Harry Potter, Dudley Dursley, Money, and a ‘Brazilian’ Snake

Harry Potter 5 So, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry wakes up one day to realize Dudley Dursley gets to celebrate his 11th birthday. His older cousin outshines Harry in every aspect, first and foremost in a physical way.

There are 37 presents awaiting little Duddikins. Even if you assume this tantrum goes on every year, he got 15 presents on his first birthday already. That is probably more than I ever got on one birthday and this is already stretching it. Normally all these presents come from family members, good friends, neighbours, acquintances, and so on. This comes from just two parents. Vernon Dursley must have quite the financial strain on him, as he lives in the same house for 17 years on an end. I would expect more from a CEO of a drilling machines company. I suppose that is also one of the reasons why he never moved to a better place, Dudley is a severe financial strain, especially when compared to Harry.

After all, Harry hardly caused great expenses, as he always wore the hand-me-downs of Dudders and lived off the leftovers from dinner mostly. And since his 11th birthday he rarely spent more than 2 months at 4 privet drive. Also, he does most of the cleaning of the house and several other chores such as gardening and cooking. No need for a cleaning lady and it gives Petunia the chance to work as well.

In a sense it works, because Harry’s expenses are negligible. Even his glasses seem to be second-hand somehow. So that frees up a lot of money to be spent on Dudley. Also, as Social Services did not interfere, as discussed in my last blog, it further explains why Vernon never moved to a bigger house, all the money he saved up for that would have bled away by keeping away the social services.

Now, back on topic, Harry is taken to the zoo along with the main group of Dudley’s friends. Somehow, Harry survives the ride there, as he is surrounded by a distraught Dudley and his friend and his family, all of them people which thoroughly despise Harry, in the combined space of one car.

As Dudley is used to extremes, it is as with any other child, he immediately seeks out the most spectacular snake he can find. That turns out to be a Boa Constrictor from Brazil. Here Harry manifests the first known instance that he is capable of Parseltongue, the ability to speak with snakes, which will be explained further in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Although little remarkable is learned, something odd occurs when the snake is set free accidentally: the snake says “adios”, in Parseltongue, but if he were from Brazil, it would be “adeus”. Then again, the snake was bred in captivity and hardly anyone would be able to distinguish Spanish and Portugese if not for the angry rant that follows when you address one of either speakers in the wrong language or as a speaker of the other language. I find it amusing though that different human languages are separately translated in Parseltongue, though. It gives a lot of fanfic fuel by not just letting it be a separate language, but also one distinct mode of vocal communication in which languages survive.


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Kasper Nijhoff

Kasper Nijhoff

R-man studies art history in some backwater town where bicycles are more numerous than people. There, he flees into imaginary realms and elaborate self-made constructs of how one could read books and is still waiting for his Hogwarts letter.
Kasper Nijhoff

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