The novel is filled with humorous tales of discrimination in and around the school. There are many characters in the novel, and they do not always get along well. They make fun of each other and judge each other by a certain set of standards. Some of these standards include wealth, intelligence, family and athletic ability. These are all superficial ways of discriminating people. Being a children's author, Rowling shows her readers other, more important ways of categorizing others through less apparent methods. These true values that she emphasizes are judging others by their character and heart. The false values by which children discriminate each other are more blatant in the novel because they are illustrated through conversation instead of actions. The main ways that they discriminate each other are: financial status, family background (Muggle or wizard), house affiliation, intelligence and athletic ability. Almost every character has some good values and some bad values in the novel. By illustrating the characters with faults, Rowling makes them more realistic and believable.
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The first skin deep value used to measure the status of a character is money. Just as in the real world, some people have more money than others. One character that seems to be very well off in the wizard world is Draco Malfoy. He has all of the newest and nicest books and school supplies on the first day. His owl is of the nicest breed. When the students receive mail at meals, Malfoy frequently receives packages of goodies from his family and he is not humble about it. He is quite a contrast to Ron Weasley and his family.
Ron comes from a poor family. Everything he brings to school with him seems to be a hand-me-down. Ron says, "You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand, and Percy's old rat.". Malfoy likes to use this weakness to make fun of Ron. He makes comments such as, "What would you know about it, Weasley, you couldn't afford half the handle" when Harry gets a new broom. Later, when they run into Hagrid, Malfoy says to Ron, "Are you trying to earn some extra money, Weasley...that hut of Hagrid's must seem like a palace compared to what your family's used to" (pp. 195-196). These are very cruel comments, but money is not the only way that Malfoy discriminates others. Family background is the second shortsighted way of discriminating people in the book. Whether a character comes from a Muggle family, a pure Wizard family or a mix between the two seems to play an important role in the book. For example, Draco Malfoy is from a pure Wizard family and he takes great pride in it. He often judges others by this measure. On the train to Hogwarts he says to Harry, "You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort." (p. 108). ...