Never Let Me Go: Part II

by allthingsace

As promised, after posting, I went right over to the Rochambeau Library and checked out “Never Let Me Go.” I am not even a quarter of the way through, and Shiguro’s novel is already suspenseful and sublime. The novel is in first-person, from the perspective of a woman named Kathy H. Right from the beginning it is easy to see that this novel is concerned with identity–the first sentence reads, “My name is Kath H.”

All of the characters I have met so far, except for Madame, attend Hailsham; an easy to imagine English boarding school, where students attend classes and participate in unique activities, that only private school students can. Specifically, these students participate in what is called an Exchange, where they display their arts and crafts for Exchange Tokens, which they use to purchase each other’s work. The production and trade of art is no doubt crucial to the onion that is this novel.

However, what I wanted to talk about in this post was a beautiful passage that I came across just last night before drifting to sleep.

In this passage Kathy H. and her friends are carrying out the plan they orchestrated as a means to discover if what Ruth said about Madame was true, that Madame was afraid of them. It reads:

“She didn’t shriek, or even let out a gasp. But we were all so keenly tuned in to picking up her response, and that’s probably why it had such an effect on us. As she came to a halt, I glanced quickly at her face– as did the others, I’m sure. And I can still see it now, the shudder she seemed to be suppressing, the read dread that one of us would accidentally brush against her. And though we just kept on walking, we all felt it; it was like we’d walked from the sun right into chilly shade. Ruth had been right: Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn’t been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders.”

Kathy H. described the fear she felt pulsing from Madame as similar to the fear one has of spiders, arbitrary, irrational, unjustified. This passage is so beautiful because the idea of being afraid of someone in the same way one is afraid of spiders is so different from being afraid of someone because they are dangerous or threatening. A spider, a tiny, quick and mystifying creature, so utterly different from humans.

Arachnophobia, a fear of spiders. An irrational, intense, recurring fear of spiders.

Pedophobia, a fear of children. An irrational, intense, recurring fear of children.

I think people who suffer from arachnophobia are justified because of the difference in species for which they possess an irrational fear. However, pedophobia, considering the fact that every human trudges through the gauntlet of childhood, is a less socially acceptable fear; in fact I would bet that those who suffer from pedophobia are considered crazy or abnormal, the fact being that they possess an irrational fear of their own species.

In Kathy H.’s case however, Madame is a highly ranked individual, who I am suggesting does not possess a fear of children, but does possess an intuitive fear of another species of which the children at Hailsham subscribe.

Forshadowing? I’ll keep reading…