How we cite our quotes:
"What happened when you were left all alone with the aunt? Wasn't she nice to you?"
"Nice?" Miss Honey said. "She was a demon. As soon as my father was out of the way she became a holy terror. My life was a nightmare." (17.40-1)
How sweet. Even though Matilda has a rough family life, she still looks for the good in other people. Her default setting is good. That's why her first impulse is to think that an adoptive aunt would be nice to Miss Honey. Unfortunately, as Miss Honey quickly explains, her aunt was a demon. Of course this makes the Trunchbull's violent abuse all the more terrible. How could she be so awful to sweet little Miss Honey?
"I don't want to talk about it," Miss Honey said. "It's too horrible. But in the end I became so frightened of her I used to start shaking when she came into the room. You must understand I was never a strong character like you. I was always shy and retiring." (17.43)
This is one scene in the book in which the Trunchbull's violent abuse takes a turn from the hilarious to the horrible. Her treatment of Miss Honey is in no way funny. It's tragic, sad, and has left Miss Honey severely damaged, maybe for life.
"After my father died, when I was five and a half, she used to make me bathe myself all alone. And if she came up and thought I hadn't washed properly she would push my head under the water and hold it there. But don't get me started on what she used to do. That won't help us at all." (18.4)
We get a lot of hints about how dreadful the Trunchbull's abuse of Miss Honey was, like the fact that she would push the teacher's head under the water and hold it there, but we don't get many details beyond that. Nevertheless, when you stop to think about it, you realize just how incredibly violent the Trunchbull was (and still is!). Just imagine how terrible the other things she did must have been, if Miss Honey doesn't even want to talk about them at all.