Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
How we cite our quotes:
Angelina, Alicia, and Katie had come over, too. There were no girls on the Slytherin team, who stood shoulder to shoulder, facing the Gryffindors, leering to a man. (7.61)
Angelina, Alicia, and Katie are the three Gryffindor Quidditch team Chasers. Rowling's depictions of the Slytherins are uniformly awful: Here, all the guys on the team are "leering" at the three Gryffindor women. This is a description of a bunch of random, nameless guys whom we never see again, but because they're Slytherins, Rowling still takes care to emphasize that they are "leering" – an adjective with a negative connotation. We find this passage striking (even though it's so brief) because it points out something we've always wondered about the world of Harry Potter: Do you get sorted into Slytherin because you're a jerk already, or do you become a jerk because you have been sorted into Slytherin? By being sorted into a house where everyone (especially the Gryffindors) expects you to be a dangerous Dark wizard probably has a damaging psychological effect on the kids who are placed there. J.K. Rowling always emphasizes the various bad traits of her Slytherin characters, so it's hard to imagine their better qualities. Why does Rowling choose to portray the Slytherins in such dark terms, as opposed to the Gryffindors? How do you think a Slytherin would tell the story of the Harry Potter novels?
"Training for the ballet, Potter?" yelled Malfoy as Harry was forced to do a stupid kind of twirl in midair to dodge the Bludger, and he fled, the Bludger trailing a few feet behind him; and then, glaring back at Malfoy in hatred, he saw it – the Golden Snitch. It was hovering inches above Malfoy's left ear – and Malfoy, busy laughing at Harry, hadn't seen it. (10.79)
Draco manages to buy his way on the Slytherin team as Seeker. Yet it's not clear how much he's playing Quidditch because he loves the sport, and how much he's doing it because he desperately wants to beat Harry at something. Here, he doesn't notice the Golden Snitch right over his shoulder because he's too busy laughing at Harry. A surprising amount of Draco's life seems to revolve around Harry: He's jealous of him, and he hates him, so he seems to be distracted by him quite often. What do you think Draco does in his spare time, when he's not harassing Harry? What does he want in life? Do we get any kind of depth for his character in Book 2? How does he change from Book 2 to the later novels of the series?
Harry swung his wand high, but Malfoy had already started on "two"; his spell hit Harry so hard he felt as though he'd been hit over the head with a saucepan. He stumbled, but everything still seemed to be working, and wasting no time, Harry pointed his wand straight at Malfoy and shouted, "Rictusempra!"
A jet of silver light hit Malfoy in the stomach and he doubled up, wheezing.
"I said Disarm only!" Lockhart shouted in alarm over the heads of the battling crowd, as Malfoy sank to his knees; Harry had hit him with a Tickling Charm, and he could barely move for laughing. (11.77-79)
Obviously, Professor Snape's choice to pair Harry with Draco is intended to punish Harry for existing. Still, why do you think Professor Lockhart chooses to start this Dueling Club? What does he hope to get out of it? Why teach a bunch of students to hex each other? Why do you think Professor Dumbledore agreed to Professor Lockhart's request? What is the purpose of a duel?