Never Let Me Go - Extract 1
What happens when they take a trip to Norfolk?

Never Let Me Go - Extract 1

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at an extract from Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is the first of two extract questions for Never Let Me Go. Tommy and Kathy have accompanied Ruth, Chrissie and Rodney to Norfolk, making a surprise discovery. Only three characters are present: Kathy, Tommy and the man who works in the shop. The friendship between the former Hailsham students develops a new depth here. Why? How do we know? Remember to read the passage through more than once before answering the questions. Think about how this passage relates to the themes of the novel. Which details are significant? What might be the reason behind the language chosen? What does the conversation tell us about the past and about Kathy’s memory of the event? And remember, it’s a good idea to practise several extract questions, so be sure to try the Extract 2 quiz as well!

How to answer an extract question in an exam:

Be sure always to read the passage through more than once when preparing to answer an extract question. The first time you can aim for a broad understanding of the passage and how you might use it to answer the questions. On the second reading you can begin noting details and making annotations. Ask yourself why this passage has been chosen, why is it important? Pay attention to its place in the text. Does it introduce significant characters or significant themes? What happens afterwards? Does anything in the passage foreshadow later events? What changes? Think about the ending of the extract: why might it end where it does instead of somewhere else? What is significant about the final line?

In an exam, remember to consider exactly what the question asks. You might be asked to write about a particular character, or the mood and atmosphere of the passage. Perhaps you will be asked to discuss dialogue, behaviour or feelings. Always explain the passage’s immediate context: what events precede the extract? Pay close attention to the detail, to setting and characterisation. Think about how the passage relates to the themes of the text. Group related ideas together in your writing, but be sure to discuss the entire passage. Avoid writing about the first half of the passage in detail and then running out of time to write about the second half!

Read the extract from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go below carefully before answering the questions.

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“Is that it?” He seemed genuinely sceptical, perhaps because I wasn’t making more fuss. I pulled it out and held it in both hands. Then suddenly I felt a huge pleasure — and something else, something more complicated that threatened to make me burst into tears. But I got a hold of the emotion, and just gave Tommy’s arm a tug.

“Yes, this is it,” I said, and for the first time smiled excitedly. “Can you believe it? We’ve really found it!”

“Do you think it could be the same one? I mean, the actual one. The one you lost?”

As I turned it in my fingers, I found I could remember all the design details on the back, the titles of the tracks, everything.

“For all I know, it might be,” I said. “But I have to tell you, Tommy, there might be thousands of these knocking about.”

Then it was my turn to notice Tommy wasn’t as triumphant as he might be.

“Tommy, you don’t seem very pleased for me,” I said, though in an obviously jokey voice.

“I am pleased for you, Kath. It’s just that, well, I wish I’d found it.” Then he did a small laugh and went on: “Back then, when you lost it, I used to think about it, in my head, what it would be like, if I found it and brought it to you. What you’d say, your face, all of that.”

His voice was softer than usual and he kept his eyes on the plastic case in my hand. And I suddenly became very conscious of the fact that we were the only people in the shop, except for the old guy behind the counter at the front engrossed in his paperwork. We were right at the back of the shop, on a raised platform where it was darker and more secluded, like the old guy didn’t want to think about the stuff in our area and had mentally curtained it off. For several seconds, Tommy stayed in a sort of trance, for all I know playing over in his mind one of these old fantasies of giving me back my lost tape. Then suddenly he snatched the case out of my hand.

“Well at least I can buy it for you,” he said with a grin, and before I could stop him, he’d started down the floor towards the front.

I went on browsing around the back of the shop while the old guy searched around for the tape to go with the case. I was still feeling a pang of regret that we’d found it so quickly, and it was only later, when we were back at the Cottages and I was alone in my room, that I really appreciated having the tape — and that song — back again. Even then, it was mainly a nostalgia thing, and today, if I happen to get the tape out and look at it, it brings back memories of that afternoon in Norfolk every bit as much as it does our Hailsham days.

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Faber and Faber, 2005)

What is the immediate context for this passage?
Tommy and Kathy are exploring the Norfolk town, hoping to find a copy of her lost cassette tape
Chrissie and Rodney have returned to the Cottages, full of news about Ruth's "possible"
Ruth spies Kathy's Judy Bridgewater tape in her room
Madame watches Kathy dance
Kathy has just refused to join Ruth, Chrissie and Rodney as they visit a friend. Tommy surprises Ruth by choosing to stay with Kathy
What immediately follows this passage?
Kathy finishes writing her essay on Victorian novels
Ruth and Kathy argue
Kathy and Tommy discuss the rumour about deferrals for couples in love
Tommy leaves the Cottages to become a carer
Tommy explains his theory that student artwork was collected in order to reveal their souls and that artwork could therefore prove that students had the capacity to love
What does Tommy's first response to the finding of the tape reveal?
His concern that Ruth will discover the existence of the tape
His disappointment at not having found a prized possession of his own
That his temper is still not entirely under control
The depth of his feelings for Kathy
Tommy reveals his old wish to find Kathy's lost tape, describing how he had imagined her pleasure when he returned it to her
At which point does the mood shift most dramatically in this passage?
Kathy checks the details on the back of the case
Tommy is doubtful that the correct tape has been found
Kathy realises the pair are almost alone in the shop
Kathy continues browsing while Tommy buys the tape
The mood becomes tender and also rather tense after Kathy's recognition of Tommy's long-held feelings for her
What does it mean when Kathy describes the old man as having "mentally curtained off" the back of the shop where the pair have been browsing?
The old man has forgotten that he has old tapes to sell
People are capable of wilfully not seeing things that are in plain sight
Tommy and Kathy wish they had more privacy
The man keeps that section of the shop dark because he does not want to waste a light bulb on such old items
The old man's ability to block the sight of things he does not wish to consider stands for society's ability to do the same
What is the meaning of Tommy's "small laugh"?
It is Tommy's way of trying to make Kathy like him better
He doesn't want Kathy to know that he wished she'd never found the tape
He wants to restrain himself from laughing too loudly in public
It is an attempt to disguise emotion
Tommy's recollection is very emotional and although he laughs in an attempt to show that he is amused by his younger self, he is not very successful at hiding his real emotions
This scene has an atmosphere of deep privacy. Which one of the following words or phrases does NOT contribute to this atmosphere?
''engrossed in his paperwork"
''pang of regret"
''His voice was softer than usual"
''it was darker and more secluded"
Kathy's experience of regret is related to her continuous sense of loss. By finding her tape, she has brought the afternoon's pleasure to an end too quickly
After this afternoon, the tape holds new memories for Kathy in addition to the old memories. What does this demonstrate?
How memory is constructed
That memories are not reliable
That bad memories can drive out good memories
That Norfolk really is a "lost corner" for the Hailsham students
Kathy often describes how new memories add to and overlay old memories
In what way does this passage represent a turning point?
When Ruth later spies the tape amongst Kathy's possessions, she is driven by jealousy into causing a rift between Tommy and Kathy
The trip to Norfolk prompts Kathy to leave the Cottages
After regaining her precious tape, Kathy discovers that it does not mean very much to her any longer
The Cottages no longer seem a safe place after the clones mingle with the outside world in Norfolk
The existence of the tape provokes Ruth into one of her most manipulative episodes, eventually resulting in Kathy deciding to leave the Cottages
Kathy is nearly engulfed by her own emotions. What does her response tell us?
She has no feelings
She enjoys strong emotions
She can repress even very powerful emotions
She enjoys dramatically giving way to emotion
Kathy often describes herself as getting control over her emotions
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Never Let Me Go

Author:  Sheri Smith

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