chapter five of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Just before boarding the Hogwarts Express, Harry is pulled aside by Mr. Weasley who urges him to avoid Sirius Black. Then on the trip, dementors stop the train and search it, causing Harry to pass out. Finally the students arrive at Hogwarts, Lupin and Hagrid are introduced as new teachers, and the school year officially begins.
This had only one occupant, a man sitting fast asleep next to the window.
(by Jenny Dolfen)
Standing in the doorway, illuminated by the shivering flames in Lupin’s hand, was a cloaked figure that towered to the ceiling.
There was a hand protruding from the cloak and it was glistening, grayish, slimy-looking, and scabbed….
(by Helene Sirois)
Hermione was leaning out of the tiny window, watching the many turrets and towers draw nearer.
It was common knowledge that Snape wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, but even Harry, who hated Snape, was startled at the expression twisting his thin, sallow face.
(by Tealin Raintree)
They reached their familiar, circular dormitory with its five four-poster beds, and Harry, looking around, felt he was home at last.
about the chapter
Something You May Not Have Noticed
It’s pretty clear this is the first day Lupin has ever served as a professor. Yet the title is stamped on his bag in peeling letters, indicating it’s been there a while. This doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless for some reason Lupin is deliberately showing off his shabbiness (after all, couldn’t he have performed a simple sticking charm to keep the letters on his case?). This is certainly possible, though I can’t think what it would accomplish for him. I think it’s probably more likely that Rowling simply wrote this as an indication of his poverty, getting the information she needed across without stopping to really think through the implications.
The Power of Magic
I absolutely love that the remedy for the cold clamminess induced by a dementor is chocolate. Sometimes I really envy Rowling for what some of her brainstorming sessions must have been like: “Let’s see… dementors suck all the happiness out of you, so I need a remedy that has the exact opposite effect… something simple… I know, chocolate!”
Life at Hogwarts
We start to get a hint right away from Madame Pomfrey that Lupin is probably a more knowledgeable, and better, teacher than his immediate predecessor, Lockhart. In fact as the year goes on, it will become clear that the two are the exact opposites of each other: Lockhart is all show with no substance at all, and Lupin is a smart, capable wizard and teacher who seems not to give a second thought to his outward appearance. I know which one I’d rather have teaching my Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
Something to Remember
There are several looming, unanswered questions in this chapter that bear a bit of closer reflection. Some will be answered in a few chapters, but other things we won’t know for years. For instance, what was Hermione so happy about after she met privately with McGonagall? Why did Harry (and, to a lesser extent, Ginny) react so strongly to the dementor? And finally, why do the dementors seem to single Harry out in the first place?
The Final Word
(Rowling is asked about dementors being “a description of depression”):
“Yes. That is exactly what they are. It was entirely conscious. And entirely from my own experience. Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It’s a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”
“I think [dementors] are the scariest things I’ve written.”
–J.K. Rowling, June 2000 & March 2001