The Chokey in Matilda

Instructor: Michelle Acker

Michelle has a degree in English and a Master's in Education from Temple University. She has taught special education, 4th grade, and high school Communication Arts.

In Roald Dahl's children's story, 'Matilda,' Crunchem Hall school isn't a particularly nice place to be, but the worst place to visit of all in the school is The Chokey; it makes getting sent to the principal's office a real nightmare.

The Chokey


The Chokey, the name alone is scary enough to make any little boy or girl behave just to avoid being imprisoned, or locked up, in it. But, The Chokey is actually far less pleasant than it even sounds! One day at recess, ten-year-old Hortensia offers the scary details of Crunchem Hall elementary school to the new, younger kids, including Matilda, the main character, and her friend Lavender. Hortensia tells them all about Miss Trunchbull, the mean, child-hating principal, and The Chokey. She describes The Chokey in great, terrifying detail: ''It is a very tall, but very narrow cupboard. The floor is only ten inches square so you can't sit down or squat in it. You have to stand.''

Basically, it's about the size of a coffin, or a small closet, so there's only enough room to stand. Standing up straight is very important in The Chokey - you mustn't wobble or lean at all - or you'll be spiked and cut by the broken glass and rusty nails that poke out from the walls! Hortensia goes on and proudly describes the few times she did something bad or sneaky enough and got thrown in The Chokey by Miss Trunchbull. She earned one visit to The Chokey after she poured Golden Syrup onto the Trunchbull's chair, and again after she put itching powder in the Trunchbull's gym knickers.

The Trunchbull & The Chokey

Miss Trunchbull is very proud of her size, strength, and power as the principal. She reminds the children every day that she's big and they're small and that she's smart and they're dumb. But, on those rare occasions when one of the children stands up to her and gets the best of her, she sentences them to The Chokey. The Chokey isn't just a way to scare the kids, it's also a way for the Trunchbull to get her power back! She doesn't like children, but she likes them even less when they try to outsmart her.

Matilda has an unfortunate visit to The Chokey after Ms. Trunchbull discovers that her dad, a car salesman, is a crook and sold her a broken car. Ms. Trunchbull confronts Matilda about her scam-artist father saying, ''Useless flamin' car! Wormwood! Sell me a lemon? You're heading for The Chokey, young lady!'' Ms. Trunchbull also yells, ''You and your father think you can make a fool out of me!'' Miss Trunchbull hates losing her power and looking foolish, so she punishes Matilda for her father's actions, which makes her feel powerful again.

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