"It means the Ministry's interfering at Hogwarts."
-- Hermione Granger (OP11)
The start-of-term feast takes place, the Sorting Hat gives warning in its new song, Harry recognizes Dolores Umbridge as she is introduced as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and Harry learns that not everyone believes that Lord Voldemort is back.
Calendar and Dates
The entire chapter takes place the evening Harry arrives at school for the start of his fifth year, which we know from his Hogwarts letter is 1 September. Since classes start the next morning, it must be a Sunday, although there is a discrepancy regarding the day of the week.
Interesting facts and notes
Harry's uneasy fifth year at Hogwarts begins. Where is Hagrid? Why is Cornelius Fudge's senior undersecretary teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts? Who doesn't believe him about Lord Voldemort's return?
"Well, we in Ravenclaw think he’s a bit of a joke."
She looked, Harry thought, like somebody’s maiden aunt: squat, with short, curly, mouse-brown hair in which she had placed a horrible pink Alice band that matched the fluffy pink cardigan she wore over her robes. Then she turned her face slightly to take a sip from her goblet and he saw, with a shock of recognition, a pallid, toadlike face and a pair of prominent, pouchy eyes.
"It's that Umbridge woman!"
"Yes, I have heard the Hat give several warnings before, always at times when it detects periods of great danger for the school. And always, of course, its advice is the same: stand together, be strong from within."
Hermione is questioning Nearly-Headless Nick about the the Sorting Hat's warning as, up to this point, its song hasn't been so specific before. Over the seven books of the series, we only hear the Sorting Hat's song three times. Harry was absent his second and third years during the Sorting, and will also miss the next two years. The songs have been getting darker, and one wonders what it would have sung by Harry's seventh year - with Death Eaters in charge of the school.
The teachers, however, were still listening very attentively, and Hermione seemed to be drinking in every word Umbridge spoke, though, judging by her expression, they were not at all to her taste.
"What is going on?"
Ron had appeared in the doorway. His wide eyes travelled from Harry, who was kneeling on his bed with his wand pointing at Seamus, to Seamus, who was standing there with his fists raised.
Whether Lord Voldemort has or has not returned has split people apart - the Ministry and the Daily Prophet are doing their best to keep it quiet. It is sad thing, as Seamus Finnigan and Harry had always been friends before this and, if he isn't believed by those who have been his friends....
"Yeah? Well, unfortunately for you, pal, I’m also a prefect!" said Ron, jabbing himself in the chest with a finger. "So unless you want detention, watch your mouth!"
Exceptional character moments
Harry keeping quiet about his worry that only he and "Loony" Luna Lovegood can see the winged horses (thestrals) pulling the carriages.
Gryffindors standing up for Hagrid in the face of Luna's (and the general Ravenclaw) opinion of him as a teacher.
Harry, Ron and Hermione being worried about Hagrid not having returned yet to the school.
Ron's terrible table manners, and insensitivity.
Hermione and the other teachers being the only ones really paying attention to what Dolores Umbridge is saying in her speech.
"Ow kunnit nofe skusin danger ifzat?" said Ron. His mouth was so full Harry thought it was quite an achievement for him to make any noise at all.
"I'll be her friend as long as I don't have to borrow that cardigan."
"I'll tell you what it means," said Hermione through gritted teeth. "It means the Ministry's interfering at Hogwarts."
"Ron, we're supposed to show the first years where to go!"
"Oh yeah," said Ron, who had obviously forgotten. "Hey- hey you lot! Midgets!"
"Well they are, they're titchy...."
Words and phrases
From the Web
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