SUMMARY: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second book in the series, begins with Harry Potter spending a dreadful summer with his only remaining family, the awful Muggle (people without magic) aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, and his ever more so nasty cousin, Dudley. The date was July 31, Harry’s Birthday, but the Dursley’s least cared about it, in fact, they prohibited Harry from coming out of his room while they threw a grand dinner party for their clients.
Whilst the party, Harry is visited by an unexpected guest, Dobby, who is a house-elf bound in serving a wizarding family. Dobby warns Harry not to return to Hogwarts because of the danger that awaits him. Harry does not take the warning seriously, and is desperate to get away from Dursley’s, and go back to the only friends he had at school.
Dobby determined for the safety of Harry, to make his point, he casts a spell and causes havoc in the kitchen exasperating the Dursleys. The Dursleys indignantly imprisons Harry by putting bars on his bedroom windows and barred him from going back to School to learn more magic. Luckily, Ronald Weasley, Harry’s best friend comes to the rescue in a glorious flying car that belongs to his father and helps Harry escape. Harry goes to Ron’s house at the Burrow to spend the rest of the summer with him and his family.
While shopping for school supplies at the Diagon Alley, Harry meets Gilderoy Lockhart, who is going to be their Defense Against the Dark Art teacher. In order to get more attention, Lockhart demands to be in a photo shoot with Harry for the Daily Prophet Newspaper. Harrys next encounter is Lucius Malfoy, the malicious father of Draco Malfoy, one of Harry’s enemies at school. Lucius Malfoy gets into a fight with Mr. Weasley by making inappropriate comments over his poverty. This reflects how ruthless the Malfoy’s could be, and why Harry would not even dream of becoming friends with such a person.
In order to return to Hogwarts, Harry and Ron goes to the train station to catch the Hogwarts express, but finds to their astonishment that they cannot get through the ever so famous magically invisible train platform number 9 and ¾. Panicking over missing the train, they decide to take Mr. Weasley’s enchanted car and fly it manually to Hogwarts. In their journey, due to some technical difficulties in the car, they are spotted by a few muggles, which is strictly prohibited by the wizarding law in order to keep the wizarding world a secret. They manage to reach the school, and had a messy landing crashing into the Whomping Willow, a violent tree that destroys the car, and both the boys are given detentions for their irresponsible behavior and actions.
Harry starts to notice unusual events that occur all around the castle, at first, he hears whispering voices that no one else can hear; he is convinced that he might be losing his mind and is just his imagination. However, on the Halloween night, while coming back from a party, Harry, Hermoine and Ron notices that there is water on the floor and “someone” or “something” had petrifies the school caretaker’s cat Mrs. Norris, hung by her tail, and wrote a sinister message on the wall “THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE” (8.163)”. Right before Mrs. Norris is attacked, Harry heard the same whispering voices that he heard before. His suspicions are confirmed that the voices that he hears were somehow connected to the unfortunate events that occurred. Everyone in the school is alarmed, and suspects Harry for the same. After doing some research and investigation, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, are brought to light the fact that similar events occurred 50 years ago when the Chamber of Secrets at Hogwarts was opened and a student was killed.
Professor Lockhart had a Dueling Club meet, where Harry and Malfoy stood against each other, during their duel, Malfoy with his spell made a snake appear that proceeded to attack a Huffelpuff student, Harry unaware that he is speaking in parsel tongue (snake language) asks the snake not to attack, whereas the other students who were completely unaware of what Harry was saying believed that he was asking the snake to attack. It was known that one of the founder of the school; Salazar Slytherin could speak parsel tongue, who was apparently the creator of the Chamber of Secrets. Witnessing Harry’s ability to talk to snakes terrifies the rest of the students and makes them believe that Harry was an heir to the Slytherin and has opened the Chamber of Secrets once again. Student’s suspicions are further fuelled when Harry is found around the petrified bodies of Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly- Headless Nick. The petrification of the next victim, Colin Creevey makes the matter even worse.
With sheer determination to catch the culprit and find out who the heir of Slytherin is, Harry, Ron and Hermione prepares a Poly Juice potion that allows them to take the form of any person for an hour as long as they have a few strands of their hair. Malfoy being the primary suspect, they choose to take the form of his best friends Crabb & Goyle and in turn question him on the Chamber of Secrets without raising any suspicion. However, to their dismay, they discover that Malfoy is not the heir of Slytherin.
Just when things seem to be settling down, Harry discovers a diary that belonged to a former Hogwarts student Tom Riddle that had been dumped in the bathroom haunted by the ghost of Moaning Myrtle. The attack earlier on Mrs. Norris was near to the very same bathroom, and was flooded again. Harry, to his astonishment finds out that the pages of diary were blank, and was curious to find out what mysteries lies in it. Tom Riddle had put some enchantments on the diary to store few of his memories. Harry started to write on the diary, and to his amazement, the diary started to respond back. On asking the diary what happened 50 years ago, the diary shows him that Hagrid was hiding a furious creature and had opened the Chamber of Secrets.
Just before the Quidditch match, Hermione had a breakthrough and went to the library for some research, however she and a Ravenclaw girl were mysteriously petrified. Harry and Ron venture out of the castle to confront Hagrid. While with Hagrid, the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, and Lucius Malfoy remove Dumbledore and Hagrid from Hogwarts. As Hagrid is led away, he instructs the boys that by following the spiders, they can find out about the Chamber monster.
Harry grows more determined to find out the culprit behind these attacks, several nights later, Harry and Ron sneak into the Forbidden Forest to follow the spiders. They discover the monster who killed the girl fifty years before was not a spider, that the girl’s body was found in a bathroom, and that Hagrid is innocent. The boys are almost killed by a colony of giant spiders. As they escape, Harry and Ron decide that Moaning Myrtle must have been the girl killed by the monster.
A few days later, Ron and Harry discover a piece of paper with a description of a basilisk on it in Hermione’s frozen hand. They deduce the Chamber monster is a basilisk. Before the boys can act on their knowledge, the teachers announce that Ginny Weasley has been taken into the chamber. Ron, Harry, and Lockhart slide down a secret passage in Myrtle’s bathroom to underground tunnels. When Lockhart accidentally curses himself, Ron helps him and Harry leaves them behind. Harry enters the Chamber of Secrets and encounters Ginny’s still body and Tom Riddle. Tom turns out to be a younger version of Voldemort, who has been enchanting Ginny through his journal. Harry calls for help from Dumbledore. A phoenix and a magic hat arrive. Tom summons a basilisk, but the phoenix punctures its eyes. The hat produces a sword, which Harry uses to kill the giant snake. Harry sticks a basilisk fang through the diary, destroying Tom. Ginny wakes up.
Harry explains his adventure to Dumbledore. Lucius Malfoy storms into the office with his house-elf, Dobby, and Harry frees Dobby from by tricking Lucius into giving Dobby a sock. All is well in the castle as the students leave for their summer vacations.
Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Grade Level: 4 – 7
Lexile Measure: 940L (What’s this?)
Series: Harry Potter (Book 2)
Paperback: 341 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 1, 2000)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Although she writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling, pronounced like rolling, her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother Kathleen Ada Bulgen Rowling. She calls herself Jo and has said, “No one ever called me ‘Joanne’ when I was young, unless they were angry.” Following her marriage, she has sometimes used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business. During the Leveson Inquiry she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling. In a 2012 interview, Rowling noted that she no longer cared that people pronounced her name incorrectly.
Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling, a Rolls-Royce aircraft engineer, and Anne Rowling (née Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Bristol. Her mother Anne was half-French and half-Scottish. Her parents first met on a train departing from King’s Cross Station bound for Arbroath in 1964. They married on 14 March 1965. Her mother’s maternal grandfather, Dugald Campbell, was born in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. Her mother’s paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during the First World War.
Rowling’s sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael’s Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael’s, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister. She recalls that: “I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it. Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee.” At the age of nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said “taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind,” gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford’s autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling’s heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.
Rowling has said of her teenage years, in an interview with The New Yorker, “I wasn’t particularly happy. I think it’s a dreadful time of life.” She had a difficult homelife; her mother was ill and she had a difficult relationship with her father (she is no longer on speaking terms with him). She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother had worked as a technician in the science department. Rowling said of her adolescence, “Hermione [a bookish, know-it-all Harry Pottercharacter] is loosely based on me. She’s a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I’m not particularly proud of.” Steve Eddy, who taught Rowling English when she first arrived, remembers her as “not exceptional” but “one of a group of girls who were bright, and quite good at English.” Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books.