This GCSE English Literature quiz sees how good you are at understanding the text in My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley. Understanding a text is key if you are going to analyse and write about it. This might seem straightforward, but it can actually be trickier than people often think. If an author only had a simple message to share, then it would not take so many thousands of words to do so! Reading a text from another century, or written in dialect, can take extra effort, as can reading a text such as a play, which is meant to be staged. My Mother Said I Never Should was written near the end of the twentieth century, and deals for the most part with familiar ideas in everyday language.
Nevertheless, it requires careful attention to the constant subtext present in the dialogue in order to better understand the play.
Authors use a variety of methods to convey meaning. Sometimes they state what they mean directly, but it is more usual to communicate through the various aspects of fiction: character, setting, plot, theme and dialogue, for example. Focussing on each of these elements separately will help you better understanding the text. Find time to re-read the text, too; by only reading a book once you are more likely to miss important details. If for any reason you find that you need to re-read sections of text, don’t worry! Realising that there are aspects that you haven’t fully understood just shows how much attention you have been paying to the complexities of the text.
Making a timeline of events is a very practical method of revision. Events in plays are commonly presented chronologically, but in My Mother Said I Never Should, time shifts back and forth to significant scenes. This structure requires some extra effort to remember. You will also need to think about the significance of the dialogue in the scenes set in the Wasteground, which both follows its own logic and also highlights the events in the scenes which follow.
Spend some time thinking about the relationship between characters’ actions and motivations. Are there any clues which explain the interactions of different characters? Can words be taken at face value? Why or why not? As you consider these elements of the text, remember to ask yourself how you could justify your views through evidence.
The beginnings and ends of texts are good places to focus your analysis. Think about possible reasons why the text begins as it does. What do you learn at the very beginning of the play about the setting and the characters? Are future events foreshadowed? You can also apply this type of analysis to the beginnings and ends of acts and scenes. Spending some time on careful and detailed analysis of this sort will greatly improve your understanding of the text.
Read the questions below on My Mother Said I Never Should and test your knowledge and understanding of the text.