Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go allows readers to deeply consider the relationship between truth and its accompanying discomforts. The scene in which the children at Hailsham test for Madame’s reaction to seek the truth and are consequently hit with an uncomfortable reality of being viewed in a negative light largely sets a precedent in how the children “seek truth” in the latter half of the novel. Many situations in this book demonstrate the curiosity Kathy and her friends have towards uncovering truth but also illuminate the reservations that present themselves when discomforting possibilities are considered.
Kathy herself demonstrates the difficulty in allowing oneself to find the complete truth in her friendship with Ruth. The two of them find themselves in an unfavorable place in their relationship when they take stabs at each other’s sore spots in a passive aggressive argument. In this scenario, as Ruth asks, “We’re still friends, aren’t we?”, Kathy is prompted to consider how her friendship with Ruth truly works (125). Kathy reflects that “there were two quite separate Ruths,” one that she liked, and one that she disliked (129). However, just as Kathy begins to truly reflect on the difference between these two Ruths and begins to realize that sometimes the Ruth she confides in “merges” with the Ruth that puts on airs, she stops delving deeper into the implications of the merging of the two Ruths. Kathy does not pursue further her reflection because she fears losing her closest confident; thus, she simply returns to the comfort of having the “typical evening sessions,” despite her gradual understanding that doing so has accompanying risks. Kathy also does not even consider Ruth’s point of view that “[she] had been the one to first violate an understanding” after the argument until the present (129). She only comes to see this truth in the present rather than at the time of the event because the barrier of hindsight removes her from the discomfort of considering Ruth’s viewpoint. At the time of the argument, considering Ruth’s point of view would have made Kathy feel that she herself was in the wrong, which would have been a difficult truth to swallow.
Even more evidence of the kids of Hailsham avoiding uncomfortable truths is the situation surrounding the discussion of “possibles”. The children knew about the idea that were made as copies of “normal” people out in the real world, known as their “possibles”. Many of them came up with theories as to what could be learned from their “possibles”, such as the idea that “when you saw the person you were copied from, you’d get some insight into who you were deep down, and maybe too, you’d see something of what your life held in store” (140). This speculation and the other speculations that they discuss all contain rather positive outlooks. However, with all the speculation they had surrounding their “possibles”, one blaring conclusion that they fail to draw is that their “possibles” may be related to their donations. The idea that these “possibles” could be the very people that the children are intended to donate their organs to is absent from their discussion. Any particularly uncomfortable theories are unmentioned, and when “[they] were near terriotory [they] didn’t want to enter, the arguments would fizzle out” (139). If they instead considered such negative theories, the idea of searching for their “possibles” would probably not be such an exciting prospect.
Kathy and her friends often enjoy speculating about truths to satisfy their curiosity surrounding certain mysteries. However, when they seem to sense discomfort that could accompany a possible conclusion, they seem to avoid these possibilities in favor of retaining the comfort of ignorance. Ultimately, the children of Hailsham only seek truth under condition that they maintain what is comfortable for themselves.