Harry and Ron’s Bad Decision – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5

Hi there, Muggles!

Have I mentioned how excited I am when we finally get to go to Hogwarts? I always love reading about Harry’s adventures before he arrives at school every year, especially when we reach things like the Quidditch World Cup and Grimmauld Place, but… there’s nothing quite like going to Hogwarts, is there?

In today’s video, we break down the chapter and also talk about the future of our channel. Take a look!

Around this time in the last book, I had the chance to write about the Hogwarts Express and the importance it holds in Harry’s life—not just as a mode of transportation, but also as a place where Harry experiences important growth and change. I think of this train as a sort of “Transformation Train,” where Harry ventures to new places physically, emotionally, and relationally as we travel farther and farther away from the Muggle world. While I am a little sad we don’t get the chance to see the train, Harry and Ron’s adventure in this chapter is full of excitement.

Let’s get to it!

Photo by Roland Lösslein on Unsplash

Today, I want to briefly break down Harry and Ron’s decision-making during this chapter. This includes delving into the boys’ thought process and answering the hard question, “What were they thinking here?” And I don’t mean that sarcastically!

Let’s lay out the scene. When Harry and Ron attempt to get through Platform 9 ¾, they are literally blocked. As they sprint toward the barrier, all the magic seems to have disappeared—they crash into the brick wall in front of the entirety of King’s Cross Station.

I hate to consider that this is exactly what would happen if I were to try to get onto Platform 9 ¾. Will that stop me from trying if given the chance? Probably not. But let’s not dwell on the fact that I’m stuck in the Muggle world… Let’s think about what this horrible incident means for Harry and Ron.

The boys are unable to get onto the platform and board the Hogwarts Express, and ultimately, they miss the train. THE HORROR. They also have a ton of Muggles staring at them as Hedwig screeches nonstop. I feel awkward just considering the situation these two are in.

Then, our main characters make a very interesting decision—they believe the best course of action is to take the Weasleys’ flying car and follow the Hogwarts Express to the school. Now, when reading this chapter, my first thought was why? I’m sure some (if not all) of you may be feeling the same way. Of all the things they could do, why do they decide to do this?

This obviously turns out to be a terrible idea, but honestly, I’m not here to bash Harry and Ron today. When I was twelve, I’m pretty sure I got freaked out every time I lost sight of my mom in Wal-Mart, so I’m not one who needs to judge. On a serious note, I believe there are some really interesting points to consider as we decipher Harry and Ron’s thought process here.

After a lot of thinking, I’ve narrowed down and analyzed some of the key ideas I believe went into this decision. Through examining these, we can learn a little about what Harry and Ron were thinking here and more about who they are as characters.

  • Of course, fear is the ultimate force that guided these two, but I first want to focus on their fear of the unknown and unexpected. Platform 9 ¾ isn’t supposed to shut people out. The fear and confusion Harry and Ron feel as a result of this is the main catalyst affecting their decision-making process for the rest of the scene. This one may seem obvious, but it’s still important for us to take note of as we continue.
  • Second, Harry is guided by his desperation to return to Hogwarts. Much of what Harry does in these first books is motivated by his intense need to return to the true home he’s discovered—Hogwarts. As we’ve discussed, this school is extremely important to him, but not only because it’s where he’s studying to become a wizard. It’s the place where he discovered his first friends, his true purpose and meaning, and his only real connection to his parents, among other things. Hogwarts is an integral part of his identity now. Because of this, any time his ability to return to the only place he’s ever felt at home is threatened, Harry goes into fight or flight mode. This is something that’s going to pop back up in later books, such as Prisoner of Azkaban. In this moment, Ron also feels this instinct on some level, as he considers the situation a true emergency that warrants drastic action.
  • Connected to the point above, we also need to examine another negative reality Harry is facing at the thought of not returning to Hogwarts. Even though the rational part of him probably realizes he and Ron will reach Hogwarts somehow, Harry is very driven by the fear of having to go back to the Dursleys. This is another fear that comes up consistently. While Hogwarts has many wonderful qualities that draw Harry to call it home, it also functions as an escape for this kid. He dreads returning to the Dursleys’ every summer, and this only gets worse as the books continue. While he may not be consciously thinking of them at this moment, he is always desperate to get away from the Dursleys any time he can—and right now, he has to get to Hogwarts, the magnificent home he’s discovered away from his horrible relatives.
  • Even though it isn’t mentioned in this scene, Harry also has the fear that someone is trying to keep him from returning to Hogwarts. Dobby’s visit is one Harry will remember for the rest of his life, and right now, there’s still a lot of confusion over who sent the house-elf in the back of Harry’s mind. Dobby appeared with a dire warning, begging Harry not to return to Hogwarts; now, he’s been barred from entering the only way he knows of that can take him there. With the closing of Platform 9 ¾, his fear quickly becomes realized. This subconscious fear kicks his desperation up another notch.
  • Last… Harry and Ron are twelve. I feel like this is something I definitely need to bring up. In this chapter, they’re two scared, young kids who don’t know what to do and are desperate to reach the school they love. So they make the decision most readily available to them—the flying Ford Anglia.

Now, by analyzing everything that went into this decision, I’m not saying I agree with their course of action. Not at all. Like Professor McGonagall points out, Harry and Ron could have definitely sent Hedwig to the school with a plea for help, or they even could have stayed by the car—Mr. and Mrs. Weasley would have discovered them soon. But today, I wanted to break down this decision and get into Harry and Ron’s minds to explain and identify what drives them. It’s easy for us to scoff and wonder what they were thinking, especially since they’re kids. But people are complex. There’s a lot that goes into the decisions we make, and even if we discover later on that these decisions were mistakes, it doesn’t undo the thought we put into them, even if they were rash and motivated by underlying issues.

Wow, I really enjoyed this article! Do I say that every single time? I truly did have fun with this one, though—I think it’s important to dig deep into our characters’ personalities and thought processes to discover who they are and what drives them as our story develops.

Next week, we FINALLY have it—chapter six with the infamous Gilderoy Lockhart! I’ve already teased this chapter a couple of times in the videos, but it’s going to be a fun one—you don’t want to miss it. Get ready for some in-depth discussion, rants, and an analysis of Dumbledore’s decision to hire this man. It’s going to get real.

Don’t forget to check out the video for this week, and if you ever have any questions, you can reach out through the contact button below.

I’ll see you next time, mischief-makers!

Disclaimer: I do not own any element of the Harry Potter series.


2 Replies to “Harry and Ron’s Bad Decision – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5”

  1. Okay, I already gave you my thoughts about this, but I’m excited for the future of your site! I’m sure it’s going to be great.

    So. I actually didn’t remember the beginning of this chapter – specifically the part where they have to turn back for Ginny’s diary. This has to be Riddle’s diary right?? Just like you mention in the video, we were SO CLOSE to the Chamber remaining closed… What I’m personally curious about though is how much interaction she had with the diary at that point. Obviously she’s already become attached to it, but I wonder if she had begun to behave differently. Rowling doesn’t give us any indication that this is the case, and it’s possible that it hadn’t gotten its hooks into her that far yet, but we also know how much close contact with dark artifacts like this can change someone. Also, does Voldemort know what this horcrux knows? I wonder if he was able to spy on Harry that summer through what Ginny wrote in the diary…

    I also wanted to speak to one thing before hopping into the boys’ decision-making skills. What I think is interesting about all of the difficulty Harry has had with transportation this summer is that it tends to mirror the trouble he’s still having navigating through this new world. I think that your point about the Hogwarts Express being a vehicle of Harry’s transformation is exactly right, and I think you can go farther and apply that to the other methods of magical transportation as well. What I’m going to use to argue this point is the particular trouble he’s had getting around this summer within the first 6 chapters of this book. First he’s barred from any transportation at all at the Dursley’s, then he has a narrow escape in the Anglia. Then he has trouble with the floo powder and lands himself in Knockturn Alley. And now this! Maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see, but it seems to me that Harry’s difficulty in navigating this new world is mirrored in his difficulty to actually navigate as well.

    Now, on to decision-making skills. I actually think your points are pretty fair. These young boys obviously panicked and they utilized an option that was indeed available to them. I also think this explains part of why their punishment is as lax as it is. McGonagall and Dumbledore surely took their age and naïveté into account when they learned of this stunt they’ve pulled. Not to mention they did that solely to get to school – they could have played hooky and gone anywhere! Plus part of me has to wonder if they were becoming suspicious about someone wanting to prevent Harry from arriving at Hogwarts. I can’t imagine that the platform preventing certain people from entering is a common event, and hopefully that threw up some flags for them.

    I’m SO pumped to absolutely grill Lockhart next week! It’s about to get real. It’s about to get passionate. It’s about to get real passionate. lol.


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