Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone
Cut to present day, when ten-year-old Harry lives with his super-mean aunt and uncle and their son Dudley. When they go to the zoo for Dudley's birthday, Harry encounters a sympathetic snake. He's able to speak to the friendly reptile and somehow seems to have removed the glass from its cage, so it can go back to Brazil. After the trip to the zoo, mysterious letters start arriving for Harry. His uncle, Mr. Dursley, is furious and tries to keep them from Harry. But the letters keep arriving at such a rapid rate that, the evening before Harry's eleventh birthday, his uncle takes the whole family to a deserted island to escape all of the mail.
They can't hide for long, though; Hagrid shows up on Harry's birthday to deliver the letter, and the news that Harry's a wizard and has been admitted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The next day he takes Harry to shop for school supplies at Diagon Alley, where Harry learns more about the wizarding world. He meets Malfoy (a bully) and Hogwarts' new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Quirrell. Harry also buys his first wand. Sweeeet. Hagrid also picks up a mysterious package at Gringotts, the goblin bank.
Later that summer, Harry travels to Hogwarts. He has to take a train from platform nine and three-quarters, a magical platform! A family called the Weasleys helps him find his way, and he begins to make friends with one of their sons, Ron. He meets other first-year students like Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom.
Upon their arrival at Hogwarts, the first years are Sorted into one of four houses (think dormitories). Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville are all Gryffindors (a house known for bravery); Malfoy is a Slytherin (a house known for ambition, and infamous for producing dark wizards). They begin taking all kinds of classes in magic. Harry dislikes the Potions teacher, Snape, who is unfair and kind of mean.
Harry learns that there was an attempted robbery at Gringotts bank, but nothing was taken. He guesses that the robbers were after what Hagrid picked up. Hagrid lets it slip that it has something to do with someone called Nicolas Flamel.
Malfoy becomes a big bully. During their first broom-flying lesson, he teases Neville. In defending Neville, Harry realizes he's a natural at flying. He's a superstar on a broomstick. Although Harry's broken rules by flying unsupervised, Professor McGonagall rewards him by putting him on the Gryffindor Quidditch team as Seeker (a very important position on the team).
Later, Malfoy and Harry have a fight, and Malfoy challenges Harry to a wizard duel at midnight. Hermione and Ron accompany Harry, but Malfoy doesn't show – he was trying to get them in trouble for roaming the school while they should be in bed. As they hurry to get back to the dorm, the three friends stumble into a forbidden part of Hogwarts, where they bump into a three-headed monster dog. Luckily, they escape in the nick of time.
Harry and Ron aren't getting along with Hermione, but make up when they rescue her from a troll that's terrorizing the school. Though they get in trouble to taking on the troll alone, they also show their bravery. Now the three are inseparable.
As the first Quidditch match approaches, the three friends suspect Snape of wanting the package from Gringotts. During the game, Harry's broom acts weird and seems to be hexed. Harry's saved, but his friends blame Snape for putting him in danger.
During the winter break, Harry stays at Hogwarts and is given an invisibility cloak that once belonged to his dad. He uses it to sneak around the castle and discovers the Mirror of Erised in one of Hogwarts' many secret rooms. When he looks into the mirror he sees his parents, but when he shares the mirror with Ron, Ron sees himself as a hero. Dumbledore catches Harry at the mirror and explains that the mirror shows you your heart's desire. The wise old wizard then says he's going to take the mirror away because it's dangerous.
When classes resume after winter break, Harry, Ron, and Hermione figure out who Flamel is – an alchemist and the only person in the world to have the Sorcerer's Stone, which can provide immortality. They decide the Stone must be what was hidden at Gringotts and is now being guarded by the three-headed dog.
When not trying to solve the mystery of Nicholas Flamel, Harry is trying to balance Quidditch and school work. Gryffindor wins another Quidditch game, which Snape referees, and then Harry hears Snape and Quirrell arguing.
Meanwhile, Hagrid adopts a dragon, which is illegal. Ron, Hermione, and Harry have to convince him that's it's just not practical to raise a baby dragon, and find a way to smuggle the dragon out. Malfoy spies on them and tries to turn them in. When Harry and Hermione have successfully sent the dragon out in the middle of the night, they're caught by McGonagall – along with Neville, who was trying to warn them, and Malfoy, who tattled – and are given really big detention. Gryffindor moves to the last place in the house cup contest, and everyone is really mad at them.
Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Malfoy have detention with Hagrid in the forest at night. They are supposed to figure out what's killing unicorns and drinking their blood. Harry runs into some centaurs who see trouble ahead in the stars. They all realize that Voldemort is trying to return and that he's the one killing unicorns.
After the first-year exams, Harry, Ron, and Hermione talk with Hagrid and realize that he said too much about the Sorcerer's Stone to the mysterious stranger who gave him the dragon. Harry, Ron, and Hermione suspect that Snape is after it. That night they try to retrieve the Stone. Neville attempts to stop them, so they have to temporarily paralyze him with magic. They pass by the three-headed dog by playing it music, only to meet with another series of challenges. First, they're trapped by a Devil's Snare plant, then they have to catch a flying key, and then they have to play a life-size game of wizard chess. The chess game takes Ron out, leaving Harry and Hermione to solve a logic puzzle and drink potions to go forward. There's only enough for one, so Harry moves on and sends Hermione back for help.
To Harry's surprise, he runs into Quirrell, not Snape like he thought he would. Quirrell reveals that Voldemort is living in him like a parasite. (Eek!) He tries to use Harry to get the Stone. He makes Harry use the Mirror of Erised, and Harry finds himself holding the Stone and lying about it. Quirrell/Voldemort tries to kill Harry, but when he touches Harry, he burns. Harry blacks out.
When Harry comes to, he's in the infirmary with Dumbledore, and Quirrell is dead. Dumbledore explains that Harry defeated Quirrell/Voldemort through the protection of his mother's love. He also mentions that the Stone has been destroyed.
Later, at the end-of-year banquet, Dumbledore praises Ron, Hermione, Harry, and Neville for the parts they played in defeating Quirrell. He rewards them by giving Gryffindor house tons of points. They win the house cup for Gryffindor, and even pass all of their exams. Then, they leave Hogwarts for the summer and part ways at the train station. Though it stinks to be returning to the Dursleys, Harry explains how much easier his time with them will be now that he can do magic.
But Harry's not your everyday kid, and he's not even your everyday wizard. Harry's surrounded by mystery. He's the one person Voldemort (one of the evilest and most powerful wizards) could not kill, and he's the only known survivor of a "powerful, evil curse" (4.107). Nobody knows why Voldemort's magic didn't work on Harry, or how he survived a curse that killed both his parents and destroyed his house. For that matter, no one seems to know why Voldemort was after Harry in the first place. Even though he was just a baby when Voldemort attack him, his survival makes him an instant celebrity in the wizarding world. Though he grows up ignored and mistreated by the Dursleys, he's famous in the wizarding world as The Boy Who Lived.
"I am [head boy] – I'm wearing the badge like Bill used to – and I'm holding the house cup and the Quidditch cup – I'm Quidditch captain, too!" (12.155)
Ron comes from a long line of wizards on both sides of his family, making him a pureblood. This would normally give his family a higher status in the wizarding world. However, the Weasleys don't have very much money. This doesn't matter much to people like Harry and Hermione, but it does to snobs like Draco Malfoy. It also matters to Ron. He's ashamed of having less, like when he's not able to buy snacks on the Hogwarts Express like Harry is. When Malfoy attacks his family's status, he defends himself and his family courageously. Ron wants to be a Gryffindor because it's the house that his whole family has always been in. Gryffindor is a perfect fit for Ron. He may not cunning, dutiful, or overly wise, but he is brave and smart (Gryffindor traits). He also plays a great game of wizarding chess, and that's no small feat.
Ron is also Harry's – and our – guide to much of the wizarding universe that lurks underneath the Muggle realm. We learn as much about the wizard world from his reactions to Harry's explanations of Muggle behavior as we do from his explanations to Harry about wizard rules and regulations. In a way, the non-magic world is stranger to Ron than the magic world will ever be to Harry or Hermione. He's grown up steeped in magic and speaks the language of magic too well – it's too much inside of him – to ever cross over and attempt to lead an ordinary life.
At eleven, Hermione has frizzy brown hair and buckteeth, and is more invested in learning wizarding history and Transfiguration charms than she is in putting on lipstick. Fair enough – she's not a teenager yet. Hermione always knows all the answers to the teachers' questions. It's a good thing, though. Her attention in class and her study skills help her save lives: she rescues Ron and Harry from the Devil's Snare and helps Harry figure out which potion to drink in the room of fire. She's the first one in their class to successfully Transfigure something, and she's also the first one to make feathers fly. Her brains serve the Gryffindor house well.
It's a little surprising that Hermione, who everyone thinks is the brainiest first year, isn't in Ravenclaw with the other brainiacs. But soon we find out that Gryffindor suits her well, because her bravery is as great as her intelligence. She's also loyal – consider the incident with the troll in the girls' bathroom. She defends Ron and Harry after they save her, even after Ron made fun of her.
She tells Harry that friendship and courage are "more important" than knowledge and studying. We're not trying to say that education isn't important, and we don't think Hermione is either. But she reminds us of how knowledge connects to those other, important parts of life. Hermione shows us how the ability to learn really is a key to friendship and bravery.By making Hermione one of the bravest and cleverest wizards of her year, Rowling sends a strong message about discrimination. According to Malfoy and some Slytherins, wizards who don't inherit their powers from wizarding families are seen as inferior. Because Hermione is from an entirely Muggle family, she shouldn't be that good at magic, or even be allowed to do magic, according to their standards. The fact that she's so great at magic proves wizard talent doesn't always come from genetics, and also shows how narrow-minded this idea of pureblood wizardry is.
Major Conflict · Harry attempts to stop Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents, from stealing the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Rising Action · Harry’s arrival at Hogwarts, the news of the break-in at Gringotts, and Hermione’s revelation of the trapdoor under the guard dog in the third-floor corridor bring Harry and Voldemort closer to confrontation.
Climax · Professor Snape’s apparent hex on Harry during the Quidditch game brings the simmering tension between good and evil out into the open, shifting Harry’s concern from winning the game to surviving.
Falling Action · With the conflict out in the open, the forces of good and the forces of evil draw closer together: Harry, Ron, and Hermione explore the school and learn about the Sorcerer’s Stone; Voldemort drinks unicorn blood to sustain himself and attacks Harry in the Forbidden Forest; Harry faces Professor Quirrell and Voldemort, who orders Quirrell to kill Harry.
As a single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rowling became an international literary sensation in 1999, when the first three installments of her Harry Potter children's book series took over the top three slots of The New York Times best-seller list after achieving similar success in her native United Kingdom. The phenomenal response to Rowling's books culminated in July 2000, when the fourth volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, became the fastest-selling book in history.
A graduate of Exeter University, Rowling moved to Portugal in 1990 to teach English. There, she met and married the Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes. The couple's daughter, Jessica, was born in 1993. After her marriage ended in divorce, Rowling moved to Edinburgh with her daughter to live near her younger sister, Di. While struggling to support Jessica and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on a book, the idea for which had reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990. After a number of rejections, she finally sold the book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the word "Philosopher" was changed to "Sorcerer" for its publication in America), for the equivalent of about $4,000. The book, and its subseqent series, chronicled the life of Harry Potter, a young wizard, and his motley band of cohorts at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Fame and Fortune
By the summer of 2000, the first three Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earned approximately $480 million in three years, with over 35 million copies in print in 35 languages. In July 2000, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire saw a first printing of 5.3 million copies and advance orders of over 1.8 million. After a postponed release date, the fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, hit bookstores in June 2003. The sixth installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sold 6.9 million copies in the United States in its first 24 hours, the biggest opening in publishing history.