Roald Dahl

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Matilda can help.

Matilda: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Matilda shouts; no wonder Miss Honey was so terrified. When Matilda tells Miss Honey about the pigtail incident on the playground the other day, Miss Honey says that’s nothing—Miss Trunchbull used to hold her head under the water during baths. But Miss Honey changes the subject; they should talk about Matilda. Matilda says she knows she can push things over—but she’d rather not experiment. She’d like to go home and think about things. Immediately, Miss Honey jumps up and agrees to walk Matilda home.
Miss Honey makes it clear that having her head held underwater was the least of the physical abuse she suffered. This gives the impression to readers that the extent of Miss Trunchbull’s evil is beyond comprehension—it’s up to the reader’s imagination to decide just how terrible Miss Trunchbull is. When Miss Honey leaps up to walk Matilda home, the dynamic changes. While before Miss Honey spoke to Matilda like a fellow adult, Matilda is now a child again.
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
Matilda and Miss Honey walk in silence. Matilda is so lost in thought that she barely seems to notice where she’s going. At Matilda’s gate, Matilda refuses Miss Honey’s request that she forget everything—but she agrees to keep quiet about what she heard. Then, Matilda says she has an idea, and she has three questions. First, what did Miss Trunchbull call Miss Honey’s father? Then, what did he call Miss Trunchbull? And finally, what did they call Miss Honey? Miss Honey’s father went by his first name, Magnus; Miss Trunchbull went by Agatha; and they called Miss Honey Jenny. Matilda agrees to not say anything, laughs, and thanks Miss Honey for tea.
Matilda is clearly planning something, as evidenced by being so lost in thought and then asking these questions as she bids Miss Honey goodbye. Also keep in mind that Matilda is very interested in justice, and Miss Honey’s situation is about as unjust as it gets. So Matilda is motivated by her love and admiration for her teacher, but she’s also motivated because she sees a huge wrong and seems to believe that she has the power to fix it.
The Power of Fighting Injustice Theme Icon