Seeking truth is difficult. We know this through our own lives when we flee from confrontation and clarification. In fleeing from facing truth, we flee from discomfort or “awkward” situations. For the characters of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, this discomfort is rooted in the possibility that as organ donors, they are constantly judged on how they are like “inside…reveal[ing their] soul[s]” based on their artwork (Ishiguro 175). We see such tendency to avoid confronting truth through Kath’s response to Tommy’s theory that the artworks are designed to keep a track record of their capability to love. In particular, her efforts to divert from reaching the cold truth are accentuated when she realizes the extremely low chance of Tommy’s deferral, according to the theory. Prior to this realization, Kath still asks for further detail about the theory, asking questions like “so what are you getting at?” and nodding in agreement (175-176). However, once it strikes her that because Tommy hasn’t been chosen for his artwork, ever, she convinces him and herself about the flaws of the theory. She says, “maybe the art’s just one out of all kinds of different ways” (177). Even when she ponders the fact that the Madame watching her dancing to the song Never Let Me Go further confirms Tommy’s theory, she oversimplifies this by saying “I was just thinking over what you said, that’s all” (177). Important to note is that inherent to avoiding truth is lingering ambiguity.
Through Tommy’s effort to discover the purpose behind the artworks, he is motivated to start creating his own artwork (187). In other words, by confronting the truth that his theory leads to his very low chance of deferral, he finds motivation to try to survive by creating whatever artwork he can. This is ironic because previously he had avoided creating artwork to socially survive; he had found comfort in denying the pressure to produce art, and possible reasons to do so. By creating a marked shift in Tommy’s efforts and products, the novel points to the fact that a confrontation to truth and reality is necessary to define our own goals in life. Prior to the formulation of his theory about the Gallery, Tommy avoids thinking about artwork, apparent through his apathetic responses to Miss Lucy’s warning. While Miss Lucy constantly pushes him to accept that artwork “is important”, he repeats, “It’ll be alright, Miss” (108-109). This very act demonstrates his flee from truth and discomfort from regret in not having done art his whole life, and the possibly threatening consequences. In this scene, ambiguity as to why the artwork may be important and what function the Gallery serves is highly ambiguous. Further, Tommy does not have goals in life than simply walking the path paved for them as organ donors. However, when Tommy comes up with the purpose and importance of art, he produces ingenious artwork himself. He fights to survive, “draw[ing] with obsessive precision” (187). In such ways, the novel highlights the difference between passively accepting a given future, marked by ambiguity and flee from discovering truth, and actively hoping for a different future, achieved only after truth is (somewhat, through active theorizing) revealed. In sum, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go points at the necessity of clearing ambiguity and seeking truth even when it leads to discomfort because it is only after understanding true consequences that we find motivation to take control of our own lives– to do whatever we can to work future to our favor.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. “Part Two.” Never Let Me Go. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. Print.