Study Guide

A Northern Light Chapter 12

By Jennifer Donnelly

Chapter 12

Uriah the Hittite, stinkpot, warthog

  • Flashing back to spring, Mattie dusts her Aunt Josie's collection of biblical porcelain figurines on Wednesday after school. She's hoping that Aunt Josie will lend her the money to go to Barnard, especially since Aunt Josie doesn't have children of her own.
  • Pa doesn't like Aunt Josie, and he especially doesn't like Mattie cleaning her house, but Mattie started before her mom died and knows that her mother would wish her to continue.
  • And guess what? Aunt Josie doesn't really like Pa either; she never thought he was good enough for Mattie's mother, Ellen.
  • Mattie recalls an argument Aunt Josie had with her mother about the farm. Josie told Ellen that she wasn't strong enough to work on a farm and continue to bear children, but Ellen said that her husband didn't make her and burst out of the kitchen.
  • Mattie feels sorry for her aunt because her aunt only has her figurines to love, while her parents were happy with each other while her mother was alive.
  • As Mattie dusts, her aunt looks out the window and makes small talk with Mattie, gossiping about the town folk.
  • Aunt Josie sees her friend Alma McIntyre giving Mr. Satterlee (the tax assessor) an envelope; he's been up to the Hubbard place recently, and Aunt Josie wants Mattie to find out why.
  • Miss Wilcox walks by and Aunt Josie comments that no one likes a woman who's smart; she also thinks that Miss Wilcox comes from a large wealthy family from New York City.
  • And then Josie comments on Mattie's association with Royal. Mattie's had a ton of teasing from friends and family, and she's had about enough of it, but that doesn't stop Aunt Josie from waxing eloquently about a potential engagement, nor from telling Mattie that a girl like her may not get another chance with a boy like Royal. (Gee thanks, Aunt Josie.)
  • Finally Mattie gets an opening, and she tells Aunt Josie about her dream to go to college in New York City… but Aunt Josie doesn't take the request very well.
  • In fact, Aunt Josie says Mattie is just as bad as Lawton: selfish, thoughtless, and prideful. Fortunately a pie starts to burn, and Mattie is left thinking that it's not pride she feels—it's hope.

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