Kazuo Ishiguro, the Man Booker prize winner for his acclaimed novel The Remains of the Day, arrives with another acclaimed novel Never Let Me Go which explores the idea of cloning in a small boarding school near Norfolk, England.
This topic has been all the rage in Hollywood recently, with movies such as The Island and Gattica that show the struggle between natural born humans and organisms that have been genetically created, or for a more common term, clones. Ishiguro explores a deeper meaning when taking on this theme in his novel. He explains how clones have little or no freedom and are left with a loss of individuality.
The narrator of this story is Kathy, a
thirty-something woman who attended Hailsham boarding school in the late 1970's. She is retelling the events her childhood with her two friends, Ruth and Tommy, who also attended the mysterious boarding school that stresses the importance of good health and creativity.
The students at Hailsham are taught at a young age that they will be giving "donations" at one point in their life, meaning they will most likely lose their lives donating their vital organs to "originals" or the receivers who have purchased the clones. The persons in charge at Hailsham are referred to as guardians, who are often feared by students because of their strict dispositions. All of the students are taught how to create physical pieces of art, rather than theatre or music. This allows for the students to express themselves, yet they are not taught any necessary life skills.
Hailsham was essentially an experiment. In the novel, society at that point in time felt that clones were non-human organisms that were merely sources of organs. They felt that clones did not have souls nor possessed the capability to love one another. The creators at Hailsham forced the students to create artwork as a means of knowing whether or not their theories were true.
Ishiguro's novel does not focus entirely about cloning but rather the emotions that are evoked as a result of the predicament the students at Hailsham are subjected to. He uses the character's experiences to show that compassion and companionship truly have an impact on one's life.
The characters in Never Let Me Go are not given many choices in their lives. They are isolated within the Hailsham campus unable to interact with "the outside world". They are told
what to do, and when to do it, inside and outside of school, considering that Hailsham is a boarding school.They have capitulated every ounce of freedom they have to the "guardians" demands. Remember back to your elementary school days. I would assume that many of you followed the rules during the school day, but what about at home? How would you feel if you had no say in your life? You had one goal in life and you were to live isolated from the rest of the world? Would you feel lonely? How would you cope?
This novel has been made into a major motion picture, Never Let Me Go , starring Keira Knightley, Carrie Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.