Topics for Discussion

1. Should Harry have used his friends’ magic to escape from his room in Dursleys’ house? Did he have any alternatives?

2. Why do some wizards consider themselves superior to Muggle-born students? In what ways could their elitism and snobbery initiate conflict at Hogwarts and within the larger magical community?

3. Why are people racist? Are only evil characters in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets bigoted?

4. Explain how the terms “mudblood” and “squib” reveal characters’ prejudices and why each victim is petrified. What symbolic horrors does the Chamber of Secrets represent?

5. Discuss how Rowling uses caricatures, such as depicting unpleasant people like Dudley as grossly overweight, and how this might influence characters’ and readers’ prejudices regarding obese people. How could Rowling have achieved successful characterization without describing these people’s physiques?

6. Is Harry’s voice ever suppressed and by whom? Discuss how library restrictions and rules affected Harry, Ron, and Hermione in their attempt to solve the mystery. How does Harry learn about expected behavior and attitudes to express at Hogwarts and what does such expectations suggest about what people must do to be accepted in most societies? What are the penalties for not conforming? Discuss how individual differences strengthen group identity and efforts. Why is it ironic that this book about discrimination has been targeted for censorship?

7. Explain how Harry is an amalgam of Muggle and wizard traits. In what ways do he and Tom Riddle seem similar? How do they contrast? Which of Harry’s characteristics make him a sympathetic protagonist and which traits are unappealing? What traits dominate his personality and which ones are repressed? Should he change any of his behaviors?

8. Discuss how the Dursleys lied about Harry’s heritage and how this deception influenced his magical powers and quest to avenge his parents’ murders. As Harry discovers his ancestry, does he act elitist or snobbish or does he purposefully try to be humble?

9. Examine the roles of supernatural creatures in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets such as the Basilisk, Dobby, and slugs. How do these characters advance the plot? What do they symbolize? Do they share characteristics and motivations or do they serve an unique purpose in the novel?

10. Explain how Professor Lockhart’s ego and narcissism causes him to claim credit for other wizard’s acts of sacrifice and courage and why his actions are unethical. Should his victims receive some form of compensation, and, if so, what?

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