Study Guide

Matilda Chapter 13

By Roald Dahl

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Chapter 13

The Weekly Test

  • It's the moment we've been waiting for. 
  • The Trunchbull drops in on Miss Honey's class.
  • Sure enough, she starts insulting the students right away, calling them all kinds of names. 
  • She examines all their hands for cleanliness, and one little boy, Nigel, has dirty ones. 
  • The Trunchbull quizzes him and is furious when he admits that he didn't wash his hands that day. While that's gross, it's not really cause for ridicule, we think.
  • And it gets worse. Nigel has some spilled lunch on his shirt. 
  • Nigel's punishment? He has to stand in the corner on one leg.
  • When he's there, she asks him to spell "write." Nigel asks whether she means "write" or "right," and then nails it.
  • This makes the Trunchbull mad. (Of course.)
  • Nigel tries to stand up for himself, by telling the Trunchbull that everyone in the class can spell "difficulty."
  • But the Trunchbull doesn't believe him. She calls on a small girl named Prudence, who spells it right with no problem.
  • Now the Trunchbull is really fired up. She's borderline dangerous. 
  • She makes Nigel explain how they learned the word, so Nigel says that Miss Honey taught them a little spelling song, which he then sings.
  • But the Trunchbull thinks it's silly and not in a good way. She forbids Miss Honey from using the same teaching method again. 
  • Now it's math time. The Trunchbull's next victim is Rupert. She tells him to multiply two sevens.
  • The poor kid gets it wrong.
  • Furious, the Trunchbull picks him up by his lush blonde hair and waves him around.
  • Rupert screams. We would too.
  • Miss Honey begs for it to stop.
  • The Trunchbull shakes Rupert about until he repeats the right answer, and then dumps him on the ground. 
  • The Trunchbull then tells the whole class that children are gross. You know, because that's the kind of inspirational language that best forms young minds.
  • One boy, Eric, points out that the Trunchbull had to have been a kid herself.
  • Poor Eric.
  • This just makes the Trunchbull decide to humiliate him. She makes fun of him and then tells him to spell "what."
  • Can you guess where this is going? Eric tries three times and fails. 
  • So the Trunchbull picks him up by his ears, and Eric screams.
  • Miss Honey begs for it to stop all over again.
  • The Trunchbull makes Eric say the right answer, which he does, and then she drops him too.
  • This is the perfect opportunity for the Trunchbull to explain to Miss Honey that her teaching method is the best teaching method. 
  • She brings up Nicholas Nickleby as a good example of firm teaching and discipline. (If you've never read Nicholas Nickleby, suffice it to say that the Trunchbull is dead wrong here.)
  • Matilda speaks up to say she's familiar with the book, and the Trunchbull calls her a liar. (Matilda gets this a lot.)
  • While she would like to tell the Trunchbull off, Matilda doesn't. 
  • The Trunchbull figures out who Matilda is and that makes things even worse. 
  • She has just realized the car Mr. Wormwood sold her is a dud. 
  • Even though Mr. Wormwood isn't trustworthy, the Trunchbull believes the lies he's told her about Matilda. 
  • She thinks Matilda is real trouble. 

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