The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Affordable pricing from £10/month

Explore How Themes Develop in 'A Taste of Honey'

In this worksheet, students will explore how themes develop in 'A Taste of Honey.'

'Explore How Themes Develop in 'A Taste of Honey'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Eduqas

Curriculum topic:   Modern Texts: Drama, Post-1914 Prose / Drama

Curriculum subtopic:   A Taste of Honey

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

"I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die"

 

bee on a flower

 

Delaney uses the biblical reference of a 'A Taste of Honey' as the title for her play and a key theme. 

 

All of the characters in the play have their 'taste of honey' - they all feel some happiness at some point.

 

Think about:

 

Jo's relationship with the Boy

 

Peter and Helen's relationship

 

Geof and Jo's relationship

 

Are they all punished for tasting the honey?

 

Jo is left pregnant and a single mother - but does this mean she has to suffer? Will she lose her chance of a better, independent life when she becomes a mother?

 

Helen is cheated on and left on her own again, but does she suffer because of this? She returns to care for her daughter after all.

 

Geof is forced to leave Jo. Will he suffer on his own again? He did say that he wouldn't be alive without Jo.

 

As well as being able to identify and explain the key themes in the play, it is important to consider how they develop. By asking questions of how the theme is presented and exploring the different presentations of the theme throughout the play, you can show a deeper analysis.

 

In this activity, you will practise this kind of analysis. 

Responsibility is a key theme explored by Delaney.

 

While Delaney presents Helen as an irresponsible mother in many ways, at times we do also see her attempt to take some responsibility.

 

Where in the play do we see this?

At the beginning of the play when Jo and Helen move into their new flat

During the scenes where Peter asks Helen to marry him

Near the end of the play when Jo is nearing the end of her pregnancy

The theme of parental responsibility is further explored through Jo's journey to motherhood.

 

What does Delaney suggest to her audience about whether Jo will be more responsible than her own mother?

 

Match the quotations to what Delaney suggests about Jo's sense of responsibility.

Column A

Column B

"If you don't watch it you'll turn out exactly lik...
Delaney's symbolism of the dead bulbs might convey...
"I'll kill it when it comes Geof"
Jo's expresses a determination to work and care fo...
"They never grew"
Jo's language sometimes shows a lack of maternal a...
"I can work for the baby myself"
Delaney highlights similarities between Jo and her...

Delaney presents the theme of love and affection.

 

What does Jo and Geof's relationship show about Jo's feelings about love and affection, after her boyfriend fails to return to her?

 

Match the quotations below to the analytical comment about Jo's feelings.

Column A

Column B

"You see, it's not marrying love between us, thank...
Delaney shows that Jo feels more secure around Geo...
"I always want to have you with me because I know ...
Delaney shows that Jo values her relationship with...
"Why don't you leave me alone?"
Jo's conversation with Helen shows that Jo really ...
"Do you know, for the first time in my life I feel...
Delaney shows Jo try to push Geof away at times, p...

The theme of love and affection is explored through the different relationships Jo has throughout the play.

 

The structure of Act one, Scene two is interesting. Delaney has used a four part structure, which alternates between scenes with Jo and the Boy and scenes with Helen and Jo.

 

Why do you think Delaney chose to use this structure?

So that the audience are kept on their toes with a pacey action packed scene

So that the audience can make a direct comparison of the two relationships

Dependence and independence is a theme explored in 'A Taste of Honey.'

 

Delaney shows how Jo seeks independence from her mother in many parts of the play. However, in the three way arguments between Helen, Jo and Peter we see that Jo does still feel some attachment to her mother and is quite possessive over her. 

 

Which quotations below suggest this?

 

 

"She throws the lid at him"

"I let my natural beauty shine through"

"Your generation has some very peculiar ideas"

"Half-laughing, half-crying"

The theme of race is explored in 'A Taste of Honey.'

 

We see that Jo is open-minded about a relationship with a black man, and how this attitude is very different from the rest of society, when the Boy says "You're the first girl I've met who really didn't care".

 

Helen's attitude reflects the norm at time. When Jo tells her about the baby's father, she says "Can you see me wheeling a pram with a... Oh my God", and then appears to walk out at the end.

 

Which line in Act one, Scene two, suggests that Jo thinks her mother is more open-minded than she actually is?

 

Write the full sentence and remember to use quotation marks.

Delaney makes Jo and Helen's attitudes towards race very clear.

 

What do you think Geof's attitude towards Jo's relationship with a black man is? Click on the description that you think most fits his feelings.

Open-minded

Judgemental and prejudiced

Delaney uses irony in the play to present the theme of class.

 

Helen's attitude towards poverty is ironic, as she is part of this working class struggle.

 

Match the quotations below to what they show about Helen's attitude to poverty.

Column A

Column B

"The whole district's rotten, it's not fit to live...
Helen looks down on where Jo is living, despite br...
"Why don't you take a bit of pride in yourself? Gr...
Helen focuses on the material items Jo needs for b...
"I've ordered a proper cot of the latest design, i...
After returning from being with Peter, Helen is cr...

Gender is a key theme in 'A Taste of Honey.' Delaney subverts the traditional gender roles of the 1950's society she was writing about.

 

Match the quotations below to the comment explaining what they show about Delaney's subversion of gender roles.

Column A

Column B

"You'd make somebody a wonderful wife"
Delaney subverts the idea of the traditional role ...
"I don't want to be a mother. I don't want to be a...
Delaney challenges the traditional role of a man t...
"I can work for the baby myself"
Delaney highlights the traditional link between be...

Now it is time to have a go at a mini essay question to practise writing about themes in the play.

 

Remember to use quotations to support your points and try to link each of your ideas to the context in which Delaney was writing.

 

Task:  Write about the ideas about gender in 'A Taste of Honey.'

 

Try to write 3 paragraphs.

  • Question 1

Responsibility is a key theme explored by Delaney.

 

While Delaney presents Helen as an irresponsible mother in many ways, at times we do also see her attempt to take some responsibility.

 

Where in the play do we see this?

CORRECT ANSWER
Near the end of the play when Jo is nearing the end of her pregnancy
EDDIE SAYS
We do get glimmers of Helen's sense of responsibility throughout the play, so this is a tricky one! On the whole though, it's not until near the end of the play that we really see a distinct difference in the way she cares for her daughter, Jo. This is when Jo is nearing the end of her pregnancy and Helen says "I've come to look after you." Of course, we could also question whether her intentions are genuine here.
  • Question 2

The theme of parental responsibility is further explored through Jo's journey to motherhood.

 

What does Delaney suggest to her audience about whether Jo will be more responsible than her own mother?

 

Match the quotations to what Delaney suggests about Jo's sense of responsibility.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"If you don't watch it you'll tur...
Delaney highlights similarities b...
"I'll kill it when it comes Geof"
Jo's language sometimes shows a l...
"They never grew"
Delaney's symbolism of the dead b...
"I can work for the baby myself"
Jo's expresses a determination to...
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to match them all? The ending of the play is ambiguous - we don't know whether Jo will be a better mother than her own mother was to her. Throughout the play, Delaney certainly highlights similarities between the women and we also get a sense that, at times, Jo resents her pregnancy. Delaney also suggests that maybe Jo, at her young age, similar to her mother, isn't ready for the responsibility of parenthood, hence the dead bulbs she failed to nurture. However, Jo herself shows more determination and hopefulness that she can succeed as a single mother and certainly doesn't want to be compared to her own mother.
  • Question 3

Delaney presents the theme of love and affection.

 

What does Jo and Geof's relationship show about Jo's feelings about love and affection, after her boyfriend fails to return to her?

 

Match the quotations below to the analytical comment about Jo's feelings.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"You see, it's not marrying love ...
Delaney shows that Jo feels more ...
"I always want to have you with m...
Delaney shows that Jo values her ...
"Why don't you leave me alone?"
Delaney shows Jo try to push Geof...
"Do you know, for the first time ...
Jo's conversation with Helen show...
EDDIE SAYS
Many different emotions are explored through Jo and Geof's relationship. It just goes to show how complex Jo as a character is! Delaney shows how Jo has clearly been affected by her past relationships - she feels insecure and finds it hard to trust. Afterall, all of her relationships to this point have failed her. Geof is clearly very different and, although Delaney shows Jo, to begin with, questioning his intentions, she gradually sees that their relationship is different. The fact that it isn't romantic is important to her; she feels more equal and recognises that he makes her feel valued. Their relationship is presented by Delaney as offering Jo the most hope. Of course, the ambiguous ending where he leaves the flat, leaves the audience questioning whether Jo actually needs him to survive.
  • Question 4

The theme of love and affection is explored through the different relationships Jo has throughout the play.

 

The structure of Act one, Scene two is interesting. Delaney has used a four part structure, which alternates between scenes with Jo and the Boy and scenes with Helen and Jo.

 

Why do you think Delaney chose to use this structure?

CORRECT ANSWER
So that the audience can make a direct comparison of the two relationships
EDDIE SAYS
When analysing a theme, it's also important in the exam to comment on how it's presented through the writer's techniques. Structure is one of the techniques used and in this scene it's particularly important. By placing Jo's relationship with the Boy next to the one with her mother, we see the differences between the two. We see Jo's relationship with the Boy is based on genuine love and affection, whereas the relationship with her mother involves rejection and neglect. At the same time, Delaney highlights how Jo's insecurity in her relationship with the Boy stems from the unreliable nature of her relationship with her mother. Interestingly, we can also note some similarities in the two relationships - both are unreliable.
  • Question 5

Dependence and independence is a theme explored in 'A Taste of Honey.'

 

Delaney shows how Jo seeks independence from her mother in many parts of the play. However, in the three way arguments between Helen, Jo and Peter we see that Jo does still feel some attachment to her mother and is quite possessive over her. 

 

Which quotations below suggest this?

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"She throws the lid at him"
"Half-laughing, half-crying"
EDDIE SAYS
Notice that the two correct answers are stage directions. It's important to analyse the connotations of words and think about what these actions suggest to us about Jo's feelings. Clearly, the way Jo attacks Peter shows her anger at him, but the fact that she's also "half-crying" also shows her vulnerability underneath the strong woman she tries to present herself as. Looking at these quotations in context, we also see that Jo says "and leave my mother alone too", conveying a real sense that she doesn't want to lose her mother to this man. Despite wanting independence, Delaney conveys the sense that Jo still wants to be able to depend on her mother and resents the man that might prevent this from happening.
  • Question 6

The theme of race is explored in 'A Taste of Honey.'

 

We see that Jo is open-minded about a relationship with a black man, and how this attitude is very different from the rest of society, when the Boy says "You're the first girl I've met who really didn't care".

 

Helen's attitude reflects the norm at time. When Jo tells her about the baby's father, she says "Can you see me wheeling a pram with a... Oh my God", and then appears to walk out at the end.

 

Which line in Act one, Scene two, suggests that Jo thinks her mother is more open-minded than she actually is?

 

Write the full sentence and remember to use quotation marks.

CORRECT ANSWER
"No, whatever else she might be, she isn't prejudiced against colour"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find this one? Jo certainly misjudges her mother at this point in the play because, at the end of the play, Helen reveals herself to be very close-minded and prejudiced about Jo having a black baby. Equally, however, she doesn't reveal to her mother that the father was black until the very end - Delaney perhaps suggests here that Jo wasn't as sure about how her mother would react as she lets on. Remember that during the 50's, mixed race relationships would've been frowned upon, so Helen's attitude is very much representative of the majority of society at the time.
  • Question 7

Delaney makes Jo and Helen's attitudes towards race very clear.

 

What do you think Geof's attitude towards Jo's relationship with a black man is? Click on the description that you think most fits his feelings.

CORRECT ANSWER
Open-minded
EDDIE SAYS
Did you go back to the part of the text where Jo tells Geof about her baby's father? In Act two, Scene one, Geof asks about the father and Jo tells him that "he was black as coal". Geof reacts with "a black boy?", but shortly moves onto more generic questions such as "what was he doing here?" and "do you wish he was still her?" Delaney shows Geof to almost brush over the issue of race, which is seemingly insignificant to Geof. He is more interested in Jo's feelings. Therefore, Delaney seems to present Geof as an open-minded character whose only motive is caring for Jo.
  • Question 8

Delaney uses irony in the play to present the theme of class.

 

Helen's attitude towards poverty is ironic, as she is part of this working class struggle.

 

Match the quotations below to what they show about Helen's attitude to poverty.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"The whole district's rotten, it'...
Helen looks down on where Jo is l...
"Why don't you take a bit of prid...
After returning from being with P...
"I've ordered a proper cot of the...
Helen focuses on the material ite...
EDDIE SAYS
Helen's attitude is a difficult one to pin down. She certainly seems shameful of the working class life but is part of this herself. Using men to get out of this and have money seems to be more important to Helen that her relationship with her daughter. After Helen tastes a little of life with more money, she returns even more judgemental and shameful of her own daughter's lifestyle. Delaney highlights the irony in Helen's attitude when this is the upbringing she has given her daughter.
  • Question 9

Gender is a key theme in 'A Taste of Honey.' Delaney subverts the traditional gender roles of the 1950's society she was writing about.

 

Match the quotations below to the comment explaining what they show about Delaney's subversion of gender roles.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"You'd make somebody a wonderful ...
Delaney challenges the traditiona...
"I don't want to be a mother. I d...
Delaney highlights the traditiona...
"I can work for the baby myself"
Delaney subverts the idea of the ...
EDDIE SAYS
Delaney challenges the gender stereotypes of the 1950's. Jo is depicted as different in her perspective and willing to challenge the status quo. She wants to work for the baby herself and doesn't feel she needs the father's help - this is certainly not the traditional family unit that was valued in the 1950's. In addition to this, the way in which Jo dislikes the link between being a woman and being a mother, suggesting that it comes more naturally to Geof, completely subverts the traditional roles of the maternal stay and at home mother and the male bread-winner.
  • Question 10

Now it is time to have a go at a mini essay question to practise writing about themes in the play.

 

Remember to use quotations to support your points and try to link each of your ideas to the context in which Delaney was writing.

 

Task:  Write about the ideas about gender in 'A Taste of Honey.'

 

Try to write 3 paragraphs.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Delaney explores the idea of gender through the character of Geof. Geof is not presented as the stereotypical male figure of 1950's society - the breadwinner for the family. In fact, Jo highlights how motherhood "comes natural" to Geof and that he would "make somebody a wonderful wife". Here Delaney's use of language in Jo's dialogue in her reference to Geof as a "wife", subverts the traditional gender roles by suggesting that Geof's caring and emotionally supportive personality makes him more suited to motherhood than Jo, a woman, even though, as Geof states: "Motherhood is supposed to come natural to women". For Delaney's 1950's audience, this idea of gender reversal would have been a shocking challenge to society's expectations of men and women at the time, making Delaney a revolutionary writer in suggesting an alternative.
Try it ---- OR ----

Sign up for a £1 trial so you can track and measure your child's progress on this activity.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started
laptop

Start your £1 trial today.
Subscribe from £10/month.