Loss in Never Let Me Go is presented as a key theme by Ishiguro. Some of the different types of losses are physical losses, relationship losses, psychological losses, and loss of freedom. In the novel, Ishiguro explores different types of loss and shows how they affect one’s life. There is the loss shown by what it means to not have control over one’s life or destiny.

The clones experience this loss in the most intense of manners, understanding that their own life is determined by the want of someone else and that there is nothing formidable that can be done to prevent it. In the wider sense, humans also experience a loss such as the grief of death, and we can be affected very deeply by it.

In the novel, Ishiguro shows that the loss of control is underscored by the physical loss of organs, seen as a part of what reality is for the clones. There is a sad acceptance of loss in the life of the clone, shown as Kathy must see Tommy become “completed,” and recognize that this is her own faith, as well.  

As a “carer,” Kathy demonstrates that while loss can be a part of one’s being, it does not have to define it.  One can care for and love while living in the inescapable shadow of loss.  In these instances, Ishiguro shows the loss as a part of the predicament of the clones, a part of their own consciousness.  In doing this, he shows it to be part of our own being, in general. The euphemism “complete” is deliberately used by Kathy to help hide the “bleak fact of (their) mortality”.

The emotional loss of each other is something that is interpreted as a possible venue for exemption in the futile hopes of being able to show and display love for another, something that is experienced but never able to provide redemption or relief from the condition that envelops them. Ishiguro portrays how due to the clones’ pre-determined lives they can never be fully happy with each other fully and hence are always missing out on life emotionally.

In the second part of the tripartite novel Kathy describes how “s*x at the Cottages seems a bit functional…Maybe because of the cold.” The adjective “functional” sounds artificial and lacks human emotion and makes s*x seem orderly. This reflects how strangely dispassionate their s*x is. This reflects how their infertility may, on a subliminal level, reduce their passions and libido. This is an emotional loss as they can never have children and hence they don’t realize the passion that you may have for your partner.

The adjective “cold” sews a pragmatic purpose to keep warm. The fear of cold here represents the fear of death. S*x is an attempt to help them distract themselves from the bleak reality of their mortality.

Ultimately Ishiguro presents the notion of loss to be one that is intrinsic to the reality of the clones. Whether the clones may realize it or not, they are facing loss at every instance. Ishiguro shows how loss affects the clones’ attachment with one another showing how they can’t bond together with each other due to their pre-determined lives.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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