Study Guide

Lavender in Matilda

By Roald Dahl

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Lavender is another of the students in Miss Honey's class, one of the few who can read and spell a little already when the school year starts. If Matilda weren't in the class too, Lavender might be the class's shining star. But because Matilda is there, Lavender isn't the smartest. Although the two become really good friends, it seems like Lavender really wants to get some glory on her own terms:

She longed to do something truly heroic. She admired the older girl Hortensia to distraction for the daring deeds she had performed in the school. She also admired Matilda, who had sworn her to secrecy about the parrot job she had brought off at home, and also the great hair-oil switch which had bleached her father's hair. It was her turn now to become a heroine if only she could come up with a brilliant plot. (12.15)

Well the book's called Matilda, so we know she's the true heroine of the book. But Lavender wants some of the glory, too. And why wouldn't she? After all, don't we all want to be the heroes or heroines of our own stories? She wants to be a major player, and though she doesn't own the book the way Matilda does, the narrator does throw her some bones.

According to Lavender, playing tricks is what makes a heroine. It's all about coming up with brilliant plots and pulling them off with daring secrecy. So when our little Lavender gets a chapter of the book all to herself, fittingly called "Lavender," we get to watch while she finally pulls the prank of her dreams—putting a newt in the Trunchbull's water glass. Gross.

Lavender's prank goes off without a hitch—except that the Trunchbull blames Matilda for it, and Lavender doesn't step up to defend her friend. She thinks that having pulled off the newt prank makes her the heroine, but she doesn't stop to consider that telling the truth might be even more heroic. While we admire Lavender for her pluck, we think her friendship with Matilda might have had more staying power if she had copped to her plot. But then again, she might have ended up being tossed out the window by her hair, so maybe she made the right call after all.

Lavender in Matilda Study Group

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