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Complete, detailed, and amazing Reader's Guides
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Chapter Eleven:
Quidditch


NOTES | CHARACTERS | SETTINGS | TIMELINE / CALENDAR
EXCEPTIONAL CHARACTER MOMENTS
SPELLS | LINKS & RESOURCES | MEMORABLE LINES | STRICTLY BRITISH

Synopsis by William Silvester
Notes and links by Steve Vander Ark and Michele L. Worley

US hardcover edition: pages 180 - 193
UK hardcover edition: pages 133 -142
UK paperback edition: pages 196 - 209
Timeframe: Friday 8 November - Saturday 9 November, 1991 [Y11]

In which Snape takes Harry's book, leading to Harry seeing Snape's injured leg. Harry's first Quidditch match against Slytherin in which someone jinxes his broom but he catches the Snitch and wins anyway. Hagrid later lets a secret slip.

Quidditch by Mary GrandPré

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

This chapter is filled with lovely bits of information. In it we're introduced to the dynamics of the friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, including the fact that Hermione helps Harry and Ron cheat on their homework. We get to watch our first ever Quidditch match. We find out about Quidditch Through the Ages. Even though the chapter is focused almost exclusively on Quidditch, as the title suggests, it does propel the story forward in several key ways. And in this chapter we have the very rare occurence of a shift of point of view away from Harry.

As they entered November, the weather turned very cold.

We left the story at the end of the last chapter on the evening of October 31, with the Gryffindors enjoying the remains of their Hallowe'en feast in the common room on the seventh floor. Now we move into the month of November. When we reckon from the details on the Deathday Cake in chapter 8 of the next book (which recounts events almost exactly one year after the events in this chapter), we can deduce that this is November of 1991 [Y11].

The mountains around the school became icy grey and the lake like chilled steel.

For the films, the incredibly beautiful area around Glenfinnen was used for the view around Hogwarts. The mountains come right down to the shore of the loch there. Although this area simply couldn't be the "real" Hogwarts because of all the Muggle activity there, it does present a very striking visual. A more likely location for Hogwarts is the area around Rannoch Moor and Loch Laidon, where a solitary railway station (Rannoch Station) stands a quarter of a mile from a forest, a mountain, and a lake. This location fits the vicinity of Hogwarts almost exactly except that there is only one mountain right nearby, with the others being a bit more distant. The Muggle road doesn't extend past the station toward the loch, although a dirt track does lead around toward to forest. It's quite an amazing place, and clearly the location of Hogwarts castle. Okay, we know Hogwarts isn't real. But if it were...

Hagrid could be seen from the upstairs windows defrosting broomsticks on the Quidditch pitch...

Defrosting broomsticks? Presumably these are the school brooms he's defrosting, kept in the broomshed which is adjacent to the Quidditch pitch. Why these would need to be defrosted or why it's Hagrid's job to do it is anyone's guess.

The Quidditch season had begun. On Saturday, Harry would be playing in his first match after weeks of training: Gryffindor versus Slytherin. If Gryffindor won, they would move up into second place in the house championship.

From this we can deduce that at least one game had already been played (probably only one, given that the season has barely begun), and that Gryffindor wasn't involved. The two teams which did play would now be in first and second place, while the other two, which includes Gryffindor, would be tied for third place with zero points. It seems logical that the first game was Ravenclaw versus Hufflepuff, but we don't know that for sure.

Just for the record, the first game of the season in Harry's third year was already in the first week of October. In the second, fifth, and sixth books, a Gryffindor match happens the first week of November. This will help us pinpoint the dates of the events in this chapter.

It was really lucky that Harry now had Hermione as a friend.

Very lucky indeed. And not just for the sake of getting homework done. As events unfold over the next few years, we find that it's lucky for the entire wizarding world that Harry has Hermione for a friend.

She had also lent him Quidditch Through the Ages, which turned out to be a very interesting read.

Quidditch Through the Ages was written by Kennilworthy Whisp and first published in 1952 by WhizzHard Books, Diagon Alley, London. It's a very popular book among Hogwarts students.

... a World Cup match in 1473...

This was the first ever Quidditch World Cup, played between Transylvania and Flanders. The fouls in question weren't technically illegal during the match, but were made illegal afterwards when a number of new rules were put into effect in response to the startling level of violence in the match (QA).

referees had been known to vanish and turn up months later in the Sahara Desert.

The referees in question are not named anywhere, but we do know that one referee was actually killed during a friendly match between wizards in 1357. His name was Cyprian Youdle, a Norfolk referee, and he was killed by a curse from the crowd, which suggests that the wizards might not have been quite as friendly as all that. The incident was recalled by Mumps in his famous descriptions of Quidditch from 1398. Youdle now appears on a Famous Wizard card as well as being mentioned in Quidditch Through the Ages.

The day before Harry's first Quidditch match the three of them were out in the freezing courtyard during break,

Since matches happen on Saturday, this must be a Friday. We know it's a Friday toward the beginning of November, but can we determine the exact date? We know that Rowling makes no effort to tie the events in her books to any actual calendar. We can look at the days and dates we do know from the books, however, and make a very accurate guess about dates.

We know that Hallowe'en was on a Thursday by simply looking at a calendar. We do know that September 1 was on a Sunday. Since there are thirty days in September and thirty-one in October, we can say with certainty that Hallowe'en was on a Thursday. The very next day, then, was the first Friday of November.

The scene in the courtyard certainly isn't taking place then. From the text we learn that a number of days have gone by:

"Every morning the ground was covered with frost..."
"He didn't know how he could have gotten through all his homework without [Hermione]..."

The next Friday is November 8, so that would be the earliest possible date for the start of this chapter. The Friday and Saturday after that would be November 15 and 16. Either set of days are possible.

Since the first Gryffindor match has always been the first week of November in other years, we can safely assume that this Friday is November 8.

...she had conjured them up a bright blue fire that could be carried around in a jam jar...

This small blue fire is referred to as Bluebell Flames in the Lexicon. It's really quite a clever spell for a first year. Hermione later uses this spell to set Snape's robes on fire in the Quidditch stands and later still to drive off the Devil's Snare plant in the first chamber leading toward the Philosopher's Stone.

...they were sure it wouldn't be allowed.

Magic is specifically forbidden in the corridors, according to the start of term notices (PS7). While the courtyard isn't mentioned, it is likely that the same rule applies there. One can't help but wonder if magic allowed in the dormitories, and if not, where Hermione found the time and place to work out this magical fire spell. After all, this is only a week or two after the rest of the first-years failed to even levitate a feather a few feet off their desks. I think it's safe to assume that this spell wasn't part of their coursework at this point in the year.

"Library books are not to be taken outside the school," said Snape. "Give it to me. Five points from Gryffindor."

Five points gone. In McGonagall's reckoning, that's the amount of points a student gets for defeating a mountain troll and saving the life of a fellow student. We know we've already noted this. It's just so unfair that we feel the need to whine about it again.

He made his way down to the staffroom and knocked.

Just about anywhere in the castle is "down" from the Gryffindor common room, which is on the seventh floor. We learn in a few chapters that the staff room is almost certainly on the first floor. It must be quite early in the evening for Harry to be allowed to leave the common room. We aren't told when curfew is for first years, but we do know that for fifth years it's nine p.m., so we might reasonably assume that it's before eight o'clock at this point.

The scene with Filch and Snape is very intriguing. Why didn't Snape go to Madam Pomfrey for help with his wounds? She does have a reputation for confidentiality when it comes to strange wounds; she never does tell on Ron when he shows up with a dragon bite, for example. Why Filch? They do seem to be on fairly friendly terms in this book.

The next morning dawned very bright and cold.

So now it's Saturday morning, November 9.

Ron and Hermione joined Neville, Seamus, and Dean the West Ham fan up in the top row.

This is one of those rare occasions when the story point of view shifts away from Harry. This shift happens off and on for the rest of the chapter.

...Dean, who was good at drawing...

Two years later Dean offers to forge Uncle Vernon's signature because he's good with a quill.

...a tricky little charm so that the paint flashed different colours.

Another very clever bit of magic from a first-year.

"We know Oliver's speech by heart," Fred told Harry, "we were on the team last year."

So Wood was captain last year. We know that Charlie was Captain of Quidditch when he was on the team, which was also last year, so this is a bit of a muddle.

...Slytherin Captain, Marcus Flint, a sixth year.

The text quoted above is from the earlier version of the book. Since Flint appears in the first three books, having him be a sixth year here would make him, well, an "eighth year" in book three. This is obviously an error, so the latest versions of this book change the text to read "a fifth year." In fandom, a mistake in the text like this is referred to as a "Flint" in honor of this error.

Fifteen brooms rose up, high, high into the air.

Two teams of seven, plus Madam Hooch.

...Angelina Johnson of Gryffindor -- what an excellent Chaser that girl is...

Angelina is a third year at this point. She will become Captain in Harry's fifth year. Although we don't know it for a fact, it seems very likely that Angelina was on the team last year as well.

...Alicia Spinnet, a good find of Oliver Wood's, last year only a reserve...

Wood "found" Alicia last year (when she was a second year), another indication that Oliver was captain of the Gryffindor team during the 1990 - 1991 [Y10 - Y11] season. Alicia is in the same year as Angelina; she plays Chaser for the rest of her years at Hogwarts.

...Chaser Katie Bell of Gryffindor there...hit in the back of the head by a Bludger...

Katie is only a second year at this point: twelve years old. She couldn't have been on last year's team, so this is her very first match as well. Here we see that she takes a Bludger to the head just moments into the game. In PS/f, Oliver Wood tells Harry that this is what happened to him in his first match and that he wound up in the hospital wing. Not so with Katie. She gets hit in the back of the head by an iron ball and plays on. Spunky girl, that Katie.

...Adrian Pucey speeding off toward the goal posts...

Slytherin Chaser Pucey is at least a second year at this point. He continues to play through Harry's fifth year, so we know he's no more than a third year in this book. If he played in the sixth book, we aren't told about it.

"Budge up there, move along."

Our point of view shifts briefly here to the stands.

...Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs...

Possibly a seventh year, since he's replaced by Malfoy next year.

Marcus Flint had blocked Harry on purpose..."Foul!" screamed the Gryffindors.

Either this is blatching or skinning, both of which mean flying to intentionally collide with another player (QA6).

Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, "Send him off, ref! Red card!" "This isn't football, Dean," Ron reminded him. "You can't send people off in Quidditch -- and what's a red card?"

This passage was changed in the U.S. edition to explain the concept of red cards a little more:

Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, "Send him off, ref! Red card!" "What are you talking about, Dean?" said Ron. "Red card!" said Dean furiously. "In soccer you get shown the red card and you're out of the game!" "But this isn't soccer, Dean," Ron reminded him.

Since Ron is from a wizarding family, it's not surprising that he's unfamiliar with the jargon associated with a Muggle sport like football.

But Nimbus Two Thousands did not suddenly decide to buck their riders off.

Is this because brooms in general don't have intelligence or that good racing brooms are resistant to that sort of thing?

...hit hard in the face by a Bludger...

Okay, another player has been hit hard in the head by a flying iron ball and is still playing. This is clear evidence that wizards don't get hurt as easily or suffer as severly from injuries which would completely incapacitate a Muggle.

...but he can't have..."

Why not? We seem to be seeing evidence that racing brooms are enchanted to stay under control even under the rough and tumble conditions of a Quidditch match.

"Can't nothing interfere with a broomstick except powerful Dark magic -- no kid could do that to a Nimbus Two Thousand."

This clinches it. A broomstick's enchantments are more than simply being able to fly.

Flint seized the Quaffle and scored five times without anyone noticing.

Now everyone knows that there's a problem, since they're all staring up at Harry. Certainly Madam Hooch will have called a time-out. Do Flint's goals even count?

...she didn't even stop to say sorry as she knocked Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front...

So at this moment the spell is actually broken.

It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape to realise that he was on fire.

Time that out. Thirty seconds is a V-E-R-Y L-O-N-G time. Let's think this through. The spell is broken before Hermione even gets to Snape. She sets the fire, but by this time Harry has already climbed back onto his broom. The game is already recommencing and is well underway after thirty seconds. There would be no way that anyone would assume that Snape's reaction to the flames broke the spell on Harry if it happened thirty seconds after Harry got back on his broom. So we think we can assume that everything happened quite a bit faster here. From Quirrell being knocked down to Snape noticing the Bluebell Flames must have only been a matter of about ten seconds.

Gryffindor had won by one hundred and seventy points to sixty...

So yes, Flint's cheating goals did count. Since these points count toward the House Cup championship, Flint has just moved Slytherin up by fifty points. At the end of the year, Slytherin had 472 points while Ravenclaw had 426. If Flint's extra cheating goals hadn't been counted, Ravenclaw would have won the House Cup, since Slytherin would have only had 422 points.

...bought him off a Greek chappie I met in the pub las' year...

A Greek chappie because the three-headed dog is found in Greek mythology. This was apparently lost on Steve Kloves, the scriptwriter for PS/f, since he changed it to "Irish chappie" without catching the connection. To be fair, he did say that he had originally made it "Greek chappie" and that he didn't know how it got changed, but it does say "Irish" in the script itself, so it wasn't just that it was changed by Robbie Coltrane on the set and no one caught it. Which pub? The Hog's Head, probably, the same place Hagrid later gets the dragon egg. We don't suppose the Greek chappie had Fluffy with him in the pub...

Hagrid looked furious with himself.

He doesn't, however, say "I shouldn't have told you that."

Characters introduced in this chapter:

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:

  • none yet

Spells:

Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

  • Hermione had become a bit more relaxed about breaking rules since Harry and Ron had saved her from the mountain troll, and she was much nicer for it.

  • Although people rarely died playing Quidditch, referees had been known to vanish and turn up months later in the Sahara Desert.

  • "Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen to anyone, I'm sure."
    [Lee Jordan, commentating on the Quidditch match]

Strictly British:

Timelines/Calendar:

This chapter begins the first week of November. Harry's run-ins with Snape happen on Friday the 8th, and the Quidditch match is on Saturday the 9th. (There is a remote possibility that the events are taking place the next week Friday and Saturday, November 15 and 16, but it is not very likely.)

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