Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Chapter 16

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Chapter 16

The Chamber of Secrets

  • The next morning, Professor McGonagall announces that exams will be beginning as usual at the beginning of June.
  • Seamus Finnegan asks how they can possibly have exams with all that's been going on.
  • Professor McGonagall reminds him that this is a school and they're supposed to be running it as normally as possible. Why else keep Hogwarts open?
  • Three days before the exams start, Professor McGonagall announces that Professor Sprout is ready to start brewing the Mandrake Restorative Draught.
  • Everyone starts cheering.
  • Once the Petrified people wake up, they'll be able to tell who attacked them.
  • Ginny comes to sit next to Ron at the Gryffindor table.
  • She looks fearful.
  • She tells Harry and Ron that she needs to speak to them, but, before she can finish, Percy walks in and interrupts.
  • Ron scolds Percy, but Percy tells him that it's nothing. Percy seems to think Ginny's secret has to do with him.
  • Now that the Petrified people are about to wake up, Professor Lockhart doesn't think there's any point in guarding the students between their classes.
  • Harry and Ron take advantage of his carelessness to sneak down to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.
  • Before they can arrive, though, Professor McGonagall catches them.
  • Harry lies that they were on their way to see Hermione.
  • Professor McGonagall seems moved: "Of course, I realize this has all been hardest on the friends of those who have been…I quite understand. Yes, Potter, of course you may visit Miss Granger" (16.61).
  • Madam Pomfrey lets Harry and Ron into the Hospital Wing.
  • Hermione clearly has no idea that they are there, though: she's frozen.
  • Harry notices something in Hermione's hand.
  • It's a piece of paper describing the basilisk: a giant snake that can live hundreds of years.
  • The basilisk is so deadly that it can kill just by looking at you.
  • Spiders run away from basilisks, "for it is their mortal enemy"; basilisks run "only from the crowing of the rooster, which is fatal to it" (16.72).

(Click the infographic to download.)

  • All the pieces start to come together for Harry.
  • The monster in the Chamber of Secrets is a basilisk.
  • It's been using the plumbing pipes at Hogwarts to get around.
  • That's why Harry's been hearing the voice through the Hogwarts walls: because he's a Parselmouth, and he's the only one who can understand snakes.
  • Finally, Ron and Harry both realize at the same time that the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets must be in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.
  • Harry and Ron rush to the staff room to tell the faculty.
  • They hear an announcement magically amplified from Professor McGonagall: "All students to return to their House dormitories at once. All teachers return to the staffroom. Immediately, please" (16.97).
  • They hide in a cabinet to hear what is going on.
  • Professor McGonagall announces to the other teachers that "A student has been taken by the monster. Right into the Chamber itself" (16.103).
  • The Heir of Slytherin left a message, "Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever" (16.105).
  • It's Ginny Weasley.
  • Professor Lockhart bursts into the staff room at just this moment.
  • The other Hogwarts professors tell him to go to the Chamber of Secrets and fight the monster, since that's what he's been saying he would like to do all of this time.
  • Professor Lockhart tries to object, but the other professors insist.
  • They really want to get him out of the way while they plan what they should do.
  • The school is going to have to close down.
  • The Hogwarts Express will arrive to take all of the students home the next day.
  • Harry, Ron, Fred, and George sit in the Gryffindor Common Room worrying.
  • Ron remembers that Ginny must have known something.
  • She came to talk to the two of them at breakfast because she'd "found out something about the Chamber of Secrets" (16.131).
  • That must have been why she was attacked.
  • Harry and Ron are so desperate to do something that they decide to bring their story to Professor Lockhart.
  • He may be useless, but they should still try to help him fight the creature.
  • When they find Professor Lockhart in his office, though, he's packing his bags.
  • He's running away.
  • After all, Professor Lockhart didn't actually do any of the things he wrote.
  • His only really talent is for memory charms.
  • So he modified the memories of all of the people who actually banished banshees or saved villages from werewolves so they believed he did it.
  • Professor Lockhart has been getting famous by taking credit for other people's work.
  • In order to cover his tracks, Professor Lockhart tries to cast a Memory Charm on Harry and Ron.
  • Harry hits him with a Disarming Charm before he gets that far.
  • Harry kicks Professor Lockhart before forcing him at wandpoint to go first as they walk to the Chamber of Secrets.
  • At last, in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, Harry asks her how she died.
  • She is thrilled to tell the story at last.
  • That day, Myrtle was hiding in the bathroom and crying because one of her schoolmates teased her.
  • She heard someone speaking in a strange language.
  • It was a boy, so she unlocked her stall to tell him to get out of the girl's bathroom.
  • Then, she looked up into a pair of "great, big, yellow eyes" (16.173).
  • And she died.
  • Harry and Ron figure out that the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is a sink with a tap shaped like a serpent.
  • Harry tells the tap to open in Parseltongue.
  • A large pipe opens up in front of them.
  • Ron sends Professor Lockhart through the pipe first.
  • They go down and down, deep under the castle.
  • They land in a tunnel.
  • The tunnel is littered with small animal bones.
  • They eventually come across an enormous shed snake skin. The basilisk must be huge!
  • Professor Lockhart tackles Ron and takes his wand.
  • He raises Ron's wand to Obliviate the two of them.
  • Of course, Ron's broken wand backfires on Professor Lockhart.
  • He's the one who is hit by the overwhelmingly powerful memory charm.
  • The force of the blast also partially collapses the tunnel.
  • Harry is on the side facing the Chamber, while Ron and Professor Lockhart are on the other side.
  • Harry goes on while Ron tries to clear some of the rock away.
  • Harry finds a wall with two "entwined serpents […] their eyes set with great emeralds" (16.232).
  • Harry commands the snakes to open.
  • The wall cracks and parts, letting Harry into the Chamber of Secrets.

(Click the infographic to download.)

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