Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by

J. K. Rowling

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Chapter Six Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At breakfast the next morning, Malfoy performs a mock swooning fit. The Slytherins all laugh and Pansy Parkinson yells at Harry that the dementors are coming. George passes out schedules at the Gryffindor table and asks Harry what's wrong. When Ron motions towards Malfoy, Fred says that Malfoy nearly wet himself when the dementors stopped by their compartment. Harry feels better when Fred mentions that Harry will have the chance to best Malfoy at their first Quidditch match.
In this case, learning that Malfoy was just as scared as anyone else when the dementors came on the train gives Harry enough information to feel better about the fact that he fainted. This also shows that Malfoy is someone who's willing to put others down in order to make himself feel better—something that, if he's also going to grow up, he'll need to reevaluate.
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Hermione looks over her schedule, happy to have new classes. Ron looks over her shoulder and insists that her schedule isn't right—she's taking three subjects at the same time—but Hermione just snaps at him. Hagrid passes the Gryffindor table, excitedly says that they'll be in his first lesson, and then says he's been preparing all morning. When he leaves, Ron anxiously wonders what Hagrid is preparing.
When Ron questions Hermione's schedule and notices that there's something fishy about it, it indicates that Ron is capable of observing things that are strange and categorizing them as such. Notice though that he's unable to take this further because Hermione doesn't let him—she's trying to control what he sees and what he thinks.
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Harry, Ron, and Hermione head off for their first Divination lesson in the North Tower. It's a long walk and by the time they reach an empty landing, they're lost. Harry watches the painting on the landing; a pony walks into the scene, pursued by a squat knight. The knight challenges the students to a duel and waves his sword at them, but Harry asks if the knight will show them to the North Tower. The knight tries and fails to retrieve his pony and then leads them through paintings. When they reach the classroom, the knight introduces himself as Sir Cadogan and heads back to his painting.
The very existence of Sir Cadogan suggests that if Harry is willing to look, there are mentors and helpful individuals all throughout Hogwarts who can help him learn more about his world and his school. This begins to expand Harry's current, relatively narrow conception of who can be a mentor to an even broader swath of people (or paintings).
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The class is assembled on a tiny landing and Ron points to a door in the ceiling. The door suddenly opens and a ladder emerges. Harry leads the class up and into the classroom. It's very warm with armchairs, poufs, and a pervasive sickly perfume. When everyone is in the classroom, Professor Trelawney moves into the light. She looks like a glittery insect and asks everyone to sit. She sits in an armchair and tells her class that being down with the rest of the school "clouds her Inner Eye."
The way that Trelawney speaks to her class and tries to create a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding who she is shows her attempting to manipulate the students into finding her and her subject believable and interesting. Because Divination is something that relies more on individual talent than anything else, this is an attempt to legitimize the subject.
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Trelawney warns them that if they don't have the Sight, they won't get far, and then asks Neville if his grandmother is well. As she begins to go through the subjects they'll cover, she also offers Parvati Patil a warning and says that around Easter, they'll lose a student forever. Trelawney asks Lavender Brown to pass her a teapot and tells her that whatever she's dreading will happen on October 16th. Then, she instructs the class to drink their tea and read their tealeaves, telling Neville to choose a blue cup after he breaks his first one. He promptly breaks a cup.
These early predictions continue to make the class apprehensive of Trelawney and of the subject matter, which—for those who are truly interested—will make them take it even more seriously. When Neville breaks the cup as though on cue, it gives the students enough evidence to believe that Divination is something real and may be terrifying.
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Harry and Ron exchange teacups after they drink their tea. Harry deciphers that Ron will suffer, but happily. They try to not let Trelawney see them giggle and then Ron studies Harry's cup. Ron sees an acorn, which means that Harry will come into money, and then a large animal. Suddenly, Trelawney grabs the cup. She sees an enemy, danger, and then, sinking into a chair, says that Harry has the Grim, an omen of death. Hermione insists that everyone knows that Harry has an enemy and says the shape doesn't look like a Grim. Trelawney tells Hermione that she doesn't perceive much of an aura around her.
For Hermione, who takes education, facts, and rules very seriously, Divination appears silly and a waste of time—in her estimation and given what she knows of Neville, it was probably likely that Neville would break a cup whether Trelawney predicted it or not. This shows that for Hermione, Divination is just a matter of perspective and how people choose to perceive what they see and what happens in their lives.
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Harry, Ron, and Hermione head for their Transfiguration lesson with McGonagall. Harry sits in the back of the room and feels as though everyone is looking at him. Nobody seems to listen to McGonagall talk about Animagi, wizards who can transform into animals, and nobody claps when she transforms into a cat. Turning back into a human, McGonagall asks what's going on. Hermione says that they just came from Divination and McGonagall cuts her off and asks who's going to die. Upon learning that Harry is supposed to die, McGonagall says that Trelawney predicts the death of a student every year, adds that Divination is imprecise, and tells Harry that if he dies, he doesn't need to hand in his homework.
Because McGonagall is a trusted (if strict) teacher and mentor, her assessment of divination helps everyone, especially Hermione, understand that it really is a matter of perspective. The fact that Trelawney predicts a student's death regularly and is never correct adds more weight to the interpretation that Trelawney is trying to scare her students into believing in Divination's truth.
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After class, the Gryffindors head to the Great Hall for lunch. Hermione tells Ron to lighten up, but Ron drops his fork when Harry admits that he did see a big black dog after leaving the Dursleys. Hermione insists that the Grim isn't an omen and pulls out her Arithmancy book. When she deems Divination "woolly," Ron says she just doesn't like being bad at it. Hermione says that Arithmancy was amazing compared to Divination and stalks off. Ron frowns and points out to Harry that Hermione hasn't had an Arithmancy class yet.
Because Harry and Ron don't know that Hermione has already begun time traveling to make it to all her classes, it seems puzzling and strange when she insists she's been to Arithmancy. This illustrates how a person who isn't time traveling and doesn't know of its existence can be led to believe that a time traveler is just telling tales, rather than suspecting that there might be more to the story.
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After lunch, Harry walks down to Hagrid's with Ron and Hermione for Care of Magical Creatures. Ron and Hermione aren't speaking, and to make matters worse, Harry realizes that the Gryffindors have this class with the Slytherins. Hagrid greets the class and then leads the students to a paddock. When he asks them to open their books, Malfoy coldly asks how. Harry sees that most of the class's books are tied shut and says that they need to stroke the books, demonstrating on Hermione's.
Again, comparing the ways that Hagrid and the class think differently about their textbooks shows that interpretation is everything: the class's fear and exasperation about their violent books means that they're not excited about the class, while Hagrid is able to be excited about everything because he knows how to use the books.
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Hagrid seems less confident after this and walks away to fetch the creatures for the lesson. Malfoy loudly says that his father is going to be upset when he learns Hagrid is teaching. Harry tells him to stop but their spat is interrupted when Hagrid returns with a dozen strange creatures. He says they're hippogriffs, which are half-horse and half-eagle. Hagrid explains that hippogriffs are proud and it's dangerous to insult them, and then tells the students how to bow and wait for the hippogriff to bow back. Harry volunteers to go first.
Malfoy's insistence that his father isn't going to be happy about this suggests that Mr. Malfoy is relatively powerful. In other words, Malfoy knows that he also has power over Hagrid and the class because his father will be able to change things given his association with the Ministry. This is an early indication that there's corruption in the Ministry.
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Hagrid unties a hippogriff named Buckbeak and coaches Harry through bowing. To Harry's surprise, Buckbeak bows back and Hagrid tells Harry how to pat Buckbeak's beak. Then, Hagrid boosts Harry onto Buckbeak's back for a ride. Buckbeak takes Harry for a flying lap around the paddock and Harry thinks he prefers his broom. When Harry is on the ground again, Hagrid sets up the rest of the class with the hippogriffs. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle work with Buckbeak. Buckbeak bows to Malfoy but when Malfoy calls him an "ugly brute," Buckbeak strikes and makes Malfoy bleed.
Remember that Hagrid told the class that insulting hippogriffs was dangerous. When Malfoy doesn't listen and insults Buckbeak anyway, it shows that he doesn't take Hagrid seriously as a teacher and because of this, can't learn and isn't safe in class. This suggests that there are major consequences to not accepting a teacher's authority; Malfoy's injuries are proof.
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Hagrid carries Malfoy towards the castle as the rest of the class disbands. Harry assures Hermione that Malfoy will be fine. Ron is worried that this will ruin Hagrid's confidence. Hagrid isn't at dinner, which they find worrying. Though they try to do homework after dinner, when they see a light on at Hagrid's hut, they decide to go visit him. Hagrid and his dog, Fang, sit together; Hagrid is obviously drunk. He slurs but manages to explain that though Madam Pomfrey fixed Malfoy up, he still says he's in pain. Harry insists Malfoy is pretending.
Ron's concern about Hagrid's confidence shows that though there is a power difference between him and Hagrid, he still understands that Hagrid is in need of supportive friends as much as anyone else. He's still vulnerable to Malfoy's bullying, especially since Malfoy has so much power given his father's position in the Ministry.
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Miserably, Hagrid says that the school governors know about the attack and says it's all his fault. Hermione and Harry assure him that Malfoy did this to himself—he wasn't listening to directions. Hagrid pulls Harry and Ron into a hug as Hermione dumps out Hagrid's tankard of mead. Hagrid follows her outside, dunks his head in the water barrel, and seems revived when he gets back inside. Suddenly, he yells at Harry that he shouldn't be wandering after dark and angrily escorts all three of them back to the castle.
When Hagrid abruptly resumes his role as an authority figure, it shows how all the adults in Harry's life are doing their best to protect him while he's in danger. As unsuccessful as Hagrid's first lesson was, this indicates that he's still a valuable teacher and mentor who cares for his students and friends.
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