Matilda by Roald Dahl Summary (Question and Answer)

Chapter One (Matilda by Roald Dahl)





CHAPTER ONE – The Reader of Books



Dahl tells his readers that parents always think that their own children are the best and most talented to have ever lived. When does Dahl think that this can become a problem, however?

Dahl doesn’t mind parents being deluded about their children’s excellence until they feel the need to ‘begin telling us about the brilliance of their own revolting offspring’.



Were Mr and Mrs Wormwood examples of parents who thought that their children were better than all others?

No, Mr and Mrs Wormwood were the exact opposite. They showed ‘no interest at all in their children’.



Mr and Mrs Wormwood had two children, Michael and Matilda. Whilst Michael is described as ‘a perfectly normal boy’, the narrator claims that Matilda was ‘extraordinary’. What examples does the narrator give to show that she was extraordinary from a very young age?

The narrator gives three examples to back up his claim that Matilda was extraordinary. First of all Matilda, by the age of just one and a half, had perfect speech and had a vocabulary the size of most adults. Secondly Matilda taught herself how to read by the age of three and thirdly, by the age of just four, she could read fast and well.



Matilda proved herself to be an excellent reader at a very young age and soon she had read her mother’s cookery book, which was the only book owned by her parents. What was her father’s reaction when she asked him to buy her a new book?

Her father couldn’t understand why she would want a book when she had access to a television.



Matilda was frequently left on her own whilst her brother was at school, her father was at work and her mother played bingo in a neighbouring town. Where did Matilda start going and how did she get there?

Matilda started to visit her local library whilst her parents and brother were out of the house. She would walk there all by herself.



Spending two hours in the library at a time meant that it wasn’t long before Matilda had read every children’s book that they had. What was her favourite book and what does she say about it?

Matilda liked The Secret Gardenmost of all as it was filled with mystery and intrigue.



When the librarian, Mrs Phelps, notices Matilda wandering around looking for a new book, she asks the little girl if she can help. Matilda tells Mrs Phelps that she would like to read ‘a famous’ book ‘that adults read’. Mrs Phelps is very impressed by Matilda but struggles to find a suitable book. What sort of books does she at first consider and what book does she finally decide on?

Mrs Phelps at first considers giving Matilda a romantic book intended for young teenage girls but eventually decides on Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.



When Mrs Phelps asked Matilda if her mother walked her to the library, she was alarmed to learn that Matilda walked there all by herself and without her parent’s knowledge. Why does Matilda say that she didn’t want her mother knowing where she went?

Matilda told Mrs Phelps that she would rather that her mother didn’t know about where she spent her afternoons because ‘she doesn’t encourage reading books’.



Matilda manages to read Great Expectationswithin a single week, and soon finishes a further fourteen classic novels. Mrs Phelps is described as ‘filled with wonder and excitement’. What stops Mrs Phelps from telling people about Matilda’s achievements?

Mrs Phelps is described by Dahl as ‘someone who minded her own business’. Accordingly, she was disinclined to announce the news to anyone.



Soon Matilda stopped visiting the library so frequently and only went there once a week for a brief time yet she continued to read just as much, if not more than, before. How was this?

Mrs Phelps told Matilda that she could borrow books from the library and read them at home if she preferred. With this news, Matilda only visited the library once a week to return the books that she had finished and replace them with new books for the coming week.



Describing Matilda, Dahl writes that ‘She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village’. What does Dahl mean by this?

Matilda now read in her bedroom and, even though she never physically left her room, was transported by her imagination to the wonderful places and events that were described in the books that she read.

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