On the first of September, the Dursleys take Harry (and his owl, whom he has named Hedwig) to King's Cross railway station, where he is supposed to catch a train to Hogwarts at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Much to his relatives' amusement, Harry cannot find a departure platform between numbers Nine and Ten. Luckily, Harry meets the Weasley family. He watches as the oldest son, Percy (who is a prefect at Hogwarts), and his twin brothers Fred and George walk straight into the barrier between platforms and vanish, and then he learns from Mrs. Weasley how to do the same. Ron Weasley follows him, and the two boys strike up a friendship on the train ride. Ron, another first-year student, confesses that his family expects him to live up to the accomplishments of his other brothers, including Bill and Charlie, who have already graduated. "But if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand, and Percy's old rat," a rodent named Scabbers. For his part, Harry introduces Ron to many mysteries of the Muggle world, such as the fact that "people just stay put in photos" (unlike the subjects of photographs in the wizarding world). During the train ride, a girl, also beginning her first year at Hogwarts, named Hermione Granger joins Harry and Ron.
As they converse, Ron reveals that "someone tried to rob a high security vault" at Gringotts. "My dad [who is a member of the Ministry of Magic] says it must've been a powerful Dark wizard to get round Gringotts, but they don't think they took anything . . . . 'Course, everyone gets scared when something like this happens in case You-Know-Who's behind it." Their conversation is interrupted by three boys, one of whom-Draco Malfoy-Harry recognizes from Madam Malkin's robe shop. Draco is accompanied by Crabbe and Goyle, his loyal and dim-witted sidekicks. Draco is immediately hostile to Weasley, telling Harry that "some wizarding families are much better than others." Harry, however, refuses Draco's offer to help him make the "right" friends, and Draco says, "Unless you're a bit politer you'll go the same way as your parents." Before a fight can break out, Scabbers bites Goyle, provoking all three bullies into leaving. Ron tells Harry that members of the Malfoy family "were some of the first to come back to our side after You-Know-Who disappeared."
This chapter first brings Harry together with his two best friends, Ron and Hermione. They will accompany Harry on his quest for identity, and in a much more active way than mentor-figures such as Hagrid. As Joseph Campbell observes, heroes rarely answer the summons to adventure completely alone, although in the end they must achieve the victory by themselves: "If you have someone who can help you, that's fine . . . But, ultimately, the last deed has to be done by oneself" (The Power of Myth, p. 149). This chapter also introduces the fact that, while some things are different between the mundane world and the magical (photographs whose subjects move, jelly beans which can taste like any flavor imaginable and then some), some things are, sadly, the same. The Weasleys' relatively modest means will continue to feature prominently in later novels, as will Malfoy's prejudice against "some wizarding families." Rowling seems to suggest that not even magic can rid the world of such injustices as poverty and prejudice.