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Storytelling of Loss, Mourning, and Memory in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • 2020, 58(), pp.129-154
  • DOI : 10.21049/ccs.2020.58..129
  • Publisher : Center for Cross Culture Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Literature
  • Received : February 10, 2020
  • Accepted : March 3, 2020
  • Published : March 30, 2020

Sungran Cho 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The setting for Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is imaginary 1990 London Posthuman society where clones’ vital organs are to be harvested to extend human longevity up to 100 years. The novel offers a detoured critique of such society through themes of loss, memory and mourning. The text treats loss of the loved objects at two levels. Kathy H loses friend Lucy, boyfriend Tommy and childhood school Hailsham. The loss of such loved objects means loss of relationship and intimacy. The text also treats loss at an invisible level, loss of the ideal. The characters as clones with the purpose of organ donation lose confidence in their origin and identity as well as hope and dream for the future. The figure of the loss of the cassette tape functions as mis-en-abyme of such loss throughout the text. Within confounded boundary, however, Kathy H as a clone responds to such loss with certain autonomy. After loss of the Hailsham she chooses to become Ruth’s carer and accompanies her through her journey toward organ harvested death. After loss of Ruth, she becomes Tommy’s carer and lover to keep her deathbed promise to Ruth. More importantly, she starts storytelling reminiscing her past. Like Proust’s, her storytelling involves involuntary memories, fragments of the past remembrance looming from the unconscious. Such involuntary memories are closer to the truth of life as clones. In addition, her storytelling weaves her story with her loved ones, thus offering meaning and significance to their lives, also. Her personal memory becomes political when it works as ground for collective memory of clones. As in Derrida, for Kathy H, remembering and telling the stories is an ethical act of mourning.

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