My Mother Said I Never Should - Setting
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My Mother Said I Never Should - Setting

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at setting in Charlotte Keatley's My Mother Said I Never Should. Setting refers to the time and the location in which the events of a fictional text take place. Most texts, of course, have more than one setting: as in life, fictional events are likely to occur in different places and times. Buildings and spaces provide individual settings within the wider setting and these very often contrast with one another.

In addition to time and place, events provide a crucial element in a text’s setting, even if these events only take place in the background. Social and political issues play an important role.

In a play, the reader glimpses this wider fictional world, known as context, through the dialogue of the characters (it is important not to confuse this fictional context, which is integral to the setting of a text, with the author’s real-life context). Another key element of setting, atmosphere, usually changes many times over the course of a text.

In My Mother Said I Never Should, scenes jump in time and space, so that a character who is an adult in one scene might suddenly be a child in another. A scene in a back garden might be followed by one in the timeless Wasteground or one set several hundred miles to the north. Growing up in the play is associated with the desire to relocate. At one point Margaret reminds Doris that she has no intention of becoming a “Manchester dentist’s wife”. Although the distances involved as each character moves away from home are not great, they disrupt the relationships between the characters and are often the occasion for worry. Historical context also becomes significant as we see how each decade affects the individual characters.

Answer the questions below on setting in My Mother Said I Never Should.

One of the themes of the play is women's roles at work and how these relate to their familial roles. Whose workplace is the setting for one scene?
All of the above
Most of the settings are domestic, located in gardens or houses; Margaret's office is the only workplace to be portrayed on stage
What provides shelter during the WWII air raids which take place in the second scene?
The bomb shelter
The piano
A neighbour's house
The cellar
Margaret shelters under the piano with her doll; later Jackie plays at hiding under the piano to get a feel for her mother's experience
What is significant about the Wasteground?
The Wasteground is important because it shows how much all of the characters dislike each other
The Wasteground gives the audience a break from thinking about the play
The characters are freed from their mother-daughter relationships and are all equals
The Wasteground is not significant
The women stand out more clearly as individuals when they do not play the role of mother or of daughter
What event forces Doris to move to Oldham?
The birth of Rosie
Margaret's death
Jack's death
The air raids
Doris is left to the whims of her husband's will when he leaves the house to their granddaughter. The event demonstrates the helplessness of a woman who had been successful in her career before agreeing to marry
Besides the scenes set in the Wasteground, when do all of the characters appear together?
In the hospital, when Margaret is dying
In Margaret's home, for Rosie's birthday
In Doris's home, after her husband's death
In Jackie's flat in Manchester, when Rosie is a baby
Act Two, at the centre of the play, sees all characters together as the younger generations help to clear out Doris's house after Jack's death. This is the only part of the play in which the audience sees how the characters interact when they are all together and the mother-daughter relationships are intact
Where is the play set?
All of the above
The scenes take place in Manchester and its environs, including Cheadle Hulme and Oldham, and in London
Which of the following events does NOT take place in the month of December?
Margaret's death
The air raid
Margaret collects the baby Rosie from Jackie's flat
The women help Doris clear out her house after her husband's death
December in the play is associated with upheaval
In what time are the scenes in the Wasteground set?
The Wasteground is timeless
The women are all girls together in the Wasteground, the setting for the first scene
When is My Mother Said I Never Should set?
1950s and 1960s
1970s and 1980s
All of the above
The play spans the lives of four women from 1940, in Act One, Scene Two, to 1987, in Act Three, Scene Seven (the final scene returns to 1923)
Which of the following is correct?
Events are presented chronologically in the play
Time moves back and forth in the play as the scenes skip around between related events
The entire play is set in a timeless place
Events are presented in reverse chronological order in the play
Act Three is the exception to the movement between different times. In Act Three, scenes proceed chronologically, with the exception of the Wasteground scene and the final scene to the day of Doris's engagement to Jack
Author:  Sheri Smith

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