Never Let Me Go is a contemporary novel written by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. The novel was named to be the best by Time magazine as well as it was included it in TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
It is a witty and clever novel that definitely stands out from other novels published around the same period of time. This novel is extraordinary and even frighteningly clever, which makes it very relatable for the readers. This novel adds a rather special unexpected deep dimension to the author’s always powerful writing style. Surely, as Never Let You Go was written in 2005 it represents the trends and ideas of its time, such as: feeling of doom in the modern society, new economic and social systems suitable only for the survival of the fittest, desire to treat all alike and reduce all people to the same level.
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However, Kazuo Ishiguro takes these topics to a different level. His work does not present his outlook on the harmful fact that the society is willing to clone its members. The author detests such state of things, still his novel is not centered around this concept. On the contrary, Kazuo Ishiguro reflects on the human condition by questioning why most of the people in the modern society are not eager to wake up and realize that the way they are living is not actual living but rather dull, wretched, miserable habitation.
The next paragraphs will explain how the novel Never Let Me Go questions people assumption of uniqueness at social and psychological levels.
The narrator of the novel is a woman in her early thirties called Kathy. She is an independent intelligent woman who from early ages got accustomed to wellbeing, solitude. She attended a private boarding school Hailsham, where she was brought up with the children like her. During school years Kathy remembers to be regarded by teachers with pity, only late she finds out that the children at the boarding school were raised, or more accurate to say cloned in order to provide organs as donors.
At school Kathy is close with two other children Tommy and Ruth. Both girls have a crash on Tommy, though when being kids Ruth and Kathy are not worried by the fact that Tommy would have to choose one of them. Tommy, Ruth and Kathy are very different from other children at the boarding school, unlike them they are not aggressive and are friendly and not cliquish. The children promise to stay friends forever, though over the years they lose each other. To the reader’s surprise they reconnect many years later, then, naturally the love triangle starts to play a much bigger role in their lives than it did during school.
When old friends come together again they feel the closeness they have felt when at school. They start talking openly and jointly confess that none of them feels they fit into the society. They are frustrated, they are trying to figure out the reasons why this is happening. Surely, they come to the conclusion that the roots of their problems as grownups lay in the life they led when being kids. They realize that growing up they were sheltered from harm, they were saved from worries and nerve-racking occasions, though they were also deprived of understanding the real life.
The frustration of being in the unknown world is well reflected in the scene described towards the end of the book. In the scene Kathy travels around Great Britain in her car with some friends. They head to see an old fisherman boat that is drifting next to the shore. This could be a usual sight for most of the people. However, for Kathy, who has been “institutionalized” for the bigger part of her life this outing and the sight of a fisherman boat beached on the edge of fens is a very special experience. Kathy’s emotions brought along by sight of the boat reminds the reader about a quote that appears earlier in the book. It is a quote said by one of the teacher’s at Hailsham: “Poor creatures. What did we do to you? With all our schemes and plans…”
As it has been already mentioned earlier, Kazuo Ishiguro is a British writer, who is originally from Japan. Kazuo Ishiguro himself had to see through all the hardships of immigration and absorption into the new culture. Due to this reason, questions of belonging and cultural diversity can be traced as a leitmotiv in many of his works. Never Let You Go is also not an exception. By introducing the reader to the elite boarding school and the totally different life around it, Kazuo Ishiguro states that the British society is regulated by class. This makes people concerned primarily with becoming a member of an in-group in order to find a place in the society. Moreover, not only people try their best to become part of the higher caste. Once they have become members of such, they start looking down on those who have not reached their level. Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let You Go also portrays characters that believe them to be part of a higher class. Still, they understand that there is another class, which is even more elite, and which they will never be able to enter.
Students at Hailsham very quickly understand the social division in the society. As it can be quoted from Never Let You Go: "You have to accept that sometimes that’s how things happen in this world. People’s opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just so happens you grew up at a certain point in this process." Obviously their conclusions were formed on basis of very limited information from the outside world. Still, very early they understand the treasure of being “really in”, in fact, most of these people do not experience that.
The greatest paradox of the novel is that Kathy and other students of the boarding school from one point are taught how to think independently and receive this education on a very high level, but at the same time they are fully accepted of their fate. Sam way, even though the children are taken care of and for example a lot of attention is paid to their health and wellbeing their whole life has a second-hand quality to it. This questions the issue of human uniqueness on the psychological level. By describing this paradox the author hints at the psychological inconsistently of human mind. From one point humans are eager to stand out from the crowd, to show that they are better than others, but still it is peculiar to humans to be blind, not see the possibilities the life offers as well as not to take a minute to think about their miserable existence.
Never Let You Go is often classified as science fiction due to its representation of so to say alternative reality. However, when thinking about it, it is obvious that the book reflects on the real life much more than an average documentary does. Indeed, the setting of the novel as well as the experiences of the main characters can be considered fictional. However, while such setting in real life was unheard-of in the past, today it often becomes a reality. Thus, Never Let You Go can be said to be fictional and unfortunately realistic at the same time – it is a usual love story with an unusual sad ending that makes the reader wonder and question the life he/she leads.—————————————————————————–
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