Organs are worth thousands of dollars, what if there was a way to harvest those organs for the fraction of the price from “clones”? The novel, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro depicts what life would be like if we had the technology to clone humans and harvest them for the vital organs, killing them in the process. Adults in the novel prepare the “Students” throughout their short lives to give up their organs, Miss Lucy states, “You’ll become adults, then before you’re old before you’re even middle-aged, you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you was created to do” (Ishiguro 81) They will die and leave insignificant footprint, However, these clones are more than just clones, These clones can love, get jealous, form memories and most importantly they can form connections with others, which is the most human thing anyone could ever hope for.
Human nature is to form deep memories and even get jealous of others. The characters in this novel have all those qualities, however, the students are treated like animals which dehumanize them. Kathy, our narrator, states that “I’ve got plenty of memories I treasure from them—but they were more serious, and in some ways darker.” (Ishiguro 77) Kathy holds on to these memories because it is the only thing that others cannot take away from her it is her thoughts and hers alone she treasures them and that makes her a fully capable human being that has thoughts,
Since these students are not human and they don’t get to live a normal life, they hold onto the memories that make them feel more human. Kathy and her friends are more human then what society is telling them. “Your lives are set out for you, you’ll become adults, then before you’re old before you’re even middle-aged, you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you was created to do. You’re not like the actors you watch on your videos, You’re not even like me. You were brought into this world for a purpose, and your futures, all of them, have been decided.”(Ishiguro 81) Instead of rebelling and possibly dying in the process, Kathy spends the rest of her life caring for those who have donated. Caring is another way of having deep connections with those around you, which is one of the human attributes that play so deeply in Kathy’s story and time and time again she helps others with the utmost work. Although the students know inevitably they will die, Kathy and her cloned friends keep a healthy spirit and continue to love each other and form lasting memories for the rest of their short lives. Further supporting the fact that what makes a human is the love and connections that one has. It makes them obtain human qualities indistinguishable from authentic living people from this dystopia.
Clones in the story express deep memories and connections that last throughout their short lives. They make the most of it every day, as it is rare to remember the exact details of each moment for that long. Through thick and thin the protagonist of the novel Kathy has never forgotten her childhood friends. Kathy has physically lost everyone she ever knew but they live on in her memories. “The memories I value most, I don’t see them ever fading. I lost Ruth, then I lost Tommy, but I won’t lose my memories of them.” (Ishiguro 286) proving that these “clone” are human because they can remember and formulate detailed memories and connections, it is all they can do, their way of life is very restrictive. Even after death, Ruth and Tommy’s story lives on inside Kathy and it is truly remarkable how nonhuman subjects are capable of such task, it is only fitting that they deserve the title that so very well suits them, a Human Being.
Although the novel is based in a dystopian society, there is some light, making a more humane way to let the characters live a humanistic life. “Even before the Morningdale scandal, even back when Hailsham was considered a shining beacon, an example of how we might move to a more humane and better way of doing things, even then, it wasn’t true. It’s best to be clear about this.” (Ishiguro 258) Hailsham is an example of a more humane way of this cloning technique with this it makes Kathy and her friends human more than ever by letting them live a life of what humans live and experience what they have experienced. Besides, by changing the environment to more civil control, The students have become indistinguishable from real humans. Kathy and her friends feel, like humans, they have sex they can love one another and get jealous. “I want me and Tommy to get back together again. Kathy, will you help?” Then she asked: “What’s the matter?” “Nothing. I was just a bit surprised, after what’s happened. Of course, I’ll help.” (Ishiguro 103) As implied for the text the two girls feel love and a connection with Tommy. Jealousy is present, which is a human attribute only human beings are capable of such acts jealousy and envy are so deeply engrained in Kathy’s character it impossible to tell her apart from any teenage girl that is her age.
Guardians saw potential in the clones that is why they have sympathy. They are not in control of this experiment they tried to prove to the outside world that the clones had a soul and that they are humans “Because of course’ Madame cut in suddenly “your art will reveal your inner selves! That’s it, isn’t it? Because Your art will display your souls!'(Ishiguro 254) Having a soul is what describes a person through the art which is presented by the students. The students very well display this from all sorts of drawings from bad to good, it supports that, by having a drawing it proves that they have a soul, which means that they are human, because humans have souls.
The outside world refused to believe that they were human, so it makes the killings of clones much easier with no ethical concerns. “This was what the world noticed the most, wanted the most. And for a long time, people preferred to believe these organs appeared from nowhere, or at most that they grew in a kind of vacuum.” ( Ishiguro 262) It was better to believe that organs came out of nowhere then from human-like clones, meaning that the world dehumanizes the clones to make it easier. However, Knowing Kathy’s story this is far from the truth no one else in the novel displays affection and love like Kathy and her friends have. Killing them knowing the stories told would be impossible.
Love is a human attribute and it is woven in Kathy’s story very deeply, Kathy mentions to Madame that she is deeply in love with Tommy and they would like to have a deferral. Unfortunately, the deferral myth was false and any last hope of them living a normal life was shattered “You believe this? That you’re deeply in love? And therefore you’ve come to me for this . . . this deferral? Why? Why did you come to me?” If she’d asked this in a certain way, like the whole idea was completely crazy, then I’m sure I’d have felt pretty devastated.” (Ishiguro 253) Madame does not believe that clones are capable of loving. Tommy is capable of having love even though it is implied that he had many defects including temper tantrums but out of all that was able to form ideas.“If Tommy’s theory was right, if Madame was connected to us for the sole purpose of deferring our donations when, later on, we fell in love, then it made sense—for all her usual coldness towards us” (Ishiguro 177) Kathy and Tommy are capable of love even if it is a strong human quality proving that they are all the more human in spite of opposition and hardships.
Kathy demonstrates her understanding of love through sexual activities and experiences. As we know love and sex are part of human nature and part of human development. “One thing that occurs to me now is that when the guardians first started giving us proper lectures about sex, they tended to run them together with talk about the donations. At that age-again, I’m talking of around thirteen—we were all pretty worried and excited about sex, and naturally would have pushed the other stuff into the background.” (Ishiguro 83) As all clones grow up like humans they learn about their bodies and experience new things, just like Kathy has, making her human because of the stuff she has learned in school like regular humans. Miss Emily first warned about sex with the outside world making the children believe that they aren’t normal. “Sex affects emotions in ways you’d never expect. “ We had to be extremely careful about having sex in the outside world, especially with people who weren’t students, because out there sex meant all sorts of things. Out there people were even fighting and killing each other over who had sex with whom.” ( Ishiguro 84) As this quote portrays that the adults do not treat them like human beings rather they discourage them from the activity instead. This questions the status of our clones
Miss Emily mentions a place called Norfolk meaning “lost corner” where everything that is lost turns up this could mean a heaven for the clones it is a hope for them to be human or be normal with those around them being the same, “Miss Emily had said was that Norfolk was England’s “lost corner.’ where all the lost property found in the country ended up.” (Ishiguro 65) Norfolk’s significance means a lot to Kathy and her friends because it is a place where they belong, it is where they would feel accepted love and most of all they want to feel human. Truly the lost property is are our characters they believe Norfolk is where the pain will end. In a quote where Ruth mentions Norfolk. “I’m sure Ruth was right about that. Norfolk came to be a real source of comfort for us,” (Ishiguro 66) further support the fact the Norfolk’s significance is more than what being human means to them it what their hopes and dreams lie. Comfort is being with others in a way and Norfolk is a comfort for the clones it where lost things end up and that means the stories of the clones will always be there and remembered one of the human qualities is being loved not just during life, but after death also. Human beings love others and they pass their legacy on to their children in a twisted way Norfolk resembles that legacy where pass clones will be remembered by younger clones and the cycle continues the human cycle continues.
Being human isn’t who and where one is born, being human is what one has done in their lifetime it is the love received from others and the connections that are formed, and the deep memories made. In other words, being around those you love to make connections with or even get jealous of is, what makes a human a human, even though the students in the novel, were nobody born in a lab and born to die for the survival of others they experience everything a normal person has done in their lives. From love to jealously to forming detailed recollections of the past. Kathy and her friends have touched on all of those human qualities making them human in the process. Even in spite of society telling them, what they are and they’re not. The students have lived their best life even in this cruel dystopian bubble is a reality for these unfortunate souls.
- Ishiguro, Kazuo. “Never Let Me Go” New York: Vintage International 2005