Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
How we cite our quotes:
"What d'you mean? You were there – you heard me —"
"I heard you speaking Parseltongue," said Ron. "Snake language. You could have been saying anything – no wonder Justin panicked, you sounded like you were egging the snake on or something – it was creepy, you know —" (11.113-114)
Parseltongue is a perfect example of the old saying that fear comes from lack of knowledge. The whole student body hears Harry saying things they don't understand, and so they automatically assume the worst: that he's egging on the snake to attack Justin Finch-Fletchley. Why does Parseltongue seem like an evil gift? What do snakes symbolize in Western culture that seems relevant to the wizarding world's fear of Parseltongue? If you could speak to one sort of animal, what would it be?
No one knows how he survived that attack by You-Know-Who. I mean to say, he was only a baby when it happened. He should have been blasted into smithereens. Only a really powerful Dark wizard could have survived a curse like that [...] That's probably why You-Know-Who wanted to kill him in the first place. Didn't want another Dark Lord competing with him. I wonder what other powers Potter's been hiding? (11.142)
In Book 1, the wizarding world treats the apparent death of Voldemort in 1981 as a miracle and Harry as a hero. In Book 2, we see another frame for the exact same event: where did Harry get the power to hold back Voldemort? Will he turn his power against the wizarding world the same way Voldemort did? How can they trust him? It goes to show that public opinion is fickle. No matter how beloved Harry may have been in his first year, that's no guarantee of how they'll feel about him in his second. What does this reversal of Harry's fortunes say about Rowling's view on public opinion? Do you think her assessment of public opinion in this book has any relation to her own growing fame as an author?
"That's two Gryffindors down, not counting a Gryffindor ghost, one Ravenclaw, and one Hufflepuff," said the Weasley twins' friend Lee Jordan, counting on his fingers. "Haven't any of the teachers noticed that the Slytherins are all safe? Isn't it obvious all this stuff's coming from Slytherin? The Heir of Slytherin, the monster of Slytherin – why don't they just chuck all the Slytherins out?" he roared, to nods and scattered applause. (14.84)
The whole House rivalry thing is a great example of the plot technique of misdirection. There is so much hatred between Gryffindor and Slytherin, but it turns out that the whole "Heir of Slytherin" thing is a fake clue. Ginny Weasley is the one who is opening the Chamber of Secrets, possessed by Voldemort. The thing that keeps her nighttime activities hidden is that she is a Gryffindor, an eleven-year-old, the youngest sister of a large and protective family – all of these things shield her from too much scrutiny from the people living in her dorm with her. Of course, Ginny is absolutely not doing these things on purpose. Still, she's a great choice for Voldemort to possess because she is, literally, the last person anyone would suspect of slaughtering roosters and Petrifying Muggle-borns. Harry's hatred for Draco and the Hufflepuffs' suspicion of Harry serves only to distract everyone from the real truth, which is something no one could guess.