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An Inspector Calls - Understanding the Text
Have you understood the text in An Inspector Calls?

An Inspector Calls - Understanding the Text

This GCSE English Literature quiz will test your skills of comprehension in An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley.

Understanding a text is one of the most important skills to master, but it is not always easy! Authors very rarely state what they mean directly. Instead, they show the reader what they want to convey through character, setting, plot, theme and dialogue. This means that you have to pay attention and try to understand a text as you read. Sometimes you might even need to go back and reread sections when you realise you don’t understand as well as you should.

Comprehension works on several levels simultaneously. Be sure that you understand how the context relates to events and how each event is related to the others. Sometimes jotting down a quick timeline of events can help.

With characters, think about the motivation behind their actions. What are the clues in the text which explain their behaviour? Can you trust their words at face value, or do you need to listen for subtext and undertones? Do their words always match their actions and their beliefs? If not, why not?

It can also be useful to think about beginnings and endings. What is the reason for the text to begin at a certain place? How do you know about previous events? Does the author rely on flashbacks, for example? Are future events foreshadowed? How? You can consider individual chapters, scenes or acts in a play in the same way. Why has the author structured the text in a certain way? How does it add to the meaning and to your understanding?

Read the questions below on An Inspector Calls and test your knowledge and understanding of the text.

Which of the following indicates that the Birlings have not finished so easily with the fate of "Eva Smith"?
The telephone rings
The police call at the door
Inspector Goole reappears
Eric storms out of the house to meet with the real Eva
The police ring to inform Mr Birling that a girl has died after swallowing disinfectant and that an inspector will be visiting the Birling home to ask the family some questions
How is Sheila responsible for Eva Smith's fate?
Sheila demanded that the young woman be sacked from Milwards
Sheila refused to recommend the young woman to her mother's charity committee
Sheila introduced the young woman to Gerald
Sheila encouraged her father to sack the young woman from her job at his works
Sheila feels angry and humiliated when she tries on unflattering clothes and believes Eva Smith to be laughing at her
What are the Birling family celebrating at the beginning of the play?
The recent launch of the Titanic
Mr Birling's knighthood
The engagement of Gerald and Sheila
Mrs Birling's new job
The family are celebrating not only because Gerald and Sheila have become engaged, but also because the marriage might result in a business alliance
Eric says he met Eva Smith when he was a "bit squiffy". What does he mean by this?
He was lonely
He was smelly
He was drunk
He was tired
Eric drinks too much and too often
Gerald's former mistress was called Daisy Renton. How is he involved in the fate of Eva Smith?
Eva Smith and Daisy Renton are the same person, as Gerald realises when he sees the photograph
He kept a woman called Daisy Renton as a mistress, but abandoned her as Eva Smith has been abandoned
Eva Smith and Daisy Renton are not the same women, therefore Gerald bears no responsibility for Eva's fate
Eva Smith and Daisy Renton were flatmates
As Eric and Sheila realise at the end of the play, whether they were each involved in the life of the same woman makes little difference. The Inspector shows how each of the characters played a role in destroying a young, poor woman's life. He remarks that there are countless Eva Smiths
Why is the absence of the Croft family from these celebrations significant?
Their absence hints at a disapproval of Sheila and her family
Their absence shows that they neglect their business
Their absence indicates their involvement in the Inspector's visit
Their absence shows their lack of patriotism
Gerald confirms his parents' attitude to Sheila by his embarrassed response when Mr Birling deliberately suggests that Lady Croft believes her son might have married someone of a more appropriate social standing
Mr and Mrs Birling feel relieved shortly after Inspector Goole leaves their home. Which of the following events is responsible for their change of mood?
Sheila has informed her parents that they cannot be held responsible for a suicide
Gerald returns from his walk with news
The Birlings have decided to take full responsibility for their mistreatment of Eva Smith and feel less guilty in consequence
The Inspector rings to tell the family that he was mistaken
Gerald returns from his walk to inform the Birling family that he has spoken with a police sergeant who has informed him that the police force has no inspector by the name Goole or matching his description
Why is the Inspector's name "Goole" significant?
It's merely a northern name
It is a foreign name
It is a homophone for "ghoul"
It is not significant
The Inspector is otherworldly. He investigates Eva Smith's suicide before any news that it has taken place
How does Mr Birling try to dismiss the Inspector?
He refuses to cooperate
He immediately phones the local police
He orders the Inspector to leave
He implies that his connections with the Chief Constable mean that he is above whatever the Inspector might be investigating
At first Mr Birling believes that the Inspector needs his help because of his former position as Alderman or as Lord Mayor
Why are Sheila and Eric angry with their parents' reaction?
Mr and Mrs Birling seem to have forgotten their role in Eva Smith's death
Their parents are more worried about scandal than about how their actions affect others
Mr and Mrs Birling show no signs that their behaviour will change in future
All of the above
Mr and Mrs Birling respond to Gerald's news with anger at the Inspector, a return to their patronising treatment of Sheila and Eric, a concern to limit any public scandal from the death of Eva Smith and a willingness to forget the consequences of their own actions. As Eric says, 'Whoever that chap was, the fact remains that I did what I did. And Mother did what she did. And the rest of you did what you did to her' (Act Three)
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - An Inspector Calls

Author:  Sheri Smith

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