The Keeper of the Keys

chapter four of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Rubeus Hagrid breaks into the hut and, infuriating the Dursleys, reveals that Harry is a wizard. Hagrid then continues on to tell Harry the story of his life, his parents, and Voldemort, and invites him to Hogwarts.

First Impression, by Mudblood428

A giant of a man was standing in the doorway.


Rubeus Hagrid, by gerre

The giant squeezed his way into the hut, stooping so that his head just brushed the ceiling.

(by gerre)


The Dursleys, by Tealin Raintree

Uncle Vernon made a funny rasping noise. “I demand that you leave at once, sir!” he said. “You are breaking and entering!”


Happy Birthday to Yeh, by Mudblood428

“Anyway – Harry,” said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, “a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here – I mighta sat on it at some point, but it’ll taste all right.”


Keeper of the Keys, by Keith James

“True, I haven’t introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.”


Harry - Yer a Wizard, by deeterhi

There was silence inside the hut. Only the sea and the whistling wind could be heard. “I’m a what?”


Yer a Wizard Harry, by NicoPony

“Not a wizard, eh? Never made things happen when you was scared or angry?”
Harry looked into the fire. Now he came to think about it… every odd thing that had ever made his aunt and uncle furious with him had happened when he, Harry, had been upset or angry….


by mneomosyne

He sat down, stared into the fire for a few seconds, and then said, “[Your story] begins, I suppose….”


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

It’s worth pointing out that Hagrid’s story is almost certainly the most Harry has ever heard about his parents – and quite possibly the first time he’s ever even known their names. It gets lost in all the new information that Harry is overwhelmed with upon Hagrid’s arrival into his life, but it still must have been quite an experience for him to hear even that tiny bit about who they were.

The Wizarding World

Why can’t Hagrid spell Voldemort’s name? At first glance, this seems to be more of a comment on Hagrid’s level of education than anything else, but in subsequent notes and letters to Harry he proves a perfectly capable writer. In reality, it’s more likely just to show us how scared wizards are of using Voldemort’s name – not only do they avoid speaking it, but it’s written so infrequently that even Hagrid, who’s been around since long before Voldemort’s first rise to power and reads the Daily Prophet, has no idea how it would be spelled. Of course, Rowling has also said that she originally intended the name to be pronounced with a silent ‘t’ – which would also make it more difficult to spell, and more believable that an educated wizard wouldn’t be able to do it.

The Boy Who Lived

As rough as Harry’s childhood was, there is one major respect in which he was lucky. For despite all of Uncle Vernon’s being awful to Harry, even hitting him from time to time, it’s interesting that he believes Harry’s magic is “probably nothing a good beating wouldn’t have cured” – and yet never took things that far. Knowing Vernon, this is probably not so much due to his deep-down good nature so much as his wife’s insistence, or perhaps just plain fear. Regardless, it’s a very lucky thing, for long after Harry’s forgotten this particular insult, he’ll hear of a child who was beaten for being magical – and whose magic was then uncontrollable and dangerous for the rest of her life, tearing her family apart.

Something to Remember

Hagrid won’t be the only adult in Harry’s life who notes that he looks like his father, but with his mother’s eyes. In fact, both of these aspects of his appearance will eventually play a substantial role in his relationships with some of the most prominent adult figures in his life.

37 Responses to “The Keeper of the Keys”

  1. Hi, This is incredibly cool, a breath of freshness into the HP fandom! but I wanted to suggest that Hagrid flew to the hut-on-the-rock on a thestral. And of course he couldn’t take Harry to Diagon Alley the next day on an animal that would be invisible to Harry, which is why they took the boat and train et al.

  2. Hi Shi,

    Good idea – and this was what I think was widely assumed until book seven came out. But in Deathly Hallows chapter four, when the Order is getting ready to transport Harry, Hagrid tells him:

    “‘An’ you’re with me, Harry. That all righ’?’ said Hagrid, looking a little anxious. ‘We’ll be on the bike, brooms an’ thestrals can’t take me weight, see.'”

    So it’s theoretically possible that Hagrid was able to fly a thestral – maybe there was a really big thestral that’s died in the last six years, and/or Hagrid’s gained a lot of weight, or something – but it seems unlikely to me.

    Thanks for visiting – I’m glad you like the site!

  3. Hi,

    thanks for this great site. It’s a pleasure reliving the first book this way.

    I couldn’t find the passage of Hagrid flying to the place the Dursley’s were hiding in this chapter. So I’ll just suggest another possible interpretation without knowing the exact wording:

    Might it be meant in a metaphorical way? Like: “I flew here” as in “I hurried here”?

  4. Kim – not sure how I managed this, but your comment made me realize I actually have that comment with the wrong chapter – Hagrid says he flew in chapter five, not four. My apologies! Here’s the quote, from the third page or so of the chapter (bottom of p63 in the Scholastic edition):

    “‘How did you get here?’ Harry asked, looking around for another boat.
    ‘Flew,’ said Hagrid.

    It seems like that would be a funny way to phrase it if he didn’t mean it literally… but none of the other explanations make sense either, so who knows :)

  5. Maby Hagrid has an illegal carpet? (He has the unbrella after all).
    Or it could be possible he just apperated but didnt want to go into detail explaining what apperation is to Harry.

  6. Something to remember:

    Hagrid names some people Voldemort has killed: The McKinnons, the Bones, the Prewetts. They are later mentioned as having been members of the original Order of the Phoenix.

    Also: Susan Bones is a Hufflepuff in Harry’s year.
    Her aunt was at Harry’s disciplinary hearing in Order of the Phoenix and was later killed by Death Eaters.

    The Prewetts were Molly Weasley’s brothers. In Order of the Phoenix it says that it took five Death Eaters to kill them – not Voldemort himself.

  7. I always wondered if Hagrid wasn’t really saying “floo”, but then we have the question of where else on the island there would be a fireplace.

  8. hagrid couldnt have flown on a thestral, because he said that he used magic to get there, and to fly on a thestral you dont need magic, you just need a firm hold on the creature, also, the thestral would have been unusually large, as hagrid has always remained huge. i think that rowling must have slipped up like with changing the put-outer to the deluminater, because the Order made a big deal out of voldemort flying, and hagrid would not use dark magic to achieve flight.

  9. I think I agree with Sarah–apparition makes the most sense to me. And to Nymphadora: I don’t think flying without a broom would be considered “dark,” I mean, it’s powerful, but it could be used for good, too.

  10. I have come to believe that it must have been the motor bike. Hagrid never did return it to Sirius, and still had it in book 7. However, that doesn’t say how the bike got BACK to Hogwarts. Then there is the related question of how the Dursleys ever get OFF of the rock. Perhaps DD is paying attention to what Hagrid has been doing and tidies things up a bit, returning the bike to the Hogwarts grounds and returning the boat to the “rock” so the Dursleys can use it to get back to their car.

  11. I thought that the Dursleys were stuck on the rock until someone came and rescued them, maybe someone in a fishing boat?

  12. What a great moment for Harry! Learning that he’s a wizard, I mean, who hasn’t dreamt about something like that. I love that moment.

  13. These are some really good drawings!

  14. Maybe Hagrid used Fawkes as Harry and co did in the Chamber of Secrets?

  15. Wow, I never thought of Fawkes, but I think that makes the most sense. Yes, I think that is the best possible answer.

  16. love the Hagrids.
    “Why can’t Hagrid spell Voldemort’s name?” This question has troubled me as well. I think it tragic that there are people who cannot read – and I say that as a First Nations woman from a storytelling (so to speak) culture. I hate to think that Hogwarts is the kind of school that would neglect to teach a student to read and just pass them on to the next grade like so many schools do. Actually, I refuse to believe Hogwarts would do that. So I think Hagrid saying “Nah – can’t spell it.” means he may have a learning disorder such as dyslexia or that he doesn’t know the proper spelling.

  17. woadisme, that’s certainly possible, but remember also that Rowling intended the ‘t’ on the end of the name to be silent (the movies changed this). So given that nobody ever says the name, and certainly never writes it, Hagrid may just know in principle that it’s spelled differently than it’s pronounced, and therefore not know how to spell it. I don’t think it’d be much of a stretch to say that MOST of the wizarding world wouldn’t be able to spell it.

    And thanks for all your friendly comments – so glad you like the site! :)

  18. I stumble upon this website recently and am loving the new perspective it gives me on the stories.
    As far as Hagrid getting on the rock…since Dumbledore obviously was involved with getting Harry his letter (and wanted Hagrid to take him to get his supplies) I think it is probable that Dumbledore created a portkey to transport Hagrid. Technically it could be considered “flying” also…

  19. I must admit that I regret not keeping track the hp fandom as much as I did in the past. I love this site and it’s insights and drawings and whatnot.

    But I have a small question; I haven’t read the books in a while so I’m a little dusty, but who was the women you were referring to in “The boy who lived” who got beaten for her being magical?

  20. Hi Faye, thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you like the site. :)

    I didn’t reference the person by name in that chapter because I have made a policy of avoiding spoilers on the pages as I wrote them; however, there are plenty of spoilers in the comments. The person I was referring to is in the seventh book, and is Dumbledore’s sister – Ariana Dumbledore. The reason she was incapacitated, you may remember, was because some Muggle boys saw her doing magic and got scared, and tried to beat it out of her.

  21. Thanks so much!
    I understand the no-spoiler thing, and think it just adds to the yearning to read the books again, but I was wrecking my head over this one, so thanks a bunch!

  22. I’ve recently come up with the conclusion that when Hagrid tells Harry he flew to the rock, he either: A) Flew the motorbike, and then shrunk it so that it fit in his pocket, or B) Took a Portkey. And in the Portkey scenario, it makes sense that he would describe it as flying, because it really does seem to ‘fly’ you from place to place, and just how exactly would you describe a portkey to a little boy who knows next to nothing about magic? It’s these little puzzles, I think, that make these books so interesting.

  23. Following up with what Kim said more than a few comments back :)

    The mention of the Bones, Prewetts, and McKinnons:
    I remember the mention of the Bones and the Prewetts in Order of the Phoenix.
    I can’t recall if the McKinnons were ever mentioned again.. ?

  24. As too Hagrid’s flying to the rock, maybe he used an Abraxian (sp?) Horse. He talks about them to Umbridge in OOP.

  25. Continuing to love this site–it’s keeping me motivated through finals week (study for an hour, read a chapter of the site, lather, rinse, repeat). The connection you make here to Dumbledore’s sister is really creative. That tragic sub-plot gained new, poignant force for me when (because of your insight) I imagined the same thing happening to a character I know much better.

  26. Crystal, there was a Marlene McKinnon in the first Order of the Phoenix. She “and her whole family” were murdered just a couple of weeks after the famous group photograph was taken, i.e. before Harry was born.

    Anachronistically, Lily mentions soon after Harry’s first birthday how upset she is that the McKinnons have been killed. Presumably this was a different branch of the McKinnon family.

    But I don’t think you are meant to remember exactly who the McKinnons are. They are just background padding.

  27. Why are there so few pictures of Dudley getting his tail floating around? Someone needs to address that.

  28. How do we know that Vernon did knock Harry around a bit, but it’s not written?

  29. I’ve just finished rereading this chapter and found it quite emotional. I had forgotten just how bad Harry’s life was before Hogwarts which I can’t believe I did since I’ve read it at least 10 times. I think it’s because I’ve been so focused on DH recently that I had forgotten Harry wasn’t always the brave young man we see at the end of the series. Reading it reminded me of just how far Harry has come. He has changed so much from the small skinny kid who lived in a cupboard under the stairs and was beaten up by his brat of a cousin. I was getting a little emotional reading it and I feel a strange sense of pride in how far he has come.

  30. Oh I forgot, about how Hagrid flew to the rock. Well I think it’s safe to assume Mary Poppins was a witch. After all she had clearly cast an undetectable extension charm on her bag. What was Mary Poppins’ favourite mode of travel? That’s right, an umbrella. What did Hagrid use to conceal his wand? I think we need to take a closer look at Hagrid’s pink brolly ;)

  31. There’s something quite unusual I’ve noticed in Hagrid’s story: James and Lily being Head Boy and Girl, respectively. Lily being Head Girl is understandable, but James? Naughty, bully, mischievous James? He wasn’t even made Prefect, so how could he become Head Boy? The way Dumbledore chooses his selections can be quite intriguing at times.

    The way Hagrid arrived at the Hut-on-the-Rock (seeing this in the Hogwarts letter made me laugh so hard!) is still a mystery to me. Did Jo ever clearly explain this phenomenon? He couldn’t have ridden a broomstick, as he’s so bulky. Nor could he have mounted his flying motorcycle, since it was nowhere to be found the next morning. I doubt Hagrid knew how to Apparate, seeing as how he didn’t even reach his seventh year at Hogwarts. Using a Portkey, possibly prepared by Dumbledore, might be the answer. And so are thestrals. Hagrid could have ridden on thestrals to tail the Dursleys and Harry since the moment they left their home, because thestrals have the magical ability to find things, don’t they?

    Hagrid being the “Keeper of the Keys” has also a figurative ring to it. Hagrid is Harry’s first companion into the wizarding world… and rightly so, for Hagrid served as the “key” into Harry’s first plunge into the wizarding world.

  32. May, I believe James had “deflated his head” a lot by his seventh year, and become a much better person… Also, he started dating Lily…

  33. True, Sky. But it makes me wonder whether or not you have to have certain qualifications in order to be chosen as Head Boy or Girl. It seems like being a Prefect isn’t a necessary prerequisite. You think being Quidditch Captain (James must have become one) suffices? Or does Dumbledore chooses whomever he thinks is capable, regardless of their titles?

  34. In Theater lingo, there is a term “green umbrella” for the key to a character —a prop, a gesture, a saying or an idea. I always think of this when I read about Hagrid’s pink umbrella.

  35. WhenDudley goes to have his pig tail surgically removed, does he go to St Mungo’s? After all muggle docs are going to look askance at a pig tail on a boy who has no previous medical history of a pig tail. Plus, it is a magical curse. In OOP a member of the muggle government is taken to St Mungo’s , so maybe there is a more ‘muggle’ looking office for magical repair of muggles?

  36. Kc, J.K. Rowling was asked about this in an interview and said that the Dursleys took Dudley to a private Muggle hospital where they could pay lots of money to not be asked too many questions (I believe their explanation was that a wart had gotten out of control). But it doesn’t say it anywhere in the books, so we can make up any explanation we like. ;) To be fair, though, it’s hard to imagine the Dursleys at St. Mungo’s….

  37. Hagrid gives Harry a cake, yet he’s not very good at translating stuff edible for half-giants to stuff edible for humans. My solution: the house-elves baked it!

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