Study Guide

Never Let Me Go Water Imagery

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Water Imagery

Once you start looking, you'll see water imagery sprinkled all over this book:

  • Tommy's childhood fantasy that he was splish-splashing through water after making a football goal
  • The art gallery in Norfolk, which is filled with sea-themed paintingsĀ 
  • Ruth's dream that she was at Hailsham and the grounds were flooded
  • Tommy's image of two people in a river, trying to hold onto one another despite the strong current

Can you find any more watery moments? It seems to us that this water imagery can go in at least two different directions. On the one hand, Tommy's fantasy of splashing through water is a type of celebration. Hooray H2O! But on the other hand, when Tommy imagines two people trapped in a raging river, water seems much more dangerous.

Plus, then there's that stranded boat, stuck on the marsh with no water at all. While the presence of water can be both good and bad, what happens when the water goes missing? Well, for starters, things become pretty stagnant, at least for boats. And maybe that's just is. In many ways, water represents the ups and downs, and still times, too, that come with living, you know, a human life. Once you jump in that river, you can't help but ride it downstream, even if you do manage to get caught in a few eddies and pools along the way.