Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

“I thought sooner or later someone would start saying it had gone too far, but it just kept on, and no one said anything” (15).

I have a cousin that loves this book and its corresponding film. I have to say that I’ve read this book twice now, and it’s heart-wrenching every time. It’s a dystopian novel with romantic and angsty tones. Kathy, the protagonist, tells the story of her life as a caretaker-donor. She narrates her upbringing in a secret program next to her two friends Tommy and Ruth. After Ruth completes, Kathy and Tommy reunite. Tommy is close to completing. Their love triangle is quite sad because Kathy and Tommy’s love remains so unfulfilled.

“What I wished more than anything was that the thing hadn’t happened at all, and I thought that by not mentioning it I’d be doing myself and everyone else a favor” (72).

Tommy loves to draw small caricatures that are “deliberately childish” (20). In the program, the guardians collected their art, but Tommy never had any in the gallery. He wants to track them down to submit something before he completes. Kathy and Tommy find that the guardians cannot take his art any longer because the goal during their childhood years was to prove they had a soul. An important theme in this novel are keepsakes with emotional meaning like Kathy’s cassette with the “Never Let Me Go” song.

“We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all” (260).

Sounds like bad copy-write infringement to me. Ishiguro is great at weaving very deeply painful artistic truths into his work. Our art is often overlooked until it is too late or we don’t appreciate our own artistic talents while others use to their benefit and their own agenda. It parallels the truth behind the completions in this novel. The children are duplicates of others, clones, used to replace the damaged organs of their originals. Why have the ability to reproduce if you will never be a mother or a father? Why make sex a taboo when there is no one that will care? Somehow, the pain of the narrative, the cruelty of being at the mercy of others with more power, proves they had/have souls.

Works Cited

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. New York: New York, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2006. Print.

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