noah: Ahh, the Muggliest.

Meg: [laughs] He’s the Muggliest of the Muggles. The Muggliest. But if Hagrid were to meet the Prime Minister, who we know gets along fairly well with the wizarding world, do you think he’d be okay with that guy?

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: Yeah, more so, I think. Yeah.

Caleb: Yeah, definitely more likely. Yeah.

Meg: Okay.

Noah: Maybe more so parents of Muggle-borns…

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: …with witches or wizards, who are more apt to accept the community.

Kat: Like Hermione’s parents, yeah.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: And what about Squibs? Where do they rank on the scale? Do they have – I know they can’t do magic, but maybe they have some slight minute affinity to it or something, or maybe some extra sense. Maybe they can see where the Leaky Cauldron is.

Kat: Well, I think they can sense magic or they can see magic, because…

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: Again, Mrs. Figg can see things from Book 5.

Meg: Do you think some Muggles have the same affinity as a Squib? I hate to say this, but people you call to have your fortunes read.

[Caleb laughs]

Meg: Like the 1-800 hotline.

[Noah laughs]

Meg: Are they a number two on the Muggle scale? I’m trying to think. Do Muggles have wizarding tendencies, while wizards have Muggle tendencies?

Noah: Meg, I hate to tell you but a lot of that is fake, I’m pretty sure.

[Meg and Noah laugh]

Noah: But I think that’s an interesting point.

Meg: [laughs] There’s one out there.

Kat: She is not ever going to take Trelawney’s class, obviously.

[Noah laughs]

Meg: I’ll just call the 1-800 hotline to do my finals.

[Caleb laughs]

Kat: Perfect. There you go.

Noah: I think definitely some Muggles have this extra sense, and maybe this accounts for some of the abnormal stuff and the sensations – no, actually I would say in the Harry Potter universe, if we were talking about it for real, I would say that all those fake hotlines and those people who can you read your fortune and talk to dead people, they’re probably wizards and witches infesting the Muggle world and making a lot of money because of it.

Meg: Hmm.

Kat: So, John Edwards is a wizard?

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: If Harry Potter was real.

[Meg laughs]

Kat: Okay.

Noah: And he can just talk to…

Kat: Well, obviously he’s not real.

Caleb: Right, right, right.

Meg: Wait, he’s not real? No one told me this.

Noah: He can talk to all of your dead relatives because he’s made portraits of them.

[Caleb and Meg laugh]

Kat: Special visiting privileges to Hogwarts, to go into Dumbledore’s office. Is that what you’re saying?

Noah: Only for Hagrid.

Kat: Oh okay. Tangent! Okay, moving on.

[Meg laughs]

Caleb: So, after we have this conversation with Hagrid and Harry, they start off on their journey. They’re heading toward London. And even though he’s realized that it’s not a dream, Harry is still somewhat doubting magic. But there is this really great quote that I caught this time. It says, “He couldn’t help trusting him,” “him” being Hagrid, and I think this really starts to set up the sense of trust that Harry carries throughout the series with Hagrid. Despite him appearing and acting rather reckless, which is how many others view him in the series – oftentimes rightly so – though he has these lingering doubts, Harry is trusting Hagrid with this story.

Noah: I thought this was a – I mean, do we really want kids following and trusting big large men who are hairy and have weird things in their pockets? I know it’s a fantasy series, but there is this element of – he is probably fifty, Harry is like ten…

Kat: Eleven.

Noah: My apologies, eleven. And looking at this objectively, it is a little weird that we have this kid – of course he’s going to trust him because he’s Hagrid and he’s trusting and he’s a wizard and he has magical powers, but there’s a little weirdness here for me. [laughs] Reading it now as a 21-year-old, I wouldn’t want my kid going off by himself with this big guy. Of course I’d be dead because Harry’s parents are dead. But – you know what I’m saying? [laughs]

Kat: Yeah. Well, I mean I think for Harry, Hagrid is the real first magical thing that he encounters and so I guess – what I mean to say is he’s the only thing, at least in the start, really grounding him to the wizarding world, and to not believe and trust Hagrid would mean that he doesn’t believe or trust in magic, and he has kind of wholeheartedly jumped head first into that. So, I feel like they are synonomous with one another for Harry.

Noah: And kids just of course are trusting.

Meg: Yeah. You mean, I find it odd though – and this again goes straight to her writing – that we’re encouraging straight from an abusive household that you go with the first stranger who gives you a sense of support.

Noah: Yes.

Meg: I mean, it’s just interesting that that’s the metaphor she’s giving us right now.

Noah: And of course we don’t even think about the implications of this kid going off with some random dude. Big dude. [laughs]

Meg: Yeah.

Noah: Because of the way she has written it.

Meg: Exactly. I mean, she writes it in a way that we have a lot of trust in Hagrid. But again, if this was in another medium – say we look at the film – with a different point of view, we’d see a young boy go from an abusive relationship, guy bursts into his house, tells him, “You’re special. You’re great. I’ll take care of you,” and immediately goes with him. It’s very interesting.

Noah: And abuses his stepbrother who he hates.

Meg: Yes, exactly. So, you get out of an abusive relationship, you go with the first guy who hurts the people who are abusing you.

Noah: Yes.

Meg: Again, you can ask yourself, “What if the Malfoys were the first person there and just killed all the Dursleys? Would he have gone with them then?”

Noah: And then he would have been in Slytherin.

Meg: And then he would have been in Slytherin. Different book series. Part 2.

Noah: Fan fiction. Go there.

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: We’re giving so many great lead-ins to fan fiction.

Kat: Oh yeah, we are.

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: We love them. We love them so much. You can do so much there.

[Caleb and Meg laugh]

Caleb: All right, so finally we get into part of the wizarding ground. We get into this weird place of limbo, the Leaky Cauldron, that the Muggles seem to pass by. And Hagrid and Harry slip in, and we meet all these people who are of course in the know of Harry and are just dying to meet him. And we finally meet Professor Quirrell.

Noah: [imitating Quirrell] Q-q-q-quirrell?

Caleb: There’s a lot more time – say what?

Noah: [imitating Quirrell] Q-q-q-quirrell?

Caleb: [imitating Quirrell] Ri-ri-right. [back to normal voice] There is a lot of time spent characterizing him, and I didn’t catch it the first time I read it, I realize now, but I obviously did now. Did you find him suspicious the first time you read it, given that there is so much time spent on him compared to Doris Crockford?

Kat: No, not suspicious. I think that he was focused on because he is a part of Hogwarts. But I did wonder afterwards, reading it this time around, if he was already possessed by Voldemort. Do we know when that happened?

Noah: I think we know that.

Meg: I think – yeah.

Noah: It was when he did his travel.

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: So, previous to this?

Meg: Yeah.

Kat: The previous summer or whatever. Okay.

Noah: When he had that unfortunate encounter with the hag and the vampires, which probably didn’t happen. It was probably just Voldemort messing with his soul and stuff. [laughs] But I just thought it was really interesting the very first room Harry enters where there are witches and wizards praising him. Voldemort is there! [laughs] In the very first room. How crazy is that?

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Think about that. So, Jo is tying this whole thing from the very beginning. And of course we’re not going to suspect Professor Q-q-q-quirrell because he is the most harmless looking guy on the planet.

Caleb: Yeah. And then we get to – we get a little bit more – we finally get into Diagon Alley. After Harry gets a glimpse of all the amazing shops, he finally gets to Gringotts and he gets to his vault and is so wealthy, has all of this money. We know from a 2000 interview with AOL that James has wealth from his family. Most of their time before they died was spent in hiding, and they died at the age of 21 so they didn’t have much time to build up any other money. So, do we think that the wealth is just an easy-out for Rowling to make sure that Harry has money whenever he gets to the wizarding world since he really doesn’t have any other way to have a source of money?

Kat: Yeah, I think definitely, especially knowing the way that Jo grew up herself. I feel like if she hadn’t made Harry defeated and bullied and beaten down for so many years, and on top of it he couldn’t buy any of his books to go to this wonderful magical school…

Noah: Yeah, throw the kid some nuts.

Kat: Yeah, exactly, I mean, I think she did this just to make it a little easier for Harry, otherwise how would he get there? Vernon wasn’t going to pay for it.

Noah: It also sets him up quite comfortably for a seven-book series.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: That’s true.

Noah: He does not have to get money any time soon.

Kat: I think, too, it also truly makes him more empathetic and understanding towards other characters in the book because in a way, he grew up having nothing, so he understands that and he doesn’t take the money for granted.

Noah: That’s very true.

Caleb: Absolutely.

Noah: Whose vault is 713?

Caleb: Hmm.

Kat: I don’t know. They visit that together, and – I don’t know. Do we know?

Caleb: That’s such a mystery. I love that. The first time I read it I was so intrigued about what was going on there. I found that part just written – it was written so well to really keep you guessing.

Noah: And little did we know, we figured it out, it was just a cardboard bag. That’s it, it was just a paper bag and Hagrid was bringing this special paper bag to Dumbledore.

Kat: Do we think that maybe that’s a Hogwarts vault or something? Like a special shared vault?

Caleb: No, I don’t think it’s Hogwarts’, I think it’s Dumbledore’s.

Kat: Do you think so?

Meg: Is it the headmaster vault? Do the headmasters have their own vault, that they can pass on relics to the next one?

Caleb: I don’t think Dumbledore would trust that in anything that wasn’t completely his, given what we know it is.

Noah: Only Hagrid has the access to his secret vault.

Caleb: Right.

Meg: Right. But that’s through the letter, so what could the letter have said to let him into the vault?

Noah: Ooh. That’s right.

Meg: [unintelligible] …this is Hagrid.

Caleb: That makes me think something else.

Noah: Oh wait, was it a letter…

Caleb: Obviously in the Muggle world, we have this worry of forgery, but how would that not have been a suspicion, you know?

Noah: But guys, what if the letter wasn’t from Dumbledore? What if it was from Nicolas Flamel?

Kat: Doesn’t it say in the book it’s from Dumbledore?

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Well, it’s from Dumbledore but it doesn’t necessarily say that the note was written by Dumbledore.

Caleb: Yeah, that’s true.

Noah: Or maybe both of them signed it. Maybe it was written together.

Kat: It says, “I’ve also got a letter here from Professor Dumbledore.”

Noah: Right, but I wouldn’t be surprised – you know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t be surprised if they both contributed a signature to it, that it was also from Nicolas Flamel to some degree. Because obviously Dumbledore and Flamel are in agreement as to how the Stone is going to be treated at every stage of the process, right?

Caleb: Yeah maybe, but then again, that would have also clued the goblins into what is in there, and even though I don’t think there’s a worry of the goblins turning it over…

Noah: Oh.

Caleb: …I don’t think Dumbledore wants the goblins to have any inkling of what’s in there.

Kat: They are pretty greedy, yeah.

Noah: That’s an excellent point. Excellent point. I concede. [laughs]

Meg: Speaking of things to think about, when I was reading through this again, I noticed that Hagrid says that there’s only one wizarding bank and that’s Gringotts. Does this mean that Beauxbatons and Durmstrang are using it as well, [laughs] and isn’t it a little inconvenient to put it in London, then?

Noah: And the goblin…

Caleb: It’s a monopoly. [laughs]

Noah: Oh, it definitely is.

Caleb: It’s a monopoly on the financial sector of the wizarding world.

Meg: Do you think that…

Noah: There must be wizard banks in other countries. That would be ridiculous if it was only in London. That’s silly.

Meg: Because that puts so much preference on the London wizards and witches, and kind of downplays everyone else. You have to come to me for your money. It’s the British Empire all over again.

Caleb: Well, yeah – well, that’s actually a really good point, with the British Empire. But I think we can assume there are other branches, because we know that – is it Charlie that works for – I can’t remember.

Meg: Oh right.

Caleb: Yeah, he’s working with the bank in Egypt or something like that.

Meg: Right, yeah. No, completely forgot about that.

Caleb: So, I think there are definitely branches, but I still think it’s an important point to bring up that Gringotts is the only bank that we ever really know about.

Meg: It’s the mothership of everywhere else.

Noah: You would think that the goblins rule the banks, as a way of – what’s the word? Appeasing them, of witches and wizards appeasing them, of them not having magic wands or being able to be bit higher in society. So, they say, “Okay, you can work the Gringotts bank, and then you can be in control of all of our resources even though you are politically marginalized.”

Kat: Yeah, I wonder how they came to that post. That’s true.

Noah: Because they seem pretty proud of it, but at the same time, we know they can’t have wands, they can’t do certain things that witches and wizards can. Yet they still have magic, it would seem. Some of them.

Kat: I bet they were put in charge of it because they have such a history of jewels and riches, and kind of being proud and responsible with that stuff.

Meg: The expertise is there, so put them in charge.

Kat: Right.

Caleb: Harry moves farther into Diagon Alley and he’s starting to get his robes. And we get this meeting with Draco Malfoy, the first – I guess really his first peer of Hogwarts he meets, and I think it immediately sets up this protagonist/antagonist dynamic of Hogwarts. And I thought about the fact that Harry grows up with Muggles, not aware of this idea of wizarding superiority that Draco mentions, so it stops him from buying into Draco’s beliefs, possibly. Otherwise – I thought about – why wouldn’t Harry think along the same lines?

Kat: Or is Draco just being force-fed this information by his parents? Is he truly thinking independently?

Noah: I feel as if Harry is – we know that by nature he’s kind of this good guy and he just has a moral compass, so I’m not surprised that he didn’t go along with Draco at all. And obviously Draco’s raising contributes a huge amount to the character he became, but – I wasn’t surprised by that.

Meg: See, I am actually surprised that Harry didn’t try to fit in more with Draco. I think him meeting Hagrid first has a lot to do with it.

Noah: True.

Meg: Because Hagrid is the first person who says, “Look, these were your parents. They were great. I knew your parents,” so Harry aligns himself with that. But Draco is someone his own age, and the first instinct – you’re eleven years old, you want to make friends in this new world. Weaker wizards would go along with Draco.

Caleb: Yeah, I think that’s really important, the fact that it’s Hagrid that he meets first. I think that has a lot to do with imprinting on Harry. Yeah, I kind of wonder what would have happened if he wouldn’t have – well, I guess he had to meet Hagrid first. So yeah, I guess that’s the…

Meg: I brought it up earlier, what if the Malfoys had been there first…

Caleb: Yeah.

Meg: …and had actually been nice? Would we have a completely different series where Harry is a Slytherin and goes off and kills all the Mudbloods?

Noah: That’s a great point.

Kat: Alternate universe, absolutely.

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: I did notice something at the bottom of page 77. We get our first look at the Hufflepuffs, and I have to say that Jo sets them up right from the beginning as being a really awful place to be. And quite honestly before Pottermore, I thought myself to be a Hufflepuff, but now I have embraced my Ravenclaw nature. Why is she doing this? Why is she setting them up to fail right from the start?

Meg: I don’t know, but as a Hufflepuff I’m really offended over here. [laughs]

Caleb: Yeah, I have to agree. I’m not a Hufflepuff but I agree that she does sort of set them up to fail later on. [laughs] It’s really unfortunate.

Meg: It’s basically the derp house. It’s pretty much the derp house.

Caleb: Hmm.

Kat: I mean, they do say that they take the rest, but that doesn’t mean that they’re awful. It doesn’t mean that they’re bad people or they’re stupid or…

Caleb: Yeah, and I think that’s something we’re definitely going to be able to jump into a lot, especially when we hear that first Sorting Hat song. Oh, I’m so excited for that.

Kat: That will be great.

Meg: I mean, I guess it’s another redemption thing that could happen. We have Tonks later on who is a really strong Hufflepuff. So, we have everyone else redeeming themselves. Why don’t we just redeem the whole house of Hufflepuff?

Kat: That will be one of our goals, how about that?

Caleb: Yes, I buy into that.

Meg: I can work for that.

Caleb: [laughs] And sort of the last big thing we get in this chapter is the meeting with Ollivander. We’re going to talk about wands a little later, but one thing I want to bring up in the context of this story is wand magic. I love it so much the way J.K. is so detailed with it, and it’s something even more elusive and enigmatic than normal magic. It’s very clear that the tie between Harry and Voldemort’s wand is going to be really important. Do we think Ollivander is more fascinated about the power a wand can exhibit when he’s talking about what Voldemort’s wand was able to do than if it is used for good or evil? Are those who work with wands so wrapped up in the mysterious magic of them that they are removed from these absolutes?

Noah: I think that’s exactly right, because remember that line when Ollivander is sending Harry off. “Voldemort did great things, terrible but great.” And as we know, when Harry first sees Ollivander, he’s kind of spooked a little bit because there’s something a little off about Ollivander. And I agree with you, Caleb. I see him as this person who just sees power and possibilities and maybe doesn’t really consider good or evil because, let’s face it, his family has been making wands for centuries. And he’s seen rises and falls but the things that remain are these shifts in power, and that’s probably more interesting for him.

Kat: And I think that maybe he isn’t exactly – I mean, do we know that he’s powerful? Maybe he’s a power seeker, and that’s why…

Noah: No, he’s a power seeker. That’s what I’m saying. Like, he watches and he’s an observer.

Kat: And he wants it for himself, but I don’t think he’ll ever be able to…

Noah: No, no, not Ollivander. You think Ollivander?

Kat: You don’t think so?

Noah: No, no, not at all. I think he’s just…

Kat: I think he’s in awe of power.

Noah: He’s in awe of it, exactly.

Caleb: Well, I think he finds glory in being the influencer or the starter of power.

Noah: Oh yeah, absolutely. That might even be why he suggested this wand with the same core because maybe he – or on the other hand, maybe he wanted to protect Harry and he knew something about this Priori Incantatem, and wanted to protect Harry later on. But if he didn’t know about it, maybe he just wanted to see what kind of crazy stuff would happen if these two wands were to battle.

Meg: I think that Ollivander is kind of working – again, going back to other literature, but he’s the Tiresias from Oedipus here. He’s kind of giving the prophecy that these two wands are going to have a showdown…

Noah: Tiresias, yeah.

Meg: …and it’s self-fulfilling – yeah. And he’s basically giving you, ‘You’re going to have a showdown,’ and Harry has this mentality from the first minute he gets his wand that, ‘Oh, this wand is a brother and I’m going to offset it.’ So, he’s setting them up for the final battle right now.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Brilliant connection. And Tiresias is blind, and we can say he’s also kind of the ultimate observer and…

Caleb: He is.

Noah: …he kind of plays a separate part, and Ollivander by the same token is just…

Meg: Acts the same way.

Noah: Yeah.

Caleb: Oh man, I love this analogy more and more. I love it. Yeah, he’s totally the Tiresias.

Kat Absolutely.

Noah: And just like Tiresias, he gives the prophecy and then lets the characters do what they want with it, and this actually spins them out of control and makes them actually [laughs] act in favor of the prophecy, even at their own peril. So, maybe he’s…

Meg: Exactly.

Noah: So, he’s doing this to Harry and talking about the story because he just wants to see all the crazy stuff that will happen. He’s just – he’s completely in awe, and maybe that sort of goes against him in the seventh book when Voldemort just kind of grabs him behind the scenes and just, “What’s going on?! Why?!”

Meg: You’re not supposed to interact with the person observing all of this, and he’s actually just dragged into it.

Caleb: Yup.

Noah: Voldemort rebels on every level of the literary stage, let’s face it.

[Caleb and Meg laugh]

Noah: No literary morals, this man.

Meg: Doesn’t respect the function!

Noah: Yeah.

Meg: Ahh!

Kat: So, I was wondering about – there’s a line here that says he remembers every wand he’s ever sold. How is that possible? Does he just have a fabulous memory?

Caleb: I don’t know, but I want it for when I go back to school. Like geez.

[Meg laughs]

Noah: Well, we’ve said it.

Kat: Does he O.D. on memory charms?

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Witches and wizards have excellent memories, I’m telling you. Slightly better then humans.

Caleb: Maybe it’s just that intrinsic ability that comes with…

Kat: Wandlore?

Caleb: Working with wands, yeah. And you think about anything in literature, those characters that work in some way with prophecy or something like that, they usually are just – they have that capacity.

Noah: And keep in mind that Ollivander has grown up with this all his life because it’s part of his family, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s just – he’s gone over these facts over and over and over in his head compulsively. And also the way he chooses what wands – or the way he tries to select which wand will go for each young witch or wizard, is based very much on the personality of those characters. So, I bet he has a heuristic for certain wizard families and he can just snap to it really quickly. And maybe all the Malfoys have a certain kind of thing with their wands, like dragon heartstrings or – you know what I’m saying? So, he can instantly do that. That’s why he can see Harry and remember the parents and the qualities that he sees reflected in the child, and then sort of know pretty much what wand they had and then it snaps because he has an excellent memory as well.

Kat: Hmm. That makes sense.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: I was actually very proud of that.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Good job! Round of applause for Noah.

Noah: I’m doing enough for myself, don’t worry.

Kat: Oh okay.

[Meg laughs]

Kat: So, that’s the end of Chapter 5.

Noah: [in a bad British accent] Chapter Six: “The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters”. This entire thing will be in a British accent. [back to normal voice] Anyway, so it all starts – Hagrid at the end of the day in Diagon Alley tells Harry, “All right, why don’t you just go back to the Dursleys, just wait for your – here’s your ticket. I’m not going to tell you anything about how you can board the train, but I’m sure you’re going to be fine because you’re eleven.”

[Meg and Noah laugh]

Noah: So, Harry is waiting there for a month and during this entire month, Dudley remains with his tail and is actually scared at the sight of Harry. He shrieks. And the Dursleys are actually very cold to him because ever since this thing happened, they literally hate him. They’re ready – waiting for him to go, and Harry remarks that it’s better than it was before. They’re not making him do horrible things. But at the same time, it’s kind of cold and distant and he wishes he had some connection. So, there’s this one scene on page 89 – it’s the first page or the second page. But Harry comes in because he has to talk with Vernon about going to the train station, and Dudley actually has a panic attack and just runs out of the room shrieking. Now, when I first read this – this is of course in reference to the tail and it’s hilarious, but I just couldn’t help wondering, what is the extent of the psychological damage that Dudley has suffered for this entire past month that he can’t – he’s not even speaking and maybe – to what degree do we think it played a role in his further years of beating on Harry? I know he was already in that mentality, but it continued. And then in the fifth book when Harry saved him, I think this was the beginning of that grand misconception that Dudley had of Harry, was that Harry was out to get him, that the magical world was out to get him, and that he had to violently protect himself. What do you think?

Kat: I think if someone magicked a tail onto you, you might have some damage from it. I mean, yeah.

Noah: It’s terrible. Try to imagine sitting on your butts right now, there’s a tail there.

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: You weren’t even a part of this. It was just your parents being really mean. You don’t even know what magic is because – let’s be honest here, Dudley had no idea what the heck was going on as much as Petunia and [Vernon] did. He just thought something exciting was happening and now he suddenly has this tail attached to him. He was this unfortunate victim and maybe I’m a little too sympathetic to these Dursleys.

Meg: Well I mean, if you were Dudley’s age – I mean, you would not forget that and you would hold that childlike – well, maybe not childlike – but you would hold that grudge for the rest of your life.

Noah: Easily.

Meg: That’d be part of your being, like, “Do you remember that one time you zapped a pig tail onto me?”

[Kat laughs]

Meg: You’re going to tell that to people. It becomes part of who he is and I’d say that hatred for the magical world – it could have been the opposite way, but it’s there now.

Noah: I mean, he’s scarred for life. Literally! [laughs]

Meg: I mean, if someone did that to me, I’d pretty much hate them. I’m not going to lie.

Noah: And hate their entire world, and he had no idea that it was even possible.

Meg: His worst nightmare just came true. Things he thought he could only dream about just happened to him and he is like, “I don’t know what to do now.”

Kat: Well, he was partway to being a pig and he eats a lot of food anyway, so why is that his worst nightmare?

Meg: [laughs] Well, there is that whole thing about pork chops and bacon I’m sure he’s not too fond of.

Kat: Yeah.

Noah: You guys are so cruel to Dudley. He is just a fat kid. Do you not like fat kids?

[Meg and Noah laugh]

Caleb: He goes back to his bullying ways. I think he’ll be fine.

Noah: Yeah, yeah. I need to hate him, but I just can’t. So anyway, Harry manages to get to King’s Cross Station after he tells the Dursleys that he has to be dropped off at Platform Nine and Three Quarters, [laughs] so Vernon is like, “Oh sweet! This is a great – this is awesome!” So, he drives Harry, he picks up his school luggage, brings it to platform nine and ten, and then says, “See ya, Harry! Have a great semester!” or whatever.

[Kat laughs]

Noah: And then the car…

Meg: Could you imagine if the train didn’t exist and Harry was just left there for an indefinite amount of time to starve to death on the streets of London.

Noah: They literally – but that’s true. That’s probably what they thought to a degree.

Meg: Oh my God!

Noah: They let him – he could have starved to death. So, we can hate the Dursleys now. I fully give everyone permission to do that because they’re laughing in the car.

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: We can objectively say that.

Meg: Yay!

Noah: But terrible. Anyway, there is a bubbling family coming by with red hair. You guys all know them. They’re famous in the fandom. You guessed it. Caleb?

Kat: The Weasleys!

Caleb: Oh, Weasleys.

Noah: The Weasleys. [laughs] And Molly is going on about how [imitating Molly in a high pitched voice] “What’s the platform, kids?” [imitating Ginny] “Platform Nine and Three Quarters!”

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: And of course it’s perfect for us.

Meg: Your accent is so authentic, Noah.

Kat: Very good Molly.

Caleb: It’s my favorite part of the show.

Kat: That was very good. That’s right.

Noah: I was a British woman for a few years in London. Anyway…

[Kat and Meg laugh]

Noah: So anyway, Harry kindly wanders over and he asks [imitating Harry in a timid voice] “How do you get onto the platform?” [imitating Molly in a high pitched voice] “Oh, you want to know how to get onto the platform? It’s very easy.” [back to normal voice] And she leads him through and I was just wondering, let’s take a spot here. How do you think the magic door works? We know Muggles can’t see it, but how is it that nobody realizes on this day when maybe two-hundred kids from London come into this one station with owls and toads and various other things? I mean, is it – do you think that there is some sort of invisibility charm at work? I know that’s not quite possible – full invisibility isn’t possible, as we know – but a disillusionment charm to some degree. What do you think? Or maybe it’s like with the Leaky Cauldron, that you can’t really sense it’s there so you just kind of, for some reason, want to look away. What do you think?

Caleb: Yeah, I was actually thinking the same thing about the Leaky Cauldron, and I think that there has to be – I think that there definitely is a disillusionment charm, but that can’t be the only thing because as we see in Book 2, there’s more to some sort of opening and closing the barrier whenever you don’t make it in time. So, there’s definitely something there.

Kat: I think that they rely heavily on Muggles just not paying attention and not seeing. You know, it’s a crowded train station – I feel like somebody has got to notice, but maybe they don’t. But…

Meg: They think it’s a trick of the light or something.

Kat: Maybe.

Caleb: Hmm.

Kat: I did wonder though, what would happen if a Muggle were to lean against the wall? Like if you…

Noah: I doubt…

Kat: Some people lean against the wall to tie their shoe. Are they going to fall through?

Noah: I think you have to know that there is some sort of passageway there to go through. I can’t think of a…

Kat: You think so?

Noah: Yeah, I feel like there are a few times – maybe in the Harry Potter series where this is – or maybe in a different series – where you have to know that the magic is there before it will work.

Meg: Is every wizard a Secret Keeper for the nine and three-quarters platform?

Noah: Ooh! Yeah, what if it’s a variation of the Fidelius Charm?

Kat: And their ticket tells them where it is.

Noah: Yeah!

Meg: Exactly.

Caleb: I think so because when Molly is telling them to get through she’s pretty keen on, “You have to be confident that you’ll get through and not worried about crashing in.”

Noah: Guys, yeah!

Caleb: So, I think you have to think that – you have to know about it.

Noah: You have to know about it. It’s the Fidelius Charm. Brilliant, Meg! Oh wow. Mind blown. You guys…

Caleb: At least some variation of it, yeah.

Meg: Yeah, I’d agree it’s a variation.

Kat: Oh yeah, absolutely. Hands down. Nailed it on the head.

Caleb: Also one thing, just thinking about this that I found really strange was that when the Weasleys are first walking up, Molly asks, “What’s the number again?” and then Ginny tells her it’s nine and three-quarters. Shouldn’t Molly know?

Noah: That’s what I’m saying, I think…

Kat: Yeah, you’d think she’d have it memorized by now. Yeah.

Caleb: Which made me think, maybe when Molly and Arthur were in school it was a different means of getting in, or is this an oversight? I don’t know.

Noah: No, but going with our theory before, this is…

Meg: Or is she saying it to make the kids remember it?

Noah: Remember it. Or know it.

Caleb: Hmm.

Meg: Or already ingrain it in Ginny so when Ginny gets here she’s already a Secret Keeper.

Noah: Exactly!

Meg: Because Ginny gets through the – to the platform and she doesn’t have a ticket.

Noah: She has to know about it.

Meg: So, did she just make Ginny a Secret Keeper?

Noah: You see, Caleb?

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: Huh.

Noah: Potentially a brilliant move. And we’re using this podcast – we’re finding the fundamentals of magic at the smallest level. Harry meets Ron, they sit together on the carriage on the Hogwarts Express as it starts to go, and the trolley comes by. [in a high-pitched voice] “Anything from the trolley, dear?” [back to normal voice] And Ron, of course – he has only his sandwiches and says to Harry, “Oh, I’ve just got these. Don’t worry about it.” And Harry has never had money in his whole life. He does his one thing, “I’ll take the lot!” and he literally does have a variety of pumpkin pasties and Chocolate Frogs – and we know that the Chocolate Frogs move, we know that on these wizard cards – we’re going to see more of this but there’s a sentient life within these things. So, this is kind of one of those big questions about the series: when you magic something and you make it kind of move and do stuff, are you imbuing life on something? Like, are you creating a sentient being who can choose where they’re going to go or what they’re going to do? Do they have thoughts? Or are you – maybe the same can go for wands too, if the wand choses the wizard. Are they maybe copying life, in a way, that already exists? Or are they creating life? Which is absurd and sort of has crazy implications.

Kat: I think they’re making some sort of impression of life, like the portraits in a way.

Noah: Yeah, yeah.

Kat: They’re not creating it, but they’re not…

Meg: It’s the ultimate form of life, really.

Kat: Yeah. It’s just like the Geminio charm that we see Hermione do in the last book. She’s copying something that already exists and making it something of its own.

Noah: Well, what if – this is a thought that came to me kind of crazily – you know that when you take a photograph, you’re taking a picture of the physical form. But let’s say there’s a way of taking a photograph in the magical world and this takes a photograph, or as you said, Kat, an impression of everything about that character so you get a copy that is – it’s not life but it is some kind of photograph-esque copy of that character letting them do stuff that was implied of the object of that picture in that moment. Do you know what I’m trying to say?

Meg: Like it catches the emotion of the time when the picture was taken. It’s not just a photograph of physical…

Noah: Emotional.

Meg: …but emotional…

Noah: Yeah.

Meg: …and everything else.

Kat: Like you’re taking a slice out of that person and putting it in there.

Noah: Yeah. That would explain…

Kat: Thoughts, feelings, actions, everything.

Noah: Exactly. Somehow this magic photograph senses that. And that would also go, I guess, for the portraits in Hogwarts, you know? There’s some kind of very deep impression that it creates some character that doesn’t really change very easily. It won’t grow any, but it’s not sentient. Or it’s not completely new.

Kat: So, do you think when they leave the card, they go to another card? I mean, where do they go?

Noah: Yeah, where do they go? That was another great question. [laughs]

Meg: Is there a world for portraits and pictures?

Caleb: I don’t know, but – I mean, brother’s got to take a nap, so I’m sure…

[Kat and Meg laugh]

Noah: No, but we know that…

Caleb: …he’s going to find somewhere to crash.

Noah: That’s funny. We know that…

Meg: Tough life to be a card.

Noah: With the Hogwarts portraits, they can go into each other’s portraits. Like the Fat Lady in Prisoner of Azkaban. She goes to a different portrait.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: So, there is some parallel universe of magical portraits everywhere. It’s like – have you ever seen Chalkzone? It was a TV show on Nickelodeon.

Meg: Oh my God, Chalkzone.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: Meg, have they – has Jo created a magical Chalkzone?

[Kat laughs]

Meg: So, every picture that’s ever taken, and every painting no matter what, they can all talk and hang out and go on crazy adventures.

Noah: Yeah.

Meg: Okay, so another thing I was noticing about the cards though is that we know a lot of the witches and wizards, like as the audience we know Morgana, Merlin, all them lovely people, Ptolemy. And do you think in the HP timeline that perhaps the Muggles, they tell stories about Dumbledore and eventually Harry Potter? We, as Muggles, know the witches and wizards that are mentioned by Ron when he is saying all the cards he has and doesn’t have.

Kat: Okay.

Meg: They’re known alchemists in the Muggle world, like I’ve read about them in history books and story books. Do you think people – Muggles in the HP timeline know about Dumbledore, but obviously as a folktale or something along those lines?

Kat: That’s an interesting thought. I mean, I would hope so. He’s a pretty great guy.

Meg: Yeah.

Caleb: I definitely think so. We’re seeing these characters – like you brought up Morgana and Merlin. I definitely would like to think that story is going to transcend just the wizarding world. He’s going to be a legend, some way for the Muggles.

Meg: Yeah. It’s just interesting to see how they parallel so much, like that the wizarding world influences the Muggle world. I’m kind of interested to see how the Muggle world influences the wizarding world, if it’s the same way. Do you have folk stories about these great Muggles?

Kat: Yeah. I mean, I guess that’s why they teach Muggle Studies at Hogwarts, right?

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: Yeah.

Caleb: It’s just – it may not be as appreciated by some as others.

Kat: Right. Well, great. There’s the end of our Chapter 6 discussion today. I think that was really great, guys. Some good stuff brought up.

Caleb: Definitely.

Kat: I’m excited to hear what the fans think, so if you have a comment on anything we said or a question to ask us, head on over to

Caleb: So, this week’s Special Feature, we are looking at our special section called “Artifact Inspection,” and we are taking a closer look at wands. So, in Chapter 5 we learn a lot about wands and Ollivander, and we started to talk about it a little earlier but we get even a huge – a greater chunk of information when you dive into Pottermore – which is open to everyone now, so if you haven’t gone on there you need to quickly because there’s so much for us to talk about here. And I think the wand section is probably one of the sections that we learn the most from in Pottermore because we learn so much about wand cores and wand woods. And we thought about talking just about our wands that we have on Pottermore and what we know about some of the characteristics of those wands, and we obviously – Harry’s wand being the most important that we’ve been introduced to so far. We learn from Ollivander giving him the wand that Harry’s wand is holly, 11 inches, phoenix feather, and supple. So, I’m just going to give a quick read of what Pottermore says about this wand wood and wand core:

“Holly is one of the rarer kinds of wand woods; traditionally considered protective, it works most happily for those who may need help overcoming a tendency to anger and impetuosity. At the same time, holly wands often choose owners who are engaged in some dangerous and often spiritual quest. Holly is one of those woods that varies most dramatically in performance depending on the wand core, and it is a notoriously difficult wood to team with phoenix feather, as the wood’s volatility conflicts strangely with the phoenix’s detachment. In the unusual event of such a pairing finding its ideal match, however, nothing and nobody should stand in their way.”


“This is the rarest core type. Phoenix feathers are capable of the greatest range of magic, though they may take longer than either unicorn or dragon cores to reveal this. They show the most initiative, sometimes acting of their own accord, a quality that many witches and wizards dislike. Phoenix feather wands are always the pickiest when it comes to potential owners, for the creature from which they are taken is one of the most independent and detached in the world. These wands are the hardest to tame and to personalize, and their allegiance is usually hard won.”

There is a lot.

Kat: Yeah, it is and I think it’s great. I think the wand is – I mean, it screams Harry Potter. [laughs]

Caleb: Yes.

Kat: Even just what we know about him at this point, which is so little. But isn’t it odd – knowing this about phoenixes, reading that they’re the most independent and detached creatures in the world – that we find out later that Fawkes is so faithful and attached to Dumbledore?

Noah: Well – actually, I’m glad you asked that, Kat.

Caleb: Yeah. I mean, I think it just serves to magnify Dumbledore’s power even more, that such as an independent creature is so fiercely aligned to him.

Noah: But isn’t that just like Dumbledore? Isn’t he one of the most independent people in the world, Dumbledore? So, it would make sense that they would co-align very nicely.

Kat: I think it’s great, too, because the wood really speaks of Harry’s parents and his life journey thus far. It’s protective, it has owners that have a tendency towards anger, which we see very briefly in the first book but obviously much more later on, and how the owner must be on some kind of spiritual quest, which again Harry is obviously on, even at this point.

Meg: So, the wand has kind of set him up for the rest of the series. If he had possibly gotten another wand, I don’t think he would have acted the same way he has. It plays a lot into his personality.

Noah: Absolutely.

Kat: And I think it’s great the comment where it says that phoenix feathers as the core “show the most initiative, sometimes acting of their own accord.”

Noah: Yeah, if you’re interested about wands, there’s a section on MuggleNet called Level Nine which we’ve had for many years, and it’s just basically sort of discussing different elements of the series like the biggest mysteries, what is left unexplained. And I actually wrote a little bit about Horcruxes there and wands, and some other members of the site years ago wrote about prophecies and time-travel. It’s really interesting. And I’d like to continue this discusssion on Alohomora!, so go over to that section and have some fun on the forums, especially considering this conversation.

Kat: So, I ended up with a wand made of laurel. It is 14 1/2 inches long with a unicorn hair core, and is supple. And I wanted to comment on the length and flexibility because we learn quite a bit about this. It says that most wands will be in the range of 9 to 14 inches, and the length doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the height or the stature of a person. So, I was curious…

Noah: The biggest of the individual.

Kat: Right, exactly. So, I was really shocked when I got a wand that was 14 1/2 inches. [laughs]

Noah: Yeah, I guess you’re just really assertive, Kat.

[Caleb and Meg laugh]

Kat: Well, anyone who knows me would agree with that.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Let’s see…

Noah: And unicorn hair speaks to – that’s also the core of my wand. Can we read about that?

Kat: Sure, it says that:

“Unicorn hair generally produces the most consistent magic, and is least subject to fluctuations and blockages. Wands with unicorn cores are generally the most difficult to turn to the Dark Arts. They are the most faithful of all wands, and usually remain strongly attached to their first owner, irrespective of whether he or she was an accomplished witch or wizard. Minor disadvantages of unicorn hair are that they do not make the most powerful wands (although the wand wood may compensate) and that they are prone to melancholy if seriously mishandled, meaning that the hair may ‘die’ and need replacing.”

Noah: I think that’s so cool. I especially like the fact that the woods can go with the various core, and together they produce some effect.

Caleb: Yup.

Noah: That is very complex and very cool.

Kat: Yeah, and my wood, the laurel – to sum it up, it says that it’s unable to perform a dishonorable act, so I think that that really goes well with…

Caleb: With your unicorn hair.

Kat: With my unicorn hair, yeah. Absolutely. I felt like it was definitely…

Caleb: I feel this fits you really well.

Kat: Yeah, I do too, actually. Yeah.

Meg: Really complimentary.

Kat: I completely agree. Thank you.

Noah: So, I guess we’ve got to give it to Pottermore for creating such a…

Caleb: For sure.

Noah: With a simple task of creating…

Caleb: Mhm.

Noah: …a pretty accurate wand, a pretty accurate Ollivander shop. And that’s saying something. That’s pretty cool.

Caleb: Well…

Kat: So Caleb, what’s your wand?

Caleb: Yeah, I must say, I love my wand so much. Pottermore got me way too excited about this.

[Kat laughs]

Caleb: So, mine is 13 inches, ebony, dragon heartstring, and reasonably supple. I really like both of them, and I feel that they fit me really well. Ebony, basically to sum it up, is a very – follows traits of being very individualized and holding true to beliefs, which I think describes me very well. And the dragon heartstring is a wand that learns much more quickly than other types, which I feel really fits me also because I think I catch on to things really well. But I was most interested – it says:

“The dragon wand tends to be easiest to turn to the Dark Arts, though it will not incline that way of its own accord.”

I think it’s really interesting because it kind of tows the line. Yeah, I feel…

Kat: Which so sounds like you, Caleb.

Caleb: I think so. I think I tow the line between maybe not always making the best decisions at times, but I also – it was very funny because the last thing it says about the dragon heartstring is that “the most prone to accidents,” which is so true because I am so clumsy.

[Kat laughs]

Caleb: So, I was like, “This sums me up so well.”

Noah: How tall are you, by the way?

Caleb: 6’4”.

Kat: Holy cow.

Noah: Yeah, I had a sense you’re a big guy.

Kat: Yeah, I knew you were tall. I didn’t know you were that tall.

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: Because one of the questions on the wand test is how big do you find yourself compared to other people, and you probably said you’re taller than most people.

Caleb: Yup.

Noah: And that – yeah, so that contributes a bit.

Kat: Right, but I said “average” and I’m 5’8”, and I mean, my wand is 14 1/2 inches.

Noah: Yeah, but…

Kat: So right there, it proves it has nothing to do with it.

Caleb: Yeah.

Noah: No, it’s a factor. They’re all factors. You’re also crazy assertive, so it compensates.

Caleb: Yup.

Kat: Well, that is true.

[Meg laughs]

Kat: Thank you. [laughs]

Meg: Crazy sort of outweighs…

Kat: Apparently. Everyone is going to think I’m a [censored] now. Thanks, Noah.

[Caleb laughs]

Noah: No, no, it’s…

[Meg laughs]

Noah: Anyway, my wand…

[Everyone laughs]

Noah: Noah’s wand is sycamore wood, unicorn hair – like you, Kat, so we’re pretty much the same. The flexibility of the wand really pretty much counts on the flexibility of the person, so if you are willing to change yourself, or go different ways, or something happens and you can respond quickly, you are more flexible. So, I think I got one of the more flexible…

Kat: So, it is 10 3/4 inches, and it is surprisingly swishy.

Noah: It makes sense, I am surprisingly swishy. But…

[Caleb, Meg, and Noah laugh]

Noah: I was really interested in the sycamore lore because just reading that wood, it completely captures my character:

“The sycamore makes a questing wand, eager for new experience and losing brilliance if engaged in mundane activities. It is a quirk of these handsome wands that they may combust if allowed to become ‘bored,’ and many witches and wizards, settling down into middle age, are disconcerted to find their trusty wand bursting into flame in their hand as they ask it, one more time, to fetch their slippers. As may be deduced, the sycamore’s ideal owner is curious, vital and adventurous, and when paired with such an owner, it demonstrates a capacity to learn and adapt that earns it a rightful place among the world’s most highly-prized wand woods.”

So, this really fits my character because I am often – sometimes I do get bored if I’m just lazing around with my friends, so I do like to go off on adventures and stuff, because I’m that kind of guy. The length sounds about right, I’m of average height. I can be pretty assertive, but not as much as you, Kat.

Kat: Well, yeah. And it does say that it’s a very handsome wand.

[Meg laughs]

Kat: There’s a compliment for you.

Noah: Thank you. I will absorb it.

[Kat laughs]

Noah: So, I really felt like it fit with me. So, I think we can say at the end of the day, Pottermore – for all the hate it might have gotten over the past few months for not having a lot of interface – let’s say the wand test was a hundred percent for me. I give it an A+.

Caleb: Yeah.

Kat: Absolutely. Meg, what was your wand?

Meg: Okay, so this is official, got this today, logged back into Pottermore – I know, it’s very exciting – I am sycamore, with phoenix feather, 13 and 3/4 inches, and slightly springy.

Kat: Oh, so you share a wood with Noah.

Meg: And I share a core with Harry Potter.

Caleb: Ooh, nice.

Meg: So, it’s Noah’s and Harry’s lovechild wand.

Kat: Wow, you should feel so lucky.

[Meg laughs]

Noah: For all your fan fiction needs, you can go to MuggleNet Fan Fiction.

Kat: Well – and they look alike, so that makes sense!

[Everyone laughs]

Meg: Oh my goodness. But I think – again, I find it one hundred percent – I kind of feel like my wand is [censored] at this point because we have the wand that basically likes to rebel against its own owner, and then we have the phoenix feather, which is very independent.

Noah: Oh boy. [laughs]

Meg: And so, I kind of feel like the wand is the master of me at this point. Like it’s a deathly combination, but I’m going to have to work at it to get this thing under control.

Noah: But that’s the great thing, the wand reflects the individual. You have the power to master it, whereas other people might not.

Meg: Awesome. I’m also – again, the height thing. I have 13 3/4 inches. I’m 5’10” and for a chick that’s pretty tall, so I think that’s spot on right.

Noah: So, we can officially say that height is not really a big concern, in terms of your wand length.

Meg: Yeah, it’s all over the place. But like I said, this wand thing, I’m all for it.

Kat: So, I’m excited to hear what the fans have for wands and how they feel they represent their personalities, so go over to the forums. Tell us. Share with us, please.

Noah: And, if you go into Noah’s Nook – don’t worry about the potential phallic imagery that goes into it.

Kat: Oh God.

[Meg laughs]

Noah: Of course, nothing terrible on the site, but there are some kind of penial connections to it. One part of Noah’s Nook – this is, of course, a forum on where you can get a little bit more controversial. It’s still academic, but you can push the envelope a little bit. So, if you want to have that discussion, I’ll be there. And now, it’s time for Noah’s Posed Question of the Week, which I think I’d like to be a continuation of what we were discussing earlier. Now, we know that with wands, Chocolate Frogs, and Chocolate Frog cards, the portraits at Hogwarts – there seems to be all these different ways in which magic creates life, or copies life. We know that with the – let’s consider the portraits in the Hogwarts Headmaster’s office, where you can talk to past headmasters, and they seem to have very much of their character, but they’re dead. So, to what degree can magic create life or copy it, and what are the implications of this? What do we sort of do with this? So, I’d really like to hear what you guys think about it. You’re going to be able to comment on, right on the front page, and we’re going to read your comments on the next episode.

Kat: Great. And we want to thank Meg for being here, and if any of you fans want to be on the show, there are several ways that you can get on the show. The first one is by submitting content on the Alohomora! website. You heard that we read some of the comments from fans today. If you do that, and you comment constantly and create content, we’re going to notice you, and we’ll ask you to be on the show. The second way is you can e-mail a clip to us at alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com of yourself analyzing a part of the Harry Potter series. Please note that you need to have appropriate audio equipment and the ability to record yourself. Get those clips in, we’re eager to hear them.

Noah: And Meg, would you like to do a shout-out to anybody in particular?

Meg: Hi to everyone from Muhlenberg! I miss you guys. Yeah. [laughs]

Caleb: And just as a reminder for you guys, a couple of places you want to find us on the web: our website, Make sure you’re following us on Twitter – our Twitter handle is @AlohomoraMN, so M as in Muggle, N as in Net – and of course on Facebook,, or you can just search Alohomora! And we recently started up a Tumblr site, so make sure to check that out, where you can see a couple of the pictures that people submitted of their books, and some other great things. So, that is We just mentioned our e-mail if you’re wanting to try to get on the show, or anything else, is alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com. Finally, we want to make sure everyone knows that we are officially on iTunes. And thanks to all of you awesome fans for downloading and listening. We are on the homepage of iTunes for the podcast in the iTunes store. That is not an easy feat to accomplish, and that is because so many of you have been so great in downloading our show. And we just ask that you keep on doing that, making sure you update the podcast, listen to our new shows, and reviewing us and rating us. We appreciate it so much. We cannot be out here without you. It is because of you and for you that we are doing this.

Kat: Woo! Thank you!

Caleb: So, thank you so much. That pretty much wraps up everything that we have for this show. So, until our next show, I’m Caleb.

[Show music begins]

Noah: I’m Noah.

Kat: And I’m Kat. Thank you for listening to Episode 2 of Alohomora!.

Noah: Open the Dumbledore!

[Show music continues]

Noah: Disco party!

[Kat and Noah imitate funky disco beats]

Kat: Is that Snape? No, I’m just kidding.

[Meg laughs]

Noah: Have you guys seen the video of Snape? Like it’s the “I’m Too Sexy” with Snape?

Kat: [laughs] Yes!

Meg: Oh God.

Noah: Oh man.

Meg: Yes.