Symbolism In Never Let Me Go By Kazuo Ishiguro
Symbolism is “the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities”. Often times symbols are thought to be only items but “Action can also be symbolic”. In addition, almost all symbols “can’t be reduced to standing for only one thing”. Furthermore, the reader ultimately decides what they “think it stands for”. Essentially all literature uses symbolism to support themes and messages throughout a work. In the book Never Let Me Go, the main character has a difficulty moving on from her past. Kathy moves from Hailsham to the cottages, but struggles to integrate into her new life. Eventually, Kathy is forced to put her past behind her as her friends die and her first home and school, Hailsham, is shut down. Throughout the book the author uses symbolism to support the theme that people often have difficulty adapting to changes in life. The title Never Let Me Go symbolizes how Kathy will have difficulty separating from her previous life. To Kathy this phrase represented a mother who finally had a child and was “really afraid something might separate them”. The phrase “never let me go” was something she repeatedly listened to through her favorite song, and it symbolizes Kathy’s struggles to let go of her past. Kathy’s tendencies to reflect and talk about her old life at Hailsham also represents her struggles to move on from her old life. After moving to the cottages Kathy constantly mentions Hailsham such as “the guardians before we left” or her “collection after Hailsham”.
Because Kathy does not want to move on from her childhood at Hailsham, she constantly speaks of it. Kathy’s content attitude remaining a carer for such a long time demonstrates she has difficulties moving on. Kathy is a carer “for over eleven years” much longer than all her friends and most other carers. Even as all her friends move on to becoming donors, Kathy remains a caretaker because she dreads the idea of change. Tommy asks her if sometimes she wishes “they’d hurry up and send her notice”. Because she does not want to move onto this job yet, she says she does not. Kathy’s reaction when Tommy stated that he no longer wants for her to be his caretaker shows her dread at being forced to move on from one of her close friends. Upon receiving the news Kathy “was furious”. In addition, she was told the news in a field that was “really foggy” and had “nettles and brambles”. The clouds symbolize a gloomy sad mood, and the thorny plants represent how she feels caught in her new life. Tommy’s black notebook, as well as the frosted window in his room, symbolizes how he soon will die and force Kathy to move on. The “frosted glass” represents death as well as a gloomy mood foreshadowing how Tommy will soon die. In addition, before he dies Tommy begins drawing in a “little black notebook”, and the color black frequently represents sadness and death. His death is tragic, because it will force Kathy to move on from her final friend; death is the ultimate force to move on. Kathy is constantly forced to move. She leaves her old homes, and as she ages she is forced to leave her old friends as they die. This causes her many struggles, as she often wants to hang onto memories from the past. By using many different forms of symbolism throughout the story, Ishiguro is able to convey the theme that people often have a difficult time adapting to changes in life.
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