Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapters 1-4, ‘Owl Post’ to ‘Leaky Cauldron’ (True/False Quiz and Discussion Points)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Chapters 1-4

Mark True statements with a “T” and False statements with an “F.” I will post T/F Answers tomorrow with responses to discussion point posts and my own thoughts if there aren’t any! Please don’t post your answers to anything except the Discussion Points after the True/False Quiz. If you disagree with my answers tomorrow, please do send me an explanation about where I went wrong.

1. _____ Prisoner of Azkaban opens with Harry trying to do his History of Magic essay homework secretly, under a blanket, working by the light of his wand.

2. _____ Harry gets three birthday presents this year: a Sneak-o-scope from Ron, a broom maintenance kit from Hermione, and the Monster Book of Monsters from Hagrid. Erroll the owl almost expires after delivering Ron’s gift from Egypt.

3. _____ The Muggle television news has a story about the escaped criminal, Sirius Black, and Uncle Vernon is furious the reporter doesn’t say the name of the prison the maniac escaped from.

4. _____ At dinner one night, Harry accidentally blows up a wineglass Aunt Marge is holding and soon after, unable to control his anger when she insults his parents, he unintentionally blows her up. She floats up to the ceiling like a human balloon.

5. _____ Harry ties up his belongings, makes them feather-lite, and starts to fly to London on his broomstick when he sees a giant dog and is knocked out of the air by the triple-decker, purple Knight Bus.

6. _____ The Knight Bus attendant, Stan Shunpike, believes Harry when he says his name is Neville Longbottom. Harry cannot sleep because the talking, shrunken heads on the bus keep him up.

7. _____ Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, meets Harry and the Knight Bus at The Leaky Cauldron and explains to Harry why he is being put on probation, not expelled from Hogwarts for blowing up Aunt Marge.

8. _____ Harry and Ron go to the Quality Quidditch Supply store every day Harry stays at The Leakey Cauldron to stare at (and dream about) the Firebolt broom.

9. _____ Mr. and Mrs. Weasley have an argument about whether Harry should be told that Sirius Black is out to kill him; Molly thinks he needs to be told so he can protect himself but Arthur thinks he will just be frightened by this information.

10. _____ Harry tells the image in The Leaky Cauldron mirror that “I’m not going to be murdered.” The mirror says, “That’s the spirit, dear.”

Discussion Points: Sorry about the big lump of chapters! Please tell me what you think about (a) Echoes and differences with the openings of the two previous books, Stone and Chamber, (b) the most interesting elements in these chapters when viewed in the Deathly Hallows rear-view mirror; and (c) the importance of the way Prisoner of Azkaban opens in understanding the meaning of Prisoner and the series as a whole. Note the importance of Harry’s anger with Aunt Marge both in itself and in light of his choices in the Shrieking Shack.


  1. JohnABaptist says

    In response to (b) the most interesting element to me is how thoroughly every commentary I have read to date (including the excellent “Looking for God in Harry Potter”) seems to under-estimate the depth and significance of the character Stan Shunpike…this despite his being named “Stone, Taker of the Narrow Way”. His first name Stanley means “Stone Meadow” or “Meadow full of Stones” a possible reference to 1 Peter 2:8 “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”. His last name, Shunpike, is British slang for someone notorious for driving on the slow, narrow byways rather than paying the toll to drive the broad, fast turnpikes. A very possible reference to Matthew 7

    “13 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. 14 How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!”

    Those two scriptures pretty much define the dynamic tension present in all of Stan’s scenes–Stan wants to go right, but he keeps stumbling over his mis-understanding of Harry and what he is about. Harry wants to help Stan, but can’t because Stan keeps focusing on the wrong things…stumbling over the Legend of the Boy Who Lived.

    This is especially revealed in the DH scene where Stan is under the power of the Death Eaters and Harry reveals himself because he would not attack Stan with anything except Harry’s signature charm “expelliarmus” not so much trying to disarm Stan as to cast out the demon that is possessing him.

  2. 1.F, 2.T, 3.T, 4.T, 5.F,

    6.F, 7.F, 8.F, 9.F, 10.T

    The tricky one here is #8. Harry is by himself and the book says “almost every day.”

    Discussion Point (a): Echo? We have Harry’s righteous anger and inability to overlook Aunt Marge’s drunkenness in the opening chapters that will be the point by which to measure his transformation by and choices in the Shrieking Shack at story’s end. And, of course, the opening being at miserable Privet Drive, the magical escape, and the setting of the story’s mystery for the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to unravel (the escape of Sirius Black). The differences are plot points consequent to Harry’s blowing up Aunt Marge and the mystery: most notably the big black dog, the hilarious Knight Bus, and the sit-down with Cornelius Fudge. The Minister’s behavior in the Leaky Cauldron needs to be contrasted with his comments to Harry in the opening of Order of the Phoenix as well as at the end of this book and his dealings with Hagrid.

    (b) In the DH rear-view mirror, we can see the Minister’s involvement with Harry’s ‘escape’ from the Dursleys as the opening to Harry’s elevation from Hogwarts students to player in larger, worldly matters. We haven’t suspected how important Harry really is to the wizarding world until Fudge is obviously relieved to see him at the Leaky Cauldron. He is relieved only because the loss of Potter (to Black?) would have been a serious blow to him politically.

    (c) The importance of the opening to Prisoner to me (sorry, JAB, barring revelations in Ms. Rowling’s encyclopedia, Stan Shunpike will forever be a comic every man throwaway) is Aunt Marge as a snapshot of Margaret Thatcher and Toryism or “compassionate conservatism.” Ms. Rowling’s bitter memories about Lady Thatcher’s belittling those on the dole and especially single mothers are unleashed here in story form, and I suspect, long after the Churchill of the Malvinas is forgotten, she will live on in annotated editions of Prisoner.

    Anybody out there?

  3. JohnABaptist says


    I will gleefully concede “comic” and “every man” but I would think that “throw-aways” rarely become the raison-d’etre for a hero’s resistance to his government’s request for assistance. Nor the reason for blowing the hero’s cover with near catastrophic results. Would Harry have tried disarming Dolohov or Bellatrix? I think not, I think he would have done his best to blast them right off of their brooms.

    There was more to Dobby than we thought, and there seems to me to be more to Stan as well.

    And I find it delightful that you don’t see it!

    To me, that demonstrates the marvelous blank spots that Rowling leaves on her canvas for the viewer’s mind to fill in as it most pleases them, much like Cezanne’s painting technique. Stan’s name is there. We may attach meaning to it, or not, as pleases us. Harry’s actions are there. We may supply the motive of our choosing as to why he took those actions, or not look for motive at all. The story chugs right along in any and every case.

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