This GCSE English Literature quiz is all about dialogue in Meera Syal's Anita and Me. Direct speech in fiction is referred to as ”dialogue”. Dialogue is especially important to characterisation, since it conveys information not only about the events with which the text is concerned, but also about the characters who are speaking. A reader’s mental impression of an individual character is heavily influenced by the content and style of that character’s speech. Dialogue is also an important way for an author to instigate action, keep the plot moving and show how characters develop.
Comparing and contrasting the speech of different characters is one good approach to thinking about dialogue in a work of fiction. See whether you can describe the differences between the dialogue of one character and another.
How are the speech registers of characters differentiated? Do you discern different vocabularies? Who speaks formally, and when? Who uses slang or dialect, and when, or to whom? Can you discover any patterns?
Anita and Me presents a range of characters whose speech patterns depend upon their place in society. At one point, the wealthy Mrs Pembridge speaks and the villagers are shocked to hear from her dialect that she is no different from any of them: she is a miner’s daughter, in fact. Meena speaks in Standard English to her parents, while using local dialect to fit in with her neighbours. Language is also important, since Meena knows very little Punjabi, making her feel excluded from adult secrets, as well as from her family’s history.
One useful way to revise for a literature exam is by memorising dialogue. Choose a few key lines for each character, jotting down any links that exist between these lines and an important theme of the text. Using this technique will help you identify and remember quotations which might be useful for answering particular types of exam questions.
The quiz below asks you to remember which character speaks the given words. Consider the significance of the quoted dialogue before answering. Can you identify why particular lines are more representative of one character than another? What does this tell you?