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“I don’t blame you, dear,” she assured Harry, tipping eight or nine sausages onto his plate.

“Arthur and I have been worried about you, too.

Just last night we were saying we’d come and get you ourselves if you hadn’t written back to Ron by Friday.

But really”, “flying an illegal car halfway across the country — anyone could have seen you —”

She flicked her wand casually at the dishes in the sink, which began to clean themselves, clinking gently in the background.

“It was cloudy, Mum!” said Fred.

“You keep your mouth closed while you’re eating!” Mrs. Weasley snapped.

They were starving him, Mum!” said George.

“And you!” said Mrs. Weasley, but it was with a slightly softened expression that she started cutting Harry bread and buttering it for him.

As I understand, Fred said "It was cloudy", he means the weather is cloudy so no one could see them from the ground. But I don't quite get "They were starving him" by George. What does "they" refer to? It sounds like a joke, which I fail to understand.

-- From Harry Potter.

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    “It was cloudy, Mum!” refers to the weather when they were flying the car. Fred is claiming that it was cloudy, so no one could have seen them from the ground. – HiddenBabel Oct 25 '18 at 3:15
  • @HiddenBabel, I think you are right. I'll update it in my question. – dan Oct 25 '18 at 3:51
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You have to consider the entire context. This is from the second Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets". At the start of the book the Ron, Fred, and George Weasley rescue Harry from his home with the Dursleys, where he was being kept in a locked room with bars on the windows. To rescue him they use an enchanted flying car that their father had been working on.

Naturally their mother is quite angry at the stunt, as it was both dangerous and reckless. Also, naturally, the three Weasley boys try to excuse their action.

"It was cloudy" refers to the weather, implying that it would have been difficult for muggles to see the car flying through the sky.

"They were starving him" means literally this, that Harry was not being given enough to eat, and implying that it was imperative that they rescue Harry before he suffered any more.

Everything else in the passage is background action, and not necessarily relevant to the ongoing dialogue.

  • While I'm struggling with the current context, I fail to link it a little far back to this previous context. Thank you! – dan Oct 25 '18 at 4:01
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There is nothing in the passage to tell us who "they" are but from the context of a Harry Potter story it is not a joke but refers to his Aunt and Uncle Dursley.

Grammatically "they" here is used as a third person plural pronoun, and refers to a group of people already known to us.

Harry Potter's Aunt and Uncle are known to have mistreated him, for example making him live under the stairs and not giving him as much care as their own son. Fred and George Weasley also consider the amount of food given by the Durselys to Harry inadequate although it's hyperbole — Harry would not be actually starving.

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