My Mother Said I Never Should - Extract 2

This GCSE English Literature quiz is the second of two extract questions for My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley. It takes place during Act Three, when Margaret and Jackie face the strong emotions caused by Rosie’s imminent departure from her childhood home to live with Jackie. Rosie is not present to see this emotional tug-of-war over her past and future, having left Margaret’s office.

How to answer an extract question in an exam:

Whenever you begin preparing to write an answer to an extract question, first be sure that you read the passage through more than once. This is a good habit to develop because re-reading gives you an opportunity to notice other details and aspects of the passage you might miss otherwise.

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The first reading should focus on general understanding; spend some time considering how the details of the passage relate to the question you will be answering. The second reading gives you a chance to make detailed notes and annotations. After this initial preparation you can begin to plan exactly how you will use the passage to answer the question.

Think about the reasons behind the choice of extract. Can you describe its importance to the text as a whole? What is its role? Which themes are evident in the passage? Consider each of the characters and how their experiences might differ. What is the relationship between the passage and the events which come afterwards? Can you see evidence of foreshadowing? How might you relate the passage to earlier events? Is there a turning point? Have a think about the extract’s ending: is the final line significant? How does the extract’s end relate to the events or themes of the text?

Spend a moment to consider the exact wording of the question you have chosen to answer. What have you been asked to address? Extract questions come in many guises and you might be expected to focus on mood and atmosphere, character, dialogue, theme, or your own personal response. Start with explaining the passage’s immediate context: mention the events which precede the extract, explaining their relevance. Ensure that you refer to the passage in detail, rather than being too general in your discussion. How does the passage relate to the themes of the text? Try grouping related ideas together to give your answer some structure. Make sure that you plan carefully, so that you have enough time to discuss the entire passage.

Read the extract below carefully before answering the questions.

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MARGARET (pause.): Rosie’s told me, Jackie.

JACKIE (terrified.): I wasn’t going to —

MARGARET: No, I expect you had another date planned when you were going to tell me that you’d like Rosie back. Or perhaps you were just going to tell me over the phone.

JACKIE: . . . You need time, to decide . . . in the summer —

MARGARET: It’s not my decision. It’s Rosie’s. And she’s made her mind up. (Pause.) I knew she’d say it one day. Like one of those fairy tales.

JACKIE: You haven’t told her!

MARGARET: Of course not. She still thinks you’re big sister, that’s why it’s so magical to her.

JACKIE: We were running along this dazzling beach. I thought, is that what I’ve missed?

MARGARET: Years and years and years you’ve lost, Jackie. Birthdays and first snowman and learning to ride a bicycle and new front teeth. You can’t pull them back.

JACKIE: I can make up for it — somehow —

MARGARET: You can’t. Those are my years.

JACKIE: She must remember — I visited!

MARGARET: Treats, she’s had with you. A day here and there. That never fooled her. But I let it fool you. I’m the woman who sat up all night with the sick child, who didn’t mind all her best crockery getting broken over the years.

JACKIE: Mummy . . .

MARGARET (long pause. Cool): What time’s your train?

JACKIE: 9:45 — no — I could get the 10:45.

MARGARET: You mustn’t miss your meeting.

JACKIE: It would give us another hour. I wish we weren’t in your office! (Panics.) Where’s Rosie gone?

MARGARET: Are you going to catch that train, or stay here? You can’t do both.

Pause. Jackie agonises.

MARGARET: I’ll phone you a taxi. (Margaret dials, waits, the line is engaged.)

JACKIE (quietly): You know Mummy, the Gallery and everything, I couldn’t have done it without you. You can’t be a mother and then cancel Christmas to be in New York.

MARGARET: (telephone connects) Taxi to East Croydon station please, immediately. British Microwaves, front entrance. (Puts receiver down.)

JACKIE: Come and stay, show me how you do things, how Rosie would like her room decorated.

MARGARET: No Jackie, I shall just put a label around Rosie’s neck, and send her Red Star. (Doesn’t look at Jackie any more, busies herself with papers.) It’s gone nine. I wonder where Mr Reece is?

Jackie runs out of the room.

Charlotte Keatley, My Mother Said I Never Should (Bloomsbury, 2014)
  1. What is the immediate context for this passage?
    Rosie is hugely excited to tell Margaret about her plans to live with Jackie
  2. What happens next, chronologically?
    Even though Jackie specifically asks her about her health, Margaret does not admit anything. Her awareness of how ill she is heightens the emotions she experiences during this exchange. Between this scene and the hospital scene is another set in the Wasteground
  3. What emotion does Margaret convey with the words, "those are my years"?
    Margaret feels protective and possessive of her relationship with Rosie; she does not wish to share these years with Jackie
  4. Margaret presents different versions of what it means to have a relationship with a child. Which one of the following is NOT one of these?
    Margaret wants Jackie to have realistic expectations and tries to warn her that her magical experiences are special because Rosie doesn't view her as a mother. She does, however, present some aspects of caring for a child as magical, such as building a first snowman and being present when the child learns to ride a bike
  5. Which of the following most accurately describes the emotions in this passage?
    Margaret descends to depths of cruelty when she informs Jackie that she allowed her to be fooled into thinking her visits mattered more than they did
  6. Why is Jackie terrified at first?
    Jackie knows how difficult this conversation will be and how hurt her mother will be. She is also familiar with Margaret's highly personal criticism
  7. Which lines tell the reader that Jackie understands how Margaret is feeling?
    As terrible as Margaret is making her feel, Jackie can empathise with her mother and tries to show some awareness of how indebted she is to Margaret
  8. JACKIE: We were running along this dazzling beach. I thought, is that what I’ve missed?
    What does this line tell the audience about Jackie?
    Jackie's romanticised version of parenthood enrages Margaret, who then talks about the less enjoyable aspects of caring for a child
  9. What does Jackie agonise over?
    In this moment, as in Jackie's entire adult life, she cannot decide fully between motherhood and career. Margaret pointedly tells her that she "can't do both"
  10. What causes Jackie to run from the room?
    In her own pain at the thought of losing Rosie, Margaret crushes her daughter

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