This GCSE English Literature quiz will test your language skills in Never Let Me Go.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is narrated in the first person. Kathy’s voice is consistent throughout. Most of the language in this text fits her idiom, which means her own personal way of speaking. We have a very clear sense of Kathy’s character through her manner of speaking. She also reports the dialogue of others and because she is a fairly reliable narrator, the reader can easily distinguish the voice of other characters. The reader can almost hear the condescension when Ruth speaks, although it is important to remember that this is filtered through Kathy’s memory and her own idea of Ruth.
Language choices in the text often tell us what Kathy is thinking, even if she does not tell us directly. We can recognise emotions that she refuses to recognise, or understand her feelings through the way she describes what she sees in her environment. The way that she expresses herself tells the reader much more about her thoughts than the literal meaning of her words does.
Although visual elements, including illustration, layout and font, certainly have some effect on the reader's understanding and interpretation of a text, language is the primary medium through which meaning is conveyed. Without words, there would be no text.
Authors choose the language that they use carefully. Every word has its literal meaning, but it will also carry a weight of symbolic meanings and other associations. Language can convey literary effects through the use of imagery, such as metaphor, simile and personification. Dialogue, setting and characterisation all depend on language.
Pay close attention to language choices in a text; greater understanding will reward your effort. Remembering that much of the meaning of a text is not apparent from a surface reading, take time to consider what is going on below the surface. Pausing to think about language will help you to decipher these deeper meanings.
Answer the questions below on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go to develop your understanding of the way language choices affect our interpretation of a text.