CHAPTER 6 – Platform 9 '
Harry still has a month to go before he can take the train to his new school
and the time passes slowly.
However, he is now treated with respect, or even fear, by the Dursleys,
Harry now had a companion in the form of his owl, and he decided to call her
Hedwig. He also was absorbed by reading his schoolbooks and he would lie at night on his bed with the windows open so his owl could come and go as she pleased.
At last 1st September approached, and Harry had to make arrangements to travel into King’s Cross, so he asked his uncle for a lift. He agreed to do this because they were going into town that day anyway in order to take Dudley to hospital to have his pigtail removed. The Dursleys still regarded the whole witchcraft business as utter madness, especially when they saw Harry’s ticket showing the train would leave from Platform 9 '.
At last 1st September arrived and Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia deposited Harry with the trunk at King’s Cross Station. They left him to make his own way to the platform. Harry could find no Platform 9 ', and a guard told him that there was no train due to leave at 11.00 o’clock, so he stood between Platforms 9 and 10 receiving odd looks from passers-by, mainly curious about his large owl.
Close by, there was a woman with four boys all with red hair, each of them
having a trunk like Harry.
Harry heard them talking about Platform 9 '. The woman was saying goodbye to her boys and then Harry lost sight of them as a group of tourists passed between them. When he looked again he noticed that the boys had gone, leaving the woman on her own. Harry approached the woman and asked for directions. She responded, “Hullo dear. First time at Hogwarts? Ron’s new too.” Harry spotted the last of her sons, a small boy with red hair and freckles. The woman told Harry that all he had to do was walk straight at the barrier between Platforms 9 and 10, not to stop, and not to be frightened. Harry pushed the trolley that had his trunk towards the barrier expecting to crash, but when he opened his eyes, he was next to a scarlet steam engine with coaches packed with people. There were lots of boys saying ‘goodbye’ and the scene is set thus,
“Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while
cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to each other in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks.”
Harry saw the ginger-headed boys again, two were twins called Fred and
George Weasley. The oldest brother was Percy and he had been made a prefect at Hogwarts, and he was showing off his new gown with the letter ‘P’ on it.
In fact there were two even older Weasleys who had gone through Hogwarts, Bill and Charlie, and they now had suitable professions.
The train was due to leave and eventually Harry struggled with his trunk and
found an empty compartment on the train. However, word soon got round that Harry Potter was on the train and his peace would soon be interrupted.
As the train set off, many parents shouted to their young ones to send loads
of owls to keep them informed.
Soon the youngest Weasley boy, Ron, joined Harry in his compartment,
followed by Fred and George, who introduced themselves to Harry.
They wanted to see Harry’s scar on his forehead. Harry obtained a history of the Weasley family and he asked whether all their family were wizards, and they confirmed this except for a distant cousin who was an accountant, but they don’t talk about him. Harry thought that Ron was very lucky to be part of a family of wizards, but Ron is not so sure because he had a lot to live up to. Harry told Ron about his recent experiences and how badly the Dursleys treated him and this seemed to cheer Ron up.
Harry had been secretly worrying about how well he would do at the school,
and he suspected that he would be bottom of the class.
A trolley arrived with lots of food and sweets and for the first time in his
life, Harry actually had money to spend on himself, so he bought a wide range of food such as every flavour beans, chocolate frogs, pumpkin pasties, liquorice wands etc.
These he shared with Ron. The chocolate frogs were interesting and inside the wrapping were cards, and most boys collected these. On the cards were pictures of famous wizards etc., and Harry’s card had a picture of Albus Dumbledore. The card read, “Albus Dumbledore, currently Headmaster of Hogwarts,
considered by many the greatest wizard of modern
times, Professor Dumbledore is particularly famous for
his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945”
He turned the card over to find the picture of the Professor had disappeared.
The all flavour beans were exciting as well, some were delicious and some
were horrible, living up to their name.
The train passed through the typical English countryside of neat fields and
hedgerows, but this started to give way to more wooded country with twisting rivers and dark green hills.
Ron’s animal was a rat called Scabbers. All he did was sleep.
Ron was fed up with his boring pet and tried to change him from grey to yellow using a spell, but it didn’t work.
The entrance of Hermione Granger shattered the two boys’ peace. She
had come to see Harry Potter as she had already read about him in some of her books, much to Harry’s amazement, and she told him that he appears in Modern Magical History and Great Wizarding Events of the 20th Century. The conversation soon turned to what houses they would be in when they arrived at Hogwarts. There were four houses in all, Gryffindor considered by many to be the best, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and finally, Slytherin, the last house being infamous for having Voldemort pass through its ranks.
Harry heard that there had been an attempt to rob the high security vault at
Gringotts, and it must have been by a powerful, dark wizard, but apparently nothing was taken.
The conversation then went on to the game of Quidditch, which is far, far better than football. Teams consist of seven players who fly around on broomsticks chasing balls and trying to score points by placing the balls through hoops.
Another tearful boy, Neville, entered the room looking for his toad, but he
The boy that Harry had met in Madam Malkin’s Robe Shop came into the compartment and he continued his obnoxious behavior. Two bodyguards called Crabbe and Goyle accompanied him. He introduced himself as Draco Malfoy. He started to belittle the Weasley family and indicated that Harry should make friends with him. Then he tried to steal some of the food, and Ron’s rat bit him. He left, giving Harry a veiled threat that he should not associate with the likes of Hagrid and the Weasleys.
Hermione reminded the boys that they should get ready because they will soon
be arriving at the school, and so they put their robes on.
The train arrived at a small station and there stood Hagrid telling all 1st year’s to follow him. He led them from the station down a narrow path to the edge of a great black lake. On the other side was a mountain on which stood a large castle with many towers. They were ordered to embark on a flotilla of small boats that awaited them. The boats took them across the lake and into a cave passing right underneath the castle. They arrived at an underground harbor and they clambered onto the quay. Hagrid reunited Neville with his toad.
This Chapter represents the final transition by Harry from the normal world
to the world of wizards – from the Dursleys house to Hogwarts School. This is highlighted by the change in the countryside as the express travels from neat fields and hedgerows to tangled forests and mountains.
You should now be accustomed to a world of strange things, owls and magic
wands, strange food and peculiar sports, and larger than life characters.
We recall at the very start of the book how Aunt Petunia did not like to
talk about their strange relatives – Harry’s parents.
We now have this turned on its head and from a different perspective when we learn that the Weasleys do not talk about their odd cousin who is an accountant and who is ‘normal’.
Most of this Chapter is taken up with the activities on the train and
initially, the centre of attraction is a giant tarantula that one of the boys has, but this changes to Harry Potter as he is quite a celebrity in the world of wizards. He has his name in print in famous books
about wizardry, and this has bee spotted by Hermione Granger.
The older boys and girls seem to know more about Harry than he does himself, and you will note that he is the only one who speaks of Voldemort by name, showing his naivety.
Rowling adds to the authenticity of this mysterious world by going into
great depth concerning the everyday life of this society, which provides the building blocks and fabric of the whole story. She achieves this through her descriptive writing.
Another important fact to note is the reference to the attempted robbery at
Other key features are the house system at the school, and the game of
The reader may have thought that Harry had escaped Dudley and his gang, but
we are introduced to another set of potential bullies in the form of Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle.
No doubt we can all recall our first day at a new school and can certainly
sympathize with the way that Harry feels, but this is no ordinary school that he is going to – it is a school where you are trained to use your magical powers, and Harry is very apprehensive because he feels he is
at a distinct disadvantage, having not been brought up in a family of wizards, but in a family that tried to suppress Harry’s background.
The reader should now have gathered that this will be a battle between good
and evil, and Harry represents all that is good in this world of wizards, and that is why the villain Voldemort, tried to kill him when he was a baby, as the grown-up and educated Harry could be a formidable
opponent to him.
You will note that in the biography card about Albus Dumbledore, that he
defeated the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945. Coincidentally, this was when the 2nd World War finished with the defeat of the evil Hitler. Just as these battles were vital in regard to the freedom of the world, so perhaps would any future battle Harry might have with Voldemort.
We also draw from this that although the world of wizards is far removed
from that of muggles, there are parallels and they are intrinsically linked to one-another.
The reader feels part of this adventure because he can put himself in
Harry’s shoes. At the start of the book, he was much like any other 11 year old boy, and he views the change in setting with astonished eyes and we share his experience with the aid of Rowling’s descriptive writing.