This GCSE English Literature quiz is about themes in Charlotte Keatley's My Mother Said I Never Should. A theme, when speaking of literature, is an idea conveyed by a text. Even the simplest work of literature will contain several themes. These can range from the unmistakeable to those you might only notice after reading a work for the third time. The themes of a text usually interact with one another, as if in conversation, rather than operating in isolation. Authors develop themes through the use of the essential elements of fiction, including setting, character, plot and dialogue.
You will certainly have had the experience of noticing related ideas and concepts popping up in different places in a text you are reading.
These related ideas are, of course, the themes and to analyse them, you should begin thinking about how these ideas develop over the course of the text. A good place to start is by considering your own opinions: has the text prompted you to change your own thoughts on the topics? Or perhaps your pre-existing ideas have been confirmed? If an author has successfully encouraged you to engage with the themes of the text, you will find yourself thinking hard about the issues and maybe even changing your mind.
When you finish reading a text, try comparing your thoughts at the end with those you held as you began reading. Do you find that you can explain why your views might have changed or grown stronger? See whether you can identify the section of text where your personal views have been challenged (or confirmed). It is important to remember that you do not have to agree with other readers. Your response to a text will be personal, because you, like other readers, bring your own thoughts, beliefs and experiences into consideration while reading.
Most of the themes of My Mother Said I Never Should relate to the experience of women. Society’s expectations of women, women’s expectations of themselves, the relationship between mothers and daughters, are the basic themes of the text. Each theme is multi-layered, however, especially through the passage of time for each character and for society as a whole. The women’s experiences vary over time while retaining continuity. Doris can relate perfectly well to her great-granddaughter’s experiences in many ways, despite the societal shifts which take place over the twentieth century.
Read the questions below and test your knowledge of the themes of My Mother Said I Never Should.