Isolation in Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Kathy H. is viewed as a carer from the beginning of the novel. The end of her livelihood and she approaches this by reflecting on her memories of her privileged upbringing in the private and exclusive school of Hailsham. She describes her boarding school life paying attention to important aspects. However, she does not mention about her family, school holidays or the life she had before Hailsham. She is therefore not in contact with the outside world.
“There have been times over the years when I’ve tried to leave Hailsham behind when I’ve told myself I shouldn’t look back so much. But then there came the point when I just stopped resisting. It had to do with this particular donor I had once, in my third year as a carer; it was his reaction when I mentioned I was from Hailsham.” (p4).
This quotation expresses Kathy’s introduction in the first chapter where she integrates an adamant characteristic to go back into her past that guides the entire novel. This quote also brings out a centrality of where Kathy grew up, in the section of Hailsham with her allies Ruth and Tommy. This memory of Hailsham begins to as a touchstone in the recollections made by Kathy. Her most critical relationships start in this secluded place yet still becomes the bearing of her happy memories. In the same context of emotional isolation, Kathy does not want to look into the future and wants to hold on to Hailsham which impacts her career as a carer. She continually recollects the school through her constant memories and looks for the donors who attended her school in Hailsham. The quote also creates an aspect of her attempts to leave behind her memories and it is the same point one of her patients inquires her to share more about Hailsham. She realises she is lucky as the donor uses this to try and forget about his own traumatic experiences as a child.
“If we’d left it at seeing the woman through the glass of her office, even if we’d followed her through the town then lost her, we could still have gone back to the Cottages excited and triumphant. But now, in that gallery, the woman was too close, much closer than we’d ever really wanted. And the more we heard and looked at her, the less she seemed like Ruth.” (p78)
In the fourteenth chapter, this quote is after Kathy and her friends are in Norfolk following Ruth to an art gallery. The quote reflects a thin nature of the rumors and speculations that tend to sustain the hopes of the students. The talks also crumble under close scrutiny. The disappointment that follows the expedition sheers the frustration regarding Kathy and Tommy’s deferrals. More so, Ruth becomes untenable in the art gallery, and Kathy and Tommy soon discover that the deferrals do not exist in the gallery that Madame stores the art pieces from the students. This disappointment also symbolizes a significant change in the plot of the novel. Rodney, Chrissie, and Ruth have all come up to Norfolk with the hopes of altering their futures. Ruth is hoping to sign her future dream of working in an office. Rodney and Chrissie are hoping for a confirmation of a deferral process. They are all disappointed and resign to their careers as donors.
“It should have been you two. I’m not pretending I didn’t always see that. Of course, I did, as far back as I can remember. But I kept you apart. I’m not asking you to forgive me for that. That’s not what I’m after just now. What I want is for you to put it right. Put right what I messed up for you.” (p110).
In the nineteenth chapter of the book, Kathy drives Ruth and Tommy from a boat visit. The car is parked under a billboard that features an open plan office, and they share a conversation regarding Ruth and the deferral rumour. Within the quote, Ruth admits that it is indeed true that she had kept both Tommy and Kathy apart on purpose. She arrays a candor and straightforwardness which is an exception according to her character in the book. She takes up the responsibility of having manipulated them unlike what used to happen in the past. This portion defines Ruth’s ability to have deep decency and goodness despite her flaws. It also remarks on her sense of hope as well as her desires to wait for possibilities. Although the painting represents Ruth’s chance and desires, it also serves Tommy and Kathy’s hopes. Ruth also exposes her beliefs regarding more time to fix things. She opts to give them Madames address for their pursuit of deferrals.
“And so, we stood together like that, at the top of that field, for what seemed like ages, not saying anything, just holding each other, while the wind kept blowing and blowing at us, tugging our clothes, and for a moment, it seemed like we were holding onto each other because that was the only way to stop us being swept away into the night.” (p130).
In the twenty-second chapter, Tommy and Kathy both visit Madame’s house on their way back to the recovery centre. Tommy requests Kathy to Pullover and walks into the woods by the roadside where he starts screaming. Kathy then finds him in a muddy field where he is raging and embraces him. The scene also goes back to recall his temper on the football field in Hailsham where she had done the same. In holding each other, the novel’s title is invoked along with Kathy’s favourite song named Never let me go. Winds tug in a symbol of the force of the future and threaten them to pull away while at the same time the embrace represents a human impulse to hold on to the past. Holding each other is all they can do in this isolated field of despair.
“The fantasy never got beyond that—I didn’t let it—and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing or out of control. I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.” (p137)
In the final lines of the novel in the twenty-third chapter, Kathy describes Tommy’s death and the aftermath where she imagines his appearance on the horizon. An impossible want to recover everything she lost is expressed by her revisit to Norfolk. There is a faint-sounding of her previous excursion to Norfolk where Ruth and Tommy had accompanied her. Her childhood fantasy of Norfolk as a place where all the Hailsham students believed the lost could be found is revealed in this fantasy. In the ending, her fantasies are restrained. She refuses to allow herself to imagine the distance between her and Tommy and speaks of shielding her emotions out of control. This mute description shadows her grief and sorrow, in the same manner, it marked her longingness for Tommy in the entire novel.
Into a more in-depth perspective of her memories. She mentions Madame who visits time to time collecting pieces of artwork that which is presumed to add to her gallery. Consequently, the teachers at Hailsham are the guardians to the students and understand that they are different from them in a vague manner. This difference also applies to the Madame as well as all the normal outsiders in the rest of the world.
Kathy is getting older, and so are her friends, Ruth and Tommy who along with her have been referred to as clones that have been raised with the spare parts from normal people. However, Kathy’s career as a carer sort of combines the aspects of a patient advocate as well as an emotional support system for the donors whose organs are harvested for donations.
In numerous ways, the isolation in the book is described in much detail. Some gates are made to keep individuals out while others are made to keep individuals in. In the novel, these ‘gates,’ particularly isolation, is explored. When Kathy and her friends were younger, they could not leave the bubble world of Hailsham. Nonetheless, as they get older, they get the opportunity to have mini-adventures, take road trips, and drive. But even with this freedom, they still discover that there still exist barriers that cannot be seen.
Isolation in Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro