Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

by J. K. Rowling
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What do the names Privet Drive and Godric Hollow mean by themselves in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? More precisely, do they symbolize something?

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J. K. Rowling is a masterful writer. She often gives names to places and people that are more than just a name. They symbolize something about the place or person, too. The names Privet Drive and Godric Hollow fit into this category. Each of them serves a double function. They both tell us something about the place they represent.

For example, Privet Drive is where Harry grew up with his aunt, uncle, and nephew, Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley. Harry is stashed with his aunt and uncle after his parents are killed by Voldemort. When searching for somewhere to hide Harry from his enemies, those in charge of his care must have wanted to keep him somewhere hidden, somewhere private. What better place to do that than on a street called Privet Drive? By using this name, Rowling doesn't have to do much more to tell us what kind of place Privet Drive is. We get the sense that it's a quiet, secluded suburban neighborhood almost immediately.

Godric's Hollow is another important place in the wizarding world. It's a quaint village that was home to Godric Gryffindor, the Dumbledores, and the Potters. It became a celebrated place after Voldemort "died" while attacking Harry. This name also tells us something about the place. A hollow is a little hole. In this context, you can think of it as a little place, like a quaint village. We also know that Godric stands for Godric Gryffindor since he's the only character in the story named that and he was born there. Therefore, this name means something like Godric Gryffindor's quaint little village. Throughout the story, the Gryffindor house is a constant force for good in the world. Hollow is also very close to the word hallowed, which is a kind of holy ground.

Given all of this, Godric's Hollow sounds like a small village where the people are all good, kind, helpful, etc. It's almost a holy place in the lore of Harry Potter. It's where the heroes of good (Harry, Godric, and Dumbledore) were all born. Rowling does well to use the name Godric's Hollow for this place. With just that name, there are tons of associations we can make about the place. The same can be said about her usage of Privet Drive.

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