Monday, June 3, 2013
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro--Read-a-Long Wrap-Up and Final Review #cceventsched
This is the end of the Post-2000 "Modern Classic" Read-a-Long of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I hope you enjoyed the book and I look forward to your thoughts on it. I'm going to share my final thoughts in a kind of analysis/book review style.
What does it really mean to be human? Are we human only if we were born to other humans, or can we also be considered to be human if we were created in a laboratory from another's DNA. This book confronts this question in a radical way. What if, in the future, clones were created for the sole purpose of saving the lives of the sick, i.e. via organ donation? In Never Let Me Go, the clones are created and educated as "students" in boarding school type institutions. At Hailsham, where much of the story takes place, a certain emphasis is made on the artistic endeavors of these students. What we later find out is that these students are, in fact, clones and when they leave their schools, they will go out into the world first as "Carers", those who take care of the donor clones as they go through their various donations, and then as donors. Upon donation number four, we learn they complete, or die, which basically means that a life giving organ was taken. However, sometimes the donors complete before donation four due to complications which is not surprising. The importance of Hailsham in all of this is that the way they educated the "students" and emphasized their artistic qualities was their way of proving to the world that these children (and later adults) do indeed have souls and so are human. What we learn through Ishiguro's masterful storytelling is that these people are very human...that they do possess souls. Which makes it all the more tragic.
I do have to admit feeling a bit irritated during much of the book. One of the characters (Ruth) is one of those people who would be absolutely exhausting to be friends with. And Kathy is so frustratingly complacent much of the time. I would have gone off on Ruth much more than Kathy, and even Tommy, ever did. I guess that's what made Kathy such an excellent Carer. Her ability to be understanding of other points of view, however frustrating or irritating. But this is just a little glitch in the reading of the book. Ultimately, I feel that each of the characters...Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy...behaved the way they did as their own special way of coping with what they knew was their inevitability. So very sad.
I must examine the moral implications of the idea behind this book. I used to think that cloning would be a good thing. That it would be good to have clones in case we got sick or our loved ones got sick. But when we are thinking such things, do we really consider that these clones are actually people? Even if they are genetic copies, they are made from the same stuff we are. Who says that you have to be born to be given a soul (if you believe in the human soul, as I do)? How do we know how we really get our souls in the first place?
Books that make me really think are my favorites to read. This doesn't change the fact that this book is very sad and I cried and cried at the end. Definitely well worth the read though.
So, what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments or leave me a link to your blog post and I'll stop by. Thanks for reading along with me!