Study Guide

Never Let Me Go Passivity

By Kazuo Ishiguro


Were you as bummed as we were that Kathy and her friends never even thought about escaping? But, alas, the clone rebellion never happens. Instead, Kathy and her friends submit to their fate without much hullabaloo. In some ways, the clones are pretty passive characters. They never really fight against the system or try to find a job that, you know, doesn't involve giving away vital organs. While this might seem sad and frustrating, Never Let Me Go also connects submission with fulfillment and even happiness. Kathy and her friends take pleasure out of doing their job (a.k.a. donating body parts) well. They know they are going to "complete" one day, and they are okay with that. Because frankly, everyone completes, sooner or later.

Questions About Passivity

  1. Why don't Kathy and her fellow clones try to change their fate? Why don't they ever even consider escaping?
  2. Would you call Kathy a passive character? If not, how is she an active character? 
  3. Which characters show the least apathy? Which characters show the most? 
  4. Is there a difference between accepting your fate and giving up?

Chew on This

Mortality is inevitable. There's no point in fighting against it, so Kathy and her friends should accept their fate just like every human must do.

The novel suggests that Kathy and her friends should have tried harder to change their fate. Or at least they should have considered the possibility of escape.