This chapter could probably be titled as a Prologue. Only in the sense that all other chapters in the book are from Harry’s perspective, and if I was writing it, I might do it that way.
I do like that there are 2 POVs though. JKR did very well giving us the impression of how the Dursley’s view the world: normal and abnormal. And we only see small glimpses of the abnormal. That is better, because then there is plenty of room to grow through the rest of the book. Even though the magical does get introduced fairly quickly.
One thing that does annoy me is Hagrid getting Harry from the burning house. At the start of Chapter 1, we see hints of the Wizarding world having a party because Voldermort is gone. That happened the night before, we learn from Dumbledore later in the chapter. At the end, we find Hagrid bringing Harry to Dumbledore. The way it is worded makes it sound like it happened that night. I’m probably wrong, but the way things are worded make it a little confusing. This is really only a minor thing, though.
Wow… Harry is treated just horribly. I understand that this is fiction, but how does Harry end up so well? He has gone through 10 years of being treated like dirt. How is his character and attitude not warped? I know kids are resilient, I seem mine bounce back from any punishments in 2 seconds. But, it seems to me that Harry gets no love or care from his aunt and uncle, let alone his cousin. How would the Dursley’s be able to get away with this?
Otherwise, we begin to see that there is something special about Harry. Although, based on the first chapter, we should already have that idea.
Ok, my only real complaint is wondering how Harry couldn’t get a letter as they come flooding through the fireplace. Hundreds of them, and he couldn’t manage to snag even one?
I really like that the wizards are relentless about getting the letter to Harry. And in contrast, how much the Dursley’s don’t want him to get the letter. I think this is where some of the frustration with the Dursley’s later in the series comes from. At least from my perspective.
All we see with them is trying to bring Harry down. Treating him like dirt till the end. The only person with growth in this area is Dudly. But the end of the series, he actually has an understanding and appreciation for Harry. You get the feeling that after all is said and done, he would like to see Harry again. His parents could probably care less and would be happy to never see him again.
By the later books (probably Book 3 and on) I am tired of the Dursley’s, and it is refreshing for them to only be in 1 or 2 chapters at the beginning. Instead of almost half the book (in this case). I like the characters, but it is depressing and unfortunate that they do not grow at all.
This chapter is nice because it puts an end (finally) to the Dursley’s treating Harry terribly. And Hagrid puts them in their place. That is very refreshing, actually.
The biggest thing in this chapter is the info dump. We finally find out more of what is going on. This is done in a way that isn’t just a dump of stuff, either. Harry knows nothing about who he really is, or the magical world, and Hagrid has to explain it to him. Some dumps are just that, dumps. A whole bunch of info that is hard to digest.
This one is done in a way that isn’t just a dump. Since Harry has no idea about what happened to him, he needs it all explained. Plus, the Dursley’s have been lying to him about what really happened. Between these two things, the truth comes out.
In Chapter 5, we finally get to see the Magical world. And we get to see the world, through Harry, with eyes that marvel at the mystic. There is a ton of information and things to see, and it is almost overwhelming. But JKR manages to give a lot of information, but at the same time there is little enough to make it palatable. (Does that make sense?)
Then we see the bank, Gringots. The idea of the wizarding bank is amazing. Although, they make it sound like this is the only wizard bank. Why wouldn’t there be banks in other countries? As an American, I wouldn’t want to go all the way to England just to put money in a bank, or get it out. Maybe there are others, just as there are other schools.
The other thing we see first hand is how famous Harry is. The patrons of The Leaky Cauldron are all in awe of Harry. Although, I am curious about Quirell…
Voldermort is traveling with Quirell. Why doesn’t he effect Harry in any way? We see later in the series that Voldermort effects him in various ways. Even later in this book. Maybe Voldermort wasn’t with Quirell that day?
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll keep posting as I read more.