We’re in Diagon Alley with Harry Potter, and onward - to his first taste of Hogwarts. I like the class humor in these early chapters. In later books, I notice a harder edge in Rowling’s attitude toward the middle-class suburbanite Dursleys, but for now it’s still amusing and endearing. They are a complete caricature of suburban striving - nosy, unimaginative, and banal..but not so completely dismissed as to make the caricature unkind or universal. In Diagon Alley we meet the caricature of the rich, blue-blooded Draco Malfoy whose ease at being fitted for new robes indicates he’s spent plenty of time at the tailor’s. Draco’s preoccupation with family history, surnames, and getting in with the right set at school makes me certain his family has the wizarding equivalent of yachts and tennis courts chilling around their manor house. Harry’s confusion in his first meeting with the wizarding upper-classes is endearing..he’s uncomfortable, but content enough in his own interpretation of the experience so far to avoid being drawn into Malfoy’s attitude. Harry is somewhat outside class - as lost in suburbia as he would be along side Draco, watching with longing the pleasantly proletariat Weasleys knock about at the train station. It’s an opportunity to set him up to do ‘great things’ formed either by a connection to and welcoming of the good that can grow in all of the classes he can see - but never belong to; or else a rejection of these pockets of belonging and all the people who fit easily in one or the other. I don’t know that Rowling managed either in the end..but right now, Harry is still in formation - full of potential and the loneliness it brings.
And now, here’s Seth:
The subject of wand-length came up in discussion recently; being somewhat visual I decided photos were needed to aid the “are they too short, too long, or just right?” debate. Everything was measured carefully (brushes included bristles) and came within a quarter-inch accuracy (mostly dead-on). They are listed in order of appearance in chapter five, starting with Lily Potter (note the nice, feminine hand position).
“ ‘Ah yes,’ said the man… ‘ It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wand for charm work’.”
(not actually made of willow. Made of chainsaw sharpening file)
Next is James Potter: “ ‘Your father, on the other hand, favored a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power and excellent for transfiguration…’ ”
(certain tiny wand shoppers have no respect for personal space)
And of course, Voldy.
"Mr. Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Harry's forehead with a long white finger.
'I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it' he said softly. Thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Powerful wand...' "
(Aggressive. Green. Gritty. No, really. Actually gritty. The wand is fake, not the dirt)
Then a couple of Harry's rejects: "Right then, Mr Potter. Try this one. Beechwood and dragon heartstring. Nine inches...' " and "... 'Maple and Phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy... ' "
(Chopstick. Carpenter's pencil. Not terribly impressive)
Skipping his last reject (which, at eight and a half is between those two) we finally have Harry's wand itself.
" 'Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry... yes, why not - unusual combination - holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple.' "
So I suppose whether these representations look right, wrong, or a mix, is dependent on your pre-formed mental image of "appropriate magic wand". Mine tends toward something a bit longer and a bit less "something I found lying around the house"-ish.
-The Neglected (and can you tell it's been rainy here and I've had a lot of time on my hands?) Husband