Culture of Silence: Ignorance is Not Bliss

In Kazuo Ishigaro’s novel, Never Let Me Go, ignorance is not bliss as the failure to explicitly and directly address the identity and lives of the children who grew up in Hailsham creates a dual reality in which the societal members experience discomfort for which they are unable to attribute cause, which suggests for our society that choosing to ignore reality does not eliminate the consequences but prevents adequate diagnosis and treatment.

culture-of-silence

The novel is introduced from Kathy’s perspective and from her we learn a lot about the society’s publically undiscussed topics. Unmentioned topics include sex, becoming carers, donations, and now “possibles” (Ishiguro 139). Kathy explains, “Since each of us was copied at some point from a normal person, there must be, for each of us, somewhere out there, a model getting on with his or her life” (Ishiguro 139). We are just now learning that the children from Hailsham are cloned individuals and that their ‘possibles’ are the normal individuals from which the children were cloned. It is remarkable that Kathy seems to mention this just by chance due to the sighting of Ruth’s possible and that this is just accepted without any critical examination by Kathy. She does not make the logical leap that she was cloned to be an organ reservoir for her possible and that this is the reason for her existence. She doesn’t consider the meaningfulness of this information. Kathy simply mentions it in passing and admits that it is not something that is discussed. To simply ignore this reality that she lives in does not make her life blissful in any meaningful way. Yes, perhaps it would be discomforting to acknowledge the cruel reality of life but to fail to acknowledge one’s identity and reality will not change the consequences but rather limit ability to act. Instead of experiencing discomfort from recognition of their reality, the children from Hailsham go on to experience trouble from the consequences of donating their organs and discomfort from creating a culture in which many things are not discussed. Kathy experiences substantial discomfort when Ruth breaks the unspoken rule to not use secrets as weapons in their fights (Ishiguro 129). In this case the culture of silence directly creates discomfort due to failure to discuss leading to unrealistic expectations. Certainly this failure to discuss issues of importance is something that we can find in our personal lives and in our own society in many areas such as race relations, climate change, and economic inequality. Ignorance is certainly not bliss as failure to address these issues carries real consequences.

 

Literature Cited:

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. Print.

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