Study Guide

Matilda Chapter 2

By Roald Dahl

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Chapter 2

Mr Wormwood, the Great Car Dealer

  • This chapter is all about Matilda's family life, which is Not Awesome.
  • Specifically, it's about her dad's career, which is selling secondhand cars.
  • When picturing Mr. Wormwood, you should imagine all the stereotypes of crooked salesmen rolled into one. If you haven't met someone like this, you've seen him on TV for sure, usually with flashy dollar signs floating around his head.
  • Mr. Wormwood insists on telling his son, Michael, about the business, although Matilda's really the one who's interested. 
  • Here's the skinny: Mr. Wormwood cheats his customers thoroughly and regularly. 
  • He puts sawdust in the cars' oil and then uses a special method he made up to make the speedometers run backward. 
  • By the time he's done, the cars appear to run super smoothly and be practically unused. In other words, it's complete and utter cheating. 
  • It's not cheating to Mr. Wormwood, though. He brags and says he thought of all this stuff because he's such a genius.
  • Michael's impressed, and Matilda's disappointed. But when she tries to tell their dad that what he's doing wrong, he yells at her and tells her to shut up.
  • Then Matilda's mother tells her to be quiet, too, so they can all watch their show. Their family always has dinner in front of the TV. That's their "quality time."
  • Matilda asks if she can leave to read a book, but her father says no. Dinnertime is important. 
  • Her father starts to get mad, and Matilda gets mad, too. 
  • She keeps it to herself, but she makes a choice that whenever her parents are behaving cruelly or meanly, she'll get revenge on them. 
  • First target? Her pops. After all, he was mean during dinner that night.

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