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English: Never Let Me Go

About the Novel

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

Plot Summary

Never Let Me Go is a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It was published in 2005 but is set in the 1990s. However, Ishiguro’s version of 1990s society is not one that readers will recognise. A dystopia exists where many individuals are cloned from other people in order to be used as organ donors. The narrator Kathy H is an adult who is looking back at events that occurred when she was a pupil at Hailsham school. Her narration often leaps from the past to the present. Kathy and her friends, Ruth and Tommy, along with all the other pupils at Hailsham, are among those who have been cloned for the purpose of organ donation. Completion, (or death) usually occurs after the fourth organ donation

About the Author - Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, on 8 November 1954. He came to Britain in 1960 when his father began research at the National Institute of Oceanography, and was educated at a grammar school for boys in Surrey. 

Afterwards he worked as a grouse-beater for the Queen Mother at Balmoral before enrolling at the University of Kent, Canterbury, where he read English and Philosophy. He was also employed as a community worker in Glasgow (1976), and after graduating worked as a residential social worker in London.

He studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, a member of the postgraduate course run by Malcolm Bradbury, where he met Angela Carter, who became an early mentor. He has been writing full-time since 1982. In 1983, shortly after the publication of his first novel, Kazuo Ishiguro was nominated by Granta magazine as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Writers'. He was also included in the same promotion when it was repeated in 1993.

 His sixth novel is Never Let Me Go (2005) and he collaborated with George Toles and Guy Maddin on the screenplay for The Saddest Music in the World, a melodrama set in the 1930s, starring Isabella Rossellini. 

He was awarded the OBE in 1995 for services to literature and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1998. His work has been translated into over 30 languages. In 2017 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Themes, Symbols and Motifs

The three main themes in this novel are:

  • identity
  • nostalgia
  • friendship
  • powerlessness
  • dystopian reality

Never Let Me Go is a novel which shows what happens when a society is allowed to use scientific experimentation freely and without considering the moral implications. It’s a novel about friendship and about longing for the past, as well as a novel which allows the reader to question the ethics of human cloning.

Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. 

Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.

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