This GCSE English Literature quiz will test you on character in My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley. My Mother Said I Never Should is extraordinarily spare in the numbers of characters it has. There are four characters who appear on-stage: Doris, Margaret, Jackie and Rosie. These figures appear as adults (Rosie only reaches the age of sixteen by the end of the play) and as young children. Other important figures are named, but never appear. These are Jack, Ken, and Doris’s mother. In some ways, character is not as important to the play as relationship. Each pair of women has a relationship which is distinguished from that between other pairs, while sharing some similarities.
For example, Doris is much gentler and more affectionate with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter than she is with Margaret at any stage of Margaret’s life. At the same time, Margaret speaks to her mother with an impatience similar to Jackie’s when speaking to her.
Because this text is a play, the audience will understand characters through their dialogue and behaviour. There is no narration or extraneous material in the play, but it is important to read the stage directions which inform the actors what actions should be performed on stage. Pay close attention to the scenes set in the Wasteground. Keatley describes these figures of the children as representing the “core” of their adult characters.
When reading any work of fiction, pay careful attention to how characters interact with each other, as well as how they reveal their private thoughts. Consider whether you can see development over time: do the characters change, and how? My Mother Said I Never Should skips around through time, showing the audience key events in the shared lives of the women. How do the women change between scenes? How does the structure of the play reveal their characteristics and the important moments which shape their lives? Do any of their characteristics remain constant over time, or in the timeless space of the Wasteground?
Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in My Mother Said I Never Should.