Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

The Writing on the Wall

  • Filch pushes through the crowd.
  • He sees Mrs. Norris hanging there and accuses Harry of killing her.
  • Professor Dumbledore pulls Filch, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Professors Lockhart, Snape, and McGonagall into Lockhart's office nearby.
  • Professor Dumbledore announces that Mrs. Norris isn't dead; she's Petrified.
  • Filch insists it was Harry: "You saw what he wrote on the wall! He found – in my office – he knows I'm a – I'm a – [...] He knows I'm a Squib!" (9.27).
  • (A Squib is a person born to magical parents who can't do magic themselves.)
  • Professor Snape agrees that "Potter and his friends may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time" (9.31).
  • Then, why weren't they at the Halloween Feast?
  • Harry gives their airtight alibi: hundreds of ghosts saw them at Nearly Headless Nick's deathday party.
  • So, why didn't they come to the Halloween Feast afterwards?
  • Harry can't say that he heard a voice no one else could hear talking about killing.
  • He claims that they weren't hungry.
  • Professor Dumbledore reminds Snape, "Innocent until proven guilty" (9.42).
  • Professor Dumbledore promises Filch that they can heal Mrs. Norris just as soon as Professor Sprout's Mandrakes have gotten big enough to make a restorative potion.
  • Harry, Ron, and Hermione are allowed to go back to Gryffindor Tower.
  • Ron confirms that Harry was right not to say anything about the murderous voice: "Hearing voices no one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the Wizarding world" (9.52).
  • Ron finally explains to Harry what a Squib is: "Kind of the opposite of Muggle-born wizards, but Squibs are quite unusual" (9.59).
  • Over the next few days, all anyone can talk about is the attack on Mrs. Norris.
  • Ginny Weasley seems particularly upset about it, since, Ron tells us, she is "a great cat lover" (9.63).
  • Hermione is spending all her time in the library looking for clues on what has happened.
  • Harry notices Justin Finch-Fletchley turning back and going the opposite direction the minute he sees Harry.
  • Harry is confused.
  • Hermione tells Ron and Harry that all the school library's copies of Hogwarts: A History have been checked out.
  • Everyone in the school is looking for information on the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Unfortunately, Hermione can't remember what the Chamber is.
  • During their History of Magic class with dead (and deadly boring) Professor Binns, Hermione interrupts his lecture to ask what the Chamber of Secrets is.
  • Professor Binns dismisses the Chamber of Secrets as a legend.
  • Hermione persists in asking him, though.
  • Professor Binns is so "thrown by such an unusual show of interest" (9.96) that he finally explains.
  • Hogwarts was apparently founded over a thousand years ago by two witches and two wizards: Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, Godric Gryffindor, and Salazar Slytherin.
  • They worked together in harmony for several years, "seeking out youngsters who showed signs of magic and bringing them to the castle to be educated" (9.100).
  • Then, Slytherin and the other founders fell into a serious argument.
  • The other founders felt that the school should be open to all children who showed magical talent.
  • Yet Slytherin wanted to limit Hogwarts enrollment to students from magical families.
  • He didn't want any Muggle-born students at Hogwarts.
  • So Slytherin left Hogwarts when the other founders refused to give in.
  • Then, legend goes, "Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing" (9.102).
  • No one can open this hidden chamber except a direct heir of Slytherin.
  • Slytherin's heir would be able "to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic" (9.103).
  • Professor Binns dismisses this legend as nonsense and goes back to his usual lesson.
  • After class, Ron claims that Salazar Slytherin was a loony.
  • Harry starts to worry about himself: after all, the Sorting Hat initially wanted to put Harry in Slytherin rather than Gryffindor.
  • As they rush down the hall to their next class, Harry sees Colin Creevey.
  • Colin tries to tell Harry, "a boy in my class has been saying you're —" (9.125).
  • But the crowd pushes Colin on before he can finish.
  • Harry realizes that there are rumors going around that he is Slytherin's heir.
  • Harry, Ron, and Hermione go back to the scene of the crime to see if they can find anything.
  • They do notice something weird: a line of spiders trying to get out of the castle.
  • Ron admits that he hates spiders: "If you must know, when I was three, Fred turned my – my teddy bear into a great big filthy spider because I broke his toy wouldn't like them either if you'd been holding your bear and suddenly it had too many legs and" (9.148).
  • Harry recalls that there was a lot of water on the floor that night.
  • It must have come from the nearby girls' bathroom.
  • They go in to have a look.
  • The bathroom is home to a miserable, whining ghost girl named Moaning Myrtle.
  • She is extremely quick to take offense: "My life was nothing but misery at this place and now people come along ruining my death" (9.167).
  • She doesn't recall seeing anything the night that Mrs. Norris was Petrified.
  • She was too busy being a giant drama queen.
  • As Harry, Ron, and Hermione come out of the girls' bathroom, Percy Weasley spots them.
  • He's furious that they are breaking school rules and worrying Ginny.
  • So he takes five points from Gryffindor and gives them detention. Percy's a prefect, which means he can discipline other students for misbehavior.
  • In the Common Room that night, Harry, Ron, and Hermione discuss what to do next.
  • Ron is sure that the Heir of Slytherin must be Draco Malfoy.
  • Draco obviously agrees that Muggle-borns have no place at Hogwarts and his whole family is in Slytherin. He must be the Heir!
  • To prove it, Hermione suggests that they make Polyjuice Potion.
  • Polyjuice Potion allows you to transform into someone else for an hour.
  • If she, Harry, and Ron turned into friends of Draco's, they might be able to get him to confess.

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