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Complete, detailed, and amazing Reader's Guides
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Chapter Eight:
The Deathday Party

"My late lamented lords, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great sorrow..."


Synopsis by William Silvester
Notes and links by Michele L. Worley

U.S. hardcover edition: pages 122 - 139
U.K. hardcover edition: pages 94 - 106
U.K. paperback edition: pages 134 - 153
Timeframe: xx October - 31 October, 1992 [Y12]

In which Harry is caught dripping mud on the carpet by Filch, is taken to Filch's office, discovers that Filch is not a wizard, and Nearly Headless Nick invites him to his Deathday Party, which HRH attend on Hallowe'en night. Leaving the party, Harry hears voices again, and following the sound with Ron and Hermione discovers writing on the wall and a Petrified Mrs. Norris.

The Deathday Party, CS8, by Mary GrandPré

Interesting facts and notes about the text of chapter eight:

This chapter gives us our most detailed look at ghosts to date.

He was pale as smoke, and Harry could see right through him to the dark sky and torrential rain outside.

We are being reminded that Nick is nearly transparent as well as nearly headless, so that we have all the necessary clues to work out what will happen to Justin Finch-Fletchley later on.

"But you would think, wouldn't you," he erupted suddenly, pulling the letter back out of his pocket, "that getting hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe would qualify you to join the Headless Hunt?"

Talk about adding insult to injury...

"Filch isn't in a good mood."

When is he ever?

"He's got flu..."

Hmm. Does this mean that Pepperup Potion doesn't work on Squibs?

"...and some third-years accidentally plastered frog brains all over the ceiling in dungeon five..."

While Nick doesn't actually say that this was during the course of a Potions lesson, that class seems the most likely candidate for a class in which frog brains would be used. Consequently, frog brains appear on the list of possible potion ingredients, although we do not know what the third-years were attempting to do with them.

...trying to find out what would happen if you fed a Filibuster Firework to a salamander. Fred had 'rescued' the brilliant orange, fire-dwelling lizard from a Care of Magical Creatures class...

This tells us that Fred took Care of Magical Creatures as an elective, and helps confirm that salamanders are part of the typical Care of Magical Creatures curriculum, although Hagrid appears to have changed the order in which the creatures are covered when he took over the class the following year. Harry's CMC class will also study salamanders, but during the winter of their third year (PA12), while Fred at this point is in his fourth year.

Wooden filing cabinets stood around the walls; from their labels, Harry could see that they contained details of every pupil Filch had ever punished. Fred and George Weasley had an entire drawer to themselves.

If Filch was at Hogwarts in the days of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, how much space do their records take up?

"She haunts the girls' toilet on the first floor," said Hermione.

It's worth mentioning at this point that "first floor" means different things in the U.K. and the U.S. Myrtle's bathroom is on the first floor in U.K. terms - but that means the first floor above ground level, which in the U.S. would be called the second floor.

Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington
died 31st October, 1492

Since the party is Nearly Headless Nick's 500th Deathday Party, the date on the cake has led to the identification of Y12 as 1992 in many arguments about figuring out the years in which the action of the books takes place. (See the various essays listed below.)

Through the dungeon wall burst a dozen ghost horses...

How does a horse become a ghost?

Characters introduced in this chapter:

  • Delaney-Podmore, Sir Patrick (as Sir Properly Decapitated-Podmore)

  • Myrtle

  • Wailing Widow, the

  • (ghosts) a group of gloomy nuns

  • (ghost) a knight with an arrow sticking out of his forehead

  • (ghost) a portly male ghost

  • (ghost) a ragged man wearing chains

Characters returning in this chapter:

Characters mentioned in this chapter:

Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:

Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:

Exceptional character moments:

  • Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who keep their word and attend Nick's party despite the inedible food, the horrible orchestra, and the delights of the Hallowe'en feast being held in the Great Hall.

  • Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore, who in a dazzling display of his lack of consideration, completely upstages Nick at Nick's own party.

Spells:

  • none

Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

  • "But you would think, wouldn't you," he erupted suddenly, pulling the letter back out of his pocket, "that getting hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe would qualify you to join the Headless Hunt?"

  • "Most people would think that's properly good and beheaded, but oh no, that's not enough for Sir Properly Decapitated-Podmore."

  • "Why would anyone want to celebrate the day they died?" said Ron, who was halfway through his Potions homework and grumpy. "Sounds dead depressing to me..."

Strictly British:

Timelines/Calendar:

The action of the chapter takes place during the month of October, 1992 [Y12], primarily on Hallowe'en night.

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