Study Guide

Never Let Me Go Freedom and Confinement

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Freedom and Confinement

Some gates are designed to keep people in; others are designed to keep people out. In Never Let Me Go, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Fences pop up all over the novel, but it's not always clear if these gates

(a) protect the clones from the outside world
(b) keep the clones from leaving, or
(c) all the above.

When they're younger, Kathy and her friends can't leave Hailsham's safe bubble world. So there the gates go with option C. Yet as they get older, Kathy and her chums gain more freedom. They can drive, take road trips, and have mini-adventures. But even with the extra freedom, Kathy and her friends learn that sometimes there are barriers that you just can't see.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. What kind of barriers fence in the students at Hailsham? What about at the Cottages? Are there physical barricades as well as social ones? What about psychological barriers?
  2. Where is the line between protection and confinement? 
  3. In what ways do the characters exercise freedom? How do they have physical freedom? What about psychological freedom?
  4. How does storytelling relate to freedom? Do stories enable freedom or do they create barriers?

Chew on This

Kathy and the other clones need to be protected from the outside world. If they have less freedom, it's for their own good.

The key to freedom is seizing it. Kathy and her friends could be free if they only had the guts to run away.