Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

The Deathday Party

  • It's October and the weather is miserable, so Harry is spending most of his time inside the castle.
  • One day, he sees Nearly Headless Nick (the Gryffindor ghost) muttering to himself.
  • Nick wants to join a group of ghosts called the Headless Hunt, but he can't because he's only Nearly Headless – there's still some skin attaching his head to his body.
  • Their conversation is interrupted by the appearance of Mrs. Norris, Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch's cat.
  • Nick warns Harry that he'd better go – Filch has been in a foul mood, and he'll punish Harry if he finds him standing around dripping mud on the castle floors.
  • Nick's warning comes too late, though. Filch appears, shouting, "Mess and muck everywhere! I've had enough of it, I tell you! Follow me, Potter!" (8.19).
  • Filch drags Harry to his office.
  • Before he can finish filling out a form detailing Harry's wrongdoing, Peeves the Poltergeist starts acting up somewhere nearby.
  • Filch rushes out of the office in a rage.
  • Left alone with Filch's papers, Harry notices an ad: "KWIKSPELL: A Correspondence Course in Beginner's Magic" (8.33).
  • Filch storms back in.
  • He looks embarrassed that Harry found his Kwickspell course.
  • He sends Harry off without punishing him.
  • Harry finds out that it was Nearly Headless Nick who persuaded Peeves to misbehave near Filch's office, thus distracting Filch from Harry.
  • Harry asks if he can do Nick a favor in return.
  • Nick is about to have a party celebrating the five-hundredth anniversary of his death, and he wants Harry to come and to bring Ron and Hermione with him.
  • Maybe Harry could even tell the leader of the Headless Hunt, Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore, "how very frightening and impressive" (8.59) he finds Nick?
  • Harry agrees.
  • Harry is not looking forward to this party, but as Hermione reminds him, "A promise is a promise [...] You said you'd go to the deathday party" (8.67).
  • So on Halloween night, he, Ron, and Hermione troop down to the dungeons.
  • They find many ghosts floating around, wading through tables of rotting food and listening to screeching musical saws.
  • It's freezing in the dungeon, and they are sad to see Nick get laughed at by Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore (a ghost who can actually take his head right off).
  • So Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to head back up to Gryffindor Tower.
  • As they creep along, Harry hears that voice – "rip...tear...kill" (8.145).
  • It grows fainter, as though it is moving away from Harry.
  • Suddenly it shouts, "I smell blood... I SMELL BLOOD!" (8.157).
  • Neither Hermione nor Ron hear it, but Harry is sure it's going to kill someone.
  • Harry runs up the corridors until he finds words painted on the wall: "THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE" (8.163).
  • At the base of these words, there is a large puddle of water.
  • Mrs. Norris, the cat, is hanging by her tail from a torch bracket on the wall: "She was as stiff as a board, her eyes wide and staring" (8.167).
  • Just then, all the students and teachers come pouring into the hall from the Halloween Feast, which has just ended.
  • The noise dies down as they all see Mrs. Norris hanging.
  • Draco shouts, "Enemies of the Heir, beware! You'll be next, Mudbloods!" (8.173).

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