I forgot what grade I was in when this book came out but I know I was in high school, probably a junior or senior. Harry Potter was such a craze back then that almost everyone would try to sneak a read in class, especially if the teacher had assigned a video for the class to watch. We would hold the book under the desk and attempt to read in the semi-darkness of the classroom. That’s exactly what the majority of my psychology class did. We were all reading as quickly as we could because it was rumored that someone important dies in this installment. But one day my psychology teacher got so frustrated with us reading and not paying attention to the lesson that he gave away the ending: “Look. Dumbledore dies now stop reading!”
“What?!” was my reply, “why Dumbledore?” Of all the people in the novel, why did Dumbledore have to die? This question pestered me when I first read the series. Back then I couldn’t grasp the meaning of Dumbledore’s death. I saw it as just another horrible occurrence in Harry’s life. Now that I’ve re-read the novel and seen the movies numerous times, I think I now know why Dumbledore had to die: he knew too much; to throw readers off; and he is a crutch.
For some reason, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has never left an impression on me even when I was a young fan. Back then, I read it just so I could move on to the next book in the series. It was simply a passing note for me, an installment that needed to be read so I could understand what comes next.
Now a few years older, I’ve read it again and still it didn’t give me a POW! like the first book. However, instead of simply bypassing it, I am able to see the little breadcrumbs that Rowling drops to alert the reader of what’s to come.
This is one of the reasons why I love the Harry Potter series. All the books relate and everything ties into each other. We see Voldemort’s first horcrux – Tom Riddle’s diary – and by the end of the series, we understand that he murdered Moaning Myrtle (though she wasn’t moaning back then, bawling maybe) to create it. We also learn that a piece of Voldemort lives inside Harry Potter (an eighth* horcrux, which explains Harry’s partial resemblance to Riddle and his having powers similar to Voldemort: parseltongue). I don’t think this is mentioned again until the final book when that part of Harry is removed.
The important lesson in this installment is that it’s our choices that make us who we are, as Dumbledore advised Harry. This is the same as the lesson taught to Richard by Zeddicus Zul Zorander in The Wizard’s First Rule (a book I began but am unable to finish due to its circuitous nature and annoyingly love-struck characters). Dumbledore shares this lesson with Harry since Harry doubts his placement in Gryffindor; however, Dumbledore states that because Harry asked not to be placed in Slytherin, he made a choice that reflects his character and sets him apart from Voldemort. He exercised his freewill.