30 word recap
A world of magic is revealed when an unusual group leaves a very special orphan on a the doorstep of his unknowing, ultra-normal relatives, and hopes for the best.
Everything is Normal
The Dursleys have a secret: they are not entirely normal. Mrs. Dursley has a quite peculiar sister, whom they never talk to or about. That’s why when Mr. Dursley notices some strange happenings about town, and even hears his nephew’s name mentioned, he tries to ignore it.
When he cannnot ignore it, Mr. Dursley tries to rationalize what he sees despite his fears. He doesn’t want to jump to conclusions, or disrupt the stability of his home. On Doctor Who, Rose does the same in her first appearance: after being attacked by mannequins, she reasons that they are students playing a prank. The Doctor is impressed by her reasoning, and begrudgingly, I am impressed with Mr. Dursley. He’s trying to live a normal life, keep his wife happy, and provide for her and his son.
It’s only after the Dursleys are asleep that we begin to see how much more there is in their world. The same way light pollution hides the majesty of the night sky from us, Dumbledore turns out all the lights on Privet Drive before we can see things as they truly are.
Dumbledore has decided that the dull, drab Dursley household is the best place for Harry to grow up. I’m not sure Dumbledore could have known how the Dursleys would treat him, but he was right in predicting that Harry would grow up safely and without fanfare. I’m still not sure if that made him more prepared for his re-entry into the wizarding world… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Where was commitment shown in this chapter?
- The Dursleys and conformity
- The Dursleys and fear
- The wizarding community and fear (until recently)
- Mr. Dursley and his role as head of the household
- McGonical to Dumbledore
- McGonical to protection of the vulnerable
- Hagrid and empathy / protection of the vulnerable
- Dumbledore to Hagrid
- Dumbledore and humility
- Dumbledore and hope
He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn’t approve of imagination.
- Narrative: What is the context in the story?
- He has seen many weird things during the day, which unsettles him, because he wants nothing more than to be normal and unnoticed. He also thinks that a relative of his is involved in this, which has pulled him closer to weirdness, and made him very nervous.
- Allegory: What symbols or metaphors are being used?
- Mr. Dursley seems to be a reasonable adult, committed to normalcy and other boring things. I think not approving of imagination is a red flag for kid reader, and should be for us adults as well. Mr. Dursley has been described the way a kid would describe an adult – boring, mean, not curious, not whimsical. He is living a contradiction: he hopes he’s imagining but disapproves of imagining. I think this shows his version of reality is impossible, and cannot be maintained.
- Reflection: How does this relate to your life today?
- Hope requires imagination. The value of imagination is not just for the sake of fiction, we need imagination to create solutions. And, I think as a society we can be too much like Mr. Dursley, only worrying about ourselves and turning a blind eye to that which we don’t want to confront. This compounds our fear of everything that we don’t know, growing mental hedges around new ideas and keeping us from advancing. I think this is encouraged in media and politics, and it keeps us from tacking bigger issues.
- Invitation: What action will you take?
- I think it’s easy to get stuck into a routine, and willfully avoid anything that disrupts that. Once things get stagnant, even small ripples feel like big disturbances. I want to stay aware of my surroundings, instead of shutting them out. I want to stay open to the world around me, and let myself be affected. And, react events appropriately (basically, aspire to a state of unagi*).
I often say about myself that “the apple fell directly under the tree.” I feel like I’m a balanced mix of both my parents. Knowing them made it easier to know and understand myself. I want to bless Harry Potter, who never got to know his parents.