I open at the Close: How Sorcerer's Stone anticipated Deathly Hallows
By Conrad Triebold
Summary: My essay is about Sorcerer's Stone as it relates to Deathly Hallows, and how some of the elements of the first book were incorporated into the last. Now that all of the books and movies are finished, it is possible and very interesting to look back at how what happened in SS foreshadowed or made possible what happened in DH. My essay goes through nine of the major connections between these two books: Harry as a Horcrux, the character arc of Severus Snape, Harry and Ginny's relationship, Ron and Hermione's relationship, Gringott's Bank, the Invisibility Cloak, Harry's first Snitch, the Deluminator, and the "are you a witch/wizard or what?" quote connection. Through this essay, I hope the reader will come to a new appreciation of how amazingly well thought-out the Harry Potter series truly is.
"It was after a weekend's flat-hunting, when I was traveling back to London on my own on a crowded train, that the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head," writes J. K. Rowling, on her website (jkrowling.com). This idea, and the books that were produced by it, would go on to have a massive impact on the publishing industry, the reading population, and - a bit later - the movie industry. It is almost impossible to appreciate the enormous amount of creativity and hard work that undoubtedly went into creating the Harry Potter legend. Now that the story is finished, it is possible to look back through the books and appreciate the myriad details in the web of interrelated events that make up the story, and marvel at how the books are so completely entwined. This connection goes back even to the very first book in a surprising amount of ways, and even the most avid fan of the books may not know of some of them. But even if one is aware of these many connections, it is amazing to see and appreciate them anew.
The first and perhaps most obvious connection between these two books is between Harry and Voldemort. The basis for this connection is established in the first book, but only in the last is it fully understood. This connection, of course, is that Harry is a Horcrux.
At the end of SS, Dumbledore tells Harry why he was able to withstand Quirrell/Voldemort: "Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign . . . to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever" (SS, 299). And, in a sense, this protection also helped Harry in the final book. This is because when Voldemort cast the killing curse on Harry in Godric's Hollow, he made Harry a Horcrux, transferring part of his own soul into Harry. As Dumbledore explains to Harry towards the end of DH, in a scene eerily reminiscent of the scene at the end of SS: "You were the seventh Horcrux, Harry, the Horcrux he never meant to make. He had rendered his soul so unstable that it broke apart when he committed those acts of unspeakable evil, the murder of your parents, the attempted killing of a child. But what escaped from that room was even less than he knew. He left more than his body behind. He left part of himself latched to you, the would-be victim who had survived" (DH, 709). Because of this, Harry was again protected from the killing curse in DH, and Voldemort unwittingly destroyed one of the seven Horcruxes. It is amazing to note that what happened in the first chapter of the first book is extremely important at the very end of the last book, separated by five books and many years of writing on J. K. Rowling's part.
Another extremely important plot point that is introduced in the first book and not explained until the seventh is, of course, the demonization and subsequent admiration of Severus Snape in the eyes of Harry. This is, arguably, the most well done and surprising plot element of the series. A character that Harry - and therefore the reader - loathes from books one to six, turns out to be, in the words of Harry in the Epilogue to DH, "probably the bravest man I ever knew" (DH, 758).
A major element of the Harry Potter books is the characters and their development over the course of the series. And the epilogue of the seventh book reveals who marries whom. Ron marries Hermione; Harry marries Ginny. All of these characters are present from the very first book, and it is interesting to go back to the first book and see how each of these characters met each other.
Ginny Weasley is only present in two scenes of the first book, and they both take place on platform nine and three quarters: first when Harry is leaving for Hogwarts the first time, and also when he returns. In the first scene they do not even speak to each other (Ginny does not say "good luck" as she does in the movie). In fact, Harry and Ginny never speak to each other at all in the first book. However, in the short conversation between Ginny and her mother in the last scene of SS (as well as the first scene), she shows that she is excited about Harry: "'Harry Potter!' she squealed. 'Look, Mum! I can see-' 'Be quiet, Ginny, and it's rude to point.'" (SS, 308). Even though she is excited about seeing Harry, they never talk to each other. But even so, Ginny is present in the first book, and it is interesting to see her become a more central character in the following books, and eventually end up marrying Harry.
The first time Harry meets Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger is on the train to Hogwarts, and it is also the first time Hermione and Ron meet each other. And, of course, they do not hit it off so well. Ron is about to try a spell to turn Scabbers yellow, when Hermione shows up and meets both Ron and Harry for the first time. This is how Hermione is first described: "She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth" (SS, 105). A sentence like this is one of those things that a movie just cannot replicate, and is one of the reasons why books will never go out of fashion. After their brief encounter, Ron says "Whatever House I'm in, I hope she's not in it" (SS, 106), which is, needless to say, very ironic after one knows that they end up married. It is very interesting to read the scenes in the first book where Ron and Hermione interact, and then see how their attitudes toward each other change in the following books, culminating in their marriage in the epilogue.
Another interesting connection between SS and DH is the wizard's bank, Gringotts. In SS, this is one of the first places Hagrid takes Harry after he tells him he is a wizard. Hagrid tells Harry that the bank is run by goblins, and then says: "Yeah - so yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it, I'll tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Harry. Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter keep safe-'cept maybe Hogwarts" (SS, 63). This information comes into play in DH in quite a few important ways. In DH, Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to steal the goblet Horcrux from the basement of Gringotts, something that the reader has known is extremely difficult ever since the first book. And where is the diadem Horcrux hidden? Hogwarts, of course. Voldemort, it seems, is just as informed as Hagrid about where the best hiding places are.
Another very important connection is the invisibility cloak that Harry receives from Dumbledore in his first year. This cloak is one of the eponymous deathly hallows. It has been a part of the story for the entire series, so it does not feel like something pulled magically (as it were) out of a hat, and contrived to help the plot of the seventh book.
Also, Harry - in his first Quidditch match - catches the Snitch with his mouth. This becomes important only in the seventh book, as it is used by Dumbledore to hide the Resurrection Stone. And because Snitches have flesh memories, the snitch does not open until the end (or more accurately the close) when Harry touches it with his mouth. This is something that only dedicated fans of the books will be able to fully appreciate. Another is the Deluminator that Dumbledore uses in the very first chapter of SS that he leaves for Ron in his will. This seemingly minor element of the first book (and only the first book) comes in handy in DH when Ron uses it to find his way back to Harry and Hermione after he leaves them on their search for the Horcruxes. (Another interesting thing about the Deluminator is that it was not called a Deluminator until DH: in the first and fifth books it is called a Put-Outer).
Finally, a minor - but no doubt intentional - connection between these two books is a question that Ron asks Hermione in SS, and then Hermione asks Ron in DH, with little variation. In SS, when Hermione is wondering out loud about how to make a fire to save Ron and Harry from the Devil's Snare, Ron says: "Are you a witch or aren't you?" (SS, 278). And then in DH, when Ron is trying to figure out how to push the knot in the trunk that stops the whomping willow from whomping, Hermione echoes what Ron had said six years ago, "Are you a wizard, or what?" (DH, 651). Only a writer who knows her writing inside and out could have put this easter egg into the books, that only dedicated fans could find (unless they looked online).
These few examples of the many interconnections between the first and last book of this series show how intricate the plot truly is. From the small similarities (like "are you a wizard/witch, or not?") to the very big interconnections (like Harry as a Horcrux and Snape's ultimate redemption), these books draw on each other, and both are enriched because of it.
Perhaps the most amazing fact of all with the Harry Potter series - even more amazing than all of the connections between the first and last books - is that there are five other books as well that have interconnections of their own. Take any book in the series away, and the overall plot of the series completely breaks down. These connections between each book make this amazing series a joy to read, and re-read.