CHAPTER 5 – Diagon Alley
Someone else was trying to get into the hut the next morning.
Hagrid was sound asleep, so Harry opened the door and in swooped an owl
carrying a newspaper that was dropped on top of Hagrid. The owl then proceeded to attack Hagrid’s coat.
Harry managed to wake the giant who told Harry to pay the owl for delivering the paper. Eventually Harry found some strange-looking coins known as knuts. The owl flew out of the window after placing 5 knuts in the small leather pouch that he carried.
Hagrid tells Harry to be quick, for they have to go to London to get the
items on the list from the school.
Harry was reluctant because he could not see the Dursleys paying for the items required, and he had no money, but Hagrid reassured him that his parents had left him well provided for. Hagrid explains that they will have to travel to Gringotts, the wizards’ bank. He explains that this is the safest bank in the world as it is run by Goblins, and nobody messes with them.
The pair exit the hut and take the Dursleys’ boat back to shore.
Harry asks Hagrid how he arrived on the island, and he tells Harry that he flew, but they will have to use conventional methods, as he is not allowed to use magic in front of Harry. As they walk through the town to the railway station, everyone stops and stares at Hagrid. This intensifies when they board the train, as Hagrid seems to fill the compartment.
Harry now looks at the second piece of paper he received with the letter,
which details what he has to bring with him to the school - items such as his uniform, which includes black robes and pointed hats, a set of books on topics such as casting spells, magical herbs and dark forces, a
guide to self protection. He is also to find a wand and cauldron, plus an animal, which can either be an owl, cat or toad.
Harry still wonders if this is all a dream and he will wake up, but he is
excited at going to London – a place he has never been to.
Squeezed in between a bookshop and a record shop is a shabby pub called The
Leaky Cauldron. None of the muggles seem to notice it – they just walk past, but Hagrid and Harry enter and they soon recognize Harry and take it in turns to shake his hand, some of them more than once.
Harry meets one of his future teachers at Hogwarts, Professor Quirrell who will teach Harry about defense against the dark arts.
The Professor who wears a turban at all times from which a strange smell emanates, also has a pronounced stutter brought on when he went on a one-year’s fieldwork in Europe. Hagrid tells Harry he has never been the same since he returned.
Hagrid then points his umbrella at a brick in the middle of the wall and a
small hole appears, growing wider and wider. They pass through the archway, which closes behind them, and they enter Diagon Alley, a cobbled street full of shops selling cauldrons, clothes, animals and so
forth. At the end of the street is a large snowy white building that is Gringotts Bank. The pair enters the bank, which is full of Goblins filling in ledgers and dealing with customers. They find a
free Goblin and Hagrid requests to take some money out of Mr. Harry Potter’s safe.
Hagrid produces the key to the safe. They are then escorted by a Goblin called Griphook who takes them from the main lobby of the bank into a cave where they board a small cart that runs on railway tracks. The cart seems to know where it is going and it hurls them deep into the bowels of the earth at tremendous speed, causing the giant to feel queasy. Eventually the cart stops and they arrive at Harry’s safe. The Goblin unlocks the door and Harry gasps at the sight of the mounds of gold, silver and bronze coins in his safe. Gold coins are called galleons, silver coins are sickles, and the bronze coins are knuts. Harry takes enough coins to last him for two terms and Hagrid advises him that they have to go to the school’s safe as he has business to do for the Headmaster.
The cart hurls them through more passages past an underground lake till they
arrive at the next safe. Hagrid enters and picks up a little grubby brown paper package and hides it in his coat.
They now return to the surface, but Hagrid has to recuperate in The Leaky
Cauldron and leaves Harry to go to Madam Malkin’s shop to obtain his uniform. Malkin knows the boy is bound for Hogwarts school.
She already has another boy standing on a stool being fitted with his robe. The other boy, who seems to know exactly what to expect at the school, quizzes Harry leaving him insecure. Harry doesn’t reveal to the other boy that he has been brought up in a muggle family, especially when the boy airs his view that such children from muggle families shouldn’t be allowed into the school.
When he meets up with Hagrid again, he regains his confidence, when Hagrid
confirms that he is from a proper family, and not muggles.
With the uniform obtained, Harry gets the books he needs and Hagrid has to
almost drag Harry away from the shop because he would like a book that would enable him to put a spell on Dudley.
By the way, it’s Harry’s birthday today, and it is the best that he has ever had.
Hagrid decides to give him a present in the form of the animal that he has
to take to the school. Hagrid suggests an owl because they are very useful at delivering messages and fetching newspapers. Harry ends up with a beautiful snowy owl that is fast asleep.
All that remains now is to obtain a magic wand. They go to
“Ollivanders, Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.”
The owner of the shop explains to Harry that wands can be made from various types of wood, but in their core is a magical substance made up of “unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heart-strings of dragons”. Mr. Ollivander can recount every wand he has sold and to whom. He remembers Harry’s parents obtaining theirs as if it was yesterday, and he also sold the wand that inflicted Harry with the scar on his forehead. Ollivander has numerous wands and he gives them to Harry to try, but no sooner does Harry hold the wand than Ollivander snatches it back. He soon has a large pile of rejected wands. He advises Harry that it is the wand that chooses the wizard. Ollivander then finds an unusual wand that is made out of holly and contains phoenix feather and is 11” in length. As soon as Harry takes the wand, he feels sudden warmth in his fingers and “a stream of red and gold sparks shoot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on the walls”. Hagrid and Ollivander are delighted. Ollivander advises Harry that this wand’s brother gave him the scar.
It is time for Harry to return home and Hagrid takes him to the railway
station. Before they separate, Hagrid gives him his ticket for Hogwarts. On it, it says st September at King’s Cross”. If you have any problems, Hagrid says, send me a letter with your owl. She’ll know where to find me.
The reader is bombarded with numerous facts and it is important to
distinguish between key factors that will have a bearing on the plot and those that just merely give a background to this world and help with the description.
There are two important elements that should be noted at this stage.
Firstly there is the package that Hagrid obtains from the vault, and
secondly, Harry’s encounter with the boy in Madam Malkin’s shop, ‘Robes for All Occasions’. This boy undermines Harry’s confidence and their paths will cross later when Harry goes to Hogwarts School.
The reader, however, is given lots of small items of information, which
clearly show that Harry is something special, and that is why he is the hero of this story.