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Chamber of Secrets: Chapter 5 "The Whomping Willow"
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:55 pm    Post subject: Chamber of Secrets: Chapter 5 "The Whomping Willow" Reply with quote

Are there any fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer who saw the title of this chapter and got an image of a certain red-haired computer nerd taking a baseball bat to some of her fellow students, particularly the popular and stupid and cruel ones? No? Was that just me? Razz

Well, here we are with another chapter that describes a location, at least a place where our hero ends up. Not unlike the title of the book itself, eh?

Starting with a delightful description of who the Weasley family gets ready to take the kids to school--complete with not-unimportant detours back to pick up objects for the George (fireworks), Fred (his broomstick) and Ginny (her diary). There's an interesting psychological point here, in that Mrs. Weasley thinks it very nice that her hubby's Ford Anglia be as large inside as a small bus. Wizards really don't see the world the way we do, not at all. But then, there's a lot of mis-perceptions throughout this book. Frankly, Dobby is the least of them, as is the way so many people dismiss his warnings out-of-hand.

But to return to this chapter...Ron and Harry for some reason cannot go through the barrier to Platform 9 3/4. Stuck there, Ron in particular shows that he's the brother of the Twins and decides to fly the Ford Anglia all the way to Hogwarts. Both of them think this'll be a lark, until of course they are both hungry and thirsty from a long trip, and of course the car itself goes all wonky just as they reach the castle. They land, as luck (or destiny) would have it right in the branches of a Whomping Willow--not unlike a bad-tempered Ent when you think about it. Now, this tree will actually prove important in later books. It has quite a history. But for now let us look at two direct consequences of this crash-landing.

First, Ron breaks his wand. As we'll see, this is actually a good thing in the end, not least because with a new wand frankly Ron becomes better at magic. Yet one also wonders if perhaps this school year, struggling as he must with a second-hand and poorly repaired magical instrument, his focus got better out of necessity? Ron is far from stupid, after all, but he has a lazy streak and frankly has little emotional reason to exert himself.

Second, and more subtly, the Ford Anglia demonstrates a very interesting trait. Infused with magic, it has apparently come alive to some extent and decides it has had enough. Not that it dislikes these boys, but it no longer wishes to be at their beck and call. In fact, it decides to live as a free-ranging magical car in the Forbidden Forest. One has to wonder what else might be roaming around in there... Well, some answers to that question are forthcoming. But even more importantly, here is demonstrated the interesting idea that magic is to some extent alive and even sentient. Which brings up interesting possibilities with magical objects such as Hogwarts Castle, and wands. Not to mention books or hats or swords!

Making their way into the castle, we miss the sorting ceremony. Ron and Harry make a fairly foolish mistake upon not seeing Snape at the table with the other teachers. They assume/hope their least favorite teacher might have left, only to discover (to their horror) he has snuck up behind them, hearing every unflattering word. Harry gets the unsettling impression Snape is reading their minds (foreshadowing!) and then must face the music from MacGonnagal and Dumbledore. They have flouted all kinds of important rules. There will be punishment. But we also get the nice little insight that Harry in particular hopes their punishment will not touch Gryffindore. Rather farsighted for a twelve-year old. Which is both impressive and a little sad. Harry hasn't really had much a childhood, when you think about it.

And of course, most of the Gryffindores now think of them as heroes for being such efficient troublemakers--all save Percy and Hermione. It is a nice touch that those two are so similar and yet so very different throughout the series. Meanwhile, all this adulation will turn around and bite Harry in the bum before too long. The mob is fickle, and pays too much attention to flash. Look at the Gilderoy Lockhart and Severus Snape! Between those two, who is the more impressive wizard, the braver man, the more accomplished hero, even the better teacher? Yet which one is popular? And with whom?

One final question--whose idea was it that the Gryffindore password be "wattlebird" and for God's sake WHY? Confused
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 1:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Chamber of Secrets: Chapter 5 "The Whomping Willow& Reply with quote

Zahir wrote:
..Ron and Harry for some reason cannot go through the barrier to Platform 9 3/4. They land, as luck (or destiny) would have it right in the branches of a Whomping Willow--not unlike a bad-tempered Ent when you think about it.
First, Ron breaks his wand.Second, and more subtly, the Ford Anglia demonstrates a very interesting trait.
There introduction to the Whopping Willow does set down foundations for the rest of the book Ron remains haphazard as always but still adds a sense of fun to the proceddings.As for the Ford Anglia it has a mind of its own Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've forever been confused about the wand thing. If the wand chooses the wizard or witch, why would Charlie have needed a new wand and why would it be handed down to Ron in the first place. Now the wand is broken but it never explains why Charlie gave it up in the first place. It wasn't broken before so why? This has forever bothered me. It becomes even more of an issue in later books.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cameraman Jenn wrote:
I've forever been confused about the wand thing. If the wand chooses the wizard or witch, why would Charlie have needed a new wand and why would it be handed down to Ron in the first place. Now the wand is broken but it never explains why Charlie gave it up in the first place. It wasn't broken before so why? This has forever bothered me. It becomes even more of an issue in later books.


I always figured the Weasley's bought their wands at a second hand store. In that case, once Charlie started working, he would buy a wand that chose him and give up his old wand. This is never stated in the text, but this is the rationale I used to get through that issue while reading.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Be welcome to the Watch and the JKR sub-forum, Bokus.
Be Well Come and True.

Nice interpretation. I always pretty much assumed the same and felt that was one reason why Ron always had such a difficult time with wand spells at first.

By the way, if you haven't already done so, come introduce yourself to the Watch in the Say Hello in Here! thread in The Summonsing. Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again I still have issues with wands even being sold in second hand stores. There are very few wandmakers in existence and it's a very specialized field and practice.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also agree with that.
My assumption is such a second hand store would probably only be found in places like Knockturn Alley, rather than Diagon Alley.

I mean, we do read later of at least one wand that finds several different owners, albeit that one is a special one. And we do see the occasional character grabbing the nearest wand and using it, even if it is not his own. Maybe even at a second hand store, previously owned wands can still choose a wizard or witch. So, if one can't afford a new wand perhaps buying a previously owned one is an option.

Perhaps being the second Weasley child to go to Hogwarts, Charlie was able to have a previously owned wand choose him, and while not perfect, it was a wand that chose him. As he started to earn his own living, he went up to a wand that was for him specifically, so no lingering spells remained within it.

Perhaps Ron, being the 6th Weasly child, wasn't even given that option. There was a discarded wand, and he had to "make due."

Maybe.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's one of those things I just can't legitimize in my mind. Sorry to harp on it so much. Considering how important this becomes later it's always seemed like a glaring oversight on the part of JKR. Confused
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always interpreted it to be a wand that had originally belonged to some relative who had passed away, and had just gotten handed down, first to Charlie, and then to Ron when Charlie bought his own. Sort of like a family heirloom(but I haven't read this book in quite a long time, and I don't have any of them sitting in front of me, so let me know if there's evidence to the contrary).
Familial relation to the original owner would probably mean that it would work well enough for the time being.
I really can't imagine that a second hand wand store would be such a good idea, and if such a thing did exist I would imagine that it wouldn't be completely legal to sell them. Because, where did the wands come from? Who used them first? How do you know they're legitimate? They could have some curse on them or something. How do you know that the person who it originally belonged to isn't still around, that the wand wasn't just stolen from them? I can't see Arthur Weasley buying something illegal or of questionable origin for his children, since he works in the ministry.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

magickmaker17 wrote:
I always interpreted it to be a wand that had originally belonged to some relative who had passed away, and had just gotten handed down, first to Charlie, and then to Ron when Charlie bought his own. Sort of like a family heirloom(but I haven't read this book in quite a long time, and I don't have any of them sitting in front of me, so let me know if there's evidence to the contrary).
Familial relation to the original owner would probably mean that it would work well enough for the time being.


This is also a possibility. I can't imagine all wizards and witches are buried or entombed with their wands. And simply because the brandisher passes, would that mean a wand loses its usefulness?


magickmaker17 wrote:
I really can't imagine that a second hand wand store would be such a good idea, and if such a thing did exist I would imagine that it wouldn't be completely legal to sell them. Because, where did the wands come from? Who used them first? How do you know they're legitimate? They could have some curse on them or something. How do you know that the person who it originally belonged to isn't still around, that the wand wasn't just stolen from them?


All really good points, which is why I said such a shop would probably be on Knockturn Alley rather than Diagon Alley.

magickmaker17 wrote:
I can't see Arthur Weasley buying something illegal or of questionable origin for his children, since he works in the ministry.


Well...
The enchanted Ford Anglia alone shows us how much stock Arthur Weasley puts in being concerned about legalities with the ministry. Laughing

Great to see you here, magick. Care to take a chapter if you come upon the book? Big Grin
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Menolly wrote:
Be welcome to the Watch and the JKR sub-forum, Bokus.
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Thanks Menolly!

Cameraman Jenn wrote:
Again I still have issues with wands even being sold in second hand stores. There are very few wandmakers in existence and it's a very specialized field and practice.


I agree that it is a specialized field and practice, but to me it indicates wands are expensive. For the Weasley family, I see that being a huge problem. So where do poor families get wands?

magickmaker17 wrote:
I always interpreted it to be a wand that had originally belonged to some relative who had passed away, and had just gotten handed down, first to Charlie, and then to Ron when Charlie bought his own. Sort of like a family heirloom


I like this idea as well.

One problem I had with the wand choosing the wizard is: what happens to the wands after people die? (I have a hard time imagining the great wand scrap heap.) I like the idea that it stays in the family.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Menolly wrote:
Great to see you here, magick. Care to take a chapter if you come upon the book? Big Grin
We'll see...Chamber of Secrets has always been my least favorite book in the series, so you might have to wait until you've moved on to PoA for me to do a chapter. I might be persuaded though....I think Batty has her copy of CoS here.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HBP warningSpoiler:
There is a very clear and important example of a wizard getting buried with his/her wand.


DH warningSpoiler:
I can see a wand being handed down but even that is still a bit contradictory since we come to find out that you must "earn" a wand's allegience by disarming it's owner.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In both your examples, Jenn, that has to do with one very specific wand. Does JKR say that is the case with every wand?

I can see some wizards and witches choosing to be buried with their wand...
DH warning: Spoiler:
But I think the wand in question was entombed in the futile hope it would be left there...

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rowling has answered these questions.

Wands are so filled with magic they are partially alive and sentient. Almost any wizard or witch can use virtually any wand, but you get the best results with one to which you have a "right." To get such a right, the wand needs to choose you, you need to have inherited it or had it passed down in your family, or you need to have defeated the previous wand-wielder.

Ron's wand was passed down to him by his family. It worked better than a wand in similar condition would have than if it hadn't been in his family. Of course, a personal wand would (and will) work better still.

Later on, of course, someone does defeat a wizard and can then use their wand better than they can a total stranger's which they happened to grab.

A second-hand wand, not won but purchased, would still work. Just not as well. Poorer wizarding families have to make do. And I imagine there are probably families that have a wand-maker in their ranks, and their wands work better for that particular family because of the blood relation. But that is just a personal theory...
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Zahir. I wish she had been clearer about that IN her books though. Big Grin
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Chamber of Secrets: Chapter 5 "The Whomping Willow& Reply with quote

Zahir wrote:
One final question--whose idea was it that the Gryffindore password be "wattlebird" and for God's sake WHY? Confused

Would YOU have thought of it if you weren't a Gryffindore?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's no odder than some of the other passwords although my favorite one was abstinence. Big Grin
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't remember that! what book was that in?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't remember which book but it was after a Christmas break and the fat lady and her friend drank all the wine from the casks in another painting so she changed the password to abstinence because of her vicious hangover. I always found that amusing. Big Grin At least I think it was in the books. Hopefully I'm not confusing it with one of the films. But I'm pretty sure it was in a book.
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