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Identify and Explain Key Characters and their Development in 'A Taste of Honey'

In this worksheet, students will revise key aspects of each of the characters in 'A Taste of Honey' by Shelagh Delaney.

'Identify and Explain Key Characters and their Development in 'A Taste of Honey'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

Curriculum subtopic:  

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

What do you know about the following characters in Shelagh Delaney's 'A Taste of Honey'?

 

Helen

 

Jo

 

Peter

 

The Boy

 

Geoffrey

 

In the exam you might be asked to write about the presentation of a particular character in the play.

 

So, to recap on your reading of the play:

 

Helen: Helen is Jo's mother. We often see Helen leave Jo to go and live with her male friends. She usually returns after the men cheat on her.   

 

Jo: Jo is a teenager who lives with her mother. She leaves school and gets two jobs. She becomes pregnant and goes into labour at the end.

 

Peter: Peter is Helen's male friend. He initially says that he wants to marry her, but we see Helen leave him at the end for cheating on her.

 

The Boy: Referred to as Jimmy later in the play. The Boy is Jo's boyfriend. He is black and a sailor in the Navy. He is the father of Jo's baby and does not return to Jo after his service has ended.

 

Geoffrey: Geoffrey is an art student. It is hinted that Geoffrey is homosexual and is kicked out of his apartment because of this. He moves in with Jo, but leaves just before the end when Helen returns.

 

This activity will help you explore each of these characters in more detail, looking at their key attributes in the play.

Which of the following quotations reveal something about the character of Helen?

"Immoral earnings"

"Drink, drink, drink"

"I know you'll never ask anything of me"

"You never think"

"You've reformed me"

Delaney presents Jo and Helen's relationship as hostile. We often see them arguing and see Jo blaming her mother for her neglectful upbringing.

 

Match the quotations below to what Delaney shows about Jo and Helen's relationship.

Column A

Column B

"She had so much love for everyone else, but none ...
Delaney portrays Jo and Helen's relationship as la...
"I'm never at one school long enough to show them ...
Delaney suggests that Helen prioritises her relati...
"It wouldn't be the first time I've been thrown ou...
Delaney highlights how Helen has moved around lots...
"Then he divorced me; that was your fault"
Delaney presents the relationship as full of blame...

Jo wants to become independent of her mother.

 

Complete the quotation below that shows this aspiration.

Column A

Column B

"She had so much love for everyone else, but none ...
Delaney portrays Jo and Helen's relationship as la...
"I'm never at one school long enough to show them ...
Delaney suggests that Helen prioritises her relati...
"It wouldn't be the first time I've been thrown ou...
Delaney highlights how Helen has moved around lots...
"Then he divorced me; that was your fault"
Delaney presents the relationship as full of blame...

While Jo is keen to achieve independence from her mother, Delaney reveals other attributes in the character of Jo.

 

In the following quotation, what emotion is revealed? 

 

"Jo: I'll probably never see you again. I know it.

 

Boy: What makes you say that?

 

Jo: I just know it. That's all. But I don't care. Stay with me now, it's enough, it's all I want, and if you do come back I'll still be here." 

 

Detachment

Confidence

Insecurity

We see often Jo trying to live in the moment and almost find escapism from the harsh reality of her life with her mother.

 

Which sentence in the opening stage directions of Act two, portrays this aspect of Jo's character?

 

Remember to use quotation marks.

 

 

Geoffrey and Jo's relationship offers a contrast to the relationship Jo has with Helen.

 

Match the quotations to the characteristic Delaney reveals about Geoffrey's character.

 "I couldn't go away now""You've got to buy all sorts of things for the baby""Someone's got to look after you""I'll stay here and clear this place up a bit. And make you a proper meal"
Responsible
Practical
Caring
Reliable

Jo's relationship with the Boy, later referred to as 'Jimmy', is another relationship we see in the play. We see through their light-hearted banter the genuine love and affection they show each other.

 

Click on the quotations below that show this love and affection in their relationship.

"Thanks for carrying my books"

"'She'll see a coloured boy"

"I adore you"

"I know, you're going drinking"

Delaney presents the Boy as a black character, having a relationship with a white girl. Mixed race relationships were controversial during the 1950's, when Delaney was writing.

 

How does Delaney show us that Jo is much more open-minded than the majority of the society she is living in?

 

Write the dialogue the Boy speaks near the beginning of Act one, Scene two, that highlights how Jo holds a different attitude to most.

 

Remember to use quotation marks.

 

Peter is Helen's male friend in the play, who seems obsessed with her in the beginning and wants to marry her.

 

By the end of the play, it seems he has cheated on her and she leaves him.

 

Match the quotations below to the characteristics Delaney reveals about Peter's character.

Column A

Column B

Controlling and aggressive
"Get rid of her"
Homophobic
"I dragged you out of the gutter once"
Derogatory
"And don't bring that little fruitcake parcel eith...
A cheat and disrespectful to women
"He's gone off with his bit of crumpet"

While Jo strives for independence throughout the play, her reaction to becoming pregnant shows how she feels this might destroy her chances of a better life.

 

Jo says: "I don't want to be a mother. I don't want to be a woman."

 

Complete the passage below to describe Jo's feelings at this point in the play.

Column A

Column B

Controlling and aggressive
"Get rid of her"
Homophobic
"I dragged you out of the gutter once"
Derogatory
"And don't bring that little fruitcake parcel eith...
A cheat and disrespectful to women
"He's gone off with his bit of crumpet"
  • Question 1

Which of the following quotations reveal something about the character of Helen?

CORRECT ANSWER
"Immoral earnings"
"Drink, drink, drink"
"You never think"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find all three? We learn a lot about Helen in the opening scene through Jo's dialogue. She hints that Helen earns money from the men she has relationships with and we get the sense that she drinks too much. Jo's dialogue also suggests a selfishness and thoughtlessness in Helen's attitude when she says "you never think." We get the impression that Helen is an unsatisfactory mother to Jo - her behaviour is presented as careless and sometimes reckless. The unmarked quotations above are actually about Geof - a completely contrasting character to Helen!
  • Question 2

Delaney presents Jo and Helen's relationship as hostile. We often see them arguing and see Jo blaming her mother for her neglectful upbringing.

 

Match the quotations below to what Delaney shows about Jo and Helen's relationship.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"She had so much love for everyon...
Delaney portrays Jo and Helen's r...
"I'm never at one school long eno...
Delaney highlights how Helen has ...
"It wouldn't be the first time I'...
Delaney suggests that Helen prior...
"Then he divorced me; that was yo...
Delaney presents the relationship...
EDDIE SAYS
Helen and Jo's relationship is a complicated one. We see lots of arguing between the two and lots of resentment. Jo blames Helen for not giving her a stable and affectionate upbringing and clearly feels rejected. At the same time, Helen admits to having a selfish attitude and blames Jo for her divorce to her husband. Jo's father was the man Helen cheated on her husband with and Helen clearly resents Jo for this. Their relationship is certainly not a typical loving mother and daughter relationship!
  • Question 3

Jo wants to become independent of her mother.

 

Complete the quotation below that shows this aspiration.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Amidst their arguing, Jo often tells Helen that she wants to move out and earn her own money. She accuses Helen of "ruining my life", so we certainly get the impression that Jo is keen to make a break from her mother and have a better chance of happiness on her own.
  • Question 4

While Jo is keen to achieve independence from her mother, Delaney reveals other attributes in the character of Jo.

 

In the following quotation, what emotion is revealed? 

 

"Jo: I'll probably never see you again. I know it.

 

Boy: What makes you say that?

 

Jo: I just know it. That's all. But I don't care. Stay with me now, it's enough, it's all I want, and if you do come back I'll still be here." 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Insecurity
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Notice how Jo doesn't believe Jimmy will come back to her, even when he reassures her. Here Delaney highlights Jo's insecurity in the relationships she forms. This shows the effect of the rejection Jo has faced throughout her childhood, where her mother failed to prioritise her or offer her affection. Her relationship with her mother is shown to now be affecting her adult relationships.
  • Question 5

We see often Jo trying to live in the moment and almost find escapism from the harsh reality of her life with her mother.

 

Which sentence in the opening stage directions of Act two, portrays this aspect of Jo's character?

 

Remember to use quotation marks.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"When they enter the flat they have been playing with a bunch of brightly coloured balloons"
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? The focus on childlike games in Jo's relationship with Geoffrey really highlights how she seeks escapism from the relationship with her mother and the struggles this brings. Delaney shows us a vulnerable side to Jo here. We see her in a carefree state and are reminded that she probably wasn't able to have this as a child. Geoffrey offers her a safer environment in order to live in the moment.
  • Question 6

Geoffrey and Jo's relationship offers a contrast to the relationship Jo has with Helen.

 

Match the quotations to the characteristic Delaney reveals about Geoffrey's character.

CORRECT ANSWER
 "I couldn't go away now""You've got to buy all sorts of things for the baby""Someone's got to look after you""I'll stay here and clear this place up a bit. And make you a proper meal"
Responsible
Practical
Caring
Reliable
EDDIE SAYS
Geoffrey offers Jo many of the qualities she misses in her mother. He provides a safe and stable environment for her. He is practical and resourceful in helping Jo prepare for the baby. He also shows real care and affection for Jo and, even when she tries to push him away, he shows that he can be relied on.
  • Question 7

Jo's relationship with the Boy, later referred to as 'Jimmy', is another relationship we see in the play. We see through their light-hearted banter the genuine love and affection they show each other.

 

Click on the quotations below that show this love and affection in their relationship.

CORRECT ANSWER
"Thanks for carrying my books"
"I adore you"
EDDIE SAYS
Delaney shows this aspect of their relationship as another contrast to the relationship between Jo and Helen. The Boy is kind and caring, surprising Jo outside of her school and carrying her books. He is openly affectionate and asks Jo to marry him. Notice how Delaney hints at another side to his character though - he clearly enjoys having a good time with his friends and going out drinking. Does this foreshadow that he's not ready to take the responsibility of marriage seriously?
  • Question 8

Delaney presents the Boy as a black character, having a relationship with a white girl. Mixed race relationships were controversial during the 1950's, when Delaney was writing.

 

How does Delaney show us that Jo is much more open-minded than the majority of the society she is living in?

 

Write the dialogue the Boy speaks near the beginning of Act one, Scene two, that highlights how Jo holds a different attitude to most.

 

Remember to use quotation marks.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"You're the first girl I've met who really didn't care"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find the right quotation? Here we see that the Boy is not used to a white girl being so open about having a relationship with him. When he says "afraid someone'll see us?", Jo responds with "I don't care." Delaney here reveals the judgemental and prejudiced attitudes towards mixed race relationships during the 50's, but celebrates Jo as someone who breaks free of these societal expectations and offers an alternative.
  • Question 9

Peter is Helen's male friend in the play, who seems obsessed with her in the beginning and wants to marry her.

 

By the end of the play, it seems he has cheated on her and she leaves him.

 

Match the quotations below to the characteristics Delaney reveals about Peter's character.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Controlling and aggressive
"Get rid of her"
Homophobic
"And don't bring that little frui...
Derogatory
"I dragged you out of the gutter ...
A cheat and disrespectful to wome...
"He's gone off with his bit of cr...
EDDIE SAYS
Peter is portrayed as a dislikeable character. Although he wants to marry Helen at the beginning, he wants nothing to do with Jo. He's presented as having some money and clearly looks down on Helen and Jo's lives in the "gutter". He seems disgusted by where they're living, he's aggressive to Jo and speaks in a controlling way to Helen. Delaney also shows his utter disrespect for women when we discover he has cheated on Helen. The way he speaks about Geof epitomises his prejudiced and judgemental views.
  • Question 10

While Jo strives for independence throughout the play, her reaction to becoming pregnant shows how she feels this might destroy her chances of a better life.

 

Jo says: "I don't want to be a mother. I don't want to be a woman."

 

Complete the passage below to describe Jo's feelings at this point in the play.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Remember that during the 1950's, society expected women to be wives and stay at home mothers. Jo sees her success in being able to earn money and achieve independence from her mother. Delaney highlights here how Jo's aspirations would've been limited during the 50's, in becoming pregnant so young. However, Jo later says "I can work for the baby myself", showing a determination to still achieve her independence but as a working mother, a radical idea in the 1950's.
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