Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
One of the most defining moments in Kathy's youth occurs when she's singing her favorite song, "Never Let Me Go," to the make-believe pillow-baby that she's cradling in her arms. It's a sweet moment, but it's also super sad. We find out that Kathy and others like her can't have babies. Plus, since they can't even get jobs outside being a carer, we're pretty sure they can't adopt babies either. In a sense, this pillow-baby is the only child Kathy will ever have. If babies might represent the ability to reproduce future generations, what does it say about Kathy and her friends that they never have this possibility?
And hey, where are the babies at Hailsham? Kathy and her friends occasionally mention the time when they were in "Infants" at school, but it's not clear what exactly this means. We don't know where the Hailsham students were born. Actually, for that matter we don't know how they were born either—was it test tubes? surrogates? storks? And when do they first come to Hailsham?
It's no surprise that this story gives us more questions than answers. Kathy sure does like to give a few details and then leave us wanting more. But there's also a chance that Kathy might not know where precisely she comes from. Since Hailsham liked to hide the truth from its students, maybe Kathy never got to find out how she became a baby herself, which, if you think about, is a pretty tough position to be in. Imagine never knowing anything about your origins. That would be quite the burden to bear.