Chapter 3 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Burrow
Ron Weasley and his brothers, Fred and George, are outside Harry's window in a flying Ford Anglia. There to rescue Harry, they pull the bars off the window with the car. Fred and George gather Harry's Hogwarts belongings that are locked in the cupboard under the stairs, and load them into the car.
Hedwig screeches, reminding Harry she is being left behind. This awakens Uncle Vernon, who barges into Harry's room as Harry is half way out the window. Grabbing Harry's ankle, he attempts to pull him back in, but Harry yanks free, and he, Ron, Fred, and George head to the Weasleys' home, The Burrow.
Harry tells Ron, Fred, and George about Dobby, and they speculate about who owns him, eventually concluding that he could belong to the Malfoys. Harry learns that Draco Malfoy's father, Lucius Malfoy, once supported Lord Voldemort.
They arrive at The Burrow, an oddly crooked house. Molly Weasley is waiting, furious that they "borrowed" the car. After yelling at the Twins and Ron, Mrs. Weasley warmly greets Harry. During breakfast, Harry glimpses Ginny, Ron's younger sister, who is apparently too shy to speak.
As punishment, the Twins and Ron must de-Gnome the garden, using Gilderoy Lockhart's Guide to Household Pests technique in his book. Curious, Harry assists, even though he does not have to. He attempts to gently drop the leathery Gnomes over the fence, but after being bitten, he flings them like the Weasley boys, who first twirl them until they are too dizzy to find their way back.
Ron's father, Arthur Weasley, who works for the Ministry of Magic, arrives after a long night's work, searching for illegal and Dark magical objects. Mr. Weasley loves Muggle technology and gadgets, and he is clearly intrigued with his sons' adventure in the car until Mrs. Weasley sternly chastises him. Ron shows Harry his bedroom, which is plastered in Quidditch posters. He apologizes for his home's disorderliness, but Harry thinks it is all wonderful, and, as he watches the gnomes making their way back into the garden, looks forward to spending the remaining summer with the Weasleys.
In the last chapter we asked: how can Ron help Harry? Ron is underage, as are Fred and George, and capable though they may be, they are prevented from using magic to free Harry. However, apart from the flying car, which apparently does not violate the prohibition against underage magic, no magic is used to liberate Harry. Instead, the bars are pulled off the window with the car, and Fred and George pick both the bedroom's and the cupboard under the stairs' locks with a common Muggle hairpin. The same hairpin is used to open Hedwig's cage, freeing her for the first time all summer. It is never made clear why casting a spell triggers the prohibition trace, but using a charmed object like the flying car does not; for some speculation on this matter, please see the article on The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery.
It is worth noting how quickly Harry settles in to the Weasley household. The reader gets the feeling that Harry feels at home almost instantly, even before Mrs. Weasley tips a few extra sausages onto his breakfast plate. Some of this, no doubt, is due to the existing friendship with Ron, but that alone is not sufficient to explain it. We can speculate that part of Harry's increasing comfort in The Burrow is due to acceptance of his magical ability, and part to the healthy communication between Weasley family members. This straightforward relationship is something Harry has been hunting for during almost all of his time at the Dursleys', and has never found.
The author often mentions a character by name before they are actually seen. Gilderoy Lockhart, who plays a large role in the book, is introduced here, by name only. He is apparently handsome ("'Mum fancies him,' said Fred in a very audible whisper"), and his solutions for problems may look good on paper, but only seem to work temporarily when employed. By sunset, Harry observes the Gnomes sneaking back into the garden one-by-one through the Weasley's hedge.
Ginny Weasley is reintroduced, though she only glances at Harry from afar; every time she sees him (twice in this chapter), she squeaks and runs away. Says Ron, "You don't know how weird it is for her to be this shy, she never shuts up normally . . ." She may have a classic schoolgirl crush, building Harry up in her mind as some heroic figure, then, when physically in his presence, is too timid to speak.
- What caused Ron and the Twins to go to Privet Drive?
- What leads the boys to suspect that Dobby is owned by the Malfoys?
- Why does Mrs. Weasley punish her boys? Why does Harry volunteer to take part?
- Why would Gilderoy Lockhart's methods only work temporarily?
- Why is Ginny, who is normally very talkative, acting so shy?
- Why is Mrs. Weasley cross with Mr. Weasley? Is he acting appropriately?
- Compare and contrast life at the Weasleys' home to the Dursley household. How do these similarities and/or differences affect Harry?
- Based on what is seen and heard in this chapter, give a description of what Gilderoy Lockhart may be like.
The boys have correctly surmised that Dobby belongs to the Malfoys, though Harry will be uncertain until the book's end. Simply because Dobby is the Malfoys' property, his actions, though supposedly meant to protect Harry, would actually seem suspicious and likely motivated by that family for some sinister purpose. However, Dobby has risked his own life to warn Harry that he is in grave danger should he return to Hogwarts. Because Dobby is the Malfoys' slave, he has become aware that Draco's father, Lucius Malfoy, is behind the plot to unleash a monster within Hogwarts. Because Dobby is magically bound to protect the Malfoy family's secrets, his warning to Harry is so vague that Harry mostly disregards it. Even were Dobby able to be more explicit, however, nothing could dissuade Harry from returning to Hogwarts, the only place he feels he fits in.
Ginny's reaction to Harry makes it seem unlikely that they would ever have a significant relationship. Oftentimes, a schoolgirl crush simply fades over time, and Ginny's feelings seem more like superficial hero-worship than romantic interest. Ginny, however, will be thrust into several events that force her to mature quickly, and her feelings for Harry deepen as she gradually understands who he really is. Starting even before this chapter, a study of Ginny's character will be rewarding, as the author writes a very realistic maturation for her, ending with a true romantic relationship with Harry.
Several other minor plot points occur in this chapter. Gilderoy Lockhart soon appears, true to our expected image: physically attractive, charming, seemingly plausible, but ultimately unreliable. This tendency to believe in someone simply because they have certain desirable attributes is illustrated by other characters, notably Tom Riddle, a former Slytherin student, who, fifty years earlier, falsely implicated Hagrid in opening the Chamber of Secrets and unleashing a monster. Even though Riddle was behind the attacks, he was considered believable mainly because he was handsome, intelligent, personable, and fully human. (Hagrid, we will find out in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is half-Giant.)
The gnomes making their way back into the garden is actually a point in understanding Lockhart's character. Though we have not yet met him, this vignette is a classic example of Lockhart's style: flashy, plausible, initially appearing to work, but ultimately failing. We will see the same in the man himself and in his magic later in this book.
The flying Ford Anglia will also make a few more appearances; notably, it will carry Ron and Harry to school when they find they can't reach Platform Nine and Three Quarters, and it will save Harry and Ron when they get into trouble in the Forbidden Forest later in this book.
Arthur Weasley mentions someone named Mundungus Fletcher, who tried to jinx him when his back was turned. Mundungus reappears in the fourth book, as shady as this brief mention leads us to expect, and in each book after that. We never find him to be trustworthy, though he is an Order of the Phoenix member and apparently loyal to Dumbledore and the Order.
Mr. Weasley's job with the Ministry will also prove important, not only because it gives him the authority to investigate other characters for Dark magic, but because it showcases his apparent unambitious nature, as he actually enjoys what he does and stays with it, foregoing the traditional career-advancing track to achieve status and more money that other Ministry employees seek; this unusual trait apparently attracts unwelcome attention from the likes of Lucius Malfoy.
Also, as is typical of how the author introduces something or someone long before it plays a part in the series, it is mentioned that the Weasleys have a Ghoul in the attic. This Ghoul will play an important role in the final book, though it remains unseen to readers until then.
- The ghoul in the Weasley's attic will be made up to look like Ron with a case of Spattergroit, to explain his absence from Hogwarts when he leaves the Burrow with Harry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- Arthur Weasley's lack of ambition will be a point of friction with his son Percy. Percy, also working for the Ministry, is extremely ambitious, and cannot accept that his father is happy in what seems to him to be a dead-end job. The issue that finally results in Percy's estrangement from the family is marginally based on this. The official Ministry position, at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is that Dumbledore and Harry are lying about Voldemort's return, and Arthur refuses to reject his faith in Dumbledore for the chance to improve his Ministry position. Percy severs relations with his family to prevent any hindrance in his career that would spring from his family's support for Dumbledore.
- While we generally do not mention characters in the Connections section, this chapter's mention of Mundungus Fletcher is worthy of note. Fletcher, who will reappear next in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and will play a substantial role in each succeeding book, is worth mention here as an indication that the author had already begun to plan for a Wizarding underworld, not allied with either side of the principal conflict, but rather out for what they could get for themselves. Fletcher will develop into a small-time con-man, thief, and dealer of contraband and stolen goods, but will have a significant role to play because of his situation at the edge of respectability. When we see him next, he will be making an inflated damages claim, for the destruction of a twelve-room tent that he had never owned.