Cloning and Human Dignity in "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro.
The “Human” Dignity of a Clone
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a coming-of-age, dystopian novel that portrays various heartfelt themes. The fascinating and unsettling depiction of human cloning and its ethical implications blur the lines of morality. Rather than pursuing a futuristic approach to cloning, Never Let Me Go is set in the late 1900s, adding to the intrigue. The novel follows cloned children who, with less time than their counterparts, live with the hopes and sorrows that determine the human experience. Within select passages, Ishiguro’s use of language and character development deepens the meaning behind the story, particularly the importance of human dignity.
In chapter six of Never Let Me Go, the diction supports and aids in the development of the theme. Particularly when the narrator, Kathy, shares the thought process of the children, aged nine and ten, during a disheartening experience at Hailsham. “So why had we stayed silent that day . . . so cruelly for bringing it all up that day after the rounders match” (Ishiguro 69). Ishiguro utilizes a collection of literary devices to enhance the understanding of the students and their inner thoughts. The author's placement of a rhetorical question at the beginning of the passage aids in the conveying of perspective and promotes thinking, prior to the insight gained regarding the inner thoughts of the children. “We were different from our guardians, and also from the normal people outside" (Ishiguro 69). While the diction within this line demonstrates that the children were already aware of their similarities, words like “different” and “normal,” portray the isolation they feel from the rest of society. Within the line “If we were keen to avoid certain topics, it was probably more because it embarrassed us” (Ishiguro 69), the author puts an emphasis on the word embarrassed. This illustrates the shame the students endure, being regarded as something inferior to human. Within this passage, the author emphasizes the polarity the students sense between themselves and everyone else. It is through this that the theme surfaces. Said “differences” are the reason their lives are considered of lesser value. Continuously being treated as a non-human, all while being fully capable of emotion fails to respect the human dignity of the children, clones or not.
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“I’ll never forget the strange change that came over us the next instant . . . Who asks come here anyways” (Ishiguro 35-36). This passage displays the character development the students undergo as they gravitate closer to the truth. This changes the perception of the children as they lose some of their innocence and naivety. They are allowed a glimpse of the harsh reality they must face. “We hadn’t been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders” (Ishiguro 35). After setting up a test to see if Madame, their trusted guardian, was indeed scared of them, her emotions revealed that there is something different about the students, which they are not aware of. Something to be scared of. This contributes to the development of the theme because the treatment they face from “normal” humans is visible, even when the children are too young to understand their approaching demise. While the worst is yet to come, the implications of the way they are treated are evident and clearly have a negative impact on the students. This is seen when “Hanna looked ready to burst into tears, Even Ruth looked really shaken” (Ishiguro 35). Whether it is through directly taking their organs or concealing crucial information, it is discriminatory and causes them to distrust the only people they can look up to, thus violating their human dignity.
Throughout the first few chapters of this book, many emerging themes are witnessed as they begin to flourish. These specific passages are fundamental because they allow the theme to advance within the heavy plot. The diction along with character development present within them is what creates that effect. Although the novel depicts a fictional plot, organ donors do exist in reality. Although the idea of cloning may seem far-fetched for most, it is evident that humans treat others in the most horrific ways, simply because of their races, views, or religions. Never Let Me Go illustrates an extreme depiction of a moral tragedy, but that reality may be closer than it appears.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. 2005. Print.