Chapter 15 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Aragog
Security is tighter than ever. Harry and Ron are unable to visit Hermione in the infirmary. Teachers shepherd students around in little groups. Most students are upset and frightened, though Draco is seemingly pleased over his father's having played some role in Dumbledore's removal.
About a fortnight later in Herbology, Ernie Macmillan, the Hufflepuff who had earlier accused Harry of being the Heir of Slytherin, apologizes and asks Harry if he believes Malfoy could be the Heir. Harry points out some spiders to Ron, the first they have seen since Hagrid's arrest. They appear to be headed for the Forbidden Forest. Ron is hardly cheered over this news. As they are escorted to their next class, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Harry says that in order to follow the spiders, they will need his Invisibility Cloak, and they should take Fang. Professor Lockhart bounds into the classroom, gaily announcing that with Hagrid arrested, the danger has passed. Ron wants to dispute that, but Harry reminds him that they were not actually there. Harry decides they should follow the spiders that night.
Waiting until past midnight for the Common room to clear, Harry and Ron make their way through the halls, avoiding teachers and Ghosts searching for the Monster. They collect Fang from Hagrid's hut and, making their way into the Forest, follow the spiders by wand light. Hearing something large moving, they investigate. It is the Ford Anglia, Mr. Weasley's flying car, roaming the Forest. As they check on it, giant spiders catch and drag them to a hollow among the trees. There they meet Aragog, the patriarch of a huge colony of giant spiders. Aragog, cranky at having his sleep disturbed, tells his children to kill Harry and Ron. Harry forestalls this by saying they are Hagrid's friends, and he is in trouble, arrested again for apparently opening the Chamber. Aragog admits he was mistakenly believed to be the Monster. The Monster is another creature, an enemy to spiders, and such that he cannot even name it. Aragog was blamed for killing a girl, but the girl died in a bathroom, a part of the Castle he was never in. Hagrid kept him in a cupboard in the dungeon. As Aragog is unable to help them further, Harry says they will just go. Aragog says no, his children will not harm Hagrid on his command, but he has too little control over them to protect Hagrid's friends. As the spiders start their attack, the Ford Anglia screeches into the hollow. Harry and Ron bundle themselves and Fang into it, and it carries them back to Hagrid's hut, deposits them there, and returns to the Forest.
Back in the Gryffindor dorm, Harry has a sudden thought: was the girl killed in the bathroom Moaning Myrtle?
Hermione's Petrification, as alarming as it is, does provide some benefits. Until now, it was suspected that Harry was the Heir of Slytherin, based partly on his arriving first on the scene at other previous incidents, partly on his uncertain parentage and apparent power, but largely on his ability to talk to snakes. Now, though, even Harry's most suspicious classmates agree that Harry could not have instigated the attacks, as he would never injure Hermione. Ernie, in particular, announces he believes Malfoy, not Harry, is the Heir; Ron's evident amusement over this claim is probably due to Harry and Ron having had the same suspicion several months previously.
The truth to Hagrid's utterance that "if people wanted to learn some stuff, they should follow the spiders," is shown here. Whenever we have seen the spiders, Harry noted that they appeared to be running away from something. Now they seem headed towards something—the Forbidden Forest, perhaps feeling the Acromantula colony will afford some protection.
In fact, Harry does learn "some stuff" by following the spiders to Aragog and his children, though it seems Hagrid seriously misjudged the extreme danger he was sending Harry and Ron into. It is from Aragog that Harry and Ron gather at least some truth about Hagrid's expulsion from Hogwarts. And Aragog also provides Harry a clue to where the Chamber's entrance is located.
It had seemed uncertain whether Harry would be able to use this knowledge, being surrounded by masses of inimical and hungry spiders. The flying car's timely arrival is not only fortuitous, but illustrates the author's deftness at preparing situations to pay off in future chapters (and future books). We were led to believe that, having delivered Harry and Ron to Hogwarts before driving off to roam the Forest, the flying car's role was done; we are pleased that the aging and ailing car can still do something important for Harry. While it certainly seems odd to assign a personality to a machine, the car shows just that, and that personality is consistent from its arrival at Hogwarts through to this chapter. Mr. Weasley's charm on it must have had a much greater effect on it than he had ever intended.
- The monster has Petrified Mrs. Norris, Colin Creevey, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Nearly Headless Nick, Hermione, and Penelope Clearwater. Are these random targets or do the victims share a connection?
- Who does Harry believe the Monster killed fifty years ago? What brings him to this conclusion?
- What "stuff" does Harry learn from Aragog? How will this help him?
- Why does the flying car come to Harry and Ron's rescue?
- Why would spiders be heading into the Forbidden Forest?
- Why would Aragog allow his children to kill Harry and Ron, who he knows are Hagrid's friends? How would Hagrid have reacted if that had happened?
- Why does the flying car always retreat back to the forbidden forest ?
Very little in this chapter carries forward to later books. Harry's guess that the girl who died is Moaning Myrtle is correct, and we learn later how she died. Lockhart's character is further illuminated, while Aragog's existence is also revealed. However, rather than laying groundwork for future books, this chapter is almost entirely devoted to moving this book's story forward to its conclusion.
Aragog's fate is revisited in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when he dies from old age and brings Hagrid, Professor Slughorn, and Harry together to mourn him. Hagrid will be surprised that Aragog's offspring no longer grant him free passage, but actually try to attack him. Given their experiences in this chapter, neither Harry nor Ron is at all surprised by their behaviour.
Aragog's children will appear again in the closing chapters of the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Hagrid will once again assume that they are less dangerous than they are.
The flying car is never seen again, and while Moaning Myrtle appears throughout the series, the circumstances surrounding her death are unimportant after this book.