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Dental college is part of the plan...

DNA - Dialogue

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at dialogue in Dennis Kelly's DNA. In literature, “dialogue” is the term used to describe any direct speech. Plays, which are, of course, meant to be performed for an audience, consist primarily of dialogue. The style and content of dialogue are essential means of characterisation, giving the audience important information about each of the characters. Dialogue is also a tool which allows the author to instigate action, keep the plot moving and show how characters develop.

A useful approach to thinking about dialogue in a work of fiction is to compare and contrast the speech of different characters. See if you can define how the speech of one character is differentiated from that of another. Can you perceive differing vocabularies or registers? Who speaks formally, and when? Who uses slang or dialect, and when, or to whom? Do you detect any patterns?

One excellent way to revise for a literature exam is by memorising dialogue. Aim to choose a few key lines for each character, being sure to connect these lines to an important theme of the text. This technique will both help your memory and allow you to identify which quotations might be useful for answering particular types of exam questions.

The quiz below asks you to remember which character in DNA speaks the words given. Think about what makes the quoted dialogue important before answering. Can you think of any reasons why particular words belong more obviously to one character, rather than another? Would another character be able to speak the same words believably? Why, or why not? What does this tell you?

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Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.
1.
"We'll take you up the grille now. We'll get you by the arms. By the legs. And we'll swing you onto the grille. We'll throw rocks at you until you drop through. You'll drop through. You'll fall into the cold. Into the dark. You'll land on Adam's corpse and you'll rot together"
John Tate
Richard
Cathy
Phil
Phil's discourse is cold and threatening, even when he is not explicitly outlining the violent consequences for anyone who does not go along with his plan, as he is here to Brian
2.
"There, I'm admitting, I am admitting, I talk too much, so shoot me. So kill me, Phil, call the police, lock me up, rip out my teeth with a pair of rusty pliers, I talk too much, what a crime, what a sin, what an absolute catastrophe, stupid, evil, ridiculous, because you're not perfect actually"
Cathy
Leah
Brian
Jan
Leah fills in dialogue for an unresponsive Phil, ventriloquising accusations and criticisms she believes he holds. She often expresses her own subconscious thoughts through those she imagines to be his
3.
"This is insane. I mean I've never, but this, because, alright, whatever, but this is actually insane. We can't just leave him up here"
Cathy
Brian
Leah
Phil
Leah can barely articulate the madness of the situation, in which, as she believes, the group will abandon Adam in the woods. She does not yet recognise Phil's plan for the murder of Adam as a way to rid themselves of evidence
4.
"I can't face it. They look at me. They look at me like I'm lying and it makes me cry. I can't stand the way they look at me. And then, because I cry, they think I'm telling the truth, but I'm crying because I'm lying and I feel terrible inside"
Lou
Brian
Adam
Danny
Brian is assigned the role of accuser and feels guilt once he is expected to give evidence against a real suspect. He is aware that his guilty tears make his lies appear more trustworthy to the adults questioning him
5.
"This is not part of the plan. Dental college is part of the plan, A levels are part of the plan, dead people are not part of the plan, this is not dental college."
Cathy
Brian
Lou
Danny
Danny fears the consequences of Adam's supposed death only insofar as they will impact on his future
6.
I was sad, crushed.

Came outside.

I couldn't remember things.

I couldn't remember anything.

I was new
Adam
Brian
Leah
John Tate
Adam describes his memory loss as a type of rebirth
7.
"You can walk down any corridor in this [...] any corridor in this school and you know, no-one bothers you and if you want something it's yours and no-one bothers you and everyone respects you and everyone's scared of you and who made that, I mean I'm not boasting, but who made that happen?"
Phil
Richard
John Tate
Danny
John Tate is presented as a high-school version of a mafia don. He sees himself as a protector, but the audience understands this "protection" works through intimidation and bullying
8.
"The refuse sacks that you are going to buy on the way, do not use the first one on the roll, use the third or fourth, do not be tempted to use a bin liner you have knocking around the house as that will be a DNA nightmare"
Phil
John Tate
Leah
Cathy
Phil's speech is imperative in tone. He breaks his long silences to take command, creating a plan to deflect blame from the group by fabricating evidence
9.
So we're all peggin them. Laughing. And his face, it's just making you laugh harder and harder, and they're getting nearer and nearer. And one hits his head. And the shock on his face is so...funny. And we're all just...

just...

really chucking these stones into him, really hard and laughing and he slips
Jan
Mark
Brian
Danny
Mark recounts the events leading to the supposed death of Adam, beginning with the groups' desire to see how far they could push him to do as they wished and ending with the way his fear became part of their entertainment. Mark can't bring himself to say the word "dead", instead letting his story trail off
10.
"Well, we thought, you know, I mean you'd given a description so we thought, well, I thought, you know, show initiative, we'll look for a fat balding postman with bad teeth"
Mark
Danny
Cathy
Jan
Cathy finds the event exciting and wonders how she can benefit personally from the media exposure. These lines demonstrate how she alternates between sharing responsibility, expressed with the plural pronoun, "we", and taking individual credit by saying "I thought"
Author:  Sheri Smith

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