Chapter Fifteen – “The Forbidden Forest”

Why, yes I am going to start off another blog by asking you to vote (again) for what book we should read next. Please?

We’re getting into the good stuff now with Chapter 15 of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Even though they get caught out of bed in the middle of the night, Harry and Hermione are so lucky that Professor McGonagall assumed they made up the dragon story to get Malfoy into trouble. It was a way better cover story than they could have come up with themselves. I wonder if they ever told her the truth as adults.

McGonagall takes fifty points each from Harry, Hermione, and Neville, plus detention. That’s pretty a pretty harsh punishment, just for being out of bed. Imagine what she would have done to them if they were actually caught with the dragon. Imagine what she would have done to Hagrid.

“Harry swore to himself not to meddle in things that weren’t his business from now on. He’d had it with sneaking around and spying” (245). That promise to himself lasts all of…a few days? If that.

Harry always seems to be in the right (or wrong) place at the right time. He is just walking along in an empty corridor when he hears Quirrell in a classroom, appearing to argue and plead with someone. Anyone could have walked by and overheard this conversation, but of course it was Harry, who immediately assumes it was Snape who had been threatening Quirrell. Harry has no evidence that Snape was there, but he is convinced that Snape is the bad guy in all this.

Hermione wants to talk to Dumbledore about their suspicions, but Harry says that don’t have enough proof to incriminate Snape. Harry doesn’t know Dumbledore well enough yet to know that he wouldn’t punish Harry for talking to him. Not that Harry ever really learns that he can go to an adult for help throughout the series, but at least he has an excuse this time – he has no idea how Dumbledore would react.

What kind of detention takes place at 11 pm? When I was 11, detention involved being separated from your friends and not being able to talk for one lunch period. If you did something really bad, you had to stay after school and sit in a classroom. In Hogwarts, they punish their students by bringing them out to the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night to hunt something that is soulless enough that it would murder unicorns, the most pure creatures in their world. Clearly, whatever this thing is would have no problem killing a bunch of children. I would really love to read the Hogwarts teachers’ manual on disciplining students, if there even is one.

Once again, Hagrid makes a questionable judgment call. Obviously, the administration think sending the kids into the forest is an acceptable punishment, but Hagrid is the one who decides it’s a good idea to split them up. Wizards really need to watch more horror movies – you never split up. That’s when everything bad happens.

We meet the centaurs for the first time in this chapter, starting with Ronan. He shows us that centaurs are very frustrating creatures to talk to, although he does make an interesting point – “Always the innocent are the first victims” (253). I know he’s talking about the unicorns, but he could also very well be talking about the students. He knows what is happening and that Hogwarts is in danger. It’s pretty upsetting that he doesn’t think it’s his place to share that information with the school.

Harry, Malfoy, and Fang come across the dead unicorn and the “creature” that’s been killing them. Malfoy and Fang run off, and Harry collapses in pain from his scar. If Firenze the centaur hasn’t saved Harry, I wonder what would have happened – if Quirrell/Voldemort really would have tried to kill Harry right then.

I think the politics of the centaurs are very interesting. Bane represents the older sentiment that the centaurs should just read the stars and keep to themselves, while Firenze is younger and more open-minded to protecting the wizards.

“That is because it is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn. Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself, and you will have but a half-life, from the moment your blood touches your lips.” – Firenze (258).

Firenze makes Harry realize that Voldemort is really the person who has been killing the unicorns and going after the Stone. The planets really do know everything. Although Harry does believe that Snape is still involved. He just now thinks Snape wants the Stone for Voldemort, not himself.

The chapter ends with the invisibility cloak being returned to Harry with a note that says “Just in case” (261). Man, Dumbledore really likes when Harry sneaks around the castle, doesn’t he?

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