What does the novel suggest about seeking truth even if it may lead to discomfort?
The world of Never Let Me Go is one that is riddled with mystery, deception, and broken lines of communication. Kathy, Ruth, Tommy and the other residents of Hailsham constantly waver between seeking out knowledge about their future and being unsettled by what little information they can find. Through the experiences of the characters in which they seek out truth, the novel argues that social injustice is a consequence of willful ignorance. We can see this problem in our own lives as we choose to ignore difficult social problems for the sake of our own comfort.
One of the ways willful ignorance is propagated amongst the students of Hailsham and the Cottages is through the perpetuation of rumors. These rumors not only spread false information, they distract from the cruelties and injustices Kathy and her friends experience. The harm stemming from these rumors is evident in the scene in which Ruth tells Chrissie and Rodney that it is possible for two Hailsham students to qualify for an exemption from the normal donation process if they can prove they are “they [are] properly in love.” This rumor is harmful in two interconnected ways. First, it spreads misinformation which distracts from the ethical problems surrounding the use of clones for organ donations. These rumors the surround Hailsham blur the lines between what is truth and what is lies. Second, this misinformation ultimately turns the Hailsham students against each other, forcing the student aggression away from the perpetrators, the faculty and adults of Hailsham and the Cottages, and toward other students. For example, Ruth claims that Tommy did not know of the possibility of the deferral program because “he isn’t like a real Hailsham student. He was left out of everything and people were always laughing at him.” These acts of aggression are prevalent throughout the characters’ relationships and breed distrust between students rather than a warranted distrust of authority.
These acts of aggression and misdirection in the novel are a trying to prove a point to us that is becoming increasingly relevant to our daily lives: We must actively and continuously work against those trying to distract us from injustice. Rather than submit to lies and deception, we must question those in positions of authority in order to protect the marginalized.