Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, two different lessons set the tone for the rest of the book. In Divination class, the students learn that Harry has seen virtually every death omen imaginable; in Hagrid’s monster class, Malfoy ruins things for everyone. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


It appears my “prediction” for the main theme of this book is proving to be right: The Prisoner of Azkaban is all about fear. (I think, in time, I’ll be able to look at the past two books and divine a specific theme for them. Loyalty? Bigotry? That’s for another review.)

But Rowling isn’t wasting anytime getting to any sort of main plot, storyline, or conflict. Not only has the main villain (Sirius Black) been already introduced, but focusing his mania onto Harry Potter is helping to propel the action nicely.

What this book succeeds at doing (and what I didn’t really find in the other books) is building up an overwhelming sense of dread. Even when Harry and his friends are simply walking to their next class, just the existence of Sirius Black makes my mind wander. And, as Rowling shows Harry’s distraction over this sort of distress, I find myself distracted from what’s happening because I’m worried about what the future holds.

But it’s a good thing I’m taking the time to dissect this book, chapter-by-chapter, because it allows me to spot things I may have otherwise missed.

  • When Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered the Great Hall for breakfast the next day, the first thing they saw was Draco Malfoy, who seemed to be entertaining a large group of Slytherins with a very funny story. As they passed, Malfoy did a ridiculous impression of a swooning fit and there was a roar of laughter.

Yeah you should stop judging Harry Potter immediately.

  • “Hermione,” said Ron, frowning as he looked over her shoulder, “they’v messed up your schedule. Look–they’ve got you down for about ten subjects a day. There isn’t enough time.”

Hermione literally knows my pain. She is the personification of my junior and senior year of high school. I knew that, living entirely on my own, I would have to do well (and overcompensate for myself) in school because it would be the only way I’d be able to get into a good college AND to get money for it as well.

That being said, I have the feeling this is not the same thing at all, because Hermione is doing something kind of strange. 10 classes in one term, and quite a few of them at the same time?

We know Hermione is an overachiever, but….ok seriously, do you want to know everything ever that ever existed in forever?

Moving on. Their first class that day is Divination, which is a branch of magic that’s basically fortune-telling. I found it interested that the students themselves (except Hermione, and I’ll get to that) don’t actually exhibit much skepticism towards any of this, and I imagine if I were a student at Hogwarts (WHY AM I NOT THIS IS AN UTTER TRAGEDY), I’d pretty much accept all of this as 100% TRUFAX AT ALL TIMES.

Even in the context of the Harry Potter world, I’m inclined to believe Professor Trelawny, especially when she does shit like this:

  • “We will be covering the basic methods of Divination this year. The first term will be devoted to reading the tea leaves. Next term we shall progress to palmistry. By the way, my dear,” she shot suddenly at Parvati Patil, “beware a red-haired man.”

    Parvati gave a startled look at Ron, who was right behind her, and edged her chair away from him.

    “In the second term,” Professor Trelawney went on, “we shall progress to the crystal ball–fi we have finished with fire omens, that is. Unfortunately, classes will be disrupted in February by a nasty bout of flu. I myself will lose my voice. And around Easter, one of our number will leave us forever.”

Yeah, thanks for dropping this information and then continuing on as if you didn’t just tell the class that one of them will die.

Harry and Ron don’t exactly have the easiest time divining each other’s futures out of the tea leaves at the bottom of their cups, mostly because this type of future-telling is so largely interpretive. What’s a cross to one person is a sun to someone else, as was the case with Harry and Ron.

  • “Right, you’ve got a crooked sort of cross…” He consulted Unfogging the Future. “That means you’re going to have ‘trials and suffering’–sorry about that–but there’s a thing that could be the sun…hang on…that means ‘great happiness’…so you’re going to suffer but be very happy….”

I don’t know if this is some veiled reference to…well, I suppose it could be any number of things. I just like the idea that even in the world of wizards, witches, hags, and Hufflepuffs, fortune-telling regarded as a slightly bogus avenue of magic.

  • “My dear,” Professor Trelawney’s huge eyes opened dramatically, “you have the Grim.”

    “The what?” said Harry.

    He could tell he wasn’t the only one who didn’t understand; Dean Thomas shrugged at him and Lavendar Brown looked puzzled, but nearly everybody else clapped their hands to their mouths in horror.

    “The Grim, my dear, the Grim!” cried Professor Trelawney, who looked shocked that Harry hadn’t understood. “The giant, spectral dog that haunts churchyards! My dear boy, it is an omen–the worst omen–of death!”

And yet, after reading this, I had to wonder: Could Trelawny be right? She properly predicted that Neville would drop his tea cup. Harry’s already seen the black dog referred to in that book about death omens. Is it a coincidence or a sign? Even more confusing, do Hermione, Seamus and Ron not see the “Grim” because they don’t want to believe Harry is going to die?

Oh boy. Just what I need. More uncertain dread about the future. THANKS, J.K. ROWLING.

BUT WAIT! Professor McGonagall to the rescue!

  • “Then you should know, Potter, that Sybill Trelawney has predicted the death of one student a year since she arrived at this school. None one of them has died yet. Seeing death omens is her favorite way of greeting a new class. If it were not for the fact that I never speak ill of my colleagues–”

    Professor McGonagall broke off, and they saw that her nostrils had gone white. She went on, more calmly, “Divination is one of the most imprecise branches of magic. I shall not conceal from you that I have very little patience with it. True Seers are very rare, and Professor Trelawney–“

    She stopped again, and then said, in a very matter-of-fact tone, “You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don’t let you off homework today. I assure you that if you die, you need not hand it in.”

LOVE FOR MCGONAGALL. <3 also I only imagine her as Maggie Smith in my head. <33333333

  • “If being good at Divination means I have to pretend to see death omens in a lump of tea leaves, I’m not sure I’ll be studying it much longer! That lesson was absolute rubbish compared with my Arithmancy class!”

    She snatched up her bag and stalked away.

    Ron frowned after her.

    “What’s she talking about?” he said to Harry. “She hasn’t been to an Arithmancy class yet.”

HERMIONE WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING. oh god more mysteries my poor brain 🙁

There is, though, a temporary moment of excitement that comes in the form of my favorite boyfriend on the astral plane, Hagrid. In the midst of my brain melting at Dementors and Hermione acting weird and Harry basically finding out he’s going to die soon, I’d forgotten that Dumbledore had announced that Hagrid would be teaching the Care of Magical Creatures class.

I had a feeling that Hagrid’s lack of certainty, combined with the presence of the Slytherins, would leave the lesson ending in chaos. Which is a shame, because Hagrid actually seems like he’d be a wonderful teacher.

  • “How do we open our books?” Malfoy repeated. He took out his copy of The Monster Book of Monsters, which he had bound shut with a length of rope. Other people took theirs out too; some, like Harry, had belted their book shut; others had crammed them inside tight bags or clamed them together with binder clips.

    “Hasn’–hasn’ anyone bin able ter open their books?” said Hagrid, looking crestfallen.

    The class all shook their heads.

    “Yeh’ve got ter stroke ’em,” said Hagrid, as though this was the most obvious thing in the world. “Look–“

    He took Hermione’s copy and ripped off the Spellotape that bound it. The book tried to bite, but Hagrid ran a giant forefinger down its spine, and the book shivered, and then fell open and lay quiet in his hand.

    “Oh, how silly we’ve all been!” Malfoy sneered. “We should have stroked them! Why didn’t we guess!”

Malfoy, please die in all the fires.

  • Trotting toward them were a dozen of the most bizarre creatures Harry had ever seen. They had the bodies, hind legs, and tails of horses, but the front legs, wings, and heads of what seemed to be giant eagles, with cruel, steel-colored beaks and large, brilliantly orange eyes. The talons on their front legs were half a foot long and deadly looking. Each of these beasts had a thick leather color around its neck, which was attached to a long chain, and the ends of all of these were held in the vast hands of Hagrid, who came jogging into the paddock behind the creatures.

omg the creature on the cover. Also: WHAT oh my god! Also: hippogriffs!

  • “This is very easy,” Malfoy drawled, loud enough for Harry to hear him. “I knew it must have been, if Potter could do it….I bet you’re not dangerous at all, are you?” he said to the hippogriff. “Are you, you great ugly brute?”

Why do you have to ruin everything? MAY YOU DIE IN THE BLAZE OF A THOUSAND FIERY SUNS.

  • It happened in a flash of steely talons; Malfoy let out a high-pitched scream and next moment, Hagrid was wrestling Buckbeak back into his collar as he strained to get at Malfoy, who lay curled in the grass, blood blossoming over his robes.

OH. MY. GOD. MY WISH HAS COME TRUE. Oh my god can his arm please become infected with gangrene and then they’ll have to chop it off, but there will be “complications” during surgery and they will accidentally behead him or something. Look, don’t crush my dreams.

This incident, while incredibly cathartic for all of us who believe in things like joy and happy, isn’t as celebratory as I thought it would be. The Slytherins call for Hagrid to be fired, despite that everyone clearly witnessed Mafloy disobeying the rules. The odds simply aren’t in Hagrid’s favor; he’s been in trouble before and a student got seriously hurt during the very first moments of class.

Poor Hagrid. 🙁

Ron, Hermione, and Harry, being the utterly fantastic friends they are, visit Hagrid that night to see how he is and to give him support. Like….best friends ever, emirate?

Hagrid ends up being very, very drunk. hello children’s book. So drunk that he even temporarily forgets that Harry isn’t supposed to be out at night. OOPS.

Guys, I really want these characters to be real WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME oh god am i going to start writing fanfiction OH GOD