Of all the times I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I don’t think I’ve ever typed a review!
What can I say about a book I’ve read more times than I can count?
What can I say about this book that hundreds of others haven’t already said?
My most-recent read of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was my first time reading it since my children were born, and I think the element of the book I want to praise more than any other is the motherhood angle. There are three prominent mothers in this story – Petunia Dursley, Lily Potter, and Molly Weasley. These women are different in many ways: Petunia spoils her son, Dudley, past the point of selfishness; Lily sacrifices her life to save her son, Harry, in the most selfless act anyone can ever commit; and Molly includes the friend of her son, Ron, in her sweater-making, giving Harry the first gift he’s ever received (and a homemade one, too!).
Petunia, Lily, and Molly all influence Harry in vastly different ways, and I find it entirely fascinating how the latter two love Harry for simply existing while the former resents him (although we don’t know why yet, not wholly).
This book contains magic, yes, but as Dumbledore says, love is more powerful than any magic.
I think that’s something we need to remember, today.
It’s 2020, and we live in a time that is fraught with more dangers than we can count. Early in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the Dursleys take Harry to the zoo for Dudley’s birthday. They never imagined a python would escape so close to Dudley, even though it’s threatening nature was only a pane of glass away! As a mother of young children, often, I find myself planning trips to the local zoo for my family, and while I don’t worry about a python, I do worry about a gunman opening fire – after all, such a tragedy is only one “wrong place, wrong time” for my family away.
But…my family has love. And I know that I would absolutely throw myself in between any killer and my son or daughter.
I think that’s something we need to remember when we discuss Petunia and Lily especially. What is it, exactly, that we’re willing to do for our children?
Do we want to spoil them rotten (literally, in Dudley’s case – what a rotten child in this book!)? Do we want to provide them an abundance of gifts they don’t appreciate? (Have you noticed how little quality time the Dursleys spend together, but instead how many toys they give Dudley which he then promptly breaks or trades? Or have you noticed how Dudley knows exactly when all of his television programs are scheduled, but not how to talk to his parents in a pleasant conversation where he isn’t demanding something?)
Or do we want to give them the one thing they need more than any other? That is, love. When Voldemort is telling Harry how he killed James and Lily Potter, he mentions that he killed James first, as he was trying to protect Lily and Harry. Then, Voldemort recounts how he killed Lily, who was trying to protect Harry. I’m not saying we need to give our lives, literally, for our children – but by being involved parents, isn’t that kind of what we do anyway? When we put down the cell phone or television, when we leave the work at the office, when we decide the kitchen can be messy because our child wants our attention, isn’t that choosing our child over the things we parents have deemed “important”? When we decide to work after the kids go to bed and sacrifice our sleep in order to give them quality time, we’re putting the things we need on hold to put our children first.
When it comes to Petunia and Lily, I want to be like Lily.
Then, in regard to Molly Weasley, if there was ever a mother in the Wizarding World who had the right to be frazzled, it’s Molly. However, on top of planning a trip to Romania to see one of her sons, she also found the time to knit sweaters for all seven of her children, presumably her husband, possibly a few relatives, and Harry. In the few scenes we have with Molly in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, we see her fiercely corralling her kids and taking care of Harry and those around her as needed (such as helping Harry onto the platform). No matter how much she has going on, she still finds time to take care of others.
I want to be like Molly, too.
J.K. Rowling has many amazing themes throughout Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and every time I read this book, I find a new one. I even took an independent study in college focused on the literary themes and wrote a thesis (for which the outline was over fifty pages!) on the series. As a new-ish mother, though, it’s the way these mothers interact with their children that is most profound to me this time. And for that, I give it a well-deserved five stars.