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The Theme of Destiny in Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

It is challenging to understand unique characteristics and shape self-identity when actions are dictated to people and there is no basic freedom. Never Let Me Go is a story about a world where humans are cloned then told to donate organs when they become adults. The main character of the story is Kathy, who is raised at a boarding school known as Hailsham. The story follows the life of Kathy and her friends from childhood up to when she attains the age of donating organs. Possibles were the humans that students thought they had been cloned from while collections included items that students acquired from sale and exchange. Finding their possibles and the collections are symbols of identity as a theme and represent how our experiences and relationships shape our individuality.

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The students staying in the boarding school were keen to find their perceived possible to understand where their origins. When Ruth was told that a person from whom she had been cloned had been seen in Norfolk, she was visibly happy. Ruth wanted to understand if she was related to the human seen at the hotel. Miss Emily notes that “I can see… that it might look as though you are simply pawns in a game” (Ishiguro 266). This quote symbolizes the confusion that grips the student when discussing the issue of cloning. Miss Emily was trying to calm the students down as they were being distracted by finding their possible.

The majority of the students realized that they will not grow old and will die after donating the third time (Ishiguro 88). Kathy and her friends had to understand who they are and from whom they were cloned to end their predicament. The students did not comprehend their family history and could not pinpoint any relatives. This complicated the process of finding their human clone as they may not know which characteristic they inherited from a particular parent. The narrator uses dialogue to develop the storyline and to show how characters related to each other. The conversation between Ruth and other students indicates how the students viewed the issue of distinctiveness. Ruth says that “we all know it. We are modeled from trash, junkies, prostitutes, winos, tramps, convicts maybe…” (Ishiguro 166).

This quote is symbolic of the student’s perception of their identity. The students are confused about where they come from, which caused great discomfort to them. The clones believe that they can find their possible, which will help them understand their personalities and know their future (Ishiguro 142). However, the institution managing the school was secretive and manipulated the students to prevent them from attempting to discover the truth.

The students found the collection as a unique opportunity of owning something they admired and which reflected their personality. The collection has a sale and an exchange model where students are allowed to buy items. “For a start, they were our only means, aside from the sales…of building up a collection of personal possessions” (Ishiguro, 76 This quote indicates how the items symbolize the student’s search for their self-identity. It also illustrates how experiences shape the way we view ourselves. The students used the assortment to personalize the way they lived. They would apply decorations to individual rooms or find items to place on the desk. This helped them add more individuality to their life, which had been missing. For example, creating a space around the bed was common among the characters in the story.

Personal identities were of great concern to the clones due to their background in the school. “Why train us, encourage us, make us produce all of that? if we are going to give donations anyway, then die…” (Ishiguro 259). The clones wanted to live a normal life which is the reason Kathy questions why they were being trained and encouraged only for them to give donations and die. The struggle to identify their identities is similar to the way young people fight to create their unique path in life.

The author was trying to show how the issue of identity is important and the extent to which people are willing to go to discover it. In search of their uniqueness, the clones recognized that they do not have much time. The author used Norfolk as a symbol of loss and the woods as a symbol of the truths to which students were oblivious. Symbolism played a large part in providing meaning to the actions and words of the characters.

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The scholars in the boarding school are advised to pay close attention to artistic talent because students receive recognition based on their creative abilities. This influences the students to strive to become the best in art. One of the students known as Jackie, creates successful art pieces that are unique and famous within the school. “Jackie’s giraffes, Ruth said with a laugh. They were too beautiful. I used to have one.” (Ishiguro 16). This quote indicates that Jackie had successfully developed an identity of her own such that other students owned some of her creative ideas. The success of Jackie influenced other characters such as Tommy to desire to be artists.

“If Tommy had genuinely tried, she was saying, but he just couldn’t be very creative” (Ishiguro 29). Tommy failed to achieve any recognition as her art pieces were never posted on the dashboard. This experience may have changed the way Tommy viewed art and artists. The need to create an identity based on creative abilities was important since students did not have surnames. Thus, they relied on finding a creative ability that would help them stand out. The students have an underlying urge to be recognized because they achieved something. As a youth, there is a high likelihood of wanting more recognition from people. Therefore, identity is an essential part of life and may determine how people interact with others.

In summary, the theme of identity can be seen when students become interested in finding their possible human clones and the increased attention on collections. Also, the need to have artistic talents can be seen as a way of finding an identity. The novel talks about the issue of human cloning and its impacts on the students. The clones are in search of identity since they have no family history. This makes it hard for them to identify the possible from they were cloned. Additionally, the institution does not offer any help to them; instead makes their job harder. Therefore, identity is a central theme in the book Never Let Me Go and helps develop the story.

Work Cited

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2006.

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