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Never Let Me Go - Dialogue

This GCSE English Literature quiz will test you on the dialogue found in Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Dialogue is the term for a conversation between at least two people. When discussing dialogue in a text, the word is used for direct speech. Each character in Never Let Me Go has a unique way of speaking which is part of his or her characterisation. All of the conversations in this novel take place in the past and sometimes, as Kathy switches between remembered episodes, it can be hard to tell the order in which the conversations occurred in Kathy’s life. Important dialogue often relates to earlier or later conversations between the same characters, enabling the reader to follow the characters as they slowly come to terms with the fact that they have been chasing after dead ends.

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Dialogue conveys a great many things about characters. How do different characters speak? How does vocabulary vary between different characters? Does the way in which a character speaks change over time, or in different situations? Does it matter to whom the character is speaking?

Dialogue tells you about more than just what each character is like. You can also learn more about the story, including events which happened before the story begins, and how characters expect to see future events unfold. This is especially important in Never Let Me Go, because the events are related through one character’s memory, including her memory of what was said on different occasions.

Memorising dialogue is a useful way to prepare for a literature exam. For all of the main characters, create a list of the most significant examples of dialogue, especially those that illustrate their characteristics or occur at a turning point in the text.

The quiz below focusses on knowing who is speaking each of these lines. When answering the questions, think carefully about the significance of the lines. What do they tell us about the character who speaks them? If you can’t imagine another character speaking the same words, ask yourself why? Other points to consider is whether the dialogue gives us information about the person being addressed, or whether it foreshadows or explain later events.

See how much you remember about the dialogue in Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

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  1. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go. That is what I saw. It wasn't really you, what you were doing, I know that."
    Marie-Claude, or Madame, as she is known to the Hailsham students, recalls the time she saw Kathy dancing to her favourite song. Her memory of the event is similar to Kathy's, although her interpretation and reason for being moved by it differs from Kathy's
  2. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "That's a funny idea. Maybe I did know, somewhere deep down. Something the rest of you didn't."
    Kathy and Tommy realise that his frequent outbursts of anger when younger were most likely to have derived from his subconscious understanding of the horrific circumstances of their lives, knowledge from which the donors were partially protected while at school
  3. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Look, we'll have to talk this over carefully soon. It's really interesting and I can see how it must have made you miserable. But either way, you're going to have to pull yourself together a bit more. We're going to be leaving here this summer. You've got to get yourself sorted again."
    Kathy enjoys adopting a sensible, adult tone, indicating her acceptance of the way things are
  4. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Our little movement, we were always too fragile. Always too dependent on the whims of our supporters. So long as the climate was in our favour, so long as a corporation or a politician could see a benefit in supporting us, then we were able to keep afloat. But it had always been a struggle."
    Miss Emily explains how Hailsham School was closed as the tide turned towards hiding the donation programme away in less-humane, industrial sites
  5. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "If no one else will talk to you, then I will. The problem, as I see it, is that you've been told and not told. You've been told, but none of you really understand, and I dare say, some people are quite happy to leave it that way."
    Miss Lucy feels that the Hailsham students should be given the full truth about their lives and their futures
  6. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Suppose it's true, what the veterans are saying. Suppose some special arrangement has been made for Hailsham students. Suppose two people say they're truly in love, and they want extra time to be together."
    Tommy is often desperately trying to puzzle out the mysteries surrounding the donors' lives. He connects the significance of his earlier lack of artistic talent to the veterans' rumour that true lovers can have extra time before they must begin to make donations
  7. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "It's important there are good carers. And I'm a good carer."
    Kathy says this to Tommy when he questions her purpose in putting off donation any longer. Tommy rejects the idea that caring for donors gives their lives any meaning or is ultimately worthwhile
  8. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "You've been told about it. You're students. You're...special. So keeping yourselves well, keeping yourselves very healthy inside, that's much more important for each of you than it is for me."
    After admitting to smoking in the past, Miss Lucy opens up to the students in her belief that they should know the truth. The students realise they could get more information out of Miss Lucy; their reluctance to ask another questions arises from their own contradictory need to remain in the dark
  9. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "So that's it, that's what's upsetting poor little Kathy. Ruth isn't paying enough attention to her. Ruth's got big new friends and baby sister isn't getting played with so often..."
    Ruth can speak very cruelly to Kathy, often with the aim of asserting her superiority
  10. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "We all know it. We're modelled from trash. Junkies, prostitutes, winos, tramps. Convicts, maybe, just as long as they aren't psychos. That's what we come from."
    Disappointed in the search for her ''possible'', the model from which she was cloned, Ruth gives way to her despairing sense of reality. Even the idea of the ''possible'' living the ordinary future denied to the donors represents an unrealistic dream

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