Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

The Worst Birthday

  • Sadly, Harry Potter starts Book 2 in much the same way that he starts Book 1: having to deal with his horrible Muggle (non-magic) aunt, uncle, and cousin.
  • Harry tells Dudley, his cousin, to say "the magic word" (1.13) (i.e., please) when asking Harry to pass the frying pan.
  • Uncle Vernon shrieks, "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU [...] ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?" (1.15).
  • Obviously, the Dursley family prejudice against magic has not softened.
  • In fact, it's gotten worse: "Ever since Harry had come home for the summer holidays, Uncle Vernon had been treating him like a bomb that might go off at any moment" (1.24).
  • This night is particularly stressful because the Dursleys are expecting guests.
  • Uncle Vernon is trying to make a business deal, and he wants everything to go like clockwork.
  • To make sure that Harry doesn't ruin things, Uncle Vernon insists that Harry stays in his room "making no noise and pretending [he's] not there" (1.44).
  • Harry goes out to the garden to think glumly about how lonely he is.
  • No one has remembered that it's his birthday (July 31st), not even his best friends, Ron and Hermione.
  • He did think that he would get at least one letter from them over the summer.
  • Yet Harry hasn't heard a peep.
  • He's starting to wonder if they've forgotten him, or if he dreamed his year at Hogwarts altogether.
  • Harry startles as he sees "Two enormous green eyes" (1.69) staring back at him from the Dudley's garden hedge.
  • Before he can explore further, Dudley lumbers out into the garden to mock Harry for not receiving any birthday greetings.
  • Harry scares Dudley off with some fake magic.
  • Aunt Petunia punishes Harry for teasing his cousin, meaning that he has to spend the afternoon working hard.
  • His reward for all this work is that he gets to eat "two slices of bread and a lump of cheese" (1.91) at the kitchen table before being pushed upstairs to his room.
  • Uncle Vernon warns Harry once again to be quiet.
  • The only problem is, there is someone waiting in Harry's bedroom.

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