Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling
Choices Quotes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The pages of the diary began to blow as though caught in a high wind, stopping halfway through the month of June. Mouth hanging open, Harry saw the little square for June thirteenth seemed to have turned into a minuscule television screen. His hands trembling slightly, he raised the book to press his eye against the little window, and before he knew what was happening, he was tilting forward; the window was widening, he felt his body leave his bed, and he was pitched headfirst through the opening in the page, into a whirl of color and shadow. (13.138)
Later in the series, we get to see Pensieve memories, which present events from a third-person perspective and in a relatively objective way. We know from the example of Professor Slughorn's altered memory in Book 6 that it is very difficult to lie using a Pensieve. Riddle's diary, on the other hand, gives a highly subjective view of the events at Hogwarts fifty years before. Riddle frames the whole memory with his own narrative – which turns out to be an utter lie. So, when Harry chooses to look into Riddle's diary, he believes that what he is seeing is objective truth, but it is in fact a sophisticated manipulation. How else does Voldemort try to trick Harry later on in the series? How do his later strategies seem similar to (or different from) the deception he pulls with the diary in Book 2?
"The voice!" said Harry, looking over his shoulder. "I just heard it again – didn't you?"
Ron shook his head, wide-eyed. Hermione, however, clapped a hand to her forehead.
"Harry – I think I've just understood something! I've got to go to the library!"
And she sprinted away, up the stairs.
"What does she understand?" said Harry distractedly, still looking around, trying to tell where the voice had come from. (14.47-51)
We've already wondered why Professor Dumbledore – who was present in Riddle's memory and must have some thoughts about Hagrid's expulsion and the Chamber of Secrets – doesn't just share his suspicions with Professor McGonagall when Justin Finch-Fletchley is first Petrified. Here, though, Hermione is doing it, too. She's clearly gotten an idea about the monster in the Chamber of Secrets, so why doesn't she stop and explain? If you had figured out something important about a monster attacking your school, wouldn't you take a few minutes to fill in your friends before bolting to the library? Is this an example of J.K. Rowling just looking for new ways to build suspense? Or can you think of a real reason why Hermione keeps her sudden inspiration secret?
"Bad business, Hagrid," said Fudge in rather clipped tones. "Very bad business. Had to come. Four attacks on Muggle-borns. Things've gone far enough. Ministry's got to act."
"I never," said Hagrid, looking imploringly at Dumbledore. "You know I never, Professor Dumbledore, sir —"
"I want it understood, Cornelius, that Hagrid has my full confidence," said Dumbledore, frowning at Fudge.
"Look, Albus," said Fudge, uncomfortably. "Hagrid's record's against him. The Ministry's got to do something – the school governors have been in touch —" (14.108-111)
This scene in Book 2 between Cornelius Fudge, Hagrid, and Professor Dumbledore happens long before Cornelius Fudge goes power-mad and paranoid in Book 5. Still, we can already see signs of the kind of leader he's going to be. He wants to seem decisive, so he acts without clear evidence (and under pressure from the school governors) to arrest a man and send him straight to Azkaban, the wizard prison. Fudge is willing to lock Hagrid up without trial, a definite indication that the wizarding justice system is not all it should be in Britain. How do Fudge's choices in Book 2 foreshadow what's going to happen to him in the later Harry Potter novels? What flaws does Fudge show in this scene that continue on through the series? What makes Fudge a bad model of leadership?