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Author Study: Kazuo Ishiguro Curated by Kelly Wu '20

Welcome! Explore this LibGuide to learn about author Kazuo Ishiguro.

Ishiguro's style in Never Let Me Go



Set in 1990s England, Never Let Me Go follows a young girl named Kathy and captures her



relationship with her best friends Ruth and Tommy. The book begins with Kathy as a young school girl in a strange boarding school until she is a young adult woman. Readers will soon realize that these adolescents are not usual school children, but are, in fact, clones created for organ donations.


As a classic Ishiguro novel, Never Let me Go is narrated by an uncertain narrator, Kathy, recalling her childhood. The tone is very informal and conversational, with the diction of a typical English school girl in the 1990s. Kathy often repeats phrases and begins sentences with conjunctions. In addition, to even more realistically capture the spoken language of his characters, Ishiguro used short sentences throughout the novel.


Literary devices in Never Let Me Go are very simple and creates a childlike tone. On the other hand, the novel also alludes to the song "Never Let Me Go" by Judy Bridgewater as a symbol for human emotions. Kathy listens and dances to this song as she imagines a woman finally conceiving a child she has longed for and holds on to her baby, rocking her, singing “never let me go”. The symbol and allusion creates a chilling image as readers understand that Kathy, as a clone, will never have a child of her own and has never been held onto by a mother of her own. Despite all this, Kathy shows just the same longing for love as any other human.


Ishiguro also employed metaphors to make the language even more passive so nothing is said directly and certainly. In addition to the metaphors, Ishiguro used euphemism in the novel such as "completion" for death and "recovery centers" for where the donors resided in after donations.


The effect of Ishiguro’s stylistic choices in this novel emphasize the human characteristics of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. Through childlike diction and short sentences, readers grow sympathetic to these vulnerable characters. The short sentences and simple diction demonstrate that Kathy is genuine and raw with her expressions.


From the narration and use of literary devices, readers recognize that these characters, though they are clones, act like us, speak like us, and feel like us. So ultimately, organ donation is not a perfect cure to human illnesses; rather, it is saving one life at the expense of another.