Chapter 2: Harry Potter The Vanishing Glass


Synopsis Chapter 2: The Vanishing Glass

Ten years have passed since baby → Harry was left with → the Dursleys. The living room is full of pictures of → Dudley, but none of Harry. Harry, who sleeps in a spidery cupboard, is awakened by his → aunt Petunia, who is telling him to cook breakfast. It is Dudley's birthday and the kitchen table is covered with presents. We are told that Dudley enjoys punching Harry but doesn't usually catch him. Harry is described in detail. Dudley comes into the kitchen and almost throws a tantrum because he has fewer presents than the year before.

The Dursleys find out that → Mrs. Figg, the cat-obsessed lady nearby who usually watches Harry while the Dursleys take Dudley on his birthday trip, has broken her leg. They discuss what to do with Harry, and Dudley wails that he doesn't want him to come. Dudley's friend, Piers Polkiss, arrives and because they don't know what else to do with him, Harry gets to come along to the zoo. → Uncle Vernon warns Harry that if anything strange happens, Harry will be in major trouble. (Strange things seem to happen around Harry, and the Dursleys don't believe him when he says he didn't cause them.)
On the way to the zoo, Uncle Vernon becomes angry when Harry mentions he dreamed about a flying motorcycle.

The zoo goes well at first, and Harry even gets some ice cream. When they get to the reptile house, Harry has a conversation with a large boa constrictor. When Dudley pushes Harry out of the way so he can see the snake's strange behavior, the glass enclosing the snake vanishes. The snake slides out, saying that it will go to his natural environment in Brazil and thanking Harry.

In the car, Dudley and Piers greatly exaggerate their encounter with the snake, and when they are home and Piers is gone, Harry is sent to his cupboard by a furious Uncle Vernon. Later, Harry is lying in his cupboard, thinking. The only thing he remembers about his past is a flash of green light and a pain in his forehead. He also remembers how sometimes, when he's out with the Dursleys, strange looking people seem to recognize him.


Greater Picture Harry Potter The Vanishing Glass Chapter 2

The scene with the snake could be construed as a hint of what is to come in the next two chapters. Harry and the snake are in almost the same position, as both are prisoners and are cut off from the world in which they belong: Harry, stuck with the Dursleys, is being prevented from joining the Wizarding world, just as the snake, captive in the zoo, cannot enter the world of the Amazon jungle. Also, both were raised away from their home, and so have no knowledge of their native worlds. And finally, each in turn is released from their prison, and head for an unknown future, somehow believing that it must be better then what they are leaving behind. In this chapter we learn of Harry's → ability to speak to snakes, a fact that will be extremely important in future books.

While it seems that these early signs of magic could be the trigger which sent the active phase of Albus Dumbledore's great plan into action, we must recall that Harry is about to turn 11, and it is in the September after they reach the age of 11 that magical children are invited to attend school. The author has stated that Hogwarts is the only Wizarding school in the UK, thus every magical child will receive the opportunity to attend when he or she reaches 11. Not all children do attend; some, like → Marvolo Gaunt, who we will meet later, likely would not trust the established school system with their children.

Under the pretext of telling us why the Dursleys are afraid to leave Harry home alone, we learn how Harry used his powers before he knew he was a Wizard, basically in self-defense. This story is contrasted in → Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with the story of how the boy → Tom Riddle (later known as → Lord Voldemort) used his powers to terrorize others before he knew he was a wizard. This comparison adds another layer to the good vs. evil theme


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