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HNRS 30001001: HOW

TO

READ HARRY POTTER LIKE

PROFESSOR

Dr. Heath A. Diehl Bowling Green State University, Spring 2012

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Discussion Questions 1. Aside from the fact that the seasonal settings follow the cycle of the typical academic year, is there any significance to the fact that this novel opens in the fall and closes in the spring? 2. Find one instance in CoS or SS when weather plays a role in underscoring characterization, serving as a plot device, and/or symbolizing theme. Explain how weather functions in that instance. 3. In CoS, readers are introduced to more of the geography of Hogwarts. While note exactly the type of geography that Thomas Foster writes about in Chapter 19 of How to Read Literature Like a Professor, the spaces that humans inhabit within an architectural structure like Hogwarts castle share some key similarities with the geographical landscapes that serve as the primary focus of Fosters discussion. Of such spaces, Foster writes, Literary geography is typically about humans inhabiting spaces, and at the same time the spaces that inhabit humans . . . . Geography is setting, but its also (or can be) psychology, attitude, finance, industryanything that place can forge in the people who live there (165). 3a. What (if anything) is the symbolic, thematic, plot-based, and/or character-based significance of the hallways where many of the basilisk victims are discovered? The haunted bathroom where the Polyjuice Potion is brewed? The Burrow where Harry spends the end of his summer vacation? The Infirmary where Harry and other characters recuperate? The greenhouses where the mandrakes are grown? 3b.1. What do you make of the fact that Harry and Ron have to go into the forest (on May 24) in order to learn a key piece of information? How does the Forbidden Forest function within the narrative of CoS? 3b.2. Does the Forbidden Forest function in similar ways to how that setting functions in SS? In what ways does that space mean something different in each of these novels? 3c. What do you make of the fact that the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is located in Moaning Myrtles bathroom? What do you make of the fact that the Chamber is accessed through sewage drains? (And, on a related note, that the basilisk traverses the castle through those same drains?) What do you make of the fact that the Chamber is located far below ground? 4. What significance (if any) is there in the fact that Harry and Dobby meet for the first time in Harrys Privet Drive bedroom? That they meet for the second time in the Infirmary? 5. Why might J. K. Rowling have chosen to set the dueling club scene in the Great Hall?

6. What is the significance (if any) of the dates/seasons when Harry initially hears the basilisks voice: 1) September 5 (summer); 2) October 31 (fall). 7. What significance (if any) is there in the dates and/or seasons when the various attacks occur? Mrs. Norris: October 31 (fall) Colin Creevey: November 8 (fall) Justin Fitch-Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick: December 18 (fall/winter) Hermione Granger and Penelope Clearwater: May 8 (spring) 8. Do you see any significance in the temporal correlation between the blizzard and the revelation that Harry is a Parseltongue? (Think about this correlation in terms of plot, character, setting, and theme.) 9. Is there any significance to the fact that the Polyjuice Potion is completed on December 25? 10. What significance (if any) do you attach to the fact that Ginny is taken into the Chamber on May 29 (spring)? Season Winter Spring Summer Fall Typical Start Date in the Northern Hemisphere December 21/22 March 20/21 June 20/21 September 22/23