Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Author Background
Kazuo Ishiguro is a Japanese-British writer
born on November 8th 1954.
• He attended the University of Kent and the
University of East Anglia.
• For his novel The Remains of the Day,
Ishiguro won the Man Booker Prize of 1989
• In 2008, he was 32nd out of 50 on the “50
Greatest British writers since 1945” list.
• His novels are written in first-person
narrative that often exhibit human failings.
• His novels also typically end without any
real resolution.
“It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that. But
the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the
task. If we'd understood that back then-who knows?-maybe we'd have kept a tighter hold of one another.”
There are primarily three different settings throughout Never Let Me Go that
symbolize the different phases of Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy’s lives. Each setting
breaks up Kathy’s narrative into distinctive parts in order to emphasize the
transitional period of innocence to accepting a melancholic resolution at the end of
the novel.
At Hailsam, the trio
really began to develop a
sense that they were not
“normal” and had
something life-changing in
store for them. This place
is located in East Sussex,
England hidden away
from the rest of society.
The cottages were
set in the countryside
of England and this
place was an essential
step to the trios
process of discovering
who they are and the
reality of their
Donor Centers
The donor centers
was a place of
reconciliation that
salvaged Tommy and
Cathy's relationship
and finally provided
resolution with Ruth
near the end of her life.
This section is set at the fictional Hailsham boarding school in East
Sussex, England. It is clear from the peculiar way the teachers—known as
"guardians"—treat the students, that Hailsham is not a normal boarding
school. Eventually, it is revealed to the reader and to the students that the
children are clones created to provide vital organs for non-clones
("originals"). The students are not taught any life skills, though the teachers
encourage the students to produce various forms of art and poetry. The best
works are chosen by a woman known only as "Madame," who takes them
away. Students believe she keeps their work in a secret Gallery although
this is not discussed with guardians.
In the second section, the characters, who are now young adults, around age 16 –
18, have moved to the "Cottages," residential complexes where they begin contact
with the external world. It is clear from the descriptions of the Cottages that they are
vastly inferior to the luxuries of Hailsham. The buildings are cold and in poor
condition, and there is little for the clones to do there, with no supervision apart
from one maintenance man. The romantic relationship that had developed between
Ruth and Tommy continues, while Kathy explores her sexuality with other students
there without forming any long-term relationship. Kathy often takes the role of the
peacemaker in the tumultuous relationship between Tommy and Ruth.
The three main characters—Ruth, Tommy and Kathy—develop a close
friendship. From a young age, Kathy seems to have resigned herself to
being a rather passive observer of other people and the choices they make,
instead of making her own. Tommy, an isolated boy who struggles to be
creative, is often the target of bullies. And while Ruth is an extrovert with
strong opinions who appears to be the center of social activity in her cohort,
she is not as confident as she is perceived to be. Early on in the story, Kathy
develops a fondness for Tommy, looking after him when he is bullied.
Tensions among Tommy, Ruth, and Kathy rise as they all struggle to find
acceptance and understanding outside Hailsham and with each other. Among
these tensions is Kathy's hypothesis and Ruth's outburst that children such as
themselves were modelled from the human "trash" of the Earth. These
complications inevitably lead to Kathy requesting early departure from the cottages
to become a "carer"—a clone who cares for other clones recovering from organremoval surgery.
The third section involves Tommy and Ruth becoming donors and Kathy becoming a "carer." About ten years go by without Kathy seeing Ruth or Tommy. Towards
the end of this time Kathy sees her old classmate Laura, who is also a carer, and they speak. The reader learns from their conversation that Hailsham has recently
closed and that Ruth is on her first donation, which did not go well, and her health has deteriorated. Kathy begins to care for Ruth, and Ruth is aware that the next
donation will most likely be her last. She suggests to Kathy that they take a trip and, knowing that Tommy is in a nearby facility, bring Tommy with them. Kathy and
Ruth pick up Tommy at his hospital, and they drive to see an abandoned boat in the middle of a marshland.
Character analysis
The narrator of the novel is Kathy H. She
is the central character throughout the plot and
directly addresses the reader in 2nd person pointof-view. Kathy is depicted as wise, more in-tune
with her emotions, and intensely caring for her
friends Ruth and Tommy. At Hailsham, she is
seemingly pushed-over by Ruth, but in reality
her personality is also strong-willed and she
stands up for herself often in the face of Ruth’s
insecurities and backlashes.
We, as the readers, get to experience the
growth of this character from the very
beginning of her life at Hailsham all the way to
the end where Kathy understands the reality of
her fate as being a “clone”. She comes to a
melancholic resolution and learns to accept that
there is very little to do to change her life.
“I come here and imagine that this is the spot where
everything I've lost since my childhood is washed out. I tell
myself, if that were true, and I waited long enough then a tiny
figure would appear on the horizon across the field and
gradually get larger until I'd see it was Tommy. He'd wave.
And maybe call. I don't know if the fantasy go beyond that, I
can't let it. I remind myself I was lucky to have had any time
with him at all. What I'm not sure about, is if our lives have
been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all
complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've
lived through, or feel we've had enough time”.
Character analysis
The second main character is Ruth,
who acts as a type of FOIL character to
Kathy because she is, in many ways, the
exact opposite of Kathy and tend to bring
out more assertive and blunt sides from
“I’m not even asking you to forgive
me about that. God, I’ve said all
this in my head so many times, I
can’t believe I’m really doing it. It
should have been you two”.
Though Ruth is portrayed as an
unlikable character in comparison to the
sweet Kathy and the innocent Tommy,
she is vital to the growth of the plot as
she desperately attempts to keep
everything together for the three of them–
even through unconventional means and
sharp words. Ruth may have a very
stubborn and brazen attitude on the
surface, internally she is just as caring for
her friends as Kathy and wishes them the
Character Analysis
In comparison to both Ruth and Kathy,
Tommy’s disposition is described to be
childlike, insightful, and has a lot more
innocence than the two of them. His
character develops more rapidly and
obvious throughout the plot– at Hailsham,
he is a boy who was incapable of dealing
with his anger, to a quiet and sad teenager,
to a calm and insightful adult.
The contrasting sides of Tommy’s life
represent the changes that all three of them
have to face in the wake of realization that
their lives are already set in stone and there
is very little they could do to change their
“Don’t forget Kath, what she’s
got reveals our souls. She
could decide for herself what’s
a good match and what’s just a
stupid crush”.
Motifs &
Humanity is questioned throughout the novel. Ruth,
Tommy, and Kathy are clones whose purpose is to
donate their organs for the “humans”– this
development in technology has extended the life
span and has eliminated diseases and cancer.
Social-political commentary on how the government
treats these “clones”– they are regarded as
disgusting and many real people in their society are
afraid of them
Sex is a reoccurring motif, which alludes to the
humanistic desire that the trio has, despite the fact
that they are suppose to lack souls and exist solely
to die for others.
Driving is a motif. Kathy H is telling us this story on
her long drives across the country to different
donation centers; her thoughtfulness and emotions
(both of which are very human characteristics) is
highlighted during these times.
Major literary &
-Kazuo Ishiguro utilizes a unique
narrative structure that follows Kathy,
Ruth, and Tommy’s story from three
major stages of their lifetime.
- There are many metaphors that that
Kathy uses to connect their attachment
to Hailsham; this gives the reader a more
in-depth understanding of how much the
school is a central theme within the
- The entire novel is shuffled back and
forth between time periods; there are
many flashbacks to periods where Kathy
remembers when there lives were

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