In this chapter, most of the events play out the same as we see in the film, with a few more details to enrich the story. Percy Weasley has a bigger role here as the family dynamic becomes more evident, and Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy actually end up in a fistfight!
It begins with Harry experiencing more magical things in The Burrow, such as a mirror that shouts at him to tuck in his shirt. This gives a larger sense of what differentiates the magical world from the muggle world.
The ghoul in the attic howled and dropped pipes whenever he felt things were getting too quiet, and small explosions from Fred and George’s bedroom were considered perfectly normal. What Harry found most unusual about life at Ron’s, however, wasn’t the talking mirror or the clanking ghoul: It was the fact that everybody there seemed to like him.
We never hear or see the ghoul in the attic of The Burrow in the films. That could have been interesting. Of course, Mr. Weasley peppers him with questions about life with muggles while Mrs. Weasley stuffs him full of food.
“Fascinating.” he would say as Harry talked him through using a telephone. “Ingenious, really, how many ways Muggles have found of getting along without magic.”
Ginny is still as nervous as ever whenever Harry is around.
The letters from Hogwarts arrive one morning at breakfast, including Harry’s. The list of books is dominated by Gilderoy Lockhart’s collected works.
“You’ve been told to get all Lockhart’s books, too!” he (Fred) said. “The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher must be a fan — bet it’s a witch.”
Percy comes in, dressed in his robes with his Prefect’s badge on. When he goes to sit down, there’s a feather duster on his chair. At least, that’s what Harry thinks it is until he sees it’s an owl. This is Errol, who seems to be a less than stellar owl. He’s got a letter from Hermoine, whom Ron wrote to tell her that they were going to rescue Harry from the Dursleys.
The letter cautions them against doing anything illegal to get Harry out, although she admits that by the time they read the letter it will likely be a moot point. She states that her parents are taking her to Diagon Alley for her schoolbooks the next Wednesday and asks them to meet her there.
The boys go to practice Quidditch as best they can without being seen by muggles.
Five minutes later they were marching up the hill, broomsticks over their shoulders. They had asked Percy if he wanted to join them, but he had said he was busy. Harry had only seen Percy at mealtimes so far; he stayed shut in his room the rest of the time.
The mysterious Percy, plays a much bigger role in the story now than he is depicted in the films.
Ron laments how much everything is going to cost his parents to send them all to school this year, although it’s probably cheaper to send them to school than to feed them all those months. Harry feels awkward, knowing the fortune that is stored in his vault at Gringotts.
Mrs. Weasley woke them all early the following Wednesday. After a quick half a dozen bacon sandwiches each, they pulled on their coats and Mrs. Weasley took a flowerpot off the kitchen mantelpiece and peered inside.
Harry is about to have his first experience with Floo powder. He has no idea what to do when Mrs. Weasley offers him the flowerpot.
“Never?” said Mr. Weasley. “But how did you get to Diagon Alley to buy your school things last year?”
“I went on the Underground —”
“Really?” said Mr. Weasley eagerly. “Were there escapators? How exactly —”
I love Arthur Weasley’s tangents trying to learn about muggles.
As in the film, Harry tries it after Fred and George and mis-speaks. When he finally lands somewhere unknown, he can tell he’s in a wizard’s shop, but it’s unlike any he’s seen before.
A glass case nearby held a withered hand on a cushion, a bloodstained pack of cards, and a staring glass eye. Evil-looking masks stared down from the walls, an assortment of human bones lay upon the counter, and rusty, spiked instruments hung from the ceiling. Even worse, the dark, narrow street Harry could see through the dusty shop window was definitely not Diagon Alley.
As Harry tries to escape the shop, he sees Draco Malfoy about to enter. Harry quickly ducks into a large cabinet to hide from him. When he enters, Harry surmises the man with him is Draco’s father, since they look so much alike. Draco is complaining about Harry to his father. It must be for the thousandth time since Lucius seems to be tired of hearing about it and cautions Draco not to express these sentiments too loudly since Harry is considered a hero by so many in the wizarding world.
Lucius is there to sell some things.
“You have heard, of course, that the Ministry is conducting more raids,” said Mr. Malfoy, taking a roll of parchment from his inside pocket and unraveling it for Mr. Borgin to read. “I have a few — ah — items at home that might embarrass me, if the Ministry were to call…”
Draco is looking around the shop and spots the Hand of Glory, which allows light only to the holder. It’s an item generally used by thieves. Lucius chides Draco about his grades and Draco tries to deflect blame by stating that Hermoine is favored by the teachers at Hogwarts.
“I would have thought you’d be ashamed that a girl of no wizard family beat you in every exam,” snapped Mr. Malfoy
Just as Draco is about to open the cabinet that Harry is hiding in, Lucius concludes his business with Mr. Borgin and they leave. Harry waits for Mr. Borgin to go into the back area of the shop, before he exits the cabinet and the shop.
Clutching his broken glasses to his face, Harry stared around. He had emerged into a dingy alleyway that seemed to be made up entirely of shops devoted to the Dark Arts. The one he’d just left, Borgin and Burkes, looked like the largest, but opposite was a nasty window display of shrunken heads and, two doors down, a large cage was alive with gigantic black spiders. Two shabby-looking wizards were watching him from the shadow of a doorway, muttering to each other
We really don’t see much of Knocturn Alley in the film, except for a quick glimpse. Still, there was a lot of detail in the brief scene we see giving the sense that it’s a place Harry shouldn’t be when he’s alone. Just as he’s being noticed by those lurking in the Alley, Hagrid shows up.
Hagrid seized Harry by the scruff of the neck and pulled him away from the witch, knocking the tray right out of her hands. Her shrieks followed them all the way along the twisting alleyway out into bright sunlight. Harry saw a familiar, snow-white marble building in the distance — Gringotts Bank. Hagrid had steered him right into Diagon Alley.
Hagrid also asks why Harry didn’t write back to him, and Harry has to explain to Hagrid what happened at the Dursleys. Hagrid is not pleased. One wonders if this information gets passed along to Dumbledore and perhaps he pays them a visit.
Harry hears his name being called and spots Hermoine near Gringotts.
Gasping for breath she pulled a large clothes brush out of her bag and began sweeping off the soot Hagrid hadn’t managed to beat away. Mr. Weasley took Harry’s glasses, gave them a tap of his wand, and returned them, good as new.
It’s Arthur Weasley who fixes Harry’s glasses, not Hermoine as in the film. Harry starts telling them what he saw going on in Borgin’s shop.
“So he’s worried,” said Mr. Weasley with grim satisfaction. “Oh, I’d love to get Lucius Malfoy for something…”
Molly cautions him against going after the Malfoys, saying the family is trouble. They spot Hermoine’s parents inside the bank, trying to change their muggle money to wizarding currency.
Harry enjoyed the breakneck journey down to the Weasleys’ vault, but felt dreadful, far worse than he had in Knockturn Alley, when it was opened. There was a very small pile of silver Sickles inside, and just one gold Galleon. Mrs. Weasley felt right into the corners before sweeping the whole lot into her bag. Harry felt even worse when they reached his vault. He tried to block the contents from view as he hastily shoved handfuls of coins into a leather bag
There’s much more emphasis on the difference in economic status. In the film, it’s shown when Ron won’t buy candy from the cart or when he’s wearing hand-me-down robes. It’s never really overtly talked about. Harry could have offered them some money for letting him stay with them, but I doubt they would have accepted it. Harry does buy his friends ice cream when they are given some time to themselves before meeting up later at the bookstore. Arthur takes Hermoine’s parents to the Leaky Cauldron for a drink, and to probably pepper them with questions about muggle life.
In Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop, they met Fred, George, and Lee Jordan, who were stocking up on Dr. Filibuster’s Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks, and in a tiny junk shop full of broken wands, lopsided brass scales, and old cloaks covered in potion stains they found Percy, deeply immersed in a small and deeply boring book called Prefects Who Gained Power
There’s more fleshed out about Diagon Alley in this book, and again we get more depth to Percy’s character.
When they make their way to Flourish and Blotts Bookstore, it begins much the same way we see in the film. There’s a crowd there for Gilderoy Lockhart who is signing copies of his latest tome. They enter the shop and grab the new spellbook they need, then join Molly Weasley and Hermoine’s parents in line. Lockhart spots Harry and grabs him for the photo. He not only gives harry his collective works but also announces that he’s the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.
Harry gives the books to Ginny, stating that he’ll buy his own. A gallant gesture to the Weasleys without being too obvious.
Draco confronts his fellow students and mocks Harry. Ginny stands up to him. As Arthur tries to round up the brood and get them outside, he ends up face to face with Lucius Malfoy. Their conversation is the same as is depicted in the film, but it ends a little differently.
There was a thud of metal as Ginny’s cauldron went flying; Mr. Weasley had thrown himself at Mr. Malfoy, knocking him backward into a bookshelf. Dozens of heavy spellbooks came thundering down on all their heads; there was a yell of, “Get him, Dad!” from Fred or George; Mrs. Weasley was shrieking, “No, Arthur, no!”; the crowd stampeded backward, knocking more shelves over; “Gentlemen, please — please!” cried the assistant, and then, louder than all
Hagrid breaks up the fight and Lucius leaves. The bookshop assistant thinks about not allowing them to leave but is intimidated by Hagrid.
They say their goodbyes to the Grangers in the Leaky Cauldron, where Harry returns to The Burrow with the Weasleys using Floo powder, with a much better result, I expect.
Previous chapter (link): Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 3: The Burrow
Next chapter (link): Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 5: The Whomping Willow