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Quotes

Quote #1

Harry felt as though his head had been split in two. Eyes streaming, he swayed, trying to focus on the street to spot the source of the noise, but he had barely staggered upright when two large purple hands reached through the open window and closed tightly around his throat.

"Put – it – away!" Uncle Vernon snarled into Harry's ear. "Now! Before – anyone – sees!"

"Get – off – me!" Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncle's sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaing a firm grip on his raised wand; then, as the pain in the top of Harry's head gave a particularly nasty throb, Uncle Vernon yelped and released Harry as though he had received an electric shock. (1.22-24)

At the beginning of Book 1, the Dursleys clearly abuse Harry, making him do all of their cooking and keeping him locked in a cupboard under the stairs. But it seems almost cartoonish, like the way that Matilda's family treats her in Roald Dahl's novel Matilda. It doesn't seem real. But as Harry gets older and the Dursleys' violence increases (Uncle Vernon just grabbed Harry by the throat through an open window!), their treatment of him seems more and more appalling. It really feels as though it's not just the characters in the Harry Potter series who are growing up; it's the books themselves that are developing as well.

Quote #2

"Hasn't anyone told you? This was my parents' house," said Sirius. But I'm the last Black left, so it's mine now. I offered it to Dumbledore for Headquarters – about the only useful thing I've been able to do."

Harry, who had expected a better welcome, noted how hard and bitter Sirius's voice sounded. He followed his godfather to the bottom of the steps and through a door leading into the basement kitchen. (5.4-5)

In a lot of ways, Sirius's emotions in Book 5 are identical to Harry's, except maybe more intense. Sirius is filled with bitterness and resentment at being left out of the main fight. Sirius is also trapped in a place he doesn't want to be (with Kreacher, which makes things worse). As Sirius watches Harry going off to Hogwarts, he feels a sense of unreasonable envy, envy that he's a little ashamed of (a bit like Harry's guilty envy of Ron's prefect badge). The fact that Sirius feels so much like a fifteen-year old filled with teenage angst tells us that Sirius has a case of arrested development – after all, he hasn't spent much of his adult life outside of prison. No wonder he is so reckless and careless: Sirius isn't really a mature grown-up, no matter how old his body looks.

Quote #3

"Harry, I'm so sorry. What must you think of me?" [Mrs. Weasley] said shakily. "Not even able to get rid of a Boggart ..."

"Don't be stupid," said Harry, trying to smile.

"I'm just s - s - so worried," she said, tears spilling out of her eyes again. "Half the f - f - family's in the Order, it'll b - b - be a miracle if we all come through this ... and P - P - Percy's not talking to us ... what if something d - d - dreadful happens and we've never m - m - made it up with him? And what's going to happen if Arthur and I get killed, who's g - g- going to look after Ron and Ginny?" (9.297-299)

Mrs. Weasley's overprotectiveness is generally funny. Starting in Book 2, with her Howler to Ron about the flying car, her quick temper and constant concern for her family have been reassuring and kind of amusing. But now, in Book 5, as Voldemort has come back and everything is becoming more dangerous, Mrs. Weasley's fear for her family is a much more serious and tangible thing. She seems overbearing to Harry and Ron, but no wonder: every night, she imagines members of her own family dead in the War. And since it's true that half the Weasleys are in the Order of the Phoenix, chances are good that the family will suffer some losses. This is one of the most tragic scenes in Book 5, because even though Mrs. Weasley is willing and even eager to do her best to resist Voldemort, she is all too aware of the terrible cost that her resistance may exact on her nearest and dearest.

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