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In the first Harry Potter book, Molly is seen asking her children "what platform number is it again?"

Heart hammering, Harry pushed his trolley after them. They stopped and so did he, just near enough to hear what they were saying. 'Now, what's the platform number?' said the boys' mother. 'Nine and three-quarters!' piped a small girl, also red-headed, who was holding her hand. 'Mum, can't I go...' 'You're not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy, you go first.' (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter Six, "The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters")

Why didn't she remember on her own? She would have been bringing kids there for the past 10 or so years, not to mention her own years at Hogwarts.

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    Maybe just for entertaining the kids? It is just like an old granny asks their grandchildren something easy so they can be happy? – arc_lupus Sep 17 '14 at 14:48
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    Perhaps there is more than one platform in the Wizarding World and their train schedule varies... – Major Stackings Sep 17 '14 at 15:01
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    A number you use only once (or even twice) a year is easy to forget. I can never remember what voting district (18 or 19?) i am in, for example. – RBarryYoung Sep 17 '14 at 17:49
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    @RBarryYoung That's actually a fantastic point. Might be worth its own answer. We only remember the number because it's significant to the story, but when you're in the world all of that stuff is just day-to-day minutia. I don't remember my parents' zip code, or the last terminal number for Dallas at the airport, or anything at all like that. Hell, I forget what floor number some of my coworkers are on at the office. Comment is so spot-on that it's worth posting as an answer. – asteri Sep 17 '14 at 22:19
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    She asked on Parenting.SE "How do I get my daughter to remember the train platform she's using for the first time" and was told to try making it a game and "forgetting" the number. – user31178 Jul 22 '15 at 1:13
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The way it’s described in the books makes it sound like it was just a question for Ginny to answer:

“Now, what’s the platform number?” said the boys’ mother.

“Nine and three-quarters!” piped a small girl, also red-headed, who was holding her hand. “Mum, can’t I go…”

The boys go straight through the barrier, so they must be standing right next to it. It follows that Mrs. Weasley has led them to the right platform, so she does know what it is.

There’s no mention of her being flustered or frustrated (or at least, no more than you’d expect with Fred and George for sons) about being unable to find the platform.


ETA: I’ve seen several comments saying that perhaps this was a movie thing; it isn’t. This is what Molly says in the film, which Harry overhears after talking to the station staffer:

…same every year of course, packed with Muggles! Come on: Platform Nine and Three-Quarters this way.

She doesn’t seem particularly flustered or concerned, except to keep Ginny close by her side, and to make sure they all get through the barrier safely. There’s never any question about what the platform number is.

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    The most popular manipulative!Weasley plot point busted, 1+ coming your way. – ratchet freak Sep 17 '14 at 19:36
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    Sounds like it is more of a movie-plot-inconsistency as I remember in the movie she did seem flustered/frustrated. – mikeazo Sep 17 '14 at 19:43
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    In the movie she was flustered/frustrated because she's trying to get 4 children ready to go away to school for an entire year, with another hanging on. – krillgar Oct 21 '14 at 12:11
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This is probably for Ginny's benefit. Ginny will be starting at Hogwarts the next year, and Molly is asking a question to which she obviously knows the answer to, to see if Ginny can answer it.

She is basically quizzing Ginny, as parents often do. It would be absurd to think Molly doesn't actually know or remember the correct platform. With brooms, portkeys, Floo networks and Apparation, the Hogwarts train is probably the only train magic-born ever use.

And in the six years that Harry attended Hogwarts, the platform didn't change.

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    Just like asking the kids to "Remember where the car is parked!". – ratchet freak Sep 17 '14 at 19:37
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    The Itchy lot? – krillgar Oct 21 '14 at 12:15
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There's a strong possibility that she's genuinely trying to work out which platform they're going to be using. In the Pottermore moment on Platform 9 3/4, JKR notes that there were other "fractional platforms" that wizarding trains use to transport witches and wizards to various magical destinations.

It's quite feasible that in other years, the Hogwarts Express set off from a different platforms and she's looking for confirmation which platform they'll be departing from this time;

"In choosing the number of the concealed platform that would take young witches and wizards to boarding school, I decided that it would have to be a number between those of the Muggle platforms – therefore, it was clearly a fraction. This raised the interesting question of how many other fractional platforms lay between the whole-numbered platforms at King’s Cross, and I concluded that were probably quite a few.

Although these are never mentioned in the book, I like to think that it is possible to take a version of the Orient Express off to wizard-only villages in continental Europe (try platform seven and a half), and that other platforms may be opened on an as-required-basis, for instance for large, one-off events such as Celestina Warbeck concerts (see your ticket for details)."

  • this was my thoughts as well, to me it would seem suspicious that 2 times a year a mass of weirdly dressed people some with owls would hang out in the same area on the train station, it seems much more plausible that the Hogwarts train could switch every couple years. – Himarm Sep 17 '14 at 18:22
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    @Himarm - If you think that's sufficiently weird as to attract muggle attention then clearly you've never been to a showing of the Rocky Horror Show. – Valorum Sep 17 '14 at 18:29
  • @Himarm Or just about any anime convention – Izkata Sep 18 '14 at 0:08
  • @Richard remember that it it set in the early 90s, much less weirdness in conventions – ratchet freak Sep 18 '14 at 10:48
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    @Himarm In the Epilogue, taking place over 20 years later, they're still on 9 3/4. And i think in Snape's memory they're on 9 3/4 as well. That's a period of what, ~50 years? – Scimonster Sep 18 '14 at 14:31
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What makes you think she didn't remember platform number? Parents (and other teaching figures) frequently ask questions whose answers they know, with the intended goal being for their children to provide the answer; it's a tool that helps the child remember facts.

It's like going to an amusement park and asking your kids "Okay kids, where did we park?" so your children remember where the car is if the family becomes separated.

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The most likely answer is also the simplest (and least interesting). She probably forgot because she doesn't use it that often.

A number you use only once (or even twice) a year is easy to forget. I can never remember what local voting district (18 or 19?) I am in, for example. Who remembers their driver's license number?

OK, that's usually a long number, but what about your congressional district number? How about the street address of your school? These are all things that we tend to forget, not because they are hard to memorize, but simply because we don't use them that much, and on the annual or semi-annual occasion that we do, we can just look it up (or ask someone else), so it's not really worth trying very hard to remember long term.

  • Don't forget that the number is printed on their tickets, and she was in the correct spot before asking. – Scimonster Sep 19 '14 at 10:47
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    @Scimonster I take it you've never flown or anything. Pretty common to be like, "What the hell terminal am I going to?" and have to re-look at your ticket, even when you're right in front of it to double-check. – asteri Sep 19 '14 at 17:13
  • @asteri Nope, never had that while flying. :) – Scimonster Sep 20 '14 at 16:52
  • I have to say I've never had any problems remembering any long number - driving licence, credit card, I can reel them off as and when required. I'd do it right now to prove it but I like my identity where it is, thank you. – Weirdy_Beardy Sep 22 '14 at 8:39
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I read about a conspiracy theory: She said it deliberately to attract Harry to his family (Dumbledore warned her about Harry) but conspiracy theories don't deserve attention, although this specific theory is interesting.

In my opinion, this is a REAL question, it's possible that in his epoch, the platform had a different number.

  • Before you guys ask me ''But she take his sons to the platform a few years ago'' Could be Arthur Weasley who takes his children to the platform. Maybe her not works on the ministry yet. – NicolasTSH Jul 22 '15 at 0:14
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    This perhaps would be better as a comment than an answer. When you achieve sufficient rep you will be able to post comments on posts! In the meantime I suggest you go through our tour - you get a badge! – Often Right Jul 22 '15 at 0:24
  • Agreed. Fan theories are fun but this isn't an answer to the question asked other than very tangentially – Valorum Jul 22 '15 at 7:24

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