One of the preeminent components in the text Never Let Me Go coincides in the concept of self-identity. From the opening scene of Ishiguro’s Never Let me Go we are ambiguously introduced to the narrator and protagonist of the text who goes by the name of Kathy H. This introduction prompts us to directly conceive the notion that the lead character is purposely concealing her identity through masking her surname; which furthermore helps to project the idea that your last name reflects who you are as a person and how you identify with others.
Throughout the novel, we learn that finding your identity is one of the central struggles of human life. Although Tommy, Kathy, and Ruth are not necessarily human, they perfectly resemble humans in the life they live as they are in constant search for closure and significance through the precarious circumstances of their own individual lives. During the duration of the book, the students at Hailsham are programmed to subsequently believe that being creatively embellished is the only way around to being reconceived as a human being. As a result, the students at Hailsham are conveyed to exempt creative virtue through many facets of academic intuition, ranging from composing essays to creating paintings.
These moral inclinations furthermore provide us with insight into the underlying implications of the student’s demands to conform to the idealistic society of Hailsham in-order to attain acceptance and social normality. This idea of normality is fully exemplified in the scene when Tommy was ostracized by his fellow colleagues for his lack of artistic credibility, “If Tommy had genuinely, tried she was saying, but he just couldn’t be very creative, then that was quite alright, he wasn’t to worry about it”.
Identity is a term we often use to define ourselves by what we feel is important in our lives. As we know Hailsham students kept items from the sales, these items came from the outside world and gave students something to identify with. Items such as a cassette tape or a pencil case became more than just items, they became part of the student. Since the students had no identity for themselves they had looked for self-introspection in even the simplistic things in life that proved to hold prevalence in their hearts.
A perfect example of how this overarching idea of sentiment is represented in the story is when we understand that Kathy’s contentment for the Judy Bridgewater tape is attributed to her aspirations of a “kinder world”, that contrasts the reality that she lives in. This concept is understood when Kathy reflects back on the scene when Madame had witnessed her dancing to the song “Never Let Me Go”, and explains to Madame how the song had helped to illustrate her holding a baby. After Kathy explains the context of the song to her Madame later reveals that the song projected the idea of an adolescent girl clinging on to her old life in a rapidly changing dystopia. “You see, I Imagined it was about this woman who’d been told she couldn’t have babies. But then she’d had one, and was so pleased, and she was holding it ever so tightly to her breast, really afraid something might separate them, and she’s. going baby, baby, never let me go” (Ishiguro 27).
One of the motifs that personify the idea of self- identity is the introduction of clones at Hailsham having a second counterpart that mirrors their own individual perspectives of self-righteousness. For the clones, they believed that finding their possible would be the key to integrating who they are. But sadly there were no answers for these clones, as their future had already been predetermined and held captive. For characters such as Kathy, finding her possible becomes a priority for finding out who she is. This is recognized when Kathy confides to Ruth about her sexuality whilst flipping through the porn magazines. This concept of identity is clearest in the scene where she quotes, “So I thought if I find her picture, in one of those magazines, it’ll at least explain it. I wouldn’t want to go and find her or anything. It would just, you know, kind of explain why I am the way I am” (Ishiguro 181).
Another example that alludes to this ongoing theme pertains to the discrete instances when Miss Lucy is reluctant to explain the sole purpose of the students at Hailsham. In part one we get a subtle acumen as to how the students and veterans are “special” in their own way. We get a brief perception of just how much being a clone is a complex concept for the students and guardians to grasp.
However, Miss Lucy confides to the students about how she feels it is unethical to mask the identities of the students. Miss Lucy’s condolence for the students is brought to life in the scene where she confesses to the students that the school board is not teaching them enough, “The problem, as I see it, is that you’ve been told and not told. You’ve been told, but none of you really understand, and I dare say, some people are quite happy to leave it that way. But I’m not. If you’re to have decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you, every one of you” (Ishiguro 81). Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy embodied this conflict of determining who you are and what an identity truly is.
Novels such as J.D Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” draw correlation to the exclamatory overlapping themes of Identity that we see in Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go”. This overlying theme is expressed in the sight of the protagonist’s efforts to find his own identity.
In the book the main protagonist, Holden Caulfield suffers an “identity crisis” as he becomes unsure of himself and his motives by not knowing what he wants to do and where he wants to go. In the story, Holden riots against the real world by refuses to grow up and transition to adulthood, however, he seeks to be independent as an adult and demands acknowledgment. He struggles to find who he is by prompting himself to live a life of deceit. He also alienates himself through creating relationships with others then turning people down which leaves him to question his own disparity. All of this equates to Holden finding it difficult to find shelter and belonging. This central theme of identity relates to how the students at Hailsham were unwary of their identity and self-worth which had clouded their minds and been an affliction to their own personal ambitions and goals.