Matilda Chapter 17 Summary

Instructor: Audrey Akins

Audrey has more than a decade of experience teaching elementary. She has a bachelor's in journalism and a master's in education.

Matilda has already demonstrated that she is wise beyond her five years, and while at Miss Honey's house, Miss Honey uses that as a reason why she can tell Matilda about herself. Matilda ends up knowing more about her teacher than she could have ever imagined.

Miss Honey's Childhood

Miss Honey tells Matilda she is 23 years old and was born to a father who was a doctor. Her life began to unravel with the tragedy, or misfortune, of her mother dying when she was two years old. Her father, a busy doctor, allowed his sister to move in to help raise her. Unfortunately, her father then died when she was five years old, and Miss Honey was left to live with her aunt.

Miss Honey's childhood was terrible because she had to do anything her aunt told her. Miss Honey describes her aunt as a monster. ''And by the time I was ten, I had become her slave. I did all the housework. I made her bed. I washed and ironed for her. I did all the cooking.'' Her aunt maintains this control even after she moves away.

Why Miss Honey is Poor

When Miss Honey became an adult, she had to make a deal with her aunt to go to a teacher training school. Afterward, her aunt made Miss Honey feel like she owed money for all the years that her aunt took care of her. So, Miss Honey signed a document agreeing to pay back her aunt.

''She told me it added up to thousands and I had to pay her back by giving her my salary for the next ten years.'' Her aunt took it a step further and set it up so the money would go from the school right into her bank account. Miss Honey is only living on one pound a week, which is equal to about $1.30 a week.

Miss Honey's Big Secret

After getting a job, the next thing that Miss Honey thought about was getting away from her aunt, even though she doesn't make much money. While out taking a walk, she found the cottage that she lives in, and she eventually met the farmer who owns it. She talked the farmer into renting her the cottage, even though she was told by the farmer, ''It's got no conveniences, no running water, no nothing!''

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