This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at dialogue in William Golding's Lord of the Flies. In literature, dialogue is the term for any direct speech. Dialogue is a significant part of characterisation because it gives the reader important information about different characters. If you devote your attention to the style and content of each character’s speech, you will soon form a mental impression of that character. Another important aspect of dialogue is the way in which it instigates action, develops plot and encourages characters to change – or demonstrates how they have changed.
One practical approach to thinking about the dialogue in a work of fiction is to compare and contrast the speech of different characters. What marks the speech of each character? Can you distinguish differing vocabularies or registers?
Do the characters change how they speak over time? Do they speak differently according to the situation? Can you identify any patterns in how a character’s speech varies? Variation can be a response to hierarchy, social standing or familial relationships.
In Lord of the Flies the boys speak with a mixture of school-boy slang, middle-class, common-place stereotypes and short, brutal chants. Speaking is regulated by the use of the conch, with the aim that each person has a chance to speak and to be heard with respect. Some of the younger boys are afraid to speak up in front of the whole group, and Piggy 'translates' for these boys by listening and explaining to everyone else what they have said.
Memorising dialogue is a useful method of revising for an exam. Try choosing a few key lines for each character, remembering to identify which theme or themes the dialogue touches upon. This technique will both aid your memory and also help you decide which quotations might be useful when answering different types of exam questions.
The quiz below asks you to remember which character speaks the words. Consider too the importance of the quoted dialogue before answering. What marks the words as belonging to a specific character? Could another character utter the same words? Why, or why not? What does this tell you?