Last night, the Harry Potter Wiki launched our Wikia Book Club initiative with a bang, hosting a rousing discussion on the first eight chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The official discussion topics can be found here , but the hour-long conversation veered in a number of different directions -- with savvy insights being raised by all who participated.
If you weren’t able to join in the discussion, fear not… now’s your chance to continue the conversation! Below find an edited transcript of the hour-long chat (edited to group discussion topics together, remove the various “so-and-so has entered/exited the chat” messages, etc.). Feel free to leave your thoughts on any of the topics in the comments below.
And be sure to participate in our next live chat scheduled for Monday, July 16 at 5 p.m. PST. We’ll be discussing chapters nine through 16. Thanks!
Ericmoro: So, I'm just curious... and this may be a stupid question for this particular forum...
SakraTheHedgie: No such thing as a stupid question
Ericmoro: ...was this the first time reading Sorcerer's Stone for anyone?
HawkeyesGirl: Not for me; I've read it at least 10 times already.
Makuna1998: i've read it million times
ProfessorTofty: Not here, been with the series for a while now.
Sahm93: read the whole series about 4 times by now
Cloverlinh: the second time for the 1st book of the series
Kate.moon: i used to read it over and over again waiting for goblet of fire! good old days waiting for more harry potter...
Makuna1998: i was 4 when I read this book :')
Ericmoro: Wow! That's awesome guys... and kind of what I expected.
KyleH: It is for me ... I don't like paper, and the book only recently came out on Kindle.
Seth Cooper: I would have to disagree with you there, KyleH... I love the feel of paper in my hands as I skim through a book!
Ericmoro: KyleH, it was the first time for me, too. And I know that sounds awful, but I picked up the series with the films... but I'm so glad I've read it now.
ProfessorTofty: Eric - that's fine, I'm same here - didn't read the books until after the first three films or so were out.
Sahm93: same here. i only read the books because the film were awesome
Ericmoro: So for KyleH, any reactions to your first experience with the book? And for the rest of the group, did you pick anything up that's different this time around? I'm curious to hear what insight repeat readings brings you.
ProfessorTofty: I found some references to muggle technology that weren't yet described on the Harry Potter Wiki.
Ericmoro: Ha! Nice! You better add entries for those.
ProfessorTofty: Already did last night, heh.
Makuna1998: I always realize something new every time I read the books
KyleH: So, I've seen all the movies, but I never really liked the first movie ... I found it to be a bit disjointed, and actually pretty hard to follow through the first half. I really love the book though--it is much easier to get immersed in the world and understand what it going on when I'm reading the book.
HawkeyesGirl: I found scenes I never remembered reading before - like Ron saying that he didn't see how watching a sport with one ball and no-one being allowed to fly could be fun.
Ericmoro: @HawkeyesGirl, funny you mention that! I was struck by the same exact thing (as that wasn't referenced in the films). There's a moment where he walks up to a poster, I believe, and wonders why the athlete isn't moving in it.
Cloverlinh: it help me understand clearly the whole story, films can't do it very well
Nblonkenfeld: There's something about the descriptions in the first one - it's soo pure and naive.
ProfessorTofty: Well, I generally think they did the best they could with the movies. To be honest, I always felt that the first book spends maybe a little *too* much time on setup - doesn't actually get to Hogwarts until around chapter 7 or 8, I think it is.
Seth Cooper: I did not remember reading a passage with a slightly tipsy Hagrid and McGonagall during the Christmas feast -- laughed out loud with that one.
SakraTheHedgie: @Seth Oh god, I always remembered that xD
KyleH: I am also tremendously amused by how annoying Hermione is portrayed to be through the first half of the book ... I don't feel like the transition from annoying know-it-all to dear friend is portrayed very well in the movie.
Ericmoro: Agreed! I was actually surprised that her relationship with Harry and Ron started off on the antagonistic side.
ProfessorTofty: I noticed a scene with Hagrid tossing Harry his jacket as a blanket and it had dormice in it. He's got mice nesting in the pocket of his jacket.
Nblonkenfeld: Did others hear Harry talking to the snake? I just read it and can't remember.
Kate.moon: yep harry did definitely talk to the boa
Nblonkenfeld: Yes he did, but did others hear him talking parsel?
Seth Cooper: What I did miss in the films was, of course, Peeves.
HawkeyesGirl: Peeves is great; I missed him too.
Makuna1998: peeves is one of my favorite characters!
SakraTheHedgie: Yeah. They should've added Peeves into it. Many fans would've loved it.
Makuna1998: I still can't believe he wasn't in the movies
Seth Cooper: At least they remembered ol' Peevsie in the video games!
ProfessorTofty: Say, I think my earlier question may have been missed, but those of you that are reading for the first time, are you planning to read the other books now?
Ericmoro: @ProfessorTofty, I'm DEFINITELY planning on reading the others now. KyleH, you?
KyleH: I certainly will ... I've been looking for a fun series to get in to, and this one is pretty perfect
Ericmoro: In regards to Peeves, the books really are an abundance of riches. I kind of understand now why it's so difficult to adapt a book to film properly. Good books have SO MUCH MATERIAL in them... it's virtually impossible to include everything!
ProfessorTofty: Oh, yes, Peeves is a hoot. He really hits his stride in book 5.
Ericmoro: Ha! That's good to know!
Nblonkenfeld: It's the details - later in the books - @Ericmoro & @KyleH - you will cry. It will happen.
Makuna1998: Ericmoro I agree books are very long and interesting. it would be hard to put everything in the movies
Ericmoro: So throughout the story, we share Harry’s point of view. We see what he sees and experience what he experiences. In the first chapter, however, we are shown Mr. Dursley’s point of view as he drives to work, sees a cat reading a map, and encounters oddly dressed people on the streets. Rowling could have given us a more straightforward third-person story without any particular point of view. Why does she choose to show us Mr. Dursley’s thoughts and reaction in this first chapter?
Makuna1998: maybe so we can understand what kind of person vernon really is ?
ProfessorTofty: Rowling wants to contrast Harry with the views and attitudes of the people that he's been forced to live with for the past ten years.
HawkeyesGirl: With Uncle Vernon's perspective, you see exactly what type of world our main protagonist is entering: a world of base conformity and normalcy.
SakraTheHedgie: Ooh...hard one...perhaps she wanted to show and build up the Dursley's spite in all things abnormal and strange
ProfessorTofty: Yeah, she wants us to know exactly what Harry's had to deal with and the type of situation that he'll be leaving.
Ericmoro: All great responses!
KyleH: The entire series is about telling Harry's story, but in order to get there, we need to understand his history. It would take a long time (and probably wouldn't be that interesting) ... introducing the muggle world from the Dursley's perspective tells us a ton about what Harry has been living with... and quickly
Ericmoro: I feel like she REALLY wants to contrast the Muggle world or perspective of the world, with that of the "magic" world. Kind of classic motif, really... Kind of like Oliver Twist. Does that seem like a fair comparison?
ProfessorTofty: Probably so. Rowling is known to be a reader of Dickens.
Ericmoro: @ProfessorTofty, really? I didn't know that. Nice!
HawkeyesGirl: Yeah, it does seem a bit like Oliver Twist, but with a more David Copperfield overview.
ProfessorTofty: Oh, David Copperfield - yeah, that's a good one. That one showed up on her website. In fact, Radcliffe was in a production of Copperfield before he appeared in "Potter."
Seth Cooper: And I think Rowling sets up a nice antithesis there... Vernon's complete and utter disregard for anything remotely "different", and the wizarding society which is a bunch of, in Rowling's words "outcasts and comfortable with being so".
Ericmoro: @Seth, so true... almost like real life if you think about it.
Seth Cooper: @Ericmoro, Precisely. The things Rowlings manages to tell us about our very lives using fictional people who wave sticks around and conjure things out of thin air is astonishing.
Ericmoro: Growing up, I kinda felt like my parents were the Muggles and I was part of the wizarding world. But I digress...
Makuna1998: Ericmoro same here
Seth Cooper: Don't we all feel like that, at times?
Makuna1998: I actually tried to conjure magic
Ericmoro: By the way guys, would love to hear any questions or discussion topics you may have. This is an open forum. I'll keep throwing out my questions, but if you have any... please, jump in!
ProfessorTofty: I consider myself a muggle. But that's okay with Mr. Weasley, so it's okay with me. Just so long as it's not the "worst sort of Muggles." (Dursleys)
Ericmoro: Hahahaha... true!
Nblonkenfeld: @Makuna1998 Oh I definitely tried out a spell or two! ( i still practice spell battles with my girlfriend). I have an official "he who shall not be named" wand and one that I carved myself.
Makuna1998: I have an elder wand
Cloverlinh: Nblonkenfeld and Makuna: that is so great
Seth Cooper: Not all Muggles are Dursleys! Think of the Grangers: they embrace their wizarding daughter, and are proud of her achievements.
Ericmoro: And I *really* like how Rowling sets up both sympathetic wizarding families (i.e. the Weasleys) and "hater" wizarding families (the Malfoys).
Seth Cooper: But I think Rowling's stoke of genius is that right there: she manages to create a whole new society, but captures perfectly the deepest flaws and most humbling values of the human condition!
Ericmoro: Great fiction utilizes "magical worlds" to discuss/analyze real world issues.
Nblonkenfeld: @Seth Cooper She does
ProfessorTofty: Sometimes I feel the whole Muggle thing is glossed, though - you've got a whole community of Muggle-born wizard parents out there who must want to at least talk about all of this. Do those that aren't inclined like the Dursleys ever sit down for a friendly chat? But maybe that's what fanfiction is for.
Nblonkenfeld: I bet they have a group
ProfessorTofty: You get the feeling there's a Muggle parent bar in Diagon Alley somewhere where Hermione's parents and the others can sit down for a brew.
Ericmoro: Hahahaha... That would make for a great story! @ProfessorTofty, please write that!
ProfessorTofty: Heh, I'll consider it!
HawkeyesGirl: I could see the Grangers and the Finch-Fletchleys having each other round for tea and biscuits or something.
Seth Cooper: Haha -- never thought of that, but I could easily imagine that!
Seth Cooper: Although, the Ministry does have a Muggle Liaison Office and there are wizards working in Muggle Relations, so it's a fair assumption Muggle parents of wizarding children are fairly active (to an extent, of course, there are always the Malfoys and the Blacks) in the wizarding society.
SakraTheHedgie: Actually, I do have a question, but it concerns the Potions Master chapter...
Ericmoro: @SakraTheHedgie, go ahead with your question.
SakraTheHedgie: Well, earlier, I was having a conversation with my friend about Alan Rickman, and then it turned to Snape's character. She (my friend) said that Snape was mean to harry because he was trying to toughen him up. I, however, think that doesn't make sense and, since Harry is a near carbon-copy of James, think that Snape hates Harry because of his animosity for James. What do you guys think?
ProfessorTofty: Sakra - quickly, no, I don't agree with the idea that he's simply trying to toughen him up. There's too much evidence otherwise.
Nblonkenfeld: I think it's soo difficult for snape because he needs to help him
Ericmoro: @Sakra, I agree with you... I think he's mean to Harry because he reminds him of James, his father. But since he essentially was in love with his mother, he does what he can to protect him.
Ericmoro: So my next question for the group... Since we're on the topic of Muggles... How does the Hogwarts world compare with the Muggle world? Does Rowling want us to make such a comparison? What were your first impressions of Hogwarts?
HawkeyesGirl: Hogwarts seems like a regular boarding school, except the students learn of magic.
Ericmoro: You think? I was kind of scared of Hogwarts as I was reading...
Cloverlinh: @Eric: really?
Ericmoro: like, I wouldn't want to send my kid there because CRAZY stuff could happen to him/her
HawkeyesGirl: Yeah, but it's mentioned that one does learn quickly.
SakraTheHedgie: Although the Hogwarts world is magical, the Muggle world is full of technology. Both are advanced in a sense. Neither of them know much about the other world. I thought Hogwarts was a great idea. I'd love to go there. It'd never be boring
Nblonkenfeld: I think they run parallels
Ericmoro: Ghosts, trolls, broom riding accidents... call me a 'fraiding cat, I guess
Nblonkenfeld: In both worlds you ca find fear - hatred- sadness- rejections
SakraTheHedgie: I'd never get on a broom, though. I'm too terrified of heights D:
Seth Cooper: One thing that has always struck me about education in wizarding Britain is that the students are left completely unprepared in English, Maths (granted, there's an optional of Arithmancy, but still), Arts, Geography, etc.
Ericmoro: Ha! Great observation! They get training in all of the "magical arts" but no traditional schooling
SakraTheHedgie: True, true...never thought about that.
HawkeyesGirl: Wizards really don't have need of that, though.
Ericmoro: @HaweyesGirl, I guess you're right about that.
Seth Cooper: I'd think Potions would give the students great knowledge in Chemistry, and Charms in Physics, though.
Ericmoro: I mean, they do get an education in Wizarding history. Hogwarts: A History
Ericmoro: So another question for you guys... The title of each of the chapters provides some clues as to what will occur in each. Do the titles tell the whole truth? How do they reveal some of the more symbolic meaning of the story?
Nblonkenfeld: I don't have the book in front of me. what were some of the titles (Terriblememory)
Ericmoro: 1. The Boy Who Lived; 2. The Vanishing Glass; 3. The Letters From No One; 4. The Keeper of the Keys; 5. Daigon Alley; 6. The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-quarters; 7. The Sorting Hat; 8. The Potions Master
Nblonkenfeld: 1. The boy who lived is actually one of THE BEST TITLES to a chapter to start off a saga
HawkeyesGirl: The titles do give the reader the main plotline of what will happen in the chapter.
Ericmoro: @Nate, agreed on that my friend! "The Keeper of the Keys" though... that one's a little out there, no?
Nblonkenfeld: 1. The Boy Who Lived - that may be one of the best titles ever - for the significance of the storyline
Seth Cooper: I always liked "17. The Man With Two Faces". Rowling was quite clever with that one -- Quirrell HAD two faces, figuratively and literally speaking.
Ericmoro: @Seth, that is true
SakraTheHedgie: @Seth same here. I love double meanings like that.
Nblonkenfeld: Keeper of keys - yeah. But i mean - she's still introducing this NEW world to the reader
Ericmoro: I mean... Is the "Keeper of the Keys" Hagrid? Yeah, right?
Nblonkenfeld: When i FIRST read it - i thought... what the... there's one person that controls this bank - wait- GOBLINS? ALL GOBLINS? and then I wondered why Goblins? Sorry i jumped ahead to the bank.
Ericmoro: Ha! No worries... In retrospect, did Goblins make sense to you?
Nblonkenfeld: It makes SOO much sense when you read on
Ericmoro: So that brings up an interesting question... What was everyone's favorite creature from Sorcerer's Stone? Peeves included.
SakraTheHedgie: FLUFFY! <3
HawkeyesGirl: I liked Scabbers the best. He bit Goyle, got flung against the wall, then went BACK TO SLEEP!
SakraTheHedgie: Either that or Norbert, 'cause I love dragons.
Cloverlinh: I like Trevor-Nevile's frog, always finds his way out
Ericmoro: I know this is gonna sound weird... But the Sorting Hat.
Nblonkenfeld: No - that is totally legit
Ericmoro: Just the whole *idea* behind that... it's very creative!
Nblonkenfeld: It made me wonder when I first read it... had it always been a hat? was it once a wizard? And why a hat and not something else?
Seth Cooper: The Sorting Hat was awesome! All those centuries of wisdom stored in a hat.
SakraTheHedgie: Yeah, very creative. Wouldn't be particularly happy with a hat reading my mind, but...
Ericmoro: True! But you can also INFLUENCE it, which is an interesting idea
SakraTheHedgie: That be an interesting experience, talking to a hat...
Seth Cooper: The Hat originally belonged to Godric Gryffindor, as I recall.
Ericmoro: Does the hat come back in later books?
Nblonkenfeld: Yes (contains excitment)
Ericmoro: Nice! I'm glad to hear that.
HawkeyesGirl: The Hat is in the second, fifth, and seventh.
Seth Cooper: It crops up every other book. Although it has a much greater part in Chamber of Secrets. More, I'm not telling.
Nblonkenfeld: I know right!!!
Seth Cooper: Did you know that it is a wizarding historical theory that the real Sorting Hat was stolen and substituted by delinquent students in 1325, and the whereabouts of the real hat remain unknown -- this hasn't been verified by any wizarding historians, though!
Ericmoro: @Seth, you are a plethora of obscure facts.
Ericmoro: I really like the fact that Rowling brings back characters, creatures, etc. in subsequent books. Do you guys think she started out with a "master plan" ? Or do you think she was making it up as she went along.
Nblonkenfeld: I go back and fourth with this all the time. I think she had a REALLY vague master plan
HawkeyesGirl: I think I read somewhere she wrote the last bit first. The epilogue of the seventh, I mean
SakraTheHedgie: @Eric Hm...hard to say. Perhaps she did. Perhaps she didn't. I don't think we can really tell unless she says herself.
Ericmoro: True... but I almost feel that she had to, the way she revisits certain characters, references, etc.
Seth Cooper: @Ericmoro, Although, I find that hard to believe --- read the other books, and you'll see what I mean.
Nblonkenfeld: @Eric & @SakraTheHedgie - I feel like she knew two things for certain - The character that shall not be named in this chat and the boy who lived would be connected somehow in some way
Ericmoro: At the very least, she just kept REALLY good track of where her story was going.
Nblonkenfeld: It's like a puzzle - you have to make sure you have all the corners figured out
Seth Cooper: Either way, she is a master storyteller. Every insignificant detail in the prior books proves to be a MASSIVE plot point in future books.
Ericmoro: OK, last question from me, unless you guys have others... How would Harry be different if Dumbledore decided that he should be raised in the magical world, instead of with the Dursleys? Did Dumbledore make the right decision?'
Nblonkenfeld: Harry would have been killed
Ericmoro: You think?
Nblonkenfeld: Harry would have been found by... let's say... certain people
SakraTheHedgie: Nbloke's got a point. But going further into this would be spoilers.
Seth Cooper: As soon as Harry was 17, he would be killed, as Lily's protection would have ended then.
Ericmoro: OK, let me back-track... If he were raised in the magical world, assume it was under the protection of Dumbledore.
Nblonkenfeld: @Eric - hmmm...
Cloverlinh: Harry could not be the Harry that we see today, maybe arrogant just like Malfoy
HawkeyesGirl: Harry needed to be raised in the Muggle world; he needed to be amazed by everything magical. Without his naivity, he would lack what made him who he was.
Nblonkenfeld: @Eric the story wouldn't have worked... the reason we (I) fell in love with Harry is because he's like all of us... stumblingthrough life trying to figure it out. @HawkeyesGirl: Agree
Ericmoro: @Cloverlinh @HawkeyesGirl @Nblonkenfeld, great points! It would be like being raised with celebrities as your parents. Very difficult in that situation to be humble.
Nblonkenfeld: Every great character is usually naive - it helps us align with them - unless it's a comedy. @Eric - exactly
Ericmoro: That said, however, do you think he would've been a more powerful wizard?
SakraTheHedgie: Maybe, but he was already powerful to begin with. He just had to unlock the potential himself.
Ericmoro: I was JUST thinking that! The first few chapters of the book go into the fact that he's already doing magic without even realizing it. His hair grows back after his aunt chops it off. The glass of the snake cage disappears.
Nblonkenfeld: Yes- very rare especially because it's WORDLESS MAGIC
Ericmoro: @Nblonkenfeld, exactly. If he had a wand and spells, who KNOWS what he could've accomplished.
HawkeyesGirl: And very advanced - he kind of Apparates at one point without realizing it.
Ericmoro: @HawkeyesGirl, when does he do that?
HawkeyesGirl: It's in the beginning; he recounts how he was running from Dudley's gang, and somehow gets on the roof of the school.
SakraTheHedgie: @Eric When Dudley and his gang were chasing him behind the school, he ended up on the roof.
Ericmoro: Ha! That's right! I didn't put two and two together.
Nblonkenfeld: I love the idea of wordless magic happening at youth - because great wizards when they are older spend their time trying to achieve it... very philosophical
Ericmoro: Well, and it makes sense in the bigger story, right? When you have a child born of Muggle parents (i.e. Hermoine), how else would she know that she's a witch?
Seth Cooper: Little Known Fact: Seven is the age by which most experts agree that magic will have revealed itself, if present. (By the way, that comes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 11)
SakraTheHedgie: @Seth are you, like, as smart as Hermione?
Ericmoro: @SethCooper, where are you getting all this from?
Seth Cooper: Many years on the wiki does that to you!
Ericmoro: Nice! Can I quote you on that?
Seth Cooper: Of course!
ProfessorTofty: With the number of edits that Seth has, I'd be surprised of any little fact of Potter trivia that he wouldn't know, heh.
Nblonkenfeld: Yeah - last year I spent about 20 hours just staring at different spells on the wiki. when we did the movie screening - i made everyone who passed through the door recite a spell to me
Ericmoro: So we've gone through the 5 questions outlined here: http://www.wikia.com/Entertainment/Book_Club. Does anyone have questions/topics they'd like to bring up?
ProfessorTofty: As for question #5, I think Dumbledore made the right decision, but for reasons that might not be familiar to those who don't know the entire series.
Ericmoro: @Professor, we were theorizing that he made the right choice b/c Harry growing up as a "celebrity" would be a very different person. Is that what you're thinking?
Bellajos: of course he made the right choice you can almost relate it to micheal jackson and his kids
Ericmoro: Exactly! Great example!
ProfessorTofty: Eric, no, I'm thinking of very specific reasoning related to plot details that aren't made clear until a later installment in the series.
Ericmoro: @Professor, you've peaked my interest!
ProfessorTofty: Bella - have you only read the first book? Because I don't want to spoil anything that might be unfamiliar to those who don't know the rest of the series.
Bellajos: oh no ive read them all
ProfessorTofty: Well, if no one minds a spoiler, then I'd be glad to mention it. Okay. Well, as for the whole celebrity thing, that certainly has an element of truth, but it isn't necessarily a compelling enough reason to dump Harry with people who are as unsympathetic as the Dursleys... When Voldemort killed Harry's parents, he established a connection that had deep magical effects. Dumbledore cast a spell so that Voldemort and people associated with him couldn't get at Harry while he was at the Dursleys.
Ericmoro: Right, right.
ProfessorTofty: So as long as Harry stays with the Dursleys, Voldemort and others with him can't get to Harry.
Ericmoro: A protection spell around the residence, right?
Bellajos: i thought it was lilys spell
ProfessorTofty: Yeah, essentially. It was Dumbledore - but it was because of the bond of blood. Petunia's her sister, so he used the magic to bind it.
Ericmoro: Well, listen guys... this has been a great first Book Club discussion. Thanks soooo much for participating! I'm looking forward to chatting with you all again (and anyone else who'd like to join in) on July 16 for part two of our discussion.
ProfessorTofty: Yes, definitely looking forward to it, and to the transcript of this.
Ericmoro: For sure. And, please... I would love to hear any recommendations for future "Book Club" titles... So many great ones out there, would love to hear your thoughts!