Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Chapter 6 Summary
How It All Goes Down
The next morning at breakfast, Ron receives a Howler from his mother.
A Howler is an enchanted letter that screams at the recipient.
The Howler announces to the whole dining hall: "STEALING THE CAR, I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN SURPRISED IF THEY'D EXPELLED YOU, YOU WAIT TILL I GET HOLD OF YOU, I DON'T SUPPOSE YOU STOPPED TO THINK WHAT YOUR FATHER AND I WENT THROUGH WHEN WE SAW IT WAS GONE —" (6.17).
Ron and Harry both feel completely mortified.
The Gryffindor second years have their first lesson of the year with the Hufflepuffs in Herbology.
When they go to meet Professor Sprout, the Herbology teacher, they find her talking to Gilderoy Lockhart.
Professor Lockhart wants to borrow Harry for a second.
Professor Lockhart thinks Harry's got an itch to be famous.
That's what the flying car was about, claims Professor Lockhart.
He assures Harry: "Just calm down, all right? Plenty of time for all that when you're older. Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking! 'It's all right for him, he's an internationally famous wizard already!' But when I was twelve, I was just as much of a nobody as you are now" (6.43).
No matter how often Harry tries to convince Professor Lockhart that he's not looking for fame, the man doesn't listen.
Finally, Professor Lockhart lets Harry go back to Herbology.
Today, they are repotting Mandrake roots.
Mandrakes are "a powerful restorative" used "to return people who have been transfigured or cursed to their original state" (6.47).
(Gee, we wonder if this is going to be a plot point?)
The Mandrake roots look like "small, muddy, and extremely ugly" (6.58) babies.
As they repot, a Hufflepuff boy comes over and introduces himself.
His name is Justin Finch-Fletchley.
He is a Muggle-born like Hermione, and he seems to admire Professor Lockhart a lot.
Next up, they head to Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall.
Ron has taped his broken wand together with "some borrowed Spellotape, but it seemed to be damaged beyond repair. It kept crackling and sparking at odd moments, and every time Ron tried to transfigure his beetle it engulfed him in thick gray smoke that smelled of rotten eggs" (6.71).
Ron doesn't want to write to his parents for a new wand because he doesn't want his parents to scold him for getting it broken in the first place.
Their afternoon class is Defense Against the Dark Arts.
During lunch, a small Gryffindor first year approaches Harry: his name is Colin Creevey, and he's carrying a camera.
A boy in his dorm has told Colin all about Harry and his defeat of Voldemort.
Colin is so impressed that he wants to take Harry's picture.
Draco overhears Colin and starts mocking Harry: "Everyone line up! [...] Harry Potter's giving out signed photos!" (6.87).
Colin and Ron both try to get Draco to shut up.
Draco turns on Ron: "Weasley would like a signed photo, Potter [...] It'd be worth more than his family's whole house" (6.95).
Professor Lockhart comes over to break up the fight.
When he hears the words "signed photos" (6.92), he wants to get in on that action: he pulls Harry in front of the camera and insists Colin photograph both of them together.
After sending the other kids off to class, Professor Lockhart warns Harry that it looks arrogant and bigheaded to hand out signed photos "at this stage of [Harry's] career" (6.105) – hypocrite!
In Defense Against the Dark Arts, Ron teases Harry for his new fan club – between Colin and Ginny, Harry's got quite a following. Harry is deeply embarrassed.
At last, they get to watch Professor Lockhart in action in the classroom.
First things first – he decides to make them take a pop quiz on the content of his own complete works.
The questions are all things like, "What is Gilderoy Lockhart's secret ambition?" (6.115).
Only one person gets perfect marks on this test: Hermione, who is listening to Professor Lockhart "with rapt attention" (6.118).
After a dramatic claim that he is going to "arm [them] against the foulest creatures known to wizardkind" (6.123), Professor Lockhart unleashes a bunch of Cornish pixies on the class.
The pixies are small, extremely fast, hard to catch, and mischievous.
As soon as they get out of their cage, they start breaking things, throwing around books, and generally causing a ruckus.
Professor Lockhart shouts, "Peskipiksi Pesternomi!" (6.136).
Yet the spell doesn't work.
Professor Lockhart leaves it to Harry, Ron, and Hermione to clear up and darts out of the room.
Hermione starts rounding up the pixies while Ron and Harry agree that "he didn't have a clue what he was doing" (6.141).
Hermione still thinks Professor Lockhart is pretty impressive.