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Quotes

Quote #7

"There," he sighed. "That's better. It's time to review your soldiering lessons."

I groaned. From my crawling days, Grandfather had taught me all the tricks of the American and the British armies, and quite a few from the French. Again and again and again. It would do no good to argue. I was his captive. (11.13)

Grandfather is an old soldier who represents an earlier time: the American Revolutionary War (OK, not nearly as far back as it is for us, but still). As such, much of what he teaches his granddaughter is couched in the language of the military. How does Grandfather's advice help Matilda survive the fever? Why doesn't Grandfather himself survive?

Quote #8

"They aren't my family," the farmer said as he motioned for his wife to climb aboard. "They only rode in back the last mile or so. They was walking and we picked them up."

"He's lying!" I shouted.

"I don't have no fever," the farmer continued. "My wife and baby are healthy. Let me just drive through so I can get to Bethlehem by nightfall. We won't stop for nothing." (11.55-11.57)

The outbreak is raging, and it's every family for themselves. The farmer seeks to protect his wife and baby, but by doing so he sells out Matilda and her grandfather. Why does the farmer feel no obligation to protect or care for Matilda and her grandfather? How can family loyalties sometimes create more problems than they solve?

Quote #9

"Let go of him!" I shouted.

The man ignored me. His hands were around Grandfather's throat. Grandfather weakly hit back at the man, but it had no effect. The man struck Grandfather's head against the floor. Grandfather's eyelids fluttered, then closed.

"Nooo!" I screamed. I swung the sword and gashed the thief's should. He howled and rolled to the side, grasping at the bloody wound.

"You cut me," he said in disbelief. "The wench cut me with the sword."

"Get out of my house, before I cut out your heart." I raised the sword and ran at him. (19.72-19.76)

Talk about a complete and utter role reversal: now it's Matilda who's playing the part of the soldier. She has Grandfather's old sword out and is ready to kill the intruders to save him. How is this moment symbolic of how Matilda's role in the family is changing? Is she now becoming their protector?

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