Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Discussion: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Learn how to make your own HP wand! 
Welcome to Otherwise Fantastic's first monthly book discussion! Today we are discussing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

I've tried to make these questions more complex than the others I found online to prompt deeper discussion among adults (my main audience).

 If you have ever participated in a Harry Potter book discussion, some of the questions may sound familiar, but read them carefully! I have changed many of them to try to get at more complex issues.

Also be sure to vote in the poll on the right for the book discussion to take place on Halloween!

Instructions:

Read through the discussion questions provided and answer as many as you like in a comment.

OR

Read through the comments and reply to join a conversation.

OR

Comment your own questions and thoughts about the book!

Introduce yourself

In your first comment, let us know:

What house would you belong to if you attended Hogwarts?

What would your favorite class or activity be?

Who is your favorite character from the books?

Discussion Questions

1. Adult Impact

Why do you think Harry Potter is so popular with both kids and adults?

What impacted you most during your most recent reading of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? How is it different from your first reading?

Why do you like the Harry Potter series? How has that changed as you've gotten older?

2. Book Questions

What are the advantages/disadvantages to Harry not being aware of the wizarding world and his place there before he starts school?

[Spoiler] Later in the series, we discover the reason behind Harry's strange connection to Voldemort, but is his Horcrux the only reason Harry's wand chooses him and why the sorting hat recommends the Slytherin house? What else might this symbolize?

I've always felt that Neville should have been given at least as many points as Harry at the end of The Sorcerer's Stone, but he only gets ten. How does this contrast reflect Dumbledore's values?

Harry is often exempt from the consequences of rule-breaking. How might his character have been impacted if this was not the case?

3. Film vs. Book Questions

Many things from the books were omitted from the film. How did their exclusion impact the story/plot/characters/themes/etc.?

  • Professor Snape's potion task for the protection of the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Harry and Hermione do not sneak Norbert to the Owlery for pick up by Charlie Weasley
  • The Dursleys dropping Harry off at the train station
  • The Sorting Hat's song
  • Peeves the Poltergeist

Do you think some of the darker aspects of the book were skimmed over in the movie? Would certain characters have reached a higher level of development had those darker themes been included? (Thank you to /u/rewindrevival on reddit's /r/harrypotter for this question!)


Don't forget to vote on the book for the October discussion! See the right hand side for poll.

9 comments:

  1. Hello!

    I am a Hufflepuff, and I think my favorite Hogwarts class would be transfiguration.

    I really like the second question in the book group: "[Spoiler] Later in the series, we discover the reason behind Harry's strange connection to Voldemort, but is his Horcrux the only reason Harry's wand chooses him and why the sorting hat recommends the Slytherin house? What else might this symbolize?"

    I don't think Harry would have a connection to Voldemort without the Horcrux--he would be more like Neville. I think the hat only wants to put him in Slytherin because of the Horcurx, not anything innately power-motivated in Harry. His character simply doesn't suggest it to me.

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    1. I disagree. That's what makes J.K.'s point so obvious. Harry could have been just like Voldemort, but Harry chooses not to be. That's what is important.

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    2. I understand the emphasis on choices, but Harry's values are fundamentally different than Voldemort's and make it unlikely that he would choose in the same way Voldemort did/does.

      Why would the hat suggest Slytherin if Harry did not have the disposition for it?

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  2. I think Neville did deserve more than ten points. The fact that Dumbledore doesn't give him as many makes the headmaster rather shallow, as he lavishes praise on the "Famous Harry Potter" and ignores the real bravery.

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    1. I agree. I wonder why Rowling decided to write it that way? Maybe Dumbledore also underestimates Neville. His low point reward is almost condescending--like an participation ribbon.

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  3. The rule breaking without consequences always bothered me about the series. Especially as I read them to my children, while wanting to expose them to good literature, I wanted them to learn from responsible heroes. That being said, now that I have a chance to really think about it, Harry’s ability to come out smelling like a rose is more of a commentary of his status and class in the wizarding world. The hierarchy of wizard classes-like most societies-makes allowances for the rich, the pureblood, and the gifted (such as Harry, Ron, and Hermione.) I think this was lost on my 10 year old, who was enamored by the fantastical and wanted to live vicariously through Harry’s exploits.

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    1. So, Mom, how do you think the story would have been different if Harry had received more consequences for his behavior? Do you think his special position is part of the escapism and an important aspect of the story for young readers?

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    2. I disagree with people who think Harry’s misbehavior is justified because it’s for a righteous cause, or for the “greater good. But to suggest that an eleven year old boy refrain from all mischief is as implausible as awarding just enough points to win the house cup. Any child who feels some form of injustice would enjoy immersion into a story where a bullied kid rises to celebrity status and single-handedly brings down the bad guy.

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