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Quotes

Quote #1

When Mother allowed herself a still moment by the fire on winter nights, I could sometimes see the face she wore when Father was alive. Back then Mother smiled at me with her eyes and her laughter and her gentle hands. But no longer. Life was a battle, and Mother a tired and bitter captain. The captain I had to obey. (2.25)

Matilda's mother is a single parent who has taken on the task of raising her daughter – and running a coffeehouse. Why does Matilda call her the captain? What does this title imply in terms of gender?

Quote #2

"Can that be little Mattie?" elderly Mr. Carris asked as he squinted through his bifocals. "Why, she's grown into a fine young lady. Much too fine for this type of work. We'll have to find a husband for you."

"A husband! A husband!" squawked King George.

My face flushed as the men laughed.

"Hush, you old thing," I muttered to the bird. It would have been rude to hush Mr. Carris. "I'll feed you to Silas if you don't close that beak." (4.6-4.9)

Why does Mr. Carris assume that Mattie would rather have a husband than work? Why is this an either/or choice for her? That is, why does Mr. Carris assume that Mattie couldn't both have a job and have a husband? Also, what do you think is the significance of King George, the parrot, in this scene?

Quote #3

A low voice and soft address are the common indications of a well-bred woman. – Hannah More, The Young Lady Abroad or Affectionate Advice on the Social and Moral Habits of Females, 1777 (5.epigraph)

Hannah More's The Young Lady Abroad is an eighteenth-century conduct manual that details the proper behavior for young ladies. Here she advises women to lower their voices and use gentle address. Does Matilda follow this advice? How does Matilda struggle against this conventional kind of feminine behavior?

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