Muggles Guide Harry Potter Chapter 1 The Boy Who Lived

Synopsis Chapter 1 The Boy Who Lived



Mr and Mrs Dursley, of → number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.

→ Mr Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardlyany neck, although he did have a very large moustache. → Mrs Dursley was thin and blond and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbours. The Dursleys had a small son called

→ Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.

Mr Dursley notices strange events on his way to work: a cat on Privet Drive happens to be reading a map, and people dressed in colourful robes are walking in the streets. Mr Dursley attempts to disregard these oddities. During his lunch break, he sees another group of curiously robed people, and hears mention of the Potters and their son, Harry.

He is reminded of the Dursleys' shameful secret, and the reason why they pretend the Potters don't exist. When Mr Dursley arrives home, he hears reports of unforeseen shooting stars and flocks of owls flying during the daytime. Previously unwilling to discuss the Potters with Mrs Dursley, he finally verifies with her that their nephew's name is Harry. Mr Dursley sleeps uneasily.

Later that night, a mysterious man by the name of → Albus Dumbledore appears in Privet Drive. He removes from his robes a → Put-Outer with which he extinguishes the street lights. Dumbledore addresses the cat which seemed to be reading a map earlier as → Professor McGonagall, prompting the cat to transform into a robed woman. The couple talk about how recent celebrations have left "→ Muggles" inquisitive. Dumbledore confirms with McGonagall that → James and → Lily Potter are dead, and their infant son → Harry was apparently involved in the defeat of their assailant, an entity named "You-Know-Who" or → Voldemort. Harry, according to Dumbledore, is due to arrive at Privet Drive soon by means of someone named → Hagrid.

Hagrid arrives transporting himself and Harry on a flying motorbike. Dumbledore leaves the baby on the doorstep of number four with a letter. McGonagall despairs at the fact that Harry, a definite celebrity, will spend his childhood with such people. Hagrid re-mounts his motorcycle, McGonagall once again becomes a cat, and Dumbledore re-illuminates the streetlights, and they all depart.

Greater Picture Harry Potter Chapter 1 The Boy Who Lived


This chapter provides the framework for the contrast that will be echoed throughout the series between the magical and the mundane. The events that immediately result in Harry's being orphaned are not discussed in this chapter, but are gradually revealed throughout the series. They are included here by way of reference.

Harry Potter is orphaned when the Dark → Lord Voldemort murders his wizarding parents, → Lily and → James Potter. Voldemort breaks into the Potters' house in the village of → Godric's Hollow and duels with James.

Voldemort kills James and attempts to do the same to Lily and Harry. He is successful in killing Lily, ignoring her pleas to spare their lives, but his attempt to kill Harry backfires and Voldemort is apparently killed instead. When Harry is older and, during his first year at Hogwarts, → meets with Voldemort, Voldemort states that Harry's mother need not have died. Lily's sacrificial attempt to save Harry, however, causes the → curse, which Voldemort consequently attempts on Harry, to backfire. This forms a connection between attacker and victim, during which, parts of Voldemort's powers are transferred to the infant, and give Harry a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead.

The protection that Lily gives her son — which → Albus Dumbledore later explains as her "love" for Harry — destroys Voldemort's physical body and would have killed him completely had it not been for the Dark magic he had been using to split his soul, called → Horcruxes. The downfall of Voldemort renders Harry an extremely popular figure in the wizarding world.

It is entirely possible that, because of the → Fidelius charm that was meant to protect the Potters from Voldemort still being active, Hagrid would have been unable to find the place until one of the parties to the secret was there. We can safely assume that Sirius, as one of James' closest friends, would have been aware of the Potters' location; in fact, he does say, in → Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, that he had seen "the bodies and the destruction" of the house, so he must have known the secret, either before the Fidelius charm was performed, or by → Peter Pettigrew (who we will not meet until → the third book) informing him of it afterwards. It has been conjectured that Hagrid was unable to enter the remains of the house to recover Harry until Sirius appeared on the scene, and it could have been Sirius who actually removed Harry from the wreckage and passed him to Hagrid to carry back to Little Whinging. Hagrid does say, however, in → Chapter 4, that he took Harry from the wreckage himself, so we have to assume either that Hagrid was in on the secret, or else that the Fidelius charm ends automatically when the secret it is designed to protect (in this case, the whereabouts of James and Lily) is no longer operative.

We could speculate as to
Chapter 1: The Boy Who Lived 8
which it is, but given that the house is apparently visible to all wizards by the time of → the seventh book, it is most likely that the charm had simply ended with Lily's death. The fact that Sirius had seen "the wreckage" was also thought to be significant; the Killing Curse does not affect things, only people, and so does not leave wreckage. So the house would have been intact when Voldemort died,
giving us a standing house, three dead bodies, and Harry.

Add to this the fact that in → Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort had his wand back, and we are drawn inescapably to the conclusion that someone, most likely Peter Pettigrew, was there with Voldemort, was aware of his downfall, recovered his wand (and perhaps concealed his body), and destroyed the house, either in revenge or in frustration, while leaving Harry untouched, likely out of fear that whatever had felled Voldemort would kill anyone who tried to attack Harry.

We have found out since that the destruction in the house was restricted to the room in which Lily was killed and Harry was sleeping; it is possible that Pettigrew blasted his way out of the house carrying Voldemort's body rather than trying to carry it back down the stairs. The fact that Voldemort, in his memory of that night as viewed in → the seventh book, does not recall Peter accompanying him is inconclusive; Voldemort does not seem to pay much attention to his Death Eaters, unless they are directly in his way.

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