Study Guide

A Northern Light Chapter 20

By Jennifer Donnelly

Chapter 20

tottlish, frowy, blat, meaching

  • Back in the spring, Mattie is again dusting at her Aunt Josie's, and Aunt Josie tries to make sure Mattie doesn't come into the kitchen, where she and her friend Alma McIntyre are looking through Emma Hubbard's mail. (Felony alert, Shmoopsters.) So Mattie decides to move the stool closer to the door.
  • After Aunt Josie calls the stool "tottlish," which Mattie has learned is vernacular (a.k.a. regional dialect and language), she decides that tottlish is her new word of the day.
  • Mattie's musings are broken when Alma admonishes Aunt Josie for steaming open the letter to Emma Hubbard, a letter which states that because Emma hasn't paid her taxes, her land will be auctioned off. Usually, Arn Satterlee, the tax assessor, just gives Emmie a warning, but because there's an interested party (one of Emmie Hubbard's neighbors), the land is going up for auction.
  • In conversation, the two women can't decide who the interested party is: they veto Weaver's mom, the Gokey family, and the Loomis family… and say that Mr. Loomis wouldn't want Emmie Hubbard evicted anyway. Mattie wonders why they think this.
  • Josie decides that what's happening to Emmie and her children is awful, and she's going to check with Arn Satterlee about who's behind the eviction.
  • Mattie wonders where Emmie will get the money to pay her taxes, realizes that she won't, and recognizes that her Aunt Josie has the money but probably won't give it to Emmie. Grr…
  • When Mattie picks up an angel who has the Serenity Prayer printed on its robe, she breaks it into pieces, thereby ridding herself of her anger at the hopelessness of Emmie's situation. Mostly.

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