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.” CONTEXT & SETTING 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. Cottages Hailsham 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 situation. 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. PLOT SYNOPSIS 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 her. “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 best. 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 fates. “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 & themes 1. 2. 3. 4. 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 & Rhetorical devices -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 novel. - The entire novel is shuffled back and forth between time periods; there are many flashbacks to periods where Kathy remembers when there lives were shifting.