Book Roulette: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling. Arthur A. Levine Books: 1999. 341 pp.
As I read these seven books, as much “in order” as I can manage with other books to read simultaneously, I think about what I want to say about each of them. With some of the others, the topic comes pretty easily–I read a quote I like and the thoughts flow from there. With this book, the second in the series, I had a tough time finding some unique angle. This is such a discussed series, that to find something new to mention is becoming more difficult.
But then I remembered the scene after the battle with the basilisk went down, when Harry walks into Dumbledore’s office for the first time and notices the Sorting Hat sitting there. He thinks back to his first day at Hogwarts and the hesitation the hat had in assigning him to Gryffindor.
Look back to the conversation Tom Riddle/Voldemort had with Harry while in the Chamber of Secrets:
There are strange likenesses between us, after all. Even you must have noticed. Both half-bloods, orphans, raised by Muggles. Probably the only two Parselmouths to come to Hogwarts since the great Slytherin himself. We even look something alike … but after all, it was merely a lucky chance that saved you from me. That’s all I wanted to know.
Now, we know that it was more than a lucky chance that saved Harry from Voldemort the first time around. In fact, the further into Harry’s story we get, the more we realize that not much of what happens to him is by lucky chance. That being said, I think part of the power of this series is the fine line that separates Harry from Voldemort. Tom is entirely correct–there are several similarities between them. The Sorting Hat saw this, and originally thought he would be a good fit for the house Voldemort called his own.
But this fine line is all the difference. The fact that Harry is given the choice is what makes him great–and what makes these books great. He has just as much power as Voldemort, perhaps more. With proper training and a little experience, he could be a more impactful wizard. And, had he chosen a darker path, he could have become a more forceful villain to the wizarding community.
The very element that saved Harry from Voldemort’s original attempt, the day he got the scar, is the element that gave him the capacity to become the equal counterpart to his foe: his mother’s love. It’s not lucky chance, but it is a destiny that–as we see in the progression of the series–proves to be much greater than Harry could have ever imagined.