Study Guide

Matilda Chapter 16

By Roald Dahl

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Chapter 16

Miss Honey's Cottage

  • Miss Honey and Matilda take a leisurely walk through their village on their way back to Miss Honey's home. As they walk, Matilda gabs, sharing how excited she is about her new power and what she might be capable of. 
  • Of course, Miss Honey is the voice of reason. She tries to tell Matilda to slow down and relax. After all, her powers might be dangerous and they need to evaluate how to use them with care.
  • Being the brainy individual that she is, Matilda understands what Miss Honey is saying, and is surprised to learn that Miss Honey thinks she is so gifted. 
  • Although Matilda thinks that each time she uses the powers she gets stronger and better, Miss Honey is worried that using the powers too much could make Matilda sick.
  • They walk through a bunch of trees and Miss Honey teaches Matilda all of their names.
  • The two keep walking and go down a small path that's pretty out of the way. It's like they're entering the wilderness.
  • As they walk, Matilda wonders about Miss Honey's family life. 
  • Finally, they arrive at a very, very small cottage where Miss Honey lives. It's surrounded, almost covered up, by a tree and all these plants.
  • No surprise, Matilda loves the place.
  • She also thinks that Miss Honey's home is like something you'd read about. 
  • It's picturesque, but inside, it's tiny, bare, and run-down.
  • Maybe it's too run-down, actually. Miss Honey doesn't have a refrigerator or a proper stove, just a Primus. (The book explains, "A Primus is a little camping-stove that you fill with paraffin and you light it at the top and then you pump it to get pressure for the flame" [16.47"]). She doesn't have running water. Matilda has to go fetch some from the well outside.
  • Matilda does this bravely and even enjoys it a bit.
  • At that point, Miss Honey explains she doesn't have proper baths; she heats up water and then gives herself a sponge bath. 
  • This seals the deal for Matilda. It's clear to her now that Miss Honey has very little money. 
  • Then, Matilda tries to be tactful as Miss Honey makes them tea and toast with margarine. There's milk, but no sugar.
  • They go into the sitting-room, where there's no furniture, just boxes. 
  • Her teacher gives Matilda tea and a snack, admitting that all she really eats is what she gets at school. Ugh, this just gets sadder and sadder. 
  • But our Matilda is just curious. The more she sees, the more Matilda wants to know about Miss Honey's life. 
  • Miss Honey, on the other hand, is more focused on Matilda's mental abilities. She thinks that maybe they could start slowly testing Matilda.
  • Matilda reveals she has pretty big ambitions. And why shouldn't she? She's like a half-pint superhero.
  • Her power is exciting for both of them.

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