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Never Let Me Go - Understanding the Text

This GCSE English Literature quiz is about understanding the text and looks at Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go.

Understanding a text is not always easy! Authors convey meaning in many ways and very rarely state what they mean directly. Instead, they use character, setting, plot, theme and dialogue to show the reader what they want to convey. Readers must pay close attention and try to understand a text as they go along. Sometimes it’s necessary to reread certain sections, especially if a later turn of events shows that you might have missed something. If so, don’t worry. This shows how thoroughly engaged in the text you actually are!

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Comprehension works on many different levels simultaneously. Ensure you understand how the context and setting relates to events and how events are related to each other. It can be helpful to create a timeline of events. Remember, though, that events are not always revealed in the order in which they occur chronologically.

Think about the motivation behind characters’ actions. Are there clues in the text which explain their behaviour? Should their words be trusted at face value, or should you look more closely at the subtext? Do characters’ words always match their actions and their beliefs? In light of the evidence, consider why or why not.

It can also be very productive to analyse beginnings and endings. Why does the text begin where it does? How do you know about previous events? Is there a distance between the narrator and the time when the events he or she relates took place? Are future events foreshadowed? How? Individual chapters can be analysed in the same way: think about the significance of their beginnings and endings. All of this analysis will really improve your knowledge and understanding of the text!

Read the questions below on Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and test your knowledge and understanding of the text.

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  1. Where do the students believe their best creative work goes?
    Much of the information at Hailsham is spread by rumour. The students believe Madame keeps a gallery of their best work because she regularly appears at Hailsham in order to select examples of their creativity
  2. Do the guardians lie directly to the students about their futures?
    Their behaviour does not consist of direct lies, but, by presenting information before the students can comprehend it emotionally, the guardians are guilty of deception
  3. Who are the guardians?
    The guardians at Hailsham try to give the students a normal childhood, caring for them, keeping them healthy and giving them a well-rounded education
  4. What happens after the end of the novel?
    At the beginning of the novel, Kathy tells the reader that she has eight months left of being a carer. Although she could potentially escape, we know at the end of the novel that she will be compliant
  5. To what does the title of the novel refer?
    The title is rich with meanings. One of these is the sense of treasuring another and being treasured, feelings which society does not believe the clones are capable of holding, as well as feelings society does not hold for the clones
  6. When does a carer become a donor?
    Kathy has chosen to be a carer for a long time, but says that some good carers have been told to stop (implying that they have been told when it is time to donate)
  7. Why can the clones not have children?
    When Kathy is surprised by Madame, she has been imagining holding a baby she knows she will never have
  8. Who are the donors?
    The clones move through the stages of being students, veterans, carers and then donors
  9. What is a "possible"?
    Kathy, Ruth, Tommy, Crissie and Rodney go to Norfolk in search of Ruth's ''possible''
  10. ''Completion" usually is expected to occur after which donation?
    Some donors ''complete'' early. The use of the word ''complete'' euphemistically refers to death, while leaving open the possibility that death does not occur immediately after the fourth donation. The word also suggests that the donors have fulfilled their function in life

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