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Chapter Four The Keeper of the Keys
(Hagrid confronts the Dursleys at the hut out at sea, gives Harry his acceptance letter from Hogwarts, and tells Harry about his parents and his miraculous escape from Voldemort as a baby.)
Just moments past midnight into Harry’s eleventh birthday, a giant smashes down the door of the little hut out at sea where the Dursleys are hiding from Harry’s mail. The giant casually greets Harry, ties the rifle Uncle Vernon had been holding into a knot, gives Harry a birthday cake, and introduces himself as Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts (the secondary school for wizards).
As Hagrid carries on talking to Harry, he is shocked to learn that Harry knows nothing about Hogwarts, or magic, or his parent’s death, or even his own fame. Hagrid gives Harry the acceptance letter from Hogwarts (the message that was in all those green-inked envelopes), becomes enraged at the Dursleys when he finds they told Harry his parents died in a car crash, and tells Harry about Voldemort. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia make one last attempt to prevent Harry from going to Hogwarts (Aunt Petunia tells about how her sister, Harry’s mom, became a freak after going to that wizard’s school and Uncle Vernon insults Dumbledore, Hogwarts’ headmaster), which only enrages Hagrid more. Hagrid scares the Dursleys upstairs, and he and Harry spend the rest of the night sleeping in the shack.
“You could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles” and “Uncle Vernon made another funny noise, like a mouse being trodden on” are both similes.
Hagrid’s comment that Harry looks like his dad but has his mother’s eyes is gone over throughout the series. Harry’s black hair is magically unmanageable, like his fathers. Later, when Harry sees his parents in the Mirror of Erised, he too will notice his similarities to his dad and mom.
Hagrid’s dialogue (“Got summat fer yeh here”) shows that Rowling writes with vernacular speech and British slang. Writing characters’ dialogue in the vernacular, rather than in proper English, was popularized by Mark Twain. The word “summat” is a slang word from northern England meaning something.
Dumbledore’s title as Supreme Mugwump is curious, for the term means (1) a war leader, (2) a post-Civil war traitor to the republican party, or (3) a political independent.
Hagrid’s exclamations “Gallipin’ Gorgons” and “Gulpin’ Gargoyles” both refer to mythology. In Greek mythology, a gorgon is any of three snake-haired sisters in Greek mythology whose appearance turns the beholder to stone. Gargoyles, also known as chimeras, were fire-breathing she- monsters in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail.
Readers get their best insight into the Dursleys’ point of view when Aunt Petunia hysterically recounts he experience with her sister (Harry’s mom).
After Hagrid tells Harry of Harry’s parents’ murder, Harry gets a brief memory of a blinding flash of green light and a cold, cruel laugh. As the series goes on, Harry will remember more and more from the night his parents were murdered and Harry’s dreams will reflect these returning memories.
“Tosh” is a British slang term for rubbish or nonsense, as is “codswallop.” To “kip” means to sleep.
Hagrid’s losing his temper when anyone insults Dumbledore (as Uncle Vernon did) is a running theme throughout the series and proves Hagrid’s love for the old and forgiving headmaster.
Hagrid’s skirting around the reason he was expelled is a theme that continues through this book and into the next, in which we find that Hagrid was expelled for something he did not do.
At the beginning of the chapter, Harry is cold with the “thinnest, most ragged” blanket the Dursleys reluctantly give him. By the chapter’s end he is warm under Hagrid’s jacket.
When Rowling was once asked, “How did the Dursleys explain away the tail when Dudley had to have it removed at the hospital?” she responded that, “They went to a private hospital where the staff was very discreet, and said that a wart had got out of control.”