World Of Human Cloning Used For Organ Transplantation In Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro, a Japanese- writer, portrays a cloned protagonist, Kathy, reminiscing about her childhood at Hailsham and her adolescence in his novel, Never Let Me Go. Not only is the novel’s backdrop settled on fictional England with cloning milieu but also the narrator, Kathy, is notably subject to her memory of the past in which she has been “told and not told”. Letting Kathy–one of the clones to act as a narrator allows readers to transfer their emotions into clones from the very beginning. As the plot progresses, it seems that the question to be explored in the story is no longer how the clone proves that he has a soul, but how the reader proves that he has a soul. Given the overly bleak atmosphere of the story, there is a profound sense of tragedy in Ishiguro’s story. Yet the tragedy does not reside solely in mortality – sad but inevitable constant of human life, as Ishiguro reminds us. Hence, the thesis probes into the issue concerning how the passivity of life connects with a mortal fate; it also explicates the different facets of acknowledging the meaning of life forced upon oneself then further argues the meaning of life is given by oneself from within; finally it presents how the limitation of time serves as both the pressing motive of Ishiguro’s story and a medium for social connection. Ishiguro presents the world of human cloning used for organ transplantation with extremely sentimental strokes and ultimately questions the notion of soul and the meaning of life.
The passivity of life lies in its vulnerability to death, but it can be transformed into a way of living in peace with fate. When Tommy compares his and Kathy’s love for each other to the image of two people standing in a river, it captures the tragedy, vulnerability, and ultimately the powerlessness of a personal life in the face of greater power — “I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how I think it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.’ (282) Ruth ignores the love of Tommy and Kathy in order to use Tommy to suppress her fear of loneliness. Kathy ignored their love, left things alone, and kept the sense of unity intact. The authorities in Hailsham still turned a blind eye to love following their plan. Rivers, the natural world, are indifferent to the fate of the characters, blind to their own desires and goals. In this case, Kathy’s passivity becomes a tool for making peace with predetermined destiny –“Once I’m able to have a quieter life, in whichever centre they send me to, I’ll have Hailsham with me, safely in my head, and that’ll be something no one can take away.”(286), they can take away her vital organs, but not Kathy’s memories of Hailsham. Hailsham is the source of Kathy’s real comfort, and she almost sounds scornful here even though she is yielding to her fate–she grabs the most valuable thing in the utter hopelessness as a doner.
When the meaning of life is imposed on a person, it leads to an inability to accept the nature of things. Ishiguro makes the readers wonder if the meaning of life is something that can be given, even imposed on him by external factors, like what the creators of Hailsham do for their students.“you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you was created to do. You’re not like actors you watch on your videos, you are not even like me. You were brought into this world for a purpose, and your futures, all of them, have been decided… You need to remember that. If you are to have decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you, every one of you.”(81) Crucial here is that one needs to acknowledge the constraints within which the pursuit of fulfillment is possible. But, Ishiguro asks, is the power of knowledge redemptive? How do we adapt to what we know and what we do? All of these questions can find their expression in the story and one of the most powerful lessons is the ultimate human inability to accept how things are. Mrs. Lucy is wrong. Knowledge does not bridge the gap between what you want and what you know. The scene that supports this explanation is when Tommy finds the deferral impossible — “…near where the field began to fall away, Tommy’s figure, raging, shouting, flinging his fists and kicking out.”(274) the fact that screaming is the only way in which Tommy can express his rebellion points to his ultimate inability to fight against circumstances. There is no way for him to linguistically articulate his genuine human need for belonging, and once this is taken away from a person, all that is left is screaming, which thus becomes his only way of reacting to the world for him.
The purpose of life cannot be imposed upon one but has to come from within. In the scene where Ruth blurts out the truth about the clones, “We all know it. We’re modeled from trash. Junkies, prostitutes, winos, tramps. Convicts, maybe, just so long as they aren’t psychos. That’s what we come from. We all know it, so why don’t we say it?”(166)–The Norfolk episode, in which Ruth goes on a search for her possible model, introduces an aspect of the inheritance that matters for one’s identity, which has to do with the possibly determining influence our ancestors have on us. The cruel reality that Ruth exposed makes the readers wonder– is it ever really possible for one to develop one’s own personality, given one’s background and expectations that were set out for one? How much control do we have over what we do with our lives, given the genetic and social parameters we were brought up in? Of course, for the students, who have very little choice over what to do with the limited time they have before they start off with their donations, the idea of choosing one’s path in life is hardly an option. Therefore, to meet one’s possible model is a way of knowing what life could have been like in different circumstances. Not knowing one’s parents creates a huge hole in self-knowledge and consequently in one’s identity. Kathy doesn’t understand her sexual urges so she turns to porn magazines in search of her possible original – the underlying thought being that if her ancestor is somehow sexually deranged then that would by itself explain her own sexual inclinations. “You weren’t doing it for the kicks…like you were sad, maybe, and a bit scared.”(136) Ishiguro has explored the tension between being free to act and being preordained, or in some other ways —social, political, religious —restrained in acting, particularly in times of significant social changes.
The limitation of time serves as both the pressing motive of Ishiguro’s story and a medium for social connection. When Kathy describes the sexual relationship with Tommy: “What I mean is, right from that first time, there was something in Tommy’s manner that was tinged with sadness, that seemed to say: ‘Yes, we are doing this now and I’m glad we are doing it now. But what a pity we left it so late’ ”(239) Time thus becomes one of the most pressing motives in Ishiguro’s story. It figures in the way the story is told – like memories, time passed, as Kathy contemplates her life and retells the narrative of her and Tommy and Ruth’s relationships. The lack of time is also an important mechanism that structures the lives of the three characters, and as Mrs. Lucy emphasizes, one needs to know this if one is to have a decent, meaningful and fulfilled life. So what the story ultimately brings to view – is what happens when the realization that time cannot be gained or regained is additionally supported by the realization that one’s choices have been wrong, for whatever reasons. In life, as in Hailsham, there are no deferrals. Second, time matters from the perspective of the choices we make. The limitation of time severely limits what we can or cannot do. Sometimes it is too late and options once available are no longer at our disposal. That’s behind a feeling of ‘But what a pity we left it so late” that Tommy and Kathy share. It is the motivating factor behind Ruth’s redeeming act of asking forgiveness– “ ‘I’d like you to forgive me, but I don’t expect you to…the main thing is, I kept you and Tommy apart…that was the worst thing I did.’ ”(232)The character of Ruth is important in one aspect that has to do with the duality of who we are and how we represent ourselves. She is deeply insecure and guided by despair. By not identifying with the purpose assigned to her and not being able to find some other, Ruth is left without any firm ground from which to build her identity and by assuming the position of a leader, she tries to take control of her life. Her actions are guided by fear of rejection and loneliness, and it is only after breaking the relationships with Ruth and Tommy that she is capable of facing herself, coming to terms with what she did and of asking for forgiveness.
As the clones grow up, they know the truth dimly, but they still choose to fulfill their responsibilities. The common rebellious ideas in European culture did not even appear in their minds. They talk, guess, hesitate calmly, make small fights within the allowable limits, and then return to their assigned roles. Rather than trying to show the successful brainwashing of human cloning by educational institutions, Ishiguro might have brought the Japanese cultural concept of emphasizing responsibility into his works. Ishiguro’s novel with the theme of cloning ethics explores how to choose and survive in the destiny of mortality. Ishiguro’s Japanese cultural background is particularly prominent in this regard. In Greek mythology, the source of Western culture, a fate only makes others sigh when it is realized, while the characters themselves, even if they know the fate, still behave following their will. But in the Japanese spiritual world, fate is not determined by God, but by responsibility and one’s role. Although people are unwilling to do so, the most honorable and extreme rebellion is only directed at death–the example being “seppuku” in Japanese culture.