This GCSE English Literature quiz tests you on dialogue in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The term “dialogue” is used for any direct speech in literature, although technically it means a conversation between at least two people. Dialogue is an important element in characterisation. A character’s speech, both in its style and in its content, has much to teach the reader. Several of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird are strongly characterised through their dialogue, with all speaking in dialect to a greater or lesser extent, although these dialects vary, most significantly by the class or race of the person speaking. Atticus often corrects Scout’s use of dialect, describing some words as “common”.
Be sure to note specific details about a character’s language choice or use of dialect.
When studying a work of fiction take some time to consider these questions: How is the speech of each character differentiated from others? How does vocabulary vary between characters? Do you observe any changes in a character’s dialogue over time, or in different situations? Does it make any difference which characters are speaking together?
Dialogue can tell you much more than about individual characteristics. Speech can prompt events, or convey information which the reader would otherwise not know, for example those events which happened before the story begins, or how characters expect to see future events unfold. Very often the plot itself depends on dialogue. Much of To Kill a Mockingbird is dialogue as reported by Scout.
Memorising dialogue is an excellent addition to your preparations for a literature exam. Create a list of the most significant examples of dialogue for each character, paying extra attention to those examples which illustrate characteristics or occur at a turning point in the text
The quiz below focusses on knowing who is speaking each of these lines. Consider the significance of these lines before answering the questions. What do they tell you about the character who speaks them? Can you imagine another character speaking the same lines? If not, why not? Also consider whether the dialogue also gives us information about the person being addressed, or whether it foreshadows or explains later events.
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