Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: A Dramatic Glance at Cruel Nature of Modern Humanity

What kind of dystopia can you imagine about human intelligence intertwined with biotechnology?

What technology is sufficient to illuminate humanity's dark history full of various sufferings and wars? Let's take a look at how the splendent modernization process of human intelligence and techonology, has revealed dangerous and cruel ambitions of humanity in the novel, Never Let Me Go written by Ishiguro.

Post-war British literature develops with a movement of thought, Postmodernism which arises from the change of the world related to World War II and criticizes the effects of modernism on the society. The postmodern thinkers and authors give a kind of pessimistic reaction to human future in their works, dealing with the themes of alienation, isolation and fragmentation to emphasize the absolute reality of great destructions like wars, poverty, hunger and loss of life in the world. This situation actually creates the structure of dystopian fiction in which modern developments are unable to offer a solution for various disaster scenarios. Ishiguro’s science fiction novel, Never Let Me Go, explores a dystopia of how biotechnology and human cloning for organ transplants has led to a kind of ethical dilemma of humanity in the modern world. Thus, Ishiguro’s postmodernist approach towards England and late 1990s’ advances in the field of biotechnology reveals a cruel nature of modern humanity in Never Let Me Go.

Ishiguro’s postmodernist approach towards the late 1990s’ advances in the field of biotechnology is represented by Hailsham as a dystopian school where the students who are actually donors are supposed to develop their artistic talents and learn how to keep their bodies healthy. He discusses the ethical dilemma of modern humanity with the characterization of Miss Lucy, the honest and rebellious guardian of the students. The protagonist, Kathy tells the story of her past memories with her best friend, Ruth and childhood love, Tommy at Hailsham. Like the other students, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy do not know who they are really. Miss Lucy shares the hard truths with them, saying that all of students they are created as clones who are obliged to donate their vital organs. Even if she is dismissed from the school because of her confession, she reveals the importance of ethical values for humanity. She does not want Tommy to feel sorry for the lack of his artistic ability because the students have a short life and a heavy purpose of creation, so they never make their dreams about future come true. Here, the system of Hailsham just protects the greedy interests and needs of normal people by planning to offer a healthier and longer life for themselves. The students are the clones of real people, so they have human characteristics and emotions like calmness, loyalty, bad-temper, jealousy, the bond of friendship and love. For this reason, Kathy, Tommy and Ruth suffer from a kind of love triangle because Ruth manipulates her boyfriend, Tommy to keep him away from his true love, Kathy. Madam’s gallery, where the students create their own artworks, is also another proof of the fact that the cloned children have an intelligence, imagination, ability and individuality like real humans. Thus, Ishiguro reflects his anxiety and fear towards the late 1990s’ advances in the field of biotechnology by creating a dystopian world in Never Let Me Go. His postmodern paranoia is actually based on the cruel nature of modern human because the idea of modernity about the continuous progress in every field makes people more ambitious, greedy and unexpected. Ishiguro portrays it through the images of oppressed cloned children and the liar guardians of Hailsham preparing the students to die. He creates a dystopia about what kinds of ethical problems a possible biotechnological development for human cloning leads to because modern people have already lost the right scale of their ambitions, desires, abilities and fears.   

In conclusion, Ishiguro demonstrates the possibility of how people can be drawn into a vortex of complexity in the modern world. His postmodern approach towards the late 1990s’ advances in the field of biotechnology, cloning and organ transplants points out the possible ethical problems in Never Let Me Go. The idea of modernity makes people beyond measure because of the continuous and unexpected biotechnological developments. Ishiguro offers a pessimistic scenario deprived from the ethical values in which modern people create the cloned children to use them like a kind of machines or robots without thinking that human clones have same feelings, dreams and desires like real people. Kathy becomes a carer and witnesses the donors’ painful process after the organ transplants in the recovery centers. She finally cares Ruth and Tommy, so she has to experience a kind of heart wrenching human tragedy. Even if Miss Lucy tries to represent the ethical value at Hailsham, the other guardians leave the cloned children to their deplorable fate. As a result, Ishiguro reveals the cruel nature of modern humanity in his dystopia where Kathy, Ruth and Tommy pay the price for being human clones, both confronting a kind of emotional tension between themselves and being victims of cruel nature of modern humanity.

Picture Resource: