So the second books starts off with Harry at home with his aunt and uncle fore the summer holidays. And they are terrified of him!! The mystery starts straight away with Harry seeing two eyes in the bushes; he doesn’t figure out what it is however because his cousin Dudley walks up. Anyway, Harry has to clean the house because his Uncle Vernon is having some very important clients come over- the Masons. Of course the Dursleys don’t want Harry to meet this important client for fear that he may accidentally do magic.
Now for those of you who haven’t read book 1 I will tell you that young wizards magical ability is tied to their emotions. Young children often do magic when they are scared, angry, or in danger. For example one of Harry’s classmates Neville was accidentally dropped out of a second story window. Instead of being injured, Neville bounced out to the road like a rubber ball.
When the company arrives Harry is sent to his room after being strictly warned not to make noise. Well a little surprise is waiting for him in the form of Dobby the house elf.
Harry comes in contact with the second vice of the wizarding world- Racism. In this world, there are five sentient magical races- merpeople, centaurs, elves, and goblins. For various reasons humans are deemed the only magical race who can wield a wand. The other races are considered and treated as second-class citizens. As the series proceeds, this racism enables a lot of wickedness to occur
Dobby has come to warn him not to return to Hogwarts that year. When Harry refuses, Dobby destroys the dessert Aunt Petunia made for the guests. As a result, Uncle Vernon doesn’t close his big deal, and Harry is locked in his room with bars placed at his window. His Uncle has sworn that he will never go back to Hogwarts.
This last for a few days until the Weasleys- Fred, George, and Ron- come and rescue Harry much to his relatives’ amazement and horror. Fred, George, and Ron show up in a flying Ford Anglia to rescue Harry and take him back to the Burrow.
Here we’re introduced in depth to the Weasley family who is the first Wizard family Harry has come in contact with. Arthur Weasley, the father, works for the Ministry of Magic in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts. Molly Prewett Weasley is a stay at home mom who rules her house in a loving yet firm way. Bill and Charlie are the two eldest brothers who do not live at home and thus do not make an appearance in this book. Percy Weasley is a perfectionist snob who has an indecent enthusiasm for rules. Fred and George Weasley are identical twins that are probably the most mischievous troublemakers Hogwarts has ever seen. Ron Weasley is, of course, Harry’s best friend and constantly feels over shadowed by his brothers. Finally the seventh child is Ginevra Molly Weasley, Ginny, who is the first daughter born to the Weasley family in generations and has a terrible crush on Harry; she is also starting her first year at Hogwarts. The Weasleys become Harry’s surrogate family, and for the first time he experiences familial love.
At the end of the summer, it is time for everyone to go back to school. The only problem is that Harry and Ron can’t get through the barrier at platform 9¾ to get to the train. They decide to take the flying car to Hogwarts. Things go well till the get to Hogwarts when the car crashes into the Whomping Willow, which beats them down to the ground. Of course before they can sneak into the castle they are accosted by their least favorite teacher- Prof. Snape, who takes them to his office and calls their Head of House, Prof. McGonagall, and Prof. Dumbledore who have the power to expel them. They aren’t expelled, but Dumbledore strictly warns them that they will be expelled if they break any more rules.
The mystery that is introduced this year is the Chamber of Secrets. While doing detention for the flying car incident, Harry hears a bloodthirsty voice that the teacher cannot hear. A month later Harry hears and follows it (along with Hermione and Ron) to a wall that has written in red paint THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR BEWARE. Beneath the writing is the caretaker Filch’s cat, which has been petrified. Filch feels Harry has hurt his cat because Filch is a Squib. This scene takes place near an out of order girl’s bathroom that is haunted by the ghost Moaning Myrtle.
Another kind of prejudiced is introduced in this book. In this world, magical children can be born to non-magical people and they are known as Muggle-borns. Magical parents can have non-magical children; these children are called Squibs. Harry also comes in contact with the phrase, “Mudblood.” Most staunch purebloods looked down on Muggle-born wizards. Because they don’t have wizarding pedigree, purebloods consider Muggle-borns to have dirty blood.
As I mentioned in the other book, Hogwarts was started c. 1000 A.D. by four founders- Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. Slytherin was responsible for starting pureblood mania because he believed that magical learning should be kept in all magical families because muggle-born wizards he considered unworthy to study magic. As a result of his notions he had a major falling out with the other founders and eventually left. Before he left, he created a Chamber of Secrets in which he placed a monster that only his heir would be able to control. He was his desire that his heir would return and purge the school of those who were unworthy. As it turned out Slytherin had the ability to speak to snakes known as Parselmouth. Over time, this ability was associated with Dark Wizards and viewed as taboo. In a surprise revelation, Harry has this ability; so all the students believe he is the Heir of Slytherin and are afraid of him.
In the end, Lord Voldemort is revealed as the Heir of Slytherin. Lord Voldemort is an anagram for Tom Marvolo Riddle, which is Voldemort’s true name. Tom Riddle had been a student at Hogwarts 50 years before and opened the Chamber. This incident ended with a death of a girl who became the ghost Moaning Myrtle. Tom Riddle set up Hagrid to take the fall, which is why Hagrid was expelled and never became a fully qualified wizard. The monster in the Chamber is a basilisk, which is a giant snake. The voice Harry had been hearing shortly before the snake attacked its victim was the snake’s voice. Fortunately, this time no one was killed merely petrified; and there was a remedy to restore them. However Harry once again had to fight Voldemort. See Dumbledore had often suspected Tom Riddle opened the Chamber the first time and watched him carefully. As a result, Riddle used his diary to preserve the memory of himself when 16 years old so that in time he could use someone to finish what he had started. This diary had been given to Ginny Weasley by one of Voldemort’s followers. So Voldemort was possessing Ginny and causing her to terrorize the school. Unfortunately, the diary worked by Ginny pouring her soul in the diary through writing in it. This enabled the memory to free itself of the diary and become an independent person; this process would be complete with Ginny’s death. Tom Riddle and Harry have a discussion; and Riddle remarks that he and Harry are very much alike- they are both half-bloods, parselmouths, and they even look similar. However, Harry prevents the memory Riddle from becoming independent of the diary with help from Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawks, and the Sorting Hat that made Gryffindor’s sword appear. Harry slays the basilisk and saves Ginny.
Then comes the most important part of the book- the post adventure Dumbledore chat. Dumbledore reveals that Harry can speak parseltongue because Voldemort who is Slytherin’s heir can. Voldemort accidentally transferred some of his power to Harry the night he tried to kill him. Harry becomes quite depressed because he remembered during his sorting, the hat wished to play him in Slytherin recognizing Voldemort in Harry; however Harry asked not to be placed in Slytherin. Dumbledore makes the first of many noteworthy statements.
It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
Despite Harry’s similarities to Voldemort, he is very different from Voldemort because he has chosen to do good. As further proof that Harry belonged in Gryffindor House, Dumbledore reveals that the sword has Gryffindor’s name engraved on it and only a true Gryffindor could have pulled the sword from the hat. Harry also frees Dobby from his master who is revealed as Lucius Malfoy, the man that planted the diary on Ginny.
****END OF SPOILERS****
Point of interest, this was the first Harry Potter book I read. Since I had seen the Sorcerer’s Stone, I decided not to read it first. This book really blew me away. I had no idea of the complexity of the story. Since reading this book I found out that J.K. Rowling did approximately 5 years of research and planning before writing the first book; and it definitely shows.
To me this is truly the beginning of the change in the series. The first book, even though there was the good and evil battle was still light-hearted. To me what made this a little darker is because Harry has realized that there is evil inside of him to a certain extent because he possesses some of Voldemort’s abilities. In addition, the whole school was being terrorized. I saw this as being the real start of Harry’s growth into an adult.
Questions I had afterwards:
1. Why did Voldemort have his ancestor’s pureblood mania when he himself was a half-blood (witch mother and muggle father)?
2. Why didn’t Dumbledore trust Riddle as a youth?
3. What purpose does having the Whomping Willow serve?
4. How was the diary created?
5. Why would preserving a memory require feeding off someone’s soul?
6. Why is it that Hagrid’s pet acromanula suspected of killing when there were no spider bites on Myrtle?
7. What did the remaining Founders do to prepare against the Chamber being opened in the future?
8. Why wasn’t Dumbledore, who is the most powerful wizard of his day, able to find the Chamber when he searched the school?
9. Where did Slytherin go after leaving Hogwarts?
10. We were told in the first book that the Founders put part of their brains into the Sorting Hat to sort future generations, when Harry asked for help, the Sword appeared. Who actually helped Harry? Did he call the sword because he is in Gryffindor House or did Gryffindor actually help him?
11. During sorting, is the voice one hears through the hat the Founders?
12. What else can that sorting hat do?
I don’t need to say that I highly recommend the book. I think everyone already picked up on that.