A Family Feast in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by Chantel Gillus
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Chris Columbus 2001), inclusivity and family is an essential part of feasting. With the students attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they are finally obtaining a sense of belonging amongst their peers. Peers who are just like them, witches and wizards.
In the film, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) discovers he’s a wizard, gets shipped off to Hogwarts, and meets two of his best friends, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). All three have just arrived at Hogwarts for their first year of studying, but they come from different backgrounds. Harry’s parents died at the hands of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (Ralph Fiennes), and he lives with his mother’s sister, Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw), Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths), and his cousin, Dudley (Harry Melling). Harry is the outcast of his biological family as he undergoes neglect and abuse at home, even being forced to live in the closet underneath the stairs. As for Hermione, she is a muggle-born witch, who has two non-magical parents. On the other hand, Ron is a part of the Weasley wizarding family, who along with his siblings and parents, have always known about the magical part of their lives. Even with various backgrounds, each of these characters has something in common.
At Hogwarts, there is a Start-of-Term Feast on the first night that the students arrive at the school to welcome them into the new school year. The feast occurs after each student is placed into their respective houses based on their characteristics, which are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff. Harry, Hermione, and Ron are all placed into Gryffindor. It is a grand feast with an excessive amount of food for the students to get their grub on. Foods such as roasted chicken, roast beef, corn on the cob, pork chops, lamb chops, mashed potatoes, sweet desserts, and so much more. Just imagine a great Thanksgiving-like feast meant for a massive number of students.
Thanksgiving itself is a communal feast that is all about giving thanks and being amongst family. Family doesn’t always mean your blood relatives, especially in this case when it comes to the Hogwarts students. The wizards and witches are already unique from those of the non-magical world, but when they come to Hogwarts, they are considered normal. Hogwarts is a safe space for the students to be themselves and grow their magic.
This is the first feast that the students indulge in, and the warmth of the food welcomes them into their new home. Their new sanctuary in which they feel seen, respected, and loved. There’s a feeling of empathy and understanding that radiates off of one another because of their magical abilities and sense of character. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have discovered a family within each other and their peers; they’ve finally found their people. The feast can be correlated to being an icebreaker for the students to shake off their new school jitters and get to know one another. Normally in schools, the cafeteria can be a place of leisure or anxiety as students are either spending time with their friends or excluded. But in this scenario, it’s neither. It is a celebration of belonging. Especially for Harry, as he has always been treated as lesser than in his own family, but now he is viewed as an equal–or perhaps sort of a celebrity due to his parents’ history and legacy.
In this scene, it is exemplified that food isn’t just about filling our empty stomachs, but filling empty voids which we lack. This may be love, companionship, family, inclusivity, comfort, etc. Although, all of these adjectives intertwine with one another and someone could be seeking all of the above. In Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s case, they’ve certainly found an essence of community within the bounds of this delicious feast.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Dir. Chris Columbus. Perf. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma
Watson, Rubert Grint. Max, 2001. Streaming.