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Evaluate Key Characters and Their Development in 'Never Let Me Go'

In this worksheet, students will evaluate the key characters in 'Never Let Me Go', considering the techniques Ishiguro uses to present them and how they reflect something about the context in which he was writing.

'Evaluate Key Characters and Their Development in 'Never Let Me Go'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

Curriculum subtopic:  

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

    students in classroom                  thought bubble      teacher

    

 

 

To what extent is Miss Emily a hopeful character?

How far would you agree that Tommy believes that the system can be challenged?

How does Ruth change as the novel progresses?

Why don't the students rebel more against their fates?

 

 

To achieve the highest marks in your exam response, you will need to offer a personal and perceptive interpretation.

 

This means that you need to:

- ask questions of the characters

- think about all of the different ways we might view them - positive and negative

- think about whether they change throughout the play

- try to evaluate how far we can say they possess a particular characteristic

 

Remember that you will also need to show close analysis of the writer's techniques in presenting a particular character and relate your ideas to the key contextual factors surrounding the novel.

 

In this activity, you will evaluate how each character is presented in 'Never Let Me Go'.

What is the significance of Ruth's dream job?

 

Kathy recounts the time when they go on a trip to find Ruth's "possible" and look inside an office.

 

Ruth says "Now that would be a proper place to work" and Kathy explains how Ruth "went into all the details".

 

Click on the evaluations below that you think best explains the significance of Ruth's dream job?

 

 

Ruth's dream is important to her because it gives her something else to focus on

Ishiguro highlights how Ruth's dreaming of a mundane job epitomises her idea of a normal adult life, and highlights to the reader how the clones have a basic human right taken away from them; freedom of choice

Ruth's dream job helps Ishiguro explore the idea of social determinism; here we see how Ruth's dream is impossible in a society that has mapped out her future for her already

To what extent is Tommy a hopeful character?

 

To help with your evaluation, consider the quotations below and decide whether they show Tommy being hopeful or unhopeful.

 

 HopefulUnhopeful
"his reputation for 'creativity' was as low as ever"
"I have been doing some stuff. Just in case."
"wheels were all drawn with obsessive precision"
"Tommy's drawings weren't as fresh now."
"Tommy got out and disappeared into the blackness"
"Maybe I did know somewhere deep down. Something the rest of you didn't."

What effect do Ishiguro's uses of verbs have in the following quotation in presenting Tommy's character?

 

This quotation is taken from Chapter 22, after Tommy and Kathy visit Madame.

"Tommy's figure, raging, shouting, flinging his fists and kicking out."

 

Select the most effective evaluation below.

Ishiguro uses several verbs to suggest the violence in Tommy's actions

Ishiguro's use of verbs such as "shouting" and "kicking" evokes a similar image to the Tommy at Hailsham who was prone to temper tantrums. Ishiguro highlights how angry Tommy is here, perhaps suggesting his utter frustration at the confinements of his life where his destiny is set out for him. Here Ishiguro debates the moral question around cloning and whether anyone has the right to play God and determine someone's fate

Ishiguro highlights the anger Tommy has about the lack of freedom he has in choosing his own path in life

It is important to explore structural devices as well as language when writing about the writer's craft.

 

Ishiguro's use of an unchronological narrative with flashbacks and flashforwards, highlights the importance of memories to Kathy.

 

Why are memories so important to Kathy? Complete the passage below.

Ishiguro uses several verbs to suggest the violence in Tommy's actions

Ishiguro's use of verbs such as "shouting" and "kicking" evokes a similar image to the Tommy at Hailsham who was prone to temper tantrums. Ishiguro highlights how angry Tommy is here, perhaps suggesting his utter frustration at the confinements of his life where his destiny is set out for him. Here Ishiguro debates the moral question around cloning and whether anyone has the right to play God and determine someone's fate

Ishiguro highlights the anger Tommy has about the lack of freedom he has in choosing his own path in life

Ishiguro uses river imagery in Tommy's dialogue just before he completes. 

 

river

 

'"keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it's just too much. The current's too strong. They've got to let go, drift apart."

 

What idea's does Ishiguro explore through this imagery?

Nihilism

Social determinism

Dystopia

Consumerism

Fate

What do the following quotations suggest about how hopeful Miss Emily is?

Column A

Column B

"You're life must now run the course that's been s...
Miss Emily doesn't see any hope after the closure ...
"We took away your art because we thought it would...
Miss Emily is shown to have once had hope that she...
"And now we're no more, things will only get worse...
Miss Emily appears to have lost hope in a better f...

Marie Claude or Madame is presented as disillusioned at the end of the novel.

 

Choose the quotations below that would support this perspective of her.

"Yes, why Hailsham at all? Marie- Claude likes to ask that a lot these days."

"Madame never liked us. She's always been afraid of us."

"Marie-Claude doesn't care much for these regulations these days"

"You poor creatures"

Marie-Claude has given everything for you."

Underline the word in the following quotation that highlights the idea of social determinism in Ishiguro's novel.

\"I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.\"

It is now time to have a go at a mini essay question.

 

In the exam, you might be asked to write about how a writer presents a particular character in the novel.

 

You will need to use quotations to support each of your points and should link your points about a character to the key contextual factors surrounding the novel.

 

For the highest marks, you will need to show an analysis of the writer's techniques in presenting this character.

 

Task: How does Ishiguro present Tommy in 'Never Let Me Go'?

 

Try to write 3 paragraphs.

Now try this mini essay task...

 

In the exam, you might be asked to write about how a writer presents a particular character in the novel.

 

You will need to use quotations to support each of your points and should link your points about a character to the key contextual factors surrounding the novel.

 

For the highest marks, you will need to show an analysis of the writer's techniques in presenting this character.

 

The following question is worded to encourage you to show evaluation - try to write 3 paragraphs and then a concluding paragraph where you write an evaluative summary to answer the 'To what extent...?' part. Here you should give your personal response!

 

Task: To what extent is Miss Emily presented as a hopeful character who can change the status quo?

 

  • Question 1

What is the significance of Ruth's dream job?

 

Kathy recounts the time when they go on a trip to find Ruth's "possible" and look inside an office.

 

Ruth says "Now that would be a proper place to work" and Kathy explains how Ruth "went into all the details".

 

Click on the evaluations below that you think best explains the significance of Ruth's dream job?

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Ishiguro highlights how Ruth's dreaming of a mundane job epitomises her idea of a normal adult life, and highlights to the reader how the clones have a basic human right taken away from them; freedom of choice
Ruth's dream job helps Ishiguro explore the idea of social determinism; here we see how Ruth's dream is impossible in a society that has mapped out her future for her already
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot both? These offer the best evaluations because they link the ideas about character to Ishiguro's intentions and the context in which he was writing. Ishiguro highlights how basic human rights are taken away from the clones; they don't have the freedom to participate in the real world and make their own choices. This also allows him to explore the idea of social determinism; the idea that our destinies are already decided by the society we live in. The sadness the reader feels for the lack of hope in Ruth achieving her dreams highlights Ishiguro's debate around the idea of cloning and implications that this might have on human life and basic human rights. Does anyone have the right to play God and decide someone else's destiny?
  • Question 2

To what extent is Tommy a hopeful character?

 

To help with your evaluation, consider the quotations below and decide whether they show Tommy being hopeful or unhopeful.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
 HopefulUnhopeful
"his reputation for 'creativity' was as low as ever"
"I have been doing some stuff. Just in case."
"wheels were all drawn with obsessive precision"
"Tommy's drawings weren't as fresh now."
"Tommy got out and disappeared into the blackness"
"Maybe I did know somewhere deep down. Something the rest of you didn't."
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? At the end of the novel, we get the sense that Tommy always knew there was little hope of changing the course of destiny. Perhaps this was why he was never interested in being creative at Hailsham - he failed to see the point! However, Tommy clearly gains hope from the idea of a deferral. He begins to create drawings and the "precision" with which he does this, perhaps shows the effort he's putting in and the belief he has that there might be some hope for him, after all. As his life progress and he becomes a donor, Kathy notices how these drawings aren't quite as good and seem copied- Ishiguro uses these drawings to symbolise Tommy's attitude towards his life and his future. Tommy does show hope when Ruth gives Kathy and Tommy Madame's address but when the students are finally told the truth, we see Ishiguro use more symbolism, this time of "blackness" to highlight Tommy's final loss of hope.
  • Question 3

What effect do Ishiguro's uses of verbs have in the following quotation in presenting Tommy's character?

 

This quotation is taken from Chapter 22, after Tommy and Kathy visit Madame.

"Tommy's figure, raging, shouting, flinging his fists and kicking out."

 

Select the most effective evaluation below.

CORRECT ANSWER
Ishiguro's use of verbs such as "shouting" and "kicking" evokes a similar image to the Tommy at Hailsham who was prone to temper tantrums. Ishiguro highlights how angry Tommy is here, perhaps suggesting his utter frustration at the confinements of his life where his destiny is set out for him. Here Ishiguro debates the moral question around cloning and whether anyone has the right to play God and determine someone's fate
EDDIE SAYS
The second one's the best evaluation. Whilst the others are correct, they don't explore the quotation in relation to Ishiguro's intentions and the context in which he is writing. When Tommy learns that there's no option of a deferral, we see his final loss of hope and this is expressed as anger. We can link to this to his earlier behaviour at Hailsham, where he was known for his temper tantrums. This link helps to highlight how Tommy's temper tantrums at Hailsham were perhaps an expression of anger then too, because he knew more about his destiny that other students knew at this time. Notice how the term 'verb' is used above - try to use as much technical vocabulary in your exam response as possible. This will show the examiner that you are analysing the writer's craft!
  • Question 4

It is important to explore structural devices as well as language when writing about the writer's craft.

 

Ishiguro's use of an unchronological narrative with flashbacks and flashforwards, highlights the importance of memories to Kathy.

 

Why are memories so important to Kathy? Complete the passage below.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This was a tricky one! How did you do? For the highest marks in the exam, you should try to write about structure as well as language devices. Exploring the narrative structure is a great way to do this for 'Never Let Me Go.' This narrative structure helps Ishiguro create a psychological realism - Kathy is presented as a real person, with real thoughts and feelings. In this way, the idea of the uncanny is used. Ishiguro draws parallels between human life and clone life. Both human life and clone life share the inevitability of death - Ishiguro explores how we deal with this. Kathy's love and friendships and her memories of these give her the purpose she needs to live a fulfilling life, despite the confinements of the dystopian society she lives in.
  • Question 5

Ishiguro uses river imagery in Tommy's dialogue just before he completes. 

 

river

 

'"keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it's just too much. The current's too strong. They've got to let go, drift apart."

 

What idea's does Ishiguro explore through this imagery?

CORRECT ANSWER
Social determinism
Fate
EDDIE SAYS
A tricky one! If you look at the context activity, you can explore these ideas a little further. Ishiguro seems to suggest through this river imagery that an external force is the strongest power and that no matter how hard someone tries to work against it, it's just too powerful! Social determinism is the idea that society maps out a person's future for them and they have little free will or choice in this. The clones are objects of a dystopian society where social determinism is the driving force - the systems in place have determined their futures and they seem to have no way of achieving a different outcome.
  • Question 6

What do the following quotations suggest about how hopeful Miss Emily is?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"You're life must now run the cou...
Miss Emily appears to have lost h...
"We took away your art because we...
Miss Emily is shown to have once ...
"And now we're no more, things wi...
Miss Emily doesn't see any hope a...
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to match them all? At the very end of the novel, Ishiguro reveals that Miss Emily had been working for a better life for the clones - here Ishiguro highlights some of ethical arguments around the idea of cloning which were still very relevant to his readers at the beginning of the 21st century. However, Miss Emily highlights how the Morningdale scandal which "was to offer people the possibility of having children with enhanced characteristics" frightened people and how political support of their work vanished. Through his dystopian world, Ishiguro highlights some of the dangers of cloning and medical/biological developments and also draws light on the importance of open debate around this. Miss Emily's loss of hope and the closure of Hailsham gives Ishiguro's readers a very real warning about what could happen if scientific developments are allowed to progress without real exploration of the ethical and moral questions.
  • Question 7

Marie Claude or Madame is presented as disillusioned at the end of the novel.

 

Choose the quotations below that would support this perspective of her.

CORRECT ANSWER
"Yes, why Hailsham at all? Marie- Claude likes to ask that a lot these days."
"Marie-Claude doesn't care much for these regulations these days"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find two? Marie-Claude is presented as disillusioned at the end of the novel through her lack of respect for the rules now and questions the whole purpose of Hailsham. Indeed it's her silence and quiet throughout the conversation Tommy and Kathy have with Miss Emily that really highlights how she's either probably trying to not explode with anger or has simply lost the energy to argue her point of view. The other quotations above emphasise more about the effort she put into changing the student's lives, the fear she had and now the pity she has for their future. Perhaps Ishiguro highlights through Madame's character, the importance of people who are willing to fight against the status quo. The lack of hope and disillusionment of Madame offers a stark warning that if no one tries to change the way people think, that anything could happen.
  • Question 8

Underline the word in the following quotation that highlights the idea of social determinism in Ishiguro's novel.

CORRECT ANSWER
"I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be."
EDDIE SAYS
Did you underline "supposed"? This choice of word highlights Kathy's lack of free will in her journey - she's driving to where she is "supposed" to be, not where she necessarily wants to be. In fact, much of the novel focuses on the symbolism of roads and driving, without a real sense of students having any choice over where they are going. Here Ishiguro explores the idea of social determinism - the idea that people's lives are determined by the society in which they live. In addition to this, he highlights the way in which people accept the inevitability of death, without question or argument and continue with their lives as normal. In this way, Ishiguro draws parallels between the lives of the clones and those of normal human beings.
  • Question 9

It is now time to have a go at a mini essay question.

 

In the exam, you might be asked to write about how a writer presents a particular character in the novel.

 

You will need to use quotations to support each of your points and should link your points about a character to the key contextual factors surrounding the novel.

 

For the highest marks, you will need to show an analysis of the writer's techniques in presenting this character.

 

Task: How does Ishiguro present Tommy in 'Never Let Me Go'?

 

Try to write 3 paragraphs.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Tommy is presented as angry at the lack of freedom and choice he has over his own life. The list of verbs Ishiguro uses to describe his violent behaviour after he finds out that deferrals do not exist in "Tommy's figure, raging, shouting, flinging his fists and kicking out" highlights his utter frustration and anger. Indeed this behaviour reminds the reader of Tommy's tantrums at Hailsham, perhaps suggesting that these were fuelled also by an anger at the system that was controlling his life and his deeper knowledge about his fate than the other students. Ishiguro employs Tommy's character to raise concerns over the ethics of a system that clones humans for the purpose of organ donation, highlighting that this takes away a basic human right of freedom of choice. By presenting Tommy using realism in this dystopian world, Ishiguro warns his reader about how this kind of society is only one step away from our own reality.
  • Question 10

Now try this mini essay task...

 

In the exam, you might be asked to write about how a writer presents a particular character in the novel.

 

You will need to use quotations to support each of your points and should link your points about a character to the key contextual factors surrounding the novel.

 

For the highest marks, you will need to show an analysis of the writer's techniques in presenting this character.

 

The following question is worded to encourage you to show evaluation - try to write 3 paragraphs and then a concluding paragraph where you write an evaluative summary to answer the 'To what extent...?' part. Here you should give your personal response!

 

Task: To what extent is Miss Emily presented as a hopeful character who can change the status quo?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Miss Emily is shown to challenge the status quo when she tells the students at the end that "we did it to prove you had souls". Ishiguro uses this character to raise the key arguments surrounding the idea of cloning. He asks the question that if a human has a soul, should we be allowed to clone them, colonise their bodies and take away their freedom and basic human rights. This would have been a discussion very relatable to his early 21st century readers who would have witnessed the recent scientific developments in the 1990s and seen the controversy surrounding this. Miss Emily represents someone who raises moral and ethical questions around cloning and "challenged the entire way the donation programme was being run". Miss Emily uses powerful language such as "challenged" and "influence" to describe the power she once had. However, the use of the verb "retreated" in "we've retreated to this house" creates a contrasting image of weakness and hiding away, suggesting that she has given up and has lost the power she once had. Ishiguro shows how Miss Emily is also controlled by the forces of the dystopian society he presents.
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