"Well, there you are, boy. Platform nine - platform ten. Your platform should be somewhere in the middle, but they don't seem to have built it yet, do they?" (The Sorcerer's Stone, 90)
I can only imagine what it would feel like to live your whole life knowing nothing of your family and your history. Then to be told one day that you're a wizard and there's a special school for you, where you won't have to deal with your awful aunt, uncle, and cousin anymore...
Harry was "trying hard not to panic" when he couldn't find platform nine and three-quarters to lead him to the Hogwarts express (91). I'm certain I wouldn't be able to keep from panicking in that situation!
Finally, after talking to a guard who thought he was completely mad, Harry overhears the Weasley family mention "muggles" and notices they've got owls just like him.
"The thing is -the thing is, I don't know how to -"
"How to get onto the platform?" she said kindly, and Harry nodded.
"Not to worry," she said. "All you have to do is walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don't stop and don't be scared you'll crash into it, that's very important. Best do it at a bit of a run if you're nervous." (93)Even after Mrs. Weasley's kind encouragement, Harry was understandably nervous.
He closed his eyes ready for the crash -
It didn't' come...he kept on running...he opened his eyes.
A scarlet stream engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven o'clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it. He had done it. (93-94)When Harry returns for his second year at Hogwarts, he approaches the barrier feeling "perfectly confident" (The Chamber of Secrets, 68). Behind schedule for getting to Kings Cross Station, Harry and Ron run at the barrier and crash. When they get up, they watch the clock switch to eleven o'clock, they know they've missed the train. Later, Harry learns that Dobby the house elf sealed off the barrier early in an attempt to prevent Harry from getting to Hogwarts.
The train and the juxtaposition of the muggle train station and the train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is an important part of the book series. It's where Harry first meets Ron and Hermione and it's where the epilogue takes place, too. Out of all of the places, J.K. Rowling shows us our heroes and heroines for the last time, sending off their kids to Hogwarts.
The Hogwarts Express and Platform Nine and Three Quarters mark a beautiful figurative and literal transitional point in the Harry Potter series.
Join me tomorrow for my next post in my Harry Potter themed A to Z post: O is for Ollivanders! Ever wondered why wands were so cheap? Me too...