Study Guide

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Truth

By E.L. Konigsburg


Interest in the marble piece arises from the unusual circumstances attending its acquisition by the museum and from the belief that it may be the work of the Italian Renaissance master, Michelangelo. (4.39)

Who can resist a good whodunit? Claudia and Jamie can't… even if it means that they're going to have to do extracurricular reading to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Jamie thought this over a minute. He was impressed. "When I grow up, I'm going to find a way to know for certain who did a statue." (4.50)

The search for the truth is something that Jamie has as a long-term goal; something that he might get to once he's an adult. For Claudia though, the time is now, and they're going to seize it.

She would solve its mystery; and it, in turn, would do something important to her, though what this was, she didn't know. (4.79)

The truth about the angel means something to Claudia, though she can't quite pinpoint it. It's kind of like having an itch and not knowing exactly where it is—totally annoying and something that you can't ignore.

All he needed was a chance to investigate. Without the guards hurrying him. He would know, but would his opinion be accepted by the experts? (5.44)

Jamie has a fear that even if he does discover the secret behind the angel, people won't take him seriously because he's a kid. After all, a bunch of old, balding art historians have already taken a crack at figuring this out.

Angel was that way. An answer to running away, and also to going home again, lay in Angel. She knew it was there, but she didn't know what it was. It was just escaping her as the answer to the question on the test had… except this was even harder. (6.47)

The truth to something serious isn't as straightforward as just reciting facts during a test; it's a lot more difficult to dig it out. Claudia, who's never been one to get her hands dirty, has to really dig deep for the truth about the angel statue and what it all means.

"I feel as if I jumped into a lake to rescue a boy, and what I thought was a boy turned out to be a wet, fat log. Some heroine that makes. All wet for nothing." (8.53)

Ah, the evasiveness of the truth. Like Harry Potter looking for the truth behind who betrayed his parents (and being misled a couple times), Claudia thinks she's got it all figured out, only to find that she's fallen short. Poor thing.

"You might say that I'm honest about everything except cards. For some reason I'm helpless about cheating at cards." (9.113)

There's a difference between telling the truth about what matters and telling the truth about silly little things. Jamie's an honest kid, but he's a slimy card player. It's okay. We still like him.

Just as they had lost all their feelings of urgency, they had also lost all thoughts of me. Finding a secret can make everything else unimportant, you know. (9.200)

They say the truth can set you free. In Claudia and Jamie's case, the truth about Angel makes them lose sight of all the other things they were worrying about, like running away or money or what in the world they're going to say to their parents when they get home.

"But, Mrs. Frankweiler, if there is the slightest doubt that either the statue or the sketch is a forgery, don't you want to know? Don't you want that last little bit of doubt cleared up?"

"No," I answered abruptly. (9.244-245)

Mrs. Frankweiler's version of the truth is what she already knows, deep inside her old heart. She doesn't really care what other people think. Seriously, at that age, you probably don't care if you leave your house in a bathrobe.

You see, I still have an edge. […]They don't know that their grandfather has been my lawyer for forty-one years. (10.33)

With all the hoopla around how important it is to know the truth (and to keep it your own personal secret), it's no surprise that Mrs. Frankweiler still has something up her sleeve. She's a sneaky one, that Mrs. Frankweiler.