I adored Never Let Me Go,but to be honest,I couldn’t find much depth in the story,that is,I couldn’t say whether it was allegorical work or not.At one point,the idea that Ishiguro only wanted to write a beautiful,poignant and original story with no intent to deliver a strong message even came into my mind.But on the day before yesterday I read an enlightening introduction of the book by Claire Messud,and thereafter,the book made more sense to me – allegorically speaking.
Many of us were heart-broken upon learning about,and later witnessing,the fate of the clones.They are brought into life only to serve as organ donors in their twenties,and thus,have a relatively short lifespan.Even more horrifying is the clones’ awareness of what awaits them.Soon after leaving ‘school’,they spend some time at the Cottage before becoming carers,and then,donors.Life as a donor is unpredictable; some can ”complete” right after the first or second donation,while others can go as far as the fourth donation,four being the maximum number of donations a clone can stand; either way,there is no life after becoming a donor.
We find some consolation in the fact that these clones are merely fictional characters and all come from the head of a fellow human being.But little do we know that there is not much which differentiates us from the clones.Aren’t humans faced with the inevitability of death as well,although lucky enough to have a greater lifespan?
I spent much time pondering over what donors and carers stand for in real life,and luckily I think I have found my answer.Future donors are made carers,so that in staying alongside their patient until his death,they will have a glimpse into their own future life and as a result,will be more prepared for it.We become ”carers” in real life when we see people we were close with reach old age,that is,when they turn 70 or thereabouts.Just as some donors ”complete” after their early donations,some people die right at the beginning of old age.Similarly just as some donors live long enough for their ultimate donation,some people live till the very end of their lifespans,that is,in their 90s or 100s.Also,note how,when going for their third or fourth donation, donors are congratulated in the same manner as when an old person reach a birthday milestone.Anyhow,when those old persons die and we have to attend their funerals,we are reminded of the transience of life and catch a glimpse of our fate; like the carers,we are more prepared for death.
Ishiguro also hints at life’s ambivalence through the clones’ attitude to death,which closely resembles ours.Despite the inevitability of death,the clones carry on with their lives.They talk about sex,”possibles”,and a myriad of other things;they live as if they will never die.Life is at once beautiful and sad.Beautiful because it detracts from our sight the horrifying prospect that we will die one day.Sad because it makes us live under the illusion that death will not occur to us,that everything we have lived and will live will never come to an end one day.
Furthermore many people have wondered why the clones don’t just run away.Fleeing from their fate is as inconceivable to them as immortality is to us.On the other hand,they merely wish to delay their donation.If,as I said above,donations indeed stand for old age,this quest of theirs stand for humans’ wish to delay old age and death;all through our lives,we have wished to live a little bit more,to be a little younger at 50,or 60,considered to be the threshold for old age.Like the clones,we do not wish for something impossible and surreal.
It is said that the clones are brought into life to donate their organs,and thus,in this respect,are different from us who wander freely in life with no real purpose – something which I don’t agree with.All through the story,despite their knowing that they will die at a relatively young age,the clones talk more about their future lives as donors than about their oncoming deaths; their duty as donors prevents them from being too concerned about their impending demise and the fact that everything will soon end.In a similar manner,humans do not realize that they will die one day,thanks to being too engrossed in the lives of their children,whom it is their moral duty to ”produce” ; there is a parallelism between their duty and ours.
Obviously my observations and comparisons of the clones with human beings are nothing but mere suppositions.But if they happen to be correct,then Never Let Me Go is a subtle reflection on the poignancy,beauty and irony of human life.