Around the Year in 52 Books discussion

Never Let Me Go
This topic is about Never Let Me Go
64 views
Archives > BotM 2016 - [June] Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro - Part 4 (Spoilers)

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Laura, Celestial Sphere Mod (new)

Laura | 3823 comments Mod
Part 4 Questions

Section of book: 76-10%

Notes
- Each member is asked to end with a question for the next member. So your fifth question comes from the person above you.
- If the person above you forgets to pose a question then just pick a different one from above (make sure you indicate which one you're answering!)
- If some other question from above moves you then feel free to answer as many as you want. It is a discussion after all! ;)

1. How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?

2. What is the significance of the title?

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose?

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you? How do you respond to the author’s explanation of his choice:

“It’s something I do instinctively in my writing,” says Ishiguro “and with this book it was a very important feature that escape was not an option. It’s about how we’re all aware of our fate, in that we have a limited time in life. Escape isn’t an issue in the book, because it’s never really an option in our own lives. Characters like Stevens and the kids in Never Let Me Go do what we all do; try to give meaning to our lives by fulfilling some sort of duty.”

5. Answer the question posed by the person above you!


message 2: by J (new) - rated it 4 stars

J Austill | 673 comments 1. How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?

I think that the only way in which they were different from normals is in how they were raised. They were sequestered away from society and taught to live a very specific way all the while being well aware that life ends when you're in your 20's/early 30's.

2. What is the significance of the title?

Ishiguro got a lot of work out of that title! Obviously, it was the big track from Kathy's cassette tape and the tape and song themselved played a big part in the story. But then it also shows up thematically at many points in the book.

Near the end, we have the scene where Kathy and Tommy are physically holding onto each other in the field while strong winds are blowing which is symbolic of their closeness during Tommy's time as a donor and while near completion. Then again we see it when Tommy relates the scene of two lovers in the river being pulled apart by the current.

And then finally, Kathy explains to us how she will never let go of either Ruth or Tommy (and Hailsham) because, even though they have completed (all three), they are still in her memories.

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose?

Yes, I did. That said, it did get on my nerves at times when Kathy's story would jump around and wander down side tracks of memory and description while I just wanted to find out the next big reveal. But the truth is: he absolutely nailed the way that people talk and think and relate stories (when they're not accomplished authors).

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you?

No, I think I came to the same conclusion as the author on my own.

Question: What pieces of information were not revealed or explored in the book that you really wish had been?


message 3: by Marta (last edited Jun 09, 2016 04:58PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Marta (gezemice) | 784 comments Before I go into the questions, I will say that while I understand the intent and I applaud the skill of execution, I did not like it. My full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

1. How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?
Outwardly, nothing distinguishes them. They are exactly as human as "normals", think and feel the same.

As for their life prospects, they are like cattle. Grown for organs. Hailsham is just a free-range cattle farm.

As people, they have no parents and are raised in boarding schools. They cannot have children. Their life is overshadowed by their fate - they try to achieve brief normalcy, but the web of lies they live in renders them passive.

2. What is the significance of the title?
Obviously it shows up in the book as a song title, and other places like J said. However, reading the author's quote, I think it means "they will never let me go" - as in, there is no escape, it is hopeless. This is the concept of the book - examine how people react in a completely hopeless situation.

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose?
No. I acknowledge the skill and how he used the style to underline his theme, but I suffered from it. The kids are never told the truth but they aren't lied to, either - the truths are just sort of mentioned in context of other things, and they have to figure out what's understood but never stated. We, the readers get the same treatment - get the main points as side-mentions about something else. It was jarring to read and I skimmed a lot - something I don't normally do.

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you?
Absolutely! Here is the part of my review that relates to this:

It really bothered me that all kids are depicted as passive and accepting - why are there no questions, anger, resentment, escape plans, revolution plans, attempt at contact with "normals"? There is no overt suppression of their thoughts or forced limits to their movements. At least some should have the very human - and teenage - traits of curiosity, rebellion, anger, questioning of purpose. Ishiguro stamped this out of them, making this picture incomplete, and artificially too bleak and hopeless.

5. Question: What pieces of information were not revealed or explored in the book that you really wish had been?
The whole point of the book is how damaging lies, silences, implications are. Ruth manipulates people around her with unsaid implications and pretend games; so does Hailsham, and the entire society. This means that many things are unsaid, but Ishiguro revealed everything he thought was important.

I probably would have liked the book more if it related to the society and science more. It would have been more sci-fi if he revealed more about the cloning process, the donation process, and the medical science behind it. Societal impact could have been analyzed if the donors met "normals", if we met regular people and learned their views on the subject, perhaps see a movement started against the cloning program. In context of the characters, it would have been good to know more about Madame and her motivations.


Question: How do you see Hailsham and its mission? Are Hailsham students better off?


Michelle (mich2689) | 476 comments 1. How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?

They are similar to "normals" in the way all human beings are similar to one another; they are all capable of thinking and feeling. I agree with Marta and J that they are different because of the way they were raised. They don't have any family and they don't have the option to make decisions about their future.

2. What is the significance of the title?

Before I knew anything about the book, I didn't like the title. It did absolutely nothing to intrigue me. However, as I read on, I started to see the significance and symbolism of the title. Never let me go symbolizes many things: Kathy's interpretation of the song, Madame's interpretation of the song, Kathy never wanting to let go of Hailsham and Ruth and Tommy, and of course the clones' inescapable bleak futures.

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose?

Yes, I did. I think Ishiguro did a good job of writing in a tone that accurately depicts the way the narrator would talk. I've read his other book The Remains of the Day, and he did the same thing there.

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you?

Definitely. Why did they not try to rebel or at least run away? I'm sure they could have blended in as a normal easily. I guess since they were raised to accept their fate, something like the psychological phenomena of Learned Helplessness was at play.

5. How do you see Hailsham and its mission? Are Hailsham students better off?

I did like Hailsham's mission. It was an attempt at progress. Definitely wasn't humane enough, but it was something, and I do agree that the students from there were better off. I like Marta's analogy of Hailsham as a free-range cattle farm. It's not humane to raise these clones, who are perfectly human and with a soul, to just kill them off later on, but if it has to be done, it is better that society at least tries to give them a fulfilling life before the time of their fate.

Question: Did you like the ending? If not, how would you have liked it to end?


Rachel A. (abyssallibrarian) | 2634 comments 1. How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?
I think the characters were pretty similar to "normals" in the sense that they had the same kinds of thoughts and feelings as everyone else. Like normal teens, they experimented with aspects of their identity as much as possible, struggled with friendships/relationships, etc. The only way that they really differed was in their lack of choice/control over their futures. They also were a lot more isolated than normal teens, since they grew up in a boarding school environment and I don't remember any mention at all of parents or siblings.

2. What is the significance of the title?
This may be a bit of a stretch, but I think of the title in terms of someone's legacy. "Never let me go" as in "never forget about me." The clones had a predetermined future and were not treated as human or as individuals anywhere but at Hailsham. To me, the title reflects the idea of the clones as unique people -- we see that through Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. They were all raised the same way and had the same predetermined future, but they were very different and unique individuals.

Most people in general want to be remembered after they die. In the book, the clones had no choice about their lives so it was harder for them to set themselves apart in a way that would make them have a lasting impact on the world. They couldn't grow up to be, for example, teachers, inventors, etc. who could make a difference. So to me "never let me go," is a mix of a fear of death and of the desire to have their lives mean something.

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose?
It's been quite a while since I read the book, but I remember being quite impressed with the writing. Like others have said, I found the jumping around a little confusing and annoying at times, but as a whole I really liked the style.

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you? How do you respond to the author’s explanation of his choice:
For some reason, it didn't really bother me that the students never took action because I saw it as a natural continuation of the way they were raised. Kathy mentioned earlier in the book that they all kind of knew about the organ donations even though it was never directly discussed. To them, it was just how life worked and I don't think it ever occurred to them that there would or should be any other way.

It would have been interesting to see how the clones would have gone about trying to change their futures. Aside from running away from Hailsham, I'm actually not sure what they really could have done to change it. In that sense, I agree with the author's explanation of his choice.

5. Did you like the ending? If not, how would you have liked it to end?
I did enjoy the ending, although I remember having the sense that the book was a little anti-climactic in a sense.

My question: What do you think of the system of having clones become carers for other clones?


Kathy | 2201 comments 1. How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?
They had normal feelings about themselves and other people like their classmates and guardians. One thing they didn't do like normal teenagers was have some feeling of rebellion. Normal teens would have tried to escape.

2. What is the significance of the title?Of course it was the name of the song that Kathy had on a tape and that had such meaning for her. But I think the same as others above, that it related to Kathy's feelings for Tommy and Ruth. And to the wistfulness the they feel about not having a say in their own lives - choosing, loving someone, having children. The only thing they had was each other.

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose?Yes, I liked it a lot. I love the first person narrative. And it served his purposes of not giving the reader much information because the story was always from Kathy's point of view.

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you? How do you respond to the author’s explanation of his choice:

“It’s something I do instinctively in my writing,” says Ishiguro “and with this book it was a very important feature that escape was not an option. It’s about how we’re all aware of our fate, in that we have a limited time in life. Escape isn’t an issue in the book, because it’s never really an option in our own lives. Characters like Stevens and the kids in Never Let Me Go do what we all do; try to give meaning to our lives by fulfilling some sort of duty.”


I actually don't know why escape was not an option. It seems the "clones" could have blended in with the "normal" population. Even the way they were raised without parents and in a boarding school wouldn't account for the kids having no feelings of rebellion.

5.What do you think of the system of having clones become carers for other clones? It made sense in the story. The carers know what will happen to themselves and the people in their charge. They can relate to the people they are caring for.

My question: What did you think of the plans of Madame and Miss Lucy to try to better the conditions for people who will be donors? They seemed to feel that at least they helped some clones have better lives by starting Hailsham and other schools. What do you think?

reply | flag *


message 7: by Bec (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bec | 769 comments 1 . How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?
I think they were different in they were raised not to know how to live in society. For all intensive purposes they were the same but they didn't know it.

2. What is the significance of the title? Besides the obvious of it being Kathy's song, I think it was about the students never being able to leave the life they were raised for.

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose? I liked they way it was Kathy's point of view. I never did get closure into who she was actually talking to which would have been nice.

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you? How do you respond to the author’s explanation of his choice:
“It’s something I do instinctively in my writing,” says Ishiguro “and with this book it was a very important feature that escape was not an option. It’s about how we’re all aware of our fate, in that we have a limited time in life. Escape isn’t an issue in the book, because it’s never really an option in our own lives. Characters like Stevens and the kids in Never Let Me Go do what we all do; try to give meaning to our lives by fulfilling some sort of duty.”

No this didn't bother me.

5. Did you like the ending? If not, how would you have liked it to end? No I didn't like the ending. It had an anti-climax. The discussions with Madame and Miss Lucy weren't really earth shattering. I would have liked to have read a bit of what life was like as a donor for Kathy.

6. What did you think of the plans of Madame and Miss Lucy to try to better the conditions for people who will be donors? They seemed to feel that at least they helped some clones have better lives by starting Hailsham and other schools. What do you think?
I assume you mean Miss Emily - although Miss Lucy tried to help too. I think Madame and Miss Emily really thought they were helping the donors and I guess they were for that early part of their life. We never learned about that the other schools were like so it would have been interesting to see how they compared.

My question - Whose opinion on the amount of information the students were given do you align with - Miss Lucy or Miss Emily?


message 8: by Silvia (last edited Jun 29, 2016 07:50AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Silvia Turcios | 1071 comments 1. How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?
The only difference I can think is this acceptance to stay and wait for their destiny of being donors. Really I don't think any person would be willing to wait to being used. I never understood why they didn't run away and the only explanation is there was something missing in them, the same way they weren't able to have babies, they must have suffered some change to not be able to think on just escape.

2. What is the significance of the title?
Never Let me go, Kathy gave a meaning to the song that could be translated to her own life, wishing for something they couldn't have.

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose?
It's interesting, but slow, maybe because the nostalgic tone, but no, I didn't really liked it.

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you? How do you respond to the author’s explanation of his choice:

“It’s something I do instinctively in my writing,” says Ishiguro “and with this book it was a very important feature that escape was not an option. It’s about how we’re all aware of our fate, in that we have a limited time in life. Escape isn’t an issue in the book, because it’s never really an option in our own lives. Characters like Stevens and the kids in Never Let Me Go do what we all do; try to give meaning to our lives by fulfilling some sort of duty.”

Mhm ... I just talked about this on the question 1. I don't believe in fate, I believe that you make your own destiny, so that is why the only way I can understand they don't escape is because something was missing on them. I mean there are some part on our brains that manage the fear, the memory, etc. Maybe there was a part that stole their ability to think on escape and they were made without it in the same way they weren't able to have babies.

5. Whose opinion on the amount of information the students were given do you align with - Miss Lucy or Miss Emily?
Miss Emily, because it was the one who gave them a little hope ... even if it was a lie.

My question
- If you were able to change the ending, which end would you give to this book?


message 9: by Pamela (last edited Jul 10, 2016 05:47PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pamela | 626 comments 1. How do you think the characters were similar to/different from "normals"?
I was curious about normals. They seemed to lived amongst them, Kathy had her bedsit and drove a car and I assume ate, but you never see her interact with them. I was wondering if to a normal, would you be able to identify a clone or were they just like them?
Clearly the biggest difference is the lack of a future and no encouragement to dream of one. The whole issue with Ruth and her dream of an office job. What would have happened if she said something?

2. What is the significance of the title?
As someone said above, there was lot of bang for that buck! The song, Tommy's river dream, her final images, her role as carer for people dying. And then the idea of what happens after your 4th donation, do they let you go?

3. Did you like the style of the writing/Ishiguro's prose?
I do. This is the second book of his I've read this year and the way he is able to create not just a world and story but also atmosphere is amazing.

4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you? How do you respond to the author’s explanation of his choice:
I think it is an interesting idea. I must admit, for all the talk of deferrals, why was there no talk of escape? Perhaps it was this sense of community created? Or was it just that they knew there were no options? And were there? Because we see it all from Kathy's perspective, we don't know what systems there are for keeping them in which she does not acknowledge.

If you were able to change the ending, which end would you give to this book? I suppose the happy ending would have been Kathy and Tommy running off and being happy (I was trying to think what 3 organs he was missing and could live without- liver, kidney, and ??)

My question-
Why the boat?


Jerrod I found many things not to like in this book. You can see my review here.

4. It did bother me a bit when the kids never took action. They could walk around freely, and there doesn't seem to be anything stopping Ruth from getting a job in an office with an open-floor plan. There were no agents of the state tracking them down. I get that this is part of the point of the book (we become so entwined with our past and background that we can't escape it), but it didn't feel real to me.

My question: did anyone else think this book could be read like a critique of factory farming and the limitations of the free-range, "humanely raised" movement?


back to top