The Letters From No One
The Letters From No One is a chapter that continues to integrate the reader into the way the book will continue to play out. It works hard to create a comfortable setting for the reader. Up through this chapter, the author’s main goal is to ensure the the reader feels good. Do they understand? Can they relate? How much information do I provide to them?
All of these questions must be considered at the beginning of the book. J.K. Rowling over chapters one through three takes this into consideration. In chapter three the reader is drawn in to the daily life of a ten year old boy. There is summer vacation, getting ready for school, seeing the school uniform for the first time. All of these things are normal. In keeping with what the reader understands about Dudley and the Dursley’s, this chapter continues to show how spoilt and “freakishly normal” these people are.
When Vernon tells Harry to go fetch the mail, it doesn’t seem odd. It is normal, universal. Lulled into the security of daily life, the reader is a bit confused, if not shocked at Mr. Dursley’s response to Harry’s letter. What could it be? Why is this so important? What does it mean?
Without the banality of the mail, it is impossible to reach this state. If a wizard appears in front of the Dursley’s and says Harry, you’re a wizard, there is no tension. Keeping with a pretty “muggle” means of communication allows the reader not only to be curious about what is so special about a piece of mail, but it also allows the reader to connect. It gives us another level of understanding into this world. No one has to work hard to understand what a letter is (though maybe with the onslaught of email, that might change).
By using letters, J.K. Rowling seems to impress the importance of what is written in these letters. Letters are intimate forms of communication. Letters have lived through ancient civilizations to modern philosophers, writers, and lovers. There is a weight to letters not always apparent in today’s digital age. While it is important to remember that this book was published in the late 90s, the history and gravitas of the letter can’t be denied. There is romance, in letter writing, a magical nostalgia that add to this notion of other-worldly.
It is interesting to see what J.K. Rowling chooses to be advanced, say Mrs. Weasley’s magical clock, vs what is kept normal. How does magical technology and muggle technology work together? On basic level, it is a strong representation of that parallel universe that always influences and reinforces itself.