"Are you planning to eat or sleep at all this year, Hermione?"
-- Harry Potter
Harry enjoys his new-found freedom in Diagon Alley, purchases his school supplies, and meets with Hermione and Ron. Hermione buys Crookshanks after the cat goes after Ron’s pet Scabbers. Back at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry overhears Mr and Mrs Weasley talking about the danger he is in.
Calendar and Dates
Using the actual calendar for 1993 as a guide, we can date the events of this chapter as happening between August 7, when Harry arrives in Diagon Alley, and August 31st, when Harry meets Ron and Hermione there and Hermione buys Crookshanks.
Friday 6 August - Harry blows up his Aunt and runs away
Saturday 7 August - just after midnight, Harry arrives at the Leaky Cauldron
Wednesday 25 August - The Weasleys return from their trip to Egypt
Tuesday 31 August - Harry meets Hermione and Ron in Diagon Alley. Hermione buys Crookshanks.
Interesting facts and notes
Never before had he been able to get up whenever he wanted or eat whatever he fancied. He could even go wherever he liked, as long as it was in Diagon Alley, and as this long cobbled street was packed with the most fascinating wizarding shops in the world, Harry felt no desire to break his word to Fudge and stray back into the Muggle world.
Harry's life takes an abrupt change here. From the horrible oppression of the Dursleys and Aunt Marge to almost complete freedom in one go. These are perhaps the happiest days of Harry's life. He doesn't have the understanding of the horrors of his past or the awareness of the darkness of his future to bother him. He will learn so much of this in the coming months. This is the last time we will see Harry as a carefree little boy.
He had never wanted anything so much in his whole life – but he had never lost a Quidditch match on his Nimbus Two Thousand, and what was the point in emptying his Gringotts vault for the Firebolt, when he had a very good broom already?
The Irish International Quidditch Team ordered seven Firebolts for the up-coming Quidditch World Cup. The Irish are favourites for the 1994 World Cup tournament with these brooms, and they later win (GF8).
"Look at this," said Ron, pulling a long thin box out of a bag and opening it. "Brand-new wand."
Ron's new wand is 14 inches long, willow, containing one tail-hair from a unicorn. The same as Cedric Diggory's wand (GF18). Could this be foreshadowing Ron's untimely death - only time will tell? (Note: This was written before the end of the series, when fans were latching on to any possible detail to figure out who might die before the end of the story. --SVA)
"An ordinary, common or garden rat like this can’t be expected to live longer than three years or so," said the witch.
"He’s gorgeous, isn’t he?" said Hermione, glowing.
According to Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, Crookshanks is part Kneazle. A Kneazle is "a small catlike creature with flecked speckled, or spotted fur, outsize ears, and a tail like a lion's, the Kneazle is intelligent, independent, and occasionally aggressive, though if it takes a liking to a witch or wizard, it makes an excellent pet. The Kneazle has an uncanny ability to detect unsavory or suspicious characters and can be relied upon to guide its owner safely home if they are lost." Does this suggest that in the future Crookshanks will save someone who is lost? (Another note written before the end of the series! --SVA)
"You know what Harry and Ron are like, wandering off by themselves – they’ve ended up in the Forbidden Forest twice!"
This is a mistake. Harry overhears Mr and Mrs Weasley discussing Sirius Black, and worrying about him and Ron. However, it was Harry, Hermione, Draco and Neville who had a detention in the Forbidden Forest (PS15). Ron did not go into the Forbidden Forest until his second year at Hogwarts when Harry and he went looking for Aragog (CS15). So, Ron has only been in the Forbidden Forest once at this point in the books. [In later editions the sentence was corrected to: "You know what Harry and Ron are like, wandering off by themselves – they’ve even ended up in the Forbidden Forest!"]
Exceptional character moments
Ron, who is so happy to receive something brand-new for once (a wand) as, since money is tight in the Weasley household, everything he gets as the sixth son is usually hand-me-down or secondhand.
A wry comment coming from the Talking Mirror in the Leaky Cauldron, which tells Harry not to bother trying to keep his hair in order.
Florean Fortescue giving Harry free sundaes while doing his schoolwork outside the Ice-Cream Parlour - Fortescue likely knows the advertising value of having a celebrity sitting in front of his business.
Hermione, a Muggle-born, taking Muggle Studies because it would be "fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view".
Percy's pompous manner greeting Harry - and Fred & George going over the top imitating it.
Fred and George putting their impressive talent for magic into bewitching Percy's badge, so that instead of "Head Boy" it reads "Bighead Boy".
"It can't have been a death omen. I was panicking when I saw that thing in Magnolia Crescent. . . .It was probably just a stray dog. . . ." [Harry]
"Brand-new wand. Fourteen inches, willow, containing one unicorn tail-hair" [Ron describing his new wand]
"Are you planning to eat or sleep at all this year, Hermione?" [Harry referring to Hermione's number of classes]
If Black can break out of Azkaban, he can break into Hogwarts." [Arthur Weasley]
"...The safest place on earth was wherever Albus Dumbledore happened to be."
"What to do when you know the worst is coming..."
"I'm not going to be murdered." [Harry]
Words and phrases
From the Web
Writing by J K Rowling on WizardingWorld (Pottermore):
Harry Potter Wiki:
MuggleNet: Diagon Alley
WizardingWorld (Pottermore) features: