A Taste of Honey


Shelagh Delaney

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Themes and Colors
Care and Responsibility Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Race Theme Icon
Rebellion and Independence Theme Icon
Adversity and Resilience Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Taste of Honey, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Care and Responsibility

A Taste of Honey centers around the relationship between Jo and her mother Helen. Characterized by frequent fighting and animosity, their interactions subvert expectations about how an adult should care for her child. Indeed, although Jo longs for her mother’s love and care, Helen seems incapable of being a reliable presence in her daughter’s life. Instead, Helen neglects Jo emotionally and materially. After leaving Jo alone to go live with Peter, her new…

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Love, Sex, and Friendship

As Helen’s life is characterized by sexual promiscuity and her cynical attitude toward love, Jo often feels alienated from her mother’s affection. As a result, she finds herself forced to search elsewhere for the intimacy and affection that is so blatantly lacking in her home. She initially believes she has found love in her relationship with a young sailor, but soon becomes disappointed with the experience. As time goes on and she becomes pregnant…

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Gender, Class, and Race

Shelagh Delaney’s play depicts characters who live at the margins of 1950s English society. Because of Helen and Jo’s social class, Geoffrey’s homosexuality, and Jo’s boyfriend Jimmie’s skin color, these characters all experience social marginalization in different ways. Their nonconformity highlights the generational shift that is beginning to take place, as English social life and culture undergoes a transformation, becoming more mixed and more diverse. Although Helen tends to categorize people according…

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Rebellion and Independence

From the beginning of the play, it is evident that Jo is a young woman yearning to break free from the walls of her home. Moved by youthful rebellion, she longs to work for herself in order to become economically and emotionally independent from her mother. When she is finally forced to live on her own, she discovers that an independent life also brings its share of loneliness and fear, but that she is capable…

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Adversity and Resilience

Faced with economic and emotional hardships, the characters in the play adopt various strategies to confront—or, on the contrary, to escape—the difficulties of life. Although Helen and Jo adopt a common strategy of irony and cynicism to cope with their problems, Helen proves more prone to fatalistic resignation, while her daughter generally attempts to try to change her difficult circumstances. These differences in attitude make Helen more inclined to embrace detachment and negativity, while Jo…

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