Family is a very important theme throughout Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Harry misses the family he never knew – his parents – and hates the one he's stuck with – the Dursleys. Blood ties only go so far, and relationships don't necessarily mean that love is felt. Far from it, in fact. The Dursleys feed, clothe, and shelter Harry (barely), but they don't love him, and they certainly don't treat him as though he belongs. Instead, it's the people Harry meets at Hogwarts, both students and faculty, who care for and nurture him, and who slowly become his new, chosen family.
Making friends is arguably one of the best things about going to Hogwarts. Without friends, life can be pretty sad. Having someone to side with, to share with, and to study with – someone who has your back, and who needs you to cover his/hers – is huge. Yet for Harry Potter and some of the other characters who've been set apart by their magical abilities, making real friends is only possible at wizarding school. Wizard friends are lifesavers, literally: who else can you collaborate with to defeat three-headed dogs or evil overlords? By making friends, the characters get to work together, learn from each other, and accomplish more than they ever would have on their own.
Home is where the Hogwarts is. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, school's not just where you study and learn cools spells; it's a real home. Harry may start out living in a house with the Dursleys, but it doesn't feel like home to him. To abuse the immortal words of Burt Bacharach, that "house is not a home." At Hogwarts, and in Gryffindor in particular, Harry finally feels a sense of belonging and comfort. Responsible adults care about and look after him, and he has good experiences, good meals, and good friends. It's not sugarcoated – there are still small and large-scale enemies – but for the first time Harry finds pleasure and safety in his living space.
Loyalty may be a Hufflepuff virtue, but everyone in Gryffindor is pretty good at it too. Face it, in this book nearly everyone's loyal – even the bad guys are loyal to their own side. Loyalty provides much of the motivation for plot points throughout Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: characters stand up for the ideas they believe in and each other. However, sometimes people – or creatures – have to behave in what seems like a disloyal manner for the greater good.
Courage is one of the hallmarks of Gryffindor house, and it's also a defining characteristic for our main characters. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and even Neville all reveal themselves as possessing outstanding bravery, and it's their courage that helps them get through the climactic ordeals at the book's end. As Dumbledore praises them at the year-end banquet, he honors their explicit and implicit courage. This shows that the Hogwarts faculty values virtues like courage and loyalty as much as they do more wacky branches of magical education. Being able to make feathers float is all very well and good, but when push comes to shove, what really matters is how you face your fears.
Good and evil come in all shapes and sizes and aren't necessarily restricted to magic or Muggle worlds, either. At first, we wonder who could be more evil than the cruel, unloving Dursleys and their bullying, slobby son. True, they get some competition from wizarding bullies, who like to intersperse insults with, you know, spells. But actually, there is someone: the half-alive, half-defeated, unicorn-killing, blood-drinking evilest wizard that ever evilled – Voldemort. Luckily, there are examples of goodness flooding Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, ranging from Harry's parents, whose love extends beyond the grave, to sweet awkward Neville, who sides with his friends no matter what.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone provides a doorway into a magical world. In addition to garden-variety witches and wizards, there are magic trains, magic candies, and several areas dedicated to magical commerce. There's a castle populated with ghosts, poltergeists, strange creatures, and things that go bump in the night, as well as a forest full of centaurs, unicorns, and creepy crawlies. A boarding school, often thought of as an ordinary thing, becomes tinged through and through with the extraordinary – with magic. Getting mail delivered by owl, learning to Transfigure matches into needles, or finding an invisibility cloak at the bottom of your bed? It's all part of a typical day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
In the great tradition of many fantasists, Rowling describes a secret, magical world hidden within plain old England. Muggles, or non-magic people, go about their daily lives, while wizards and witches hide in plain sight. Platforms, doors, and all kinds of hidden portals appear where none should exist, and transmit people to the far more exciting little world waiting at Hogwarts. Non-magical England is categorized as not that imaginative, exciting, or interesting; it's full of dull, narrow-minded people leading dull, narrow-minded lives. Magic England is the total opposite: everything about it is tinged with a sense of wonder. It's a place where children can be heroes, and where ordinary kids can discover the secret talents they never knew they always had.