Study Guide

Never Let Me Go Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Chapter 7
Miss Lucy

"None of you will go to America, none of you will be film stars. And none of you will be working in supermarkets as I heard some of you planning the other day. Your lives are set out for you." (7.20)

Miss Lucy lays down the law: stop dreaming. She sure does repeat the word "none" a lot. We get the point Miss Lucy; "none" of the clones will have real-people jobs. In this scene, she seems almost cruel, whereas the gesture of telling the clones the truth seems kind in a way.

Chapter 10
Kathy H.

When I think about my essay today, what I do is go over it in some detail: I may think of a completely new approach I could have taken, or about different writers and books I could have focused on. […] It's at that sort of level—daydream stuff. (10.3)

Let's be honest: sometimes rewriting essays isn't that much fun. But here Kathy revels in the fantasies of how she could re-craft her work. She realizes this isn't really going to happen, but she likes daydreaming about the possibilities all the same. What do you think about the fact that Kathy likes to daydream about the past more than the future?

Chapter 12
Kathy H.

Ruth began telling us about the sort of office she'd ideally work in, and I immediately recognised it. She went into all the details—the plants, the gleaming equipment, the chairs with their swivels and castors—and it was so vivid everyone let her talk uninterrupted for ages. […] In fact, listening to her, I even started wondering if maybe it was all feasible: if one day we might all of us move into a place like that and carry on our lives together. (12.28)

Ruth's dream future comes from an advertisement she sees on the ground. At first, Kathy's a downer. But eventually even Kathy can't help but hope that maybe just maybe this dream future is a real possibility. Talk about the power of persuasion.

I suppose it was mainly us newcomers who talked about "dream futures" that winter, though a number of veterans did too. […] It couldn't last, of course, but like I say, just for those few months, we somehow managed to live in this cosy state of suspension in which we could ponder our lives without the usual boundaries. (12.22)

At the Cottages, Kathy and her friend enjoy spending time in their little bubble. Now there's no Miss Lucy to tell them not to talk about dream futures. Instead, they can pretend that anything is possible. What do you think about the way Kathy describes these conversations about dreams? Why is it a "state of suspension"?

One big idea behind finding your model was that when you did, you'd glimpse your future. Now I don't mean anyone really thought that if your model turned out to be, say, a guy working at a railway station, that's what you'd end up doing too. We all realised it wasn't that simple. (12.12)

Kathy and her friends know that they aren't going down the same paths as their clone models. In the real world, their models have various jobs. In the clone world, there are only two jobs: carer and donor. So how could they "glimpse" into their future if they find their model? Wouldn't that future be incorrect?

Chapter 13
Ruth

Then Chrissie said in a new voice: "You know, Ruth, we might be coming here in a few years' time to visit you. Working in a nice office. I don't see how anyone could stop us visiting you then."

"That's right," Ruth said quickly. "You can all come and see me." (13.24-25)

Chrissie and Ruth have this chat in Norfolk. Notice how Chrissie says that they "might" be visiting Ruth while she works in an office, but Ruth says they "can." What's the distinction between these two verbs? Sounds to us like maybe Ruth is getting a little too into this daydream. That could get dicey, fast.

Chapter 19
Ruth

"I was like you, Tommy. I was pretty much ready when I became a donor. It felt right. After all, it's what we're supposed to be doing, isn't it?" (19.61)

Here Ruth shows us just how much she's changed her dreams over the years. Back at the Cottages, she could talk for hours about her ideal future of working in an office. Now, her attitude is completely different. Working in an office may have been the dream job she hoped to have, but being a donor is what she's "supposed" to do.

Chapter 22
Miss Emily

"But this dream of yours, this dream of being able to defer. Such a thing would always have been beyond us to grant, even at the height of our influence. I'm sorry, I can see what I'm saying won't be welcome to you. But you mustn't be dejected." (22.24)

Seriously, Miss Emily, did you really think they wouldn't be sad? Miss Emily has just dashed Kathy and Tommy's hopes of spending more time together. Of course the lovebirds are going to be bummed that their dream of a deferral has come tumbling down.

"And for the few couples who get disappointed, the rest will never put it to the test anyway. It's something for them to dream about, a little fantasy. What harm is there? But for the two of you, I can see this doesn't apply. You are serious. You've thought carefully. You've hoped carefully." (22.6)

Miss Emily has seen a handful of couples like Kathy and Tommy who are looking to get a deferral. She's probably had to turn a few away before, too. But Kathy and Tommy are different. They haven't been hoping willy-nilly, and that makes Miss Emily's revelation that there are no deferrals that much worse.

Chapter 23
Kathy H.

That was the only time, as I stood there, looking at that strange rubbish, feeling the wind coming across those empty fields, that I started to imagine just a little fantasy thing, because this was Norfolk after all, and it was only a couple of weeks since I'd lost him. I was thinking about the rubbish, the flapping plastic in the branches, the shore-line of odd stuff caught along the fencing, and I half-closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I'd ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it, and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field, and gradually get larger until I'd see it was Tommy, and he'd wave, maybe even call. The fantasy never got beyond that—I didn't let it […]. (23.49)

This is Kathy's last daydream of the book. Do you think it's a happy dream or a sad one? Or maybe it's something in between. Check out how Kathy sets up a mental roadblock for anything beyond Tommy waving to her from the horizon. Why do you think she does this? What's on the other side of that roadblock?