Why Matilda might be hard to identify with: We’re not married to her POV. We flit from head to head, including in Dahl’s, who begins the book by talking about how if he was a teacher, he’d say horribly belittling things to the kids. Then the book begins and Matilda’s parents sound a lot like Dahl when they talk to their daughter! To bond with Matilda, we have to say, “I like my hero more than my omniscient narrator.”
- She loves to read. We love readers. And we specific lists of what she’s reading.
- We gets lots of good details of life as a crooked used car dealer.
- She’s got abusive parents. “the parents looked upon Matilda in particular as nothing more than a scab. A scab is something you have to put up with until the time comes when you can pick it off and flick it away Mr and Mrs Wormwood looked forward enormously to the time when they could pick their little daughter off and flick her away, preferably into the next county or even further than that.”
- We’ve all felt under-appreciated and under-protected by our parents, but her case is extreme. “To tell the truth, I doubt they would have noticed had she crawled into the house with a broken leg.”
- Even the wonderful librarian has a hard time believing at first that she’s really reading all those books. Every precocious kid has had that experience.
- She’s a genius: “It is bad enough when parents treat ordinary children as though they were scabs and bunions, but it becomes somehow a lot worse when the child in question is extra- ordinary, and by that I mean sensitive and brilliant. Matilda was both of these things, but above all she was brilliant. Her mind was so nimble and she was so quick to learn that her ability should have been obvious even to the most half-witted of parents.”
- She starts playing pranks on them. “She decided that every time her father or her mother was beastly to her, she would get her own back in some way or another. A small victory or two would help her to tolerate their idiocies and would stop her from going crazy.”
- Fascinatingly, she doesn’t discover that she has super-powers until page 100 or so, which is an odd place in a book for a genre-shift.