The Boy Who Lived

chapter one of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The Dursley family’s typical day is disrupted when Vernon encounters some bizarre happenings on his way to work, and Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid visit Privet Drive, discuss the downfall of Voldemort, and leave baby Harry on the Dursleys’ doorstep.

Tabby, by deeterhi

It was on the corner of the street that [Mr. Dursley] noticed the first sign of something peculiar – a cat reading a map.


Vernon Dursley Meets a Wizard, by gerre

The old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle and walked off.

(by gerre)


by mneomosyne

As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw – and it didn’t improve his mood – was the tabby cat he’d spotted that morning.


Albus Dumbledore, by Laurence Peguy

A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you’d have thought he’d just popped out of the ground…. This man’s name was Albus Dumbledore.


The Boy Who Lived, by NicoPony

“Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.”


Hagrid's Rescue, by Saul Marquez

A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky – and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air….


Good Luck, Harry, by Mudblood428

“Is that where – ?” whispered Professor McGonagall.”Yes,” said Dumbledore. “He’ll have that scar forever.”


by Leela Starsky

Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door.


by Caladan

He laid Harry gently on the doorstep….

(by Caladan)


Boy Who Lived, by Hala Zabaneh

Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous…. He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!”


about the chapter


The first Harry Potter novel brilliantly begins with what is, in practicality, the first day of Harry’s life. Before today, he was just an ordinary wizarding boy, no different from thousands of others – but in one day all this has changed: his family is gone, his forehead bears a scar, and though he is now in the hands of Dumbledore, Hagrid, and McGonagall, he will first have to overcome a childhood with the Dursleys. And nothing that happened to him before today really matters. By the end of the chapter, Rowling has laid Harry’s life and his path out before us, with plenty of mystery to keep us along for the ride. Let the journey begin.

Something You May Not Have Noticed

Despite the fact that it’s a “dull, gray Tuesday” which we later learn is in November, Professor McGonagall spends the entire day away from her school to sit and wait for news from Dumbledore. It doesn’t seem like her to skip professorial duties; instead, her presence on Privet Drive most likely means that classes were cancelled in celebration of Voldemort’s defeat.

Something Else You May Not Have Noticed

The wizard Vernon runs into outside his office has a familiar description. We’ll soon meet another wizard who is described as tiny, having a squeaky voice, and frequently wearing violet: Dedalus Diggle. Dedalus is never described as “old,” however, as this man is… perhaps this is his father?

The Wizarding World

The name “Put-Outer” doesn’t sound very magical, and in fact in a few books we’ll find out it isn’t this object’s real name at all. Why did Rowling change the name? Most likely she already knew when she wrote this book that Dumbledore’s device would be called something different, but gave it this name for the sake of Muggle readers who haven’t yet been introduced to the wizarding world (after all, Put-Outer is what I’d call it). Rowling will do the same type of thing again a few chapters from now, when Harry meets wizards who say things that make plenty of sense to Harry (and to us), but don’t really fit the world they live in.

The Boy Who Lived

From the outset we can see that Harry Potter is very unusual. Not only did he mysteriously destroy a powerful Dark Wizard, but in the aftermath of his parents’ deaths, he is being cared for by the singularly most powerful good wizard in the country (described as “the only one Voldemort was frightened of”). It will be a long time before Harry finds out why he is in the care of such an important person.


For many years, serious Harry Potter fans considered one of the great mysteries of the series to be this: Why did it take Hagrid twenty-four hours to bring Harry from Godric’s Hollow to Privet Drive, and what super-special-top-secret-critical-to-the-plot thing was he doing during that time? There were all kinds of theories, both simple and outlandish; one well-known fan even theorized that Hagrid brought Harry to the Ministry of Magic, where he was accidentally lost without a trace, and Hagrid had to travel back in time to re-retrieve him. At any rate, a few months after the seventh book was released, Jo Rowling gave an interview in which she admitted that she’d never really thought about it. So while it’s still lots of fun to concoct theories, the whole thing really came about from an accidental inconsistency. Ah well.

Something to Remember

Hagrid borrowed the motorbike from another wizard who was at the Potters’ house – Sirius Black. Hagrid went to the house to pick up baby Harry; we’ll find out later why “young” Mr. Black was there as well.

The Final Word

“I reckon I must’ve got through fifteen different alternative chapters of book one. The reason for which I discarded each of them were: They all gave too much away. And in fact if you put all those discarded first chapters together, almost the whole plot is explained.” –J.K. Rowling, 2001

“[This chapter] is not the most popular thing I’ve ever written; lots of people have told me that they found it hard work compared with the rest of the book. The trouble with that chapter was (as so often in a Harry Potter book ) I had to give a lot of information yet conceal even more….” –J.K. Rowling (read the rest of Jo’s comments on her website)

68 Responses to “The Boy Who Lived”

  1. Wow! This is a really awesome idea! Thanks for it!

  2. This is lovely. I will keep reading and enjoying it.

  3. Love the pictures. The ones you picked really do relate to the text and bring forth my original memories of reading the chapter. Yes, I read the FAQ and know why you picked the ones you did. I’ve bookmarked your site and will return again and again. Thank you for all your effort. Can’t wait to slowly relive the books in this way.

  4. Ditto what the others above me have said. The site is beautifully done. Great atmosphere and artwork. I’m enjoying the commentary at the end of chapters.

  5. Upon reading your story line and stating that it was a cold day in November, 24 hours after Voldemort killed Harry’s parents, it dawned on me (and likely others) that this would be November 1st – All Hallows Day. Had never occured to me before. The art work is gorgeous, good idea telling the story with pictures.

  6. Fantastic idea. It’s ingenious to think of putting Harry Potter fanart in one place to actually tell the story. And the commentary at the bottom is really interesting. :-D Well done on this idea!

  7. This site has inspired me to listen to the audio book of HP and the PS again. Here are some comments and questions of my own:

    The first chapter is very beautifully written and it’s style reminds me of other British classic children books. I love it.

    I always interpreted the man who hugs Uncle Vernon on the street to be Dedalus Diggle. Interesting about him never being described as old, I hadn’t caught that. I did notice that the man in the street wore a violet cloak whereas Dedalus Diggle wears a violet top hat and thought that was close enough.

    “A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you’d have thought he’d just popped out of the ground.”
    Later we learn, that Apparition is not silent:
    “With two loud cracks, Fred and George, Ron’s elder twin brothers, had materialised out of thin air in the middle of the room.” (Order of the Phoenix, Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place)
    “A loud echoing crack broke the sleepy silence like a gunshot” Order of the Phoenix, Dudley Demented (Dung left his post)
    Here are three possible explanations:
    1) Dumbledore didn’t Apparate, but used his Deluminator like Ron did in Deathly Hallows. But then it says that when going back, he turned on his heel.
    2) Not everyone makes a sound when Apparating and Dumbledore is skilled enough not to.
    3) It’s another Oops.

    I would have called the Deluminator – the other way around – an Out-Putter. ;-)

    In response to Weird One’s comment: In Deathly Hallows, Bathilda’s Secret we learn that Voldemort killed Harry’s parents on Halloween: “The night wet and windy, two children dressed as pumpkins waddling across the square […] ‘Nice costume, Mister’…” So the story of this chapter indeed does take place on November 1st.

  8. I personally love the first chapter but I have something to add to the people who found it difficult.
    My Granddad gave up on Harry Potter after the first few chapters.
    He said it was too cruel for a boy to have to live in a cupboard under the stairs.
    Well, he would have thought some of the rest of it was a little bit crueller!

  9. Liz, that’s so interesting, I’ve never heard someone say that before. I wonder what he would have made of Snape!

  10. In response to Dumbledore’s sudden, silent appearance: is it possible that he was using the Invisibility cloak? (after all it was in his possession), which would explain the lack of sound. Of course its maybe more probable that Rowling intended it to be apparition but hadn’t worked out all the mechanics of this particular magical power at this point in the series (she may have decided to add the distinctive “pop” so the reader understood that a particular character didn’t just slip in unnoticed).

    Re: the Put-outer – I think it was initially just some strange magical device, one that she later decided to reuse in Book 7 with different magical powers. I have a hard time believing that she had that level of detail planned out in advance (especially considering that there is no indication here that it does anything other than how Dumbledore uses it). I think you’re right when you theorize that Rowling simply didn’t want to introduce the reader to magic that directly, that early on. ; )

  11. Hi, first post here, love the site! I think Dumbledore did Apparate, and maybe he’s skilled enough to do silently? Or else he was wearing a Disillusionment Charm, but what was the point? It was dark anyway… yeah, Apparition sounds more logical…

  12. Somehow I managed to miss the original posting on Leaky about this site… This is gorgeous and what a great idea! I am going to send the link to my home computer so I can enjoy at my leisure.

    I think your original supposition is correct: JKR used the uncommon – more muggle-like words to ease the reader into the series where later the correct terminology is introduced.

    She is also quite adept at introducing or mentioning a character by name as a throwaway, then we find out how important they are much later.

    I think she was probably quite surprised at how quick we all figured out who RAB was!

    I also think the deal with Dumbledore’s apparition is the case, as Eli states, of experience. He’s had 130 some odd years to perfect the practice – much longer than most other wizards, and as with all things, practice makes perfect!

  13. Am I imagining that when wizards are generally in a hurry or upset that leave with a louder ‘pop’? Or a slight ‘bang’? I figured that, because they were less composed (due to those two reasons) they didn’t apparate as well, and, like TarsieF said, ‘practice makes perfect.’ And Dumbledore would certainly not let himself get so distracted if complete and utter concentration were needed to be a quiet apparator.

  14. Also, and I need to check book three, but if McGonagall knew that Sirius Black was supposed to be Secret Keeper for the Potters, surely Dumbledore knew? And, if so, why didn’t he react when Hagrid said he had Sirius’ motorbike?

  15. I love these drawings and paintings theyre so realistic (i love harry potter)

  16. I have read just about everything written about HP and in this first chapter I saw two new things:
    -McGonnigal being away from Hogwarts all day
    -the non-reaction to Hagrid having Sirius’ motorcycle

  17. Didn’t McGonagall say that day might be know as Harry Potter Day in the future? That could be the reason behind the Halloween Feast since that is the day Voldemort died, sort of.

  18. I’m new to this site and hooked! I love seeing Harry Potter and his world come to life this way. Who better to put to the task of illustrating than rabid fans whose love for the series is evident in their work. Congratulations to every artist and the webmaster behind the idea. This site is really something special.

  19. Thank you so much for this site! Its concept, artwork, & everything about it is wonderful! I just discovered this site via facebook a couple of weeks ago. I’m glad that I did; the colder months coupled with longer nights are perfect for HP-related reading. I’m looking forward to re-experiencing HP through your site, each chapter at a time. Keep up the great work, for all our sakes!

  20. McGonagall doesn’t want Dumbledore to leave Harry with the Dursleys. She tells him that they are dreadful people and that he is “too … noble” to notice.

    What was she going to say? “Noble” is clearly not her first choice of word! “Too naive”, perhaps? But she can’t be too cheeky to her headmaster, so “noble” will have to do.

    Any other ideas about what Minerva wanted to say? It’s been bugging me for years!

  21. “Naive” or “nice” have always been my first choices, although I can’t see McGonagall using such a simple word as “nice.”

  22. I think it’s a lucky thing that Harry Potter was awoken on the doorstep at the end of the chapter by Aunt Petunia’s scream. Harry was 15 months old and already able to speed around on a toy broomstick when he was dropped off at the Dursleys. As almost any parent of a 15-month-old will attest, children that age can climb and wriggle and disappear quickly when your back is turned. Imagine if Harry had awoken early and toddled off before the Dursleys ever found him. After all the protection Dumbledore hoped to provide for Harry, it doesn’t seem very responsible of him to leave Harry unattended.

    Of course, it is a classic image to find a baby on a doorstep. And one could argue that baby Harry was so tired from his ordeal that Dumbledore knew he would sleep until he was found.

  23. Discovered this site mid-2009 – and love it. Am just starting to read from Philosopher’s Stone again, and step by stepping with these comments – makes for a great deal of interest.
    Regarding the “noble” comment – I understood that McGonagall was using this when Dumbledore claimed that “Voldemort had powers I will never have.” not regarding leaving Harry at the Dursleys. So not sure that naive would work there.

  24. @ Andrea. Hopefully Harry was in a magical sleep with a magical forcefield around him – both of which would only be dispelled by Petunia finding him.

  25. I’ve always wondered about a small discrepancy between this chapter and book three.
    At the end of PS1 Hagrid says that he’s going to take the motorbike back to Sirius.
    But in PoA, Hagrid says that Sirius gave him the motorbike, saying he wouldn’t need it any longer? So why would Hagrid be taking it back?

  26. roslinstars, this is actually a line that changed in later editions of the book. If you pick up a copy of book 1 at a bookstore today, this line reads, “I’d best be gettin’ this bike away,” or something like that (don’t have a copy with me). It was changed for the exact reason you mentioned, because once book three had been written, this line didn’t really make sense any more.

  27. The picture of Dumbledor holding the baby is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. You can see compassion, wisdom, and understanding of everything that has happened or will happen.

  28. Awesome reading back after getting as far as you have so far.

    Anyways, I’m doing by own personal chapter by chapter analysis, and I noticed (or realised) something that I hadn’t before.

    Why was Minerva sitting on that brick wall all day. And why pick Privit Drive, and not some other random street? I only ask this because from what it sounds like, she didn’t know that Harry was going to be dropped off at the Dursley’s. Also, Dumbledore indicates that he didn’t expect to see her there, so their meeting clearly wasn’t arranged.

    So what gives? Was it pure coincidence, or contrivance on Rowling’s part so that she could give us these juicy plot and story hooks?

  29. jammi567, McGonagall tells Dumbledore that she heard from Hagrid where Harry would be going – if you read her conversation with Dumbledore closely I think it’s pretty clear she was waiting there for him.

  30. Yeah, you’re right. I must have accidently skipped over that sentence or something.

  31. Wow, love the new work by Caladan. It’s beautiful!

  32. Hi, I just found this site and I have to say that I love it! Some of the artwork is magnificent and this was a very good idea.

    Also I just have to put my theory forward about the 24 hour thing. It would probably taken a bit of time for the wizarding world to find out about the murders of Lily and James and even longer to figure out that Harry was still alive (how did they find out before Hagrid had even got to him?) Dumbledore would probably of had to check with the Ministry about taking Harry and where to put him and they would have had to check Harry for any major wounds. There is also the fact that we don’t know how far away Lily lives from Petunia so that would add some time and I’m sure that Hagrid would have passed many parties on the way to collecting Harry and would have been stopped by several friends. Also he had to stay and comfort Sirius for a while. All of this would have added up in the end making it quite a long wait, almost as long as my comment actually.

    Again love this site and the art work!

  33. Just reading PS for the umpteenth time, and it suddenly struck me – what on earth could Dumbledore have written in his letter to make the Dursleys take Harry in – they wanted NOTHING to do with the Potters, and certainly didn’t want Harry anywhere near their precious Dudley. Dumbledore must have said something really persuasive to make them take on this responsibility for the years to come – even though they hated the idea. Would have loved to be a fly on the wall to hear their reaction to what was written. Maybe Petunia did still love her sister and wanted to at least make amends for her nastiness to Lily when she found out she was a witch and wanted to do something for her. I hope so. Maybe that’s what she seemed to be going to say to Harry later on when they parted for the last time in the living-room in DH.

  34. Something else you may not have noticed, when the Dursley’s are getting ready ‘A LARGE TAWNY OWL’ flies past the window, despite the fact in Book 5 we are told that no wizards live in the area and Arabella shouldn’t have moved in yet. Could this be a message for McGonagall outside or possibly the ministry attempting to contact Petunia to tell her of the death of sister?
    Also the whole bit with McGonagal pausing before she’s says Noble she isn’t talking about leaving Harry at the Dursley’s at that point in time but Dumbledore not using powers that Voldemort does

  35. I love this website–in theory and practice. If I had all the time in the world, I would annotate all my favorite books this way. I can’t see any practical value in it, except that it makes me smile, and what’s more practical than that?

  36. i think this website is so awesome. i have yet again started rereading the series and have discovered that i cannot just read. i pick up on more things now than i did before.
    there were a couple of things that i noticed in this first chapter. for instance when dumbledore identifies mcgonagall as a cat and she asks, ‘how did you know it was me?’ shouldn’t she have been easily identified as having spectacle-like markings around her face, an id that is required for an animagus to be registered with the ministry?
    another thing i noticed was that when they stood and looked at harry in the bundle on the doorstep, the ‘twinkling light that usually shone from dumbledore’s eyes seemed to have gone out.’ i’m still trying to figure out what this means. does that twinkling light remain absent until harry returns to the wizarding world? or was this just a temporary thing given that he is bidding farewell to the boy who lived? it kinda made me think of the goblet of fire when the gleam of triumph shown in dumbledores eyes.

  37. Hi Josie,
    Wonderful site, as you’ve deservedly been told innumerable times. I’ve been following for a while, and happened to take a look back at the first few chapters, where I saw something that made me finally delurk. It was the one sentence where you say that “nothing that happened to him before today really matters.”

    If my math is right (never a safe assumption), you created this chapter’s page sometime before becoming a parent. From comments you’ve made later, I’m pretty sure that now, having your own son, you would never say that the first 15 months of his life, spent with loving parents, didn’t really matter. I have a 2 1/2 year old son, and I know I could never say that. And I believe JKR herself has made a comment that those first months of Harry’s life, when he received love and warmth from his parents, were crucial to his development (can’t remember where she might have said that; if it exists and you can find it, it might even be a good one to add to the Final Word section).

    Anyway, I love the site, and normally agree with your insights. Thanks so much for all the work you do, and the wonderful atmosphere for discussion you’ve created here!

  38. Reebus, thanks for your kind words! Your comment definitely made me stop and think about what I’d written.

    I think that even when I wrote that (which you’re right, was before my wife was even pregnant), I didn’t intend so much to mean that Harry’s life to this point had been irrelevant. It’s obvious later on that he could never have turned out to be the person he did if he’d been raised by the Dursleys since birth; he simply had to have the love and warmth in infancy to get his brain wired that way. Rather, I think what I was trying to say (or at least the way I read it now) is that his life has been so redefined, so turned on its head, that his story will always begin on this day, with everything previous to it either ignored or relegated to a virtual footnote. Note that the Harry Potter series tells us almost nothing of his previous life; this is the day his new life is beginning, and it’s the life he will always be remembered for. So perhaps I wouldn’t phrase it the same way now, but I do think that the point remains the same.

    I do read this chapter (and others which reference his infancy with his parents) completely differently now, and I imagine i would write about it differently as well. I understand now what it is to want to protect a 15-month-old at all costs, and what it would mean to a 15-month-old to lose his parents, in a way I never could have before. And I definitely tear up at parts of the story that I practically skimmed over when I first read them. So it’s a very astute observation for you to pull out. Perhaps one day I’ll go back and edit some of these a bit…. ;)

  39. Thanks for your response, Josie! I’ve had the same experience as you: I had read and re-read all of the books before my son was born (he shares Harry’s birthday, incidentally, which is part of why I know that Harry was 15 months to the day on that Halloween). Reading them with my new perspective as a mom is sometimes very surprising. The most recent time I re-read PS/SS, I almost couldn’t get through the first couple of chapters. And I may have to skip the DH scene when Voldy flashes back to murdering the Potters…the parent-baby details there are simply heartrending.

    Anyway, it’s worth noting that we do get a few glimpses into that lost year–I think mainly in DH, when we find out little details through Lily’s letter and picture to Sirius–they had a cat; Harry had a toy broomstick (which maybe partly explains why flying feels so natural to him when he first picks up a broom 10 years later). So it’s not completely forgotten. But you’re right; throughout the series the earliest part of Harry’s life that we’re consistently exposed to is the actual moment of his parents’ murders…and nothing before that. Poor Harry.

  40. Just found this site, and I absolutely adore it! Having read all the books multiple times, I love hearing about someone else’s perspective on it. It just makes rereading them all that much more enjoyable to me:)
    Keep it up!

  41. Okay, chapter one down…

    I know what I’m doing this summer. LoL.
    This is really neat. I look forward to reading more!

  42. I just stumbled upon this site and I love it already. The artwork is fab, and the insights are amazing. I think I just found yet another thing to distract me from sleep.

    All the pics are adorable, but every one of them kind of underestimates Harry’s age at the time. He is 15 months old, and being the Godparent of a toddler, I know how large and in charge they can be at that age. I do hope Dumbles placed a charm over Harry so that he couldn’t awaken and toddle off on his own before Auntie found him.

    The pictures are inspiring me to pick up my tablet pen and draw some Potter fan art. The insights are making me want to make a site of my own like this, but for a different book series.

  43. LongLostWeasley, you’re right of course – it never bothered me until I had my own kid, and realized when he was fifteen months old that he was the age Harry was the day his parents died. And then I thought: wait a minute… he’s walking, he can talk, and he ain’t no swaddling baby that can be left on a doorstep! I think the artists’ misrepresentations probably stem both from movie contamination (he was quite a bit younger there) and also from the writing – the chapter isn’t written as though Harry’s fifteen months old (more like three or four), so the pictures don’t show him it, either. Ah well.

    I’ve thought about the charms, too. I imagine little Harry had quite a few spells on him, sleeping out in the open that night with nobody around.

  44. So I never thought about this until rereading just now, but how did Dumbledore expect Hagrid to bring Harry to the Dursley’s in the first place? Hagrid isn’t allowed to apparate and is too heavy for a broom. If he hadn’t run into Sirius at the Potter’s house and borrowed the motorbike, would Hagrid and Harry have turned up on the Knight Bus?

  45. Andrea, your comment really made me laugh. But perhaps the answer to your question is the same as the answer to the mysterious way that Hagrid later flies to the Hut-on-the-Rock: It’s a form of magic that we don’t know and/or Rowling didn’t think it all the way through, depending on your perspective. ;)

  46. If this has been mentioned I apologise, but here goes: I have three thoughts.
    1) How does Petunia know her nephew’s name in 1981? It’s not in her character to contact Lily in any way, and their parents are already dead, since neither are around to take Harry in come November ’81, so that link between the sisters is severed. The only possible answer: Lily sends Petunia occasional letters, the most recent at least as recent as 1980, the previous year. And Petunia reads them. Of course, she would probably have burnt them afterwards, but she must read them. Which raises the question: how does this fact affect the Dursley marriage dynamic? Vernon has to know his wife reads her sister’s letters, otherwise how would he expect her to know her nephew’s name. (Unless of course the Evanses died between July 80 and October 81, thus bringing P&L together at their parents’ house, the latter with maybe James and at least Harry), but somehow I doubt that Petunia would do anything less than avoid this at all costs.
    2) The Evanses have obviously passed by the time their daughter does; what about the Potters? We know they were both alive in the summer of 1976, when Sirius ran away and was “always welcome at Mr and Mrs Potter’s” (unless Sirius has an odd turn of phrase and is referring to their hospitality retroactively, which is again unlikely given context). However, they both must be dead by late 1981. Why? Yes, Dumbledore wanted Harry raised away from magic to avoid becoming “some pampered little prince”, and yes, unless I’m mistaken there’s a quote somewhere that the Potters had James very late (given Muggle-to-witchard aging rates, perhaps he was born when they were in their early sixties), and he was an only child, and for these two reasons they spoilt him and made him the bighead he was 1971-6. However, would Dumbledore really have been able to persuade a couple of doting, presumably Dark Arts-hating witchards, who had just lost their beloved hero son, to let him be raised by his magicophobe maternal aunt, without their contacting him ever? I don’t think so. So all Harry’s grandparents are dead by PS’ beginning. Which begs the further question: how did they die (literary necessity aside)? Lily’s parents’ deaths can be explained relatively easily (they were Muggles; less resistant to ailments; possibly one died of a disease and the other of a broken heart, or something similar). James’ parents, though, were genetically predisposed to a longer life expectancy than Muggles (an inference perhaps, but a strongly evidenced one), so: what if they, like their son, hated the Dark Arts enough to stand up to the rising tide of Death Eaterism, and one or both of them were killed for it? Alive in 1976, dead in 1981, parents of a key player in the resistance movement.
    3) James is something of a **** in 1976, but a couple of years later he’s matured and is going out with Lily, a girl who hated his guts. So the question is: is there a likely reason he grew up at this point? I submit the following scenario: Lily’s father/mother dies, perhaps of a long illness, (a gruesome thought of course, though contextually plausible), in the summer of 1976 or thereabouts. Not more than six to nine months afterwards, James’ father/mother/both fall/s foul of Voldemort. By this time, Snape is out of Lily’s picture. Is it possible that J&L could have bonded over Lily’s empathy for James in losing a parent while a teenager? It’s hardly likely that teenagers would have been actively involved in the war effort per se, after all, and yet they’re fully-fledged OotP members almost as soon as they leave Hogwarts.

  47. rtozier: I read a fanfic once where that’s *exactly* the reason why James finally grew up and why Lily finally liked him. Not quite that detailed, though. :) Love the many thoughts you just shared!

  48. I just assumed that the Deluminator wasn’t quite finished yet, so Dumbledore hadn’t bothered to name it. Because in the first chapter Dumbledore clicked the “Put-Outer” 12 times, one for each light bulb, while later in the Deathly Hallows Ron clickes the Deluminator once and all of the lights around him go out. So if it didn’t have a proper name Rowling just gave it a generic name to describe what it does.

  49. Re: the Put-Outer

    There seems to be this sense among many HP fans that Jo must have planned every-little-thing out from the very beginning, which is not only impossible, but something that shouldn’t even be wanted. If we want Jo to be creative all the way to the very, bitter end, then we should understand and accept that she will be changing or altering earlier ideas while she’s writing. Writing is a “process”, after all.

    Two things specifically about the Put-Outer that leads me to believe that the Deluminator was a later change:

    1) Dumbledore’s use of it in Book 1 seems to be to “hide” full magic until Jo was ready to present it to the audience. (This is also seen in Dumbledore seeming to appear out of thin air without making a sound and saying there was now an old woman were there used to be a cat.) Jo’s being sneaky about magic.

    But in Book 5 when Moody uses it, there appears to be no reason for it except to surprise the audience (“ah-ha, remember this!”). You would think they would be able to do this same thing with their magic wands, its all magic in the end.

    2) In both instances where the Put-Outer is used (Book 1 and 5), no character ever calls it by name. This magical device is simply DESCRIBED as the Put-Outer. It’s basically the writer (Jo) telling you (the reader) what this device is called, bypassing the characters altogether.

    So after directly telling her audience the name of this device (twice!) and describing its function very specifically, suddenly calling it something else while giving it new capabilities strongly implies that a change was made late in the game.

    Now I don’t see this as a problem, but I find it interesting that it allows us to see the writing process almost as it’s happening. She starts off using it for a very specific reason, then reintroduces it to surprise the reader, and finally employs it to get her out of a corner she had written herself into (how else would Ron find his way back?).

  50. Also when describing Dumbledore for the first time, J.K, Rowling says he has a long crooked nose that appears as though it had been broken a few times. We learn later that Aberforth broke Albus’s nose during Ariana’s funeral. I presume that this wasn’t an accident, perhaps he never healed the broken bones, as we know from the Half Blood Prince is very easy to do, as respect and a sign of the remorse he had, and a constant reminder of the things he regretted.

  51. MartinTenbones: I definitely don’t think J.K. needed to alter the function of the Deluminator to get out of a corner. With the five years of planning that J.K. spent on the Septology, and the importance of it throughout most of book 7, it’s hard to believe that it was changed to suit her needs when she actually wrote book 7. So much of the plot depends on the deluminator that almost all of book seven couldn’t have been planned without knowing all of it’s functions.

    There are a lot of things in this chapter that keep me thinking about it. Such as:
    1. Dumbledore uses the Deluminator to put out the lights so it’s absolutely pitch black. But there are a lot of things in the rest of the chapter that are hard to grasp if it’s pitch black. e.g.
    – “Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.” (How could she see?).
    – ” Dumbledore nodded glumly.” “It’s — It’s true?” faltered McGonagall.

    It’s weird because in my imagination, I see Dumbledore and McGonagall sitting and talking. But I should be imagining pure darkness, right?

    Though I think it is possible that McGonagall actually could not see him and she was answering her questions herself. (Dumbledore does like people to figure things out themselves.)

    Dumbledore bowing his head after McGonagall asks if the Potters are dead also makes me think a lot. Was his letting McGonagall answer her own question? If so, why did he bow his head in the first place if she can’t see. It seems to me he was disappointed for some reason. Dumbledore stresses a lot that people are never really gone and they live inside us, (e.g. Chamber of Secrets when Dumbledore is kicked out, Harry’s stag patronus, and the Kings Cross chapter in DH, “do you think the dead every really leave us, Harry?”) so maybe he was disappointed that McGonagall thought they were “dead” aka gone forever.

    2. McGonagall not flinching when a car door is slammed 2 streets away. It must have been slammed pretty hard to normally cause someone to flinch.

    3. Dumbledore pops up out of nowhere, but he doesn’t even seem to realize he even popped up anywhere/changed locations because hes rummaging at the time.

    4. I like when Mr. Dursley goes to get a bun and stretch his legs and comes back running with a doughnut.

    This was way longer and more cluttered then I expected, but my thoughts about this chapter are cluttered.

  52. Timbus Christ, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Dumbledore was sad about the Potters’ death – viewing death as an “adventure” and not being afraid of it doesn’t necessarily mean he thinks nothing of it. Surely he’s sad to lose two great people, and also sad that Harry won’t be growing up with his parents? Hard to imagine under those tragic circumstances that disappointment in McGonagall is his overriding emotion; think of how the twinkle in his eyes goes out at the end of the chapter (or his eulogy for Cedric, later) for example.

  53. Very true, but I can’t help thinking there is something about McGonagall that is left unsaid by Dumbledore. It’s also interesting that after Dumbledore realizes he’s being watched by McGonagall he immediately knows where the Deluminator is. Why would McGonagall cause him to remember where he misplaced it?

  54. I’m rereading the books along with this site and it’s really interesting doing it as I go along.

    @Timbus Christ, there weren’t any street lights but there must have been light from the moon. It may have seemed pitch black to start with but your eyes adjust to the dark (given there is some light) after about 10 minutes. Since McGonagall was sitting right next to Dumbledore I’m sure she would have been able to make out when he bowed his head or nodded.

    In response to the talk about the man Vernon bumps into and Diggle. Well McGonagall mentions Dedalus Diggle later on suggesting he was the cause of the shooting stars in Kent. If he was planning a celebration in Kent why was he walking down a street in Surrey earlier in the day? He could have had friends there and it would be easy to apparate home but there is still the fact that the man is described as old. I like the idea that the man is Diggle Senior. Perhaps Dedalus had sent him out to invite friends to his party. I quite like that idea.

  55. re: Timbus Christ

    But there’s a fallacy in your argument…you assume that Ron leaving the Trio was planned by Jo all along. Even “With the five years of planning that J.K. spent on the Septology” she ran into problems with (at least) Book 4. She has talked in interviews about a large (and mysterious) plot hole that caused her to rewrite large chunks of that book, so advance planning doesn’t solve all problems. Things may look different during the actual process of writing.
    It is possible that Ron’s leaving was something she came up with while writing Book 7 (or sometime before she began) that caused her to have to devise a means for Ron to return.
    I think the fact that the device changed its name suddenly says a lot about how she writes.
    And if she had always planned for the device to be used as it was in Book 7, why not call it the Deluminator from the get-go? Again, a change in the name belies a change in the function.

  56. The manner in which Jo wrote this first chapter is beautiful, complex, and groundbreaking; in a way, as Muggles taking their first dip into the wizarding world, we are forced to be humbled regarding the many complexities of the world of magic. Jo mentioning the “silver thing” as not by its real name but only as a Put-Outer is, most likely, for our benefit. She’s cushioning our first plunge into the wizarding world – taking us through the world step by step, slowly but surely. In many ways, this chapter revealed tons of stuff we do not understand at first read (“Muggles”, for instance), yet we are forced to digest. As such, the analogy between us Muggle readers and Harry is quite astounding – like Harry, who is only beginning to grasp the world he now belongs to, readers, such as ourselves, are also forced to grow and learn alongside Harry.

  57. Regarding the deluminator – maybe the change in use was really down to Dumbledore! He left the deluminator to Ron in his will, and being the wise and knowing person he was, realised that maybe in the future Ron would need to find a way back – perhaps, as the inventor of the object, he then added this extra function so as to facilitate Ron’s return. So in the start it was a “Put-Outer” only but the use was extended later on, not as an after-thought by JK Rowling, but as a deliberate extra help for the person to whom it had been given.

  58. In my opinion about the Put-outer, deluminator bit. The book is written from Harr’s point of view, he is is the one who refers to it as a put-outer until the time that he finds out it’s true name in the seventh book from then on he refers to it as a the deluminator. In the first scene here he’s a ten year old having a dream (“I HAD A DREAM ABOUT A MOTORBIKE, IT WAS FLYING) and it’s not the first time his dreams seem to provide more information, most of which he forgets (as in book 5 and later in this book when he dreams about Quirrels turbin etc.)

  59. It seems overcomplicated to me to suggest that the actual name of the object changed at some point in time from Put-Outer to Deluminator. I’m not sure I buy the argument about Harry’s POV, either, as this chapter is very much not written from his point of view (he’s fifteen months old, and not present at any rate). There are lots of examples of things happening in the first few chapters of this book that don’t make sense from the perspective of someone who’s read all of the books, but which are clearly there for the sake of new readers. Think of Ron’s spell to turn his rat yellow, Molly’s asking for the platform number, and so on. If Rowling had used the word ‘Deluminator’ here, it would seem jarring and strange for people reading the book for the first time. So she calls it something that makes more sense to unenlightened Muggles, and figures if she needs the device later on she’ll name it properly then. It’s not like Dumbledore ever refers to it by name or anything like that.

  60. Ah but it is written partly from Harry’s point of view and not his fifteen month old self but his ten year old self, he’s having it as a dream or at least thats how I’ve always read it because in the next chapter he’s confused and doesn’t remember the rest of the dream apart from the flying bike, which is he same as he beginning of book four, he has the dream which introduces all the stuff about Voldemort’s family being murdered but Harry only vaguely remembers the part about a plan to attack him. Harry always has dreams which tell him loads but he doesn’t remember properly.

  61. Emma, I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t think that Harry’s dreaming that sequence means it’s written from his point of view. Think about the beginning of book four, where we have the Riddle House chapter that Harry is also seeing in his dream – it’s told not from Voldemort’s perspective (which is the one Harry would see), but from Frank Bryce’s, which Harry would have no way of knowing. It’s the same thing here, in a sense. How could he dream Dumbledore and McGonagall’s interactions when he wasn’t even present for them, any more than he could have dreamed Frank Bryce seeing the light on in the Riddle house? These things clearly are meant to have really happened, so he didn’t make them up. Which means that we’re seeing these stories from another perspective.

    The fact that Uncle Vernon’s bad day is also told from a non-Harry perspective, to me, makes it pretty clear that this whole chapter is meant to be third person. Rowling later does the same thing with the opening chapters of books 4, 6, & 7.

  62. I can’t believe I just discovered this amazing site! The amount of work you must have put into this project is really overwhelming, and I just want to say a big fat THANK YOU for everything you’ve done here.

    That said, I’ve got a bit of childish excitement going and I think I’m going to reread the series and follow along with your companion pages. It’s almost like having an entirely new book series! (Even though I’ve read and reread these enough times that I can practically rattle off the first chapter by heart. :/)

    Thanks again!

  63. The reason Hagrid took so long to get Harry to the Dursleys was maybee because he was supposed to meet Dumbledore at that time?:)

  64. I always thought the tiny old wizard was flitwick, though it could be diggle

  65. In response to Rtozier…I just found this interview that JKR did with The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet (July 2005) about Harry’s family.

    MA: What about Harry’s family — his grandparents — were they killed?

    JKR: No. This takes us into more mundane territory. As a writer, it was more interesting, plot-wise, if Harry was completely alone. So I rather ruthlessly disposed of his entire family apart from Aunt Petunia. I mean, James and Lily are massively important to the plot, of course, but the grandparents? No. And, because I do like my backstory: Petunia and Lily’s parents, normal Muggle death. James’s parents were elderly, were getting on a little when he was born, which explains the only child, very pampered, had-him-late-in-life-so-he’s-an-extra-treasure, as often happens, I think. They were old in wizarding terms, and they died. They succumbed to a wizarding illness. That’s as far as it goes. There’s nothing serious or sinister about those deaths. I just needed them out of the way so I killed them.

    MA: That sort of shuts down Heir of Gryffindor [theories], as well.

    JKR: [Pause.] Yeah. Well – yeah.

  66. Wow. This is so wonderful, and rich in ideas and… I love the picture of McG reading the map. And gerre’s Vernon is exactly how I see him. But I’m really commenting because of the awesome discussions above. I have to put in my two Knuts worth. XD

    Firstly, Privet Drive always had a certain irony in it, for me. I only started reading HP post DH, and so I was already a big sister with a huge age gap, meaning that I keep seeing things from a child’s perspective and being quite surprised. My sister spells Private as Privet, and I always thought about how the inhabitants wish that their lives were as private as possible, but it’s not really, with Petunia there and all the other gossips bound to live in a place like that.

    On the Put-Outer/Deluminator. I think that PS was written for children, and Put-Outer is a child’s name. By the time DH rolls around, the books are not really for small children anymore, and Deluminator, the fancier adult term may be used. It’s the same as how when trying to explain the concept of nuclear radiation to my mum, and my sister asks “Wozzat?” I call the radiation “bad rays”. It’s not about changing my mind as to what they are really called, it’s about making it appropriate for the age group being addressed.

    On Harry potentially toddling off, being left on the step in the cold, all those things people point to as Dumbledore’s negligence, I say that maybe there’s a different explanation. Those blood wards that go up the moment Petunia accepts Harry, however grudgingly, into her home; we don’t know much about them. However, we do know that they protect Harry from outside harm. The way DD explains it later in the series always made me think that Lily had done Step 1, DD did Step 2, and Petunia only had to do Step 3.

    Something like wards sounds rather involved, so what if DD spent that missing 24 hours putting the neccessary enchantments on the letter so that when Petunia read it and agreed, it was like a magical contract? That was how I imagined the wards working, as a contract of sorts. Therefore, if he enchanted that letter, surely he could add a sort of area Warming Charm, and maybe a Sleeping Charm too? It seems like DD to think of things like that.

    Oh well, just my perception, I suppose.

  67. I always thought that the first chapter took place during the summer. I never thought about hogwarts giving the students a day off. Since Professor Dumbledore told Mcgonagall that they would see each other soon, I took that to mean in a few weeks, instead of tomorrow or the day after that

  68. “Why did it take Hagrid twenty-four hours to bring Harry from Godric’s Hollow to Privet Drive, and what super-special-top-secret-critical-to-the-plot thing was he doing during that time?”
    If the Potters were murdered at night, then by the time Hagrid got Harry & the motorbike it was probably near morning. There’s no way the drop off would happen during the day – Hagrid was simply taking care of Harry until it was time to meet up with Dumbledore. Too bad Harry didn’t have any memories of that day!

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