Never Let Me Go - Character

This GCSE English Literature quiz will test you on characters in Never Let Me Go.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go, revolves around the lives of three characters, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. Their stories are told through Kathy’s memories. By the end of the novel, she is the only one of the main characters left alive. Minor characters such as Miss Lucy, Miss Emily and Madame play important roles as their actions, words and decisions impact upon the lives and hopes of the three main characters. Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are former Hailsham students who grew up together and became life-long friends. This friendship becomes complicated through a love triangle and through Kathy’s decision to become a carer, first to Ruth and then to Tommy.

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We understand a character through dialogue, through action and through narratorial descriptions. In this novel, it is important to remember that we see Ruth and Tommy through Kathy’s eyes. Although she aims to recover memories as accurately as possible, our images of Ruth and Tommy are coloured by her viewpoint and the passing of time. How does this affect the reader’s perception of character? How different would the text be if Ruth or Tommy had narrated it?

Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in Never Let Me Go.

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  1. Before his chat with Miss Lucy about the importance of creativity, Tommy's frequent tantrums mar his usual _______ nature.
    Kathy sees beyond Tommy's tantrums and recognises the change when his good nature begins to display itself
  2. Which of the following does NOT accurately describe Ruth?
    Ruth attempts to appear mature and confident at all times, but this confidence is fragile and easily shaken
  3. When Tommy is first introduced, which of the following is his most prominent characteristic?
    Kathy recalls an episode when the other boys were attempting to provoke Tommy into one of his famous tantrums
  4. Much of the novel is related through Kathy's memories. What does this tell us about her character?
    Memories provide Kathy with a way to understand her life and her friends' lost lives and thus represent her most prized possessions as well as being sources of grief
  5. After introducing herself at the beginning of the novel, Kathy worries that she might make other carers resentful and reassures readers that she does not make "big claims" for herself. Which of her characteristics does this introduction demonstrate?
    Kathy is not the sort of person to want to make others envious. She is aware of her achievements as a carer, but is modest about them
  6. Which of the following is NOT one of Ruth's tactics to keep Tommy and Kathy apart?
    Ruth compulsively manipulates the people who care about her
  7. Which of the following is very important to Kathy?
    Kathy not only keeps her own emotions under control, but also works hard to help others to do so, which is one of the reasons she is a popular carer
  8. Which of the following best describes Madame?
    Madame struggles to overcome her revulsion because she does care about the clones
  9. Kathy explains that older students appreciated Miss Lucy's "brisk style". Which of Miss Lucy's characteristics does this phrase describe?
    While Miss Lucy is described as quick and athletic, her 'brisk style' refers specifically to her honesty when approached by students, which Kathy contrasts with the comfort offered by Miss Geraldine
  10. What is Ruth's motivation for keeping Tommy and Kathy apart?
    Ruth's motivations are complex, and can be seen in the way she ostracises girls at school, including Kathy, and in the way she attempts to involve others in her imaginary world

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