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Chapter Fifteen The Forbidden Forest
(A unicorn-slaying monster attacks Harry during his detention in the forest.)
Harry and Hermione are caught by Filch for roaming around at night (they were getting rid of Norbert the dragon and Ron was in the hospital wing with a dragon bite wound). Malfoy, who had gone out to catch Harry in the act, and Neville, who had gone out to warn Harry, were also caught. As punishment, McGonagall assigned them all detentions and took 150 points from Gryffindor. The Gryffindors are thereafter very angry with Harry for losing them so many points and Harry is shunned by many of his friends, except for Ron and Hermione. The three consider asking Dumbledore to help them stop Snape but they realize they have no proof to back up their accusations.
The night of the detention comes and Filch leads Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Malfoy down to Hagrid’s cabin. Their detention is to be going with Hagrid and his dog Fang into the woods to track down whatever has been killing the unicorns. The group runs into Bane and Ronan the centaur shortly after hearing some kind of creature stalking around through the bushes. Harry, Malfoy, and Fang come upon the dead unicorn and its killer, and Malfoy and Fang run away. The hooded creature drinking the unicorn’s blood is about to attack Harry when Firenze, another centaur, comes and drives it away. Firenze takes Harry to a clearing, where he hints to the boy that Voldemort is behind the unicorn killing and that Voldemort is trying to steal the Stone.
Upon returning to the dorms, Harry told Ron and Hermione what happened and the three don’t know what to do but are comforted by the fact that Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard in the world, is protecting them and the Stone. The chapter ends when Harry finds that his invisibility cloak has been returned to him (after he left it at the top of the tower after getting rid of Norbert the Dragon).
Harry’s answers often come from the Forbidden Forest. Earlier in the book, Harry overheard Snape and Quirrell in the forest. In Chamber of Secrets, Harry will find a major clue about the Heir of Slytherin in the Forest.
Hermione’s transformation from teacher’s pet to adventuress continues in this chapter. She undergoes the ordeal of being caught and punished by teachers and will not fear it as much in the future, for nothing is as scary as the unknown.
Neville gradually becomes braver as the book continues. In this chapter, Neville has been caught sneaking out at night to try and warn Harry about Malfoy’s plan.
Harry’s fall in popularity from “one of the most popular and admired people at the school” to “the most hated” is a reoccurring theme in the series. In Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry loses popularity because he lost 150 from Gryffindor for sneaking out.
Warning: spoiler material ahead. In Chamber of Secrets, Harry becomes unpopular when he is suspected of being the Heir of Slytherin after speaking in Parsletoungue (snake- speak). In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is temporarily shunned because everyone expects him to be killed by Black. In Goblet of Fire, much of the school is angry with Harry for putting his name in the Goblet of Fire and thereby trying to take Cedric Diggory’s glory as Hogwarts’ Champion. Note that in none of these situations is Harry’s fall from popularity his fault. The crowds of students at Hogwarts seem awfully fickle.
Warning: spoiler material ahead. Filch is so eager to punish students because he is jealous: Harry will find out in Chamber of Secrets that Filch is a Squib--someone born from wizard parents who has no powers himself.
Fang exemplifies the appearances vs. reality theme: he looks ferocious but is friendly and sometimes cowardly. Malfoy, who judges on appearances, chose to go with Fang into the Forbidden Forest because of Fang’s long teeth. But when the unicorn-killing monster appears, Fang is among the first to run.
The centaur Firenze is like this character from Greek mythology: “There was one centaur who was kind and wise and was fond of children. His name was Chiron...[He taught his students] how to read the stars in the sky.” (D’Aulaires, 97)