Humankind And Its Rudeness in Never Let Me Go Novel
In Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Ishiguro comments on the human tendency to choose ignorance through silence in order to maintain bliss. There are multiple forms of willful ignorance portrayed throughout the novel including the personal issues of sex and virginity and the social issues concerning organ donations (the situation most predominantly commented on). In these cases, the donors often shy away from pressing for information when they sense they do not want to know the answers to their questions. As children in the beginning of the novel, the donors were observed doing everything in their power to avoid the subject of their fate, going as far as punishing classmates who asked the guardians questions. As they got older, they slowly began speaking about the donations however this was done in an extremely passive way. They discussed the donations mainly in a joking fashion and described the process of donating as unzipping a bit of themselves and simply handing over an organ. Not once throughout the novel do the donors truly speak about the consequences of the donation process. This suggests that willful ignorance is a mechanism through which social injustices are perpetuated. As donors, their biggest dream is to be granted a three year deferral, a gift that no average human being would accept as a blessing. A significant cause of this is the deception or in most cases utter silence and denial that the guardians present to the donors. By describing life threatening surgeries as “donations” and their death as a “completion” the guardians invalidate the true ramifications of being born a donor. Through these various situations, Ishiguro depicts humankind’s inclination towards choosing ignorance through deception and silence in order to maintain happiness.
Scenes That Illustrate the Heart of the Novel
When Miss Lucy tells the children that it is much worse for them to smoke than it is for her, nobody asks her the question that is on everybody’s mind (Ishiguro 68). Why is it so much worse for them? This passive resistance to learning more about their own futures contributes to a better understanding of the characters and their desire to remain blissfully unaware .
When Miss Lucy tells the children the truth about their lives after Hailsham (Ishiguro 81), it is the first time that anyone is being honest with them and telling them about the reality of their futures. However, instead of being intrigued and wanting to learn more as would be expected, the children are relieved when she stops talking and later on do not talk much about what Miss Lucy has told them. Again, a better understanding of the characters is gained through their choice to not think about their devastating fates and simply brush them aside in order to feel untroubled.
When Ruth says out loud that the donors are all cloned after “trash” (Ishiguro 166-167), although it is what everybody else has been thinking for a long time, it marks a turning point in the novel. As shown in the past, the characters cope with difficult situations by simply not confronting them. When they have to admit to each other that they are the clones of the lowest people in society, they are no longer able to ignore it and that makes it much more real.
Miss Emily tells Kathy and Tommy that she has allowed the rumor of the deferral to continue because it causes no harm and gives the donors something to dream about (Ishiguro 258). This contributes to the understanding of the guardians and the way in which they guardians keep information from the donors in an attempt to leave them blissfully ignorant. While they believe they are doing the right thing, in the end they cause the donors even more heartbreak and pain than if they had know the truth from the beginning.
When Miss Emily discusses Miss Lucy and her mistaken views on preparing the children for what their future brings, it reiterates the pre existing understanding of the Hailsham guardians and their overarching goal to keep the donors from finding out the truth about their fate. Since Miss Lucy’s approach involved informing the children about their their horrific destiny rather than “protecting” them from the horror, Miss Lucy was fired from Hailsham. (Ishiguro 267-268).
The scene begins with a close up of Miss Lucy’s face in the center of the screen. This technique is used in order to portray Miss Lucy’s inner dilemma. Her desire to tell the children about their futures, but at the same time knowing that the other guardians at Hailsham would not approve of her doing so. The high contrast lighting, with harsh shafts of light and dramatic streaks of blackness, are used to highlight the importance of this dramatic moment. When the anxious music begins playing in the background, it foreshadows the important scene that is about to occur in an otherwise casual situation. The fact that Miss Lucy is wearing white while the children are wearing black, emphasizes the extreme difference between the life that clones are expected to live and the lives regular humans live. It also foreshadows the long life that Miss Lucy has ahead of her compared to the short life span and imminent death of the clones. The sudden pounding of the rain on the veranda is used to stress the intense situation at hand and the extreme level of tenseness and unease that both Miss Lucy and the children feel during the conversation. The low angle and deep focus shot of Miss Lucy and the children being placed near the bottom of the frame is done in order to give the impression of Miss Lucy looming over the children and their powerlessness and impending death. This highlights the fact that the children were born into a lower status in society than Miss Lucy was born into. The ending shot of this scene is a zoom shot to a close up of Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy’s faces. Not only does the zoom shot give the gut wrenching sense of being plunged into the world of the donors but the close up elevates the importance of the feelings of the children. The combined effect of using these techniques creates a feeling of sympathy for the children and their ignorance towards their futures.
The scene begins with Kathy and Tommy being closer to the sea on lower ground while Ruth is looking down on them from high ground farther inland. Kathy and Tommy’s placement not only suggest their vulnerability to Ruth’s harsh words but it also positions them closer to danger than Ruth. There is a public distance maintained between Ruth versus Kathy and Tommy. This not only evokes the sense of physical distance but also a distance between their personal desires. The giant wave hitting the shore as Ruth yells hurtful obscenities emphasizes the intensity of the situation, while the water spraying over only Kathy and Tommy is symbolic of the way the two display more pain from Ruth’s words than Ruth does. The camera then proceeds to reveal a close up of Ruth’s face and portrays the hate that she is feeling not only towards Kathy and Tommy but also towards the situation that they have been born into. Next, the deep focus shot of Ruth as she walk away gives a sense of the extreme distance between her and Kathy and Tommy not only in the physical sense but also the distance she has built between herself and the two of them by bringing up information that everybody knows but does not want to face because they have choosen to maintain blissfully ignorant. The rocks crunching under her feet, accentuating her every step and the seagulls crying out in the distance mark the ending of a painful scene. The ending image of a high angle shot of Tommy and Kathy standing together reiterates what Ruth has just said, that they are trivial and insignificant beings, coming from no more than trash itself. The low key lighting at the ending marks the close of the scene and the end of the search for their possibles in any civilized setting.
The scene is established with a pans scan of the room beginning from Kathy and Tommy to Miss Emily. This is done in order to reveal Miss Emily in a way that evokes a sense of surprise and astonishment. The shadows create an element of mystery from the moment that Kathy and Tommy walk into the house. When Miss Emily emerges from the darkness of the shadows and into the light, it marks the end to their mystery of what lies in the shadows but also the infamous deferrals they are about to learn the truth about. Miss Emily is viewed from a low angle in order to create the sense that she is threateningly looming over Kathy and Tommy who in turn, feel a certain level of awe and fear for Miss Emily. The phone suddenly sounding at a high pitched ring stresses the suspense and tension of the scene as Kathy and Tommy await to find out if they will be spared three more years of their short lives. This is followed by an extreme close up of Miss Emily’s eyes which emphasize her taking in every detail of Kathy and Tommy. The sad look in her eyes evokes a sense of loss. The camera then turns to an extreme close up of Kathy and Tommy holding hands symbolizing their love for each other. Sad music begins playing in the background as they both become aware of the lack of hope in Miss Emily’s eyes. The parting scene is an extreme close up of Kathy and Tommy letting go of each other’s hands which symbolizes their realization that there is no escape from being born a clone and the end of all the hope they maintained throughout their lives by never asking the difficult questions.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South is a tale of contradictions. Looking at the title, it presents the obvious, the distinctions between the northern rural industrial towns and the southern […]
Writing a Stronger and Equal Woman At the turn of the nineteenth century, England entered a phase thereafter known as the “Victorian Era.” Following this new era was a tide […]
A lot of the white settler’s views on slavery were based on where they resided: the south or north. The south contained a lot more slavery as they were a […]
“The Nightingale” Samuel Taylor Coleridge is considered one of the most significant poets and critics in the English language. His poem “The Nightingale”, is one of Coleridge’s most powerful and […]
We live in a world where people’s talents are taken for granted. People do not always appreciate what is given to them. However, people have to start appreciating every moment […]
Throughout the novel, Ishiguro depicts several situations in which Kathy as an individual being still asks herself who she is. Even Though she gives the reader a description of herself […]
In the second half of Never Let Me Go, by Ishiguro Kazo, readers are able to see how Kathy changes as she grows up. For example, she becomes much more […]
When I was first introduced to this story in the form of a movie back in 2010, I assumed the story only revolved around three friends Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, […]
The Science and Themes of Never Let Me Go (and Gattaca) Most science fiction films involving human clones take place hundreds of years in the future, where technology is far […]
In Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Ishiguro comments on the human tendency to choose ignorance through silence in order to maintain bliss. There are multiple forms of willful […]