Another unanswered question from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is how Professor Quirrell knows about the Severus Snape and James Potter rivalry. In my recollections I didn’t think it was even really mentioned until the third book: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakban. Sheesh, was I wrong! And from the least likely person, Professor Quirrell? What the heck? I could see Dumbledore, maybe even Hagrid, but Quirrell.
Backtracking a scene or two from my last “Notes from a Harry Potter Reread” and my outburst, Professor Quirrell is doing his evil villain thang and revealing to Harry that he was the villain and not our dear Byronic hero Severus Snape. In the middle of his revelations, poor little Harry Potter’s head must have exploded by this turn of events, because of this statement:
Harry to Quirrell: “But Snape always seemed to hate me so much.”
Then Harry asks Dumbledore: “Yes him—Quirrell said he hates me because he hated my father. Is that true?”
“Well, they did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy. And then, your father did something Snape could never forgive.”
“He saved his life.”
“Yes…” said Dumbledore dreamily. “Funny, the way people’s mind work, isn’t it? Professor Snape couldn’t bear being in your father’s debt….I do believe he worked hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and you father even. Then he could go back to hating your father’s memory in peace….”
“Harry tried to understand this but it made his head pound, so he stopped” (300).
Since one of my favorite pastimes is to come up with crazy explanations here are a few of them:
How would he know in the first place?
Weirdly this one seems the most likely. Dumbledore establishes with Harry he knows about the rivalry. It could be possible he told him. Dumbledore works in mysterious ways.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1998. Print.