Chapter 11 Summary
The Sorting Hat’s New Song
The students discuss Hagrid’s mysterious absence from Hogwarts this fall. When Luna admits that she doesn't think Hagrid was very good at teaching, all three friends (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) become defensive about their big friend. As everyone searches the staff table for Hagrid, they notice a new person sitting there: a short and squat woman who closely resembles a toad. In fact, Harry Potter recognizes this woman from his hearing: Professor Umbridge. She was the only woman there who spoke from the Wizengamot and questioned Dumbledore.
As the Sorting Hat is brought to the forefront, the first-year students are ushered in. The sorting begins with a new song sung directly by the hat. Although the Sorting Hat uses the middle of its song for its usual use (to describe the important qualities of the four Hogwarts houses), this year it begins and ends its song by stressing the concept of unity.
First it stresses the original idea that witches and wizards “together we will build and teach!” Later, it goes even further by saying that “Though condemned I am to split you / Still I worry that it’s wrong.” It further warns of “deadly foes” who will try to make Hogwarts “crumble from within.” The Sorting Hat insists that the students “unite inside her.” In fact the Gryffindor ghost, Nearly Headless Nick, admits that the Sorting Hat only changes the song when it believes the school is in grave peril.
Dumbledore then rises to make his traditional speech. A few new additions this year are that Professor Grubbly-Plank will be taking over Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class and that Professor Umbridge will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.
At this point, Professor Umbridge actually interrupts Dumbledore (which is quite unheard of). She proceeds to make her own speech indicating that the Ministry of Magic will now be interfering in every aspect of Hogwarts life.
Another issue is waiting for Harry Potter as the sorting ends: many fellow students don’t believe Harry’s story about Voldemort returning. The articles in The Daily Prophet aren’t helping matters. By trying to discredit Dumbledore, they are trying to discredit Harry as well.
Even Seamus questions Harry’s story and admits that his own mother almost didn’t let him come back to Hogwarts because of Dumbledore and Harry. Luckily the Weasleys and the Longbottoms all remain loyal, but that isn’t enough to keep Harry from the insomnia that results.