Study Guide

Matilda Chapter 10

By Roald Dahl

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Chapter 10

Throwing the Hammer

  • We knew we liked Matilda: she's good at acting normal and not getting all puffed up about how smart she is. 
  • So it's no wonder, then, that she gets along really well with the other kindergarten kids, who don't really care that she can read better or do better math than they can.
  • One day, Matilda and her new friend Lavender are playing outside during recess when an older girl, Hortensia, comes up to them and tells them some horror stories about the Trunchbull.
  • Using what sounds like a lot of hyperbole, Hortensia makes the Trunchbull seem incredibly evil. She tells them about The Chokey, which is a closet full of sharp objects that the Trunchbull shuts people in when they've been bad.
  • Hortensia's been in there a couple times because she's played some major pranks on the Trunchbull, like covering a seat with something called Golden Syrup. (When the Trunchbull sat down on it, it "squelch[ed]." Yuck.) Then, she put itching powder in all of the Trunchbull's underwear.
  • Awesome.
  • Each time, Hortensia was punished. She explains that even when there's no evidence, the Trunchbull can usually guess who did something bad. So, Hortensia got caught for all of her crimes.
  • Apparently, though, the punishment hasn't spoiled the glory of the itching powder scene, which Hortensia describes in great detail. The prank really impresses both Lavender and Matilda. 
  • The point here, Hortensia tells them, is that their school is like a combat zone.
  • Lavender and Matilda both volunteer for Hortensia's army. They, too, want to fight the Trunchbull.
  • The latest horror story, Hortensia tells them, is that the Trunchbull threw someone out a window for eating in class. 
  • She says that the Trunchbull used to be an Olympic-level athlete, so defenestrating kiddos is probably no sweat.
  • Then, they witness the Trunchbull in action.
  • She marches up to a little girl named Amanda, who has her hair in two braids.
  • (Hortensia explains that the Trunchbull can't stand this look.)
  • In front of everyone, the Trunchbull tells Amanda she has to cut her hair off. Um, excuse us?
  • When Amanda tries to protest, the Trunchbull picks Amanda up by the braids and swings her around a bunch of times before tossing her a great distance into a nearby field. Um, ow?
  • Amanda doesn't seem hurt, and the Trunchbull goes on her merry way. Um, not cool.
  • At that point, Hortensia tells Matilda and Lavender that nobody will stand up to the Trunchbull because she terrifies everybody.

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