Context and Setting in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go

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26 February 2016

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Context and setting are quite significant in the text “Never Let me Go.” According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of context is “the whole situation, the background, or the environment relevant to a particular event, personality, creation” as well as “the parts of a sentence, paragraph, discourse, etc, immediately next to or surrounding a specified word or passage and determining its exact meaning.” According to Dr. Ezekiel Alembi “context is the social, economic and political environment under which a piece of literary work or art is written.” He goes on to say that context is important because it not only makes the reader, understand and appreciate the theme, but also understand and appreciate the style used. However,setting is what the writer wants us to see. Writers try to establish in the minds of their readers a sense of place and time. They use, ‘the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel – it is above all to make you see’ (Joseph Conrad). It is also used to refer to the mood and the atmosphere created by the author, and the culture and the shared values and beliefs of the characters. In “Never Let Me Go” Kazuo Ishiguro uses details to create a sense of setting, as well as the full effect of the story depends on the presentation of an increasing amount of descriptive details. In this book the setting plays an integral part in the story. Apart fom providing the reader with a sense of where and when the story takes place, the setting can also serve other purposes, such as contributing to the plot. The aim of this essay is to evaluate the importance of both context and setting in text, “Never Let Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. “ Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro was published in 2005. He was already one of the most renowned and acclaimed British writers. Never Let Me Go addresses some contemporary issues. This novel has science fiction qualities and a futuristic tone , thus takes place in a very similar yet alternate world. This novel is set in a recognizable England of the late 20th century. Yet it contains a key dystopian, almost sci-fi dimension you’d normally expect to find in stories set in the future. It also explores more timeless questions like childhood bullying and the role of sex in relationships. Never Let Me Go has three main institutional settings which are as follows: Hailsham, the Cottages, and the donor recovery centers. This is quite significant as it creates the mood and setting for the simple yet intense plot for the story. The first sixteen years are spent at the Hailsham by Kathy and her friends.

According to Kazuo Ishiguro based on interviews done, “The school setting, I must add, is appealing because in a way it’s a clear physical manifestation of the way all children are separated off from the adult world, and are drip-fed little pieces of information about the world that awaits them, often with generous doses of deception, kindly meant or otherwise. In other words, it serves as a very good metaphor for childhood in general.” From the ordeal related by Katthy, Hailsham is qite perfect and neat but somewhat mysterious, ‘This spacious house contains plenty of classrooms and dorm huts for all your schooling needs. It boasts a large sports pavilion perfect for spying on boys playing in neighboring fields. The ample grounds are surrounded by a fence that is not electrified (but which no one crosses anyways) and creepy woods (where no one goes because they fear they may get dismembered). Entirely secluded from the outside world, this real estate gem is perfect for hiding clones that you want to pretend don’t exist. But beware: if you ever leave, you will never ever be able to find Hailsham again.’ However, in comparison to Hailsham, the Cottage is quite different . Their move to the cottage was difficult because of its air of shabbiness and lask lustere. However they were still able to be entertained and and have a great time. The cottage was described as, “These converted farmhouses require some TLC. The buildings are run-down and the rooms are damp. But there’s a charming churchyard nearby perfect for reading outdoors or getting in squabbles with your friends. The heat doesn’t work, so residents will need to sleep under extra blankets, carpets, and coats in order to avoid freezing during the winter. Enjoy!” The final stop for each of the donors is a recovery center. These are the buildings where Kathy and her friends undergo operations to remove their vital organs, and where they recuperate between donations. They are also the places where the donors “complete.” The setting of this centre as quite significant as this acttion is quite outstanding and essential in understanding the story. Additionally while Kathy is a carer she spends a lot of time driving around Norfolk and the English Countryside. She frequents Norfolk as well as other twons. It serves to be a great places to relax and retrospect. In fact, these scenic areas seems to be her favorite part of being a carer: “I do like the feeling of getting into my little car, knowing for the next couple of hours I’ll have only the roads, the big grey sky and my daydreams for company.” These descriptions and strategies are intentionally utilized by Ishiguro for the readers to actually visualize exactly what is felt and experieced by the characters. Furthermore the setting in Never Let Me Go reveals traits of the character and in particular the narrator. According to various reseachers, Ishiguro’s novels share similarities in a particular aspect that is they are first-person narrators. This allows the reader to view the events of “Never Let Me Go”from the position of someone present and involved , in this case Katty. In this way the reader is given an insight into the character herself and at the same time can also directly experience what is happening in the story and so be able to relate to the surroundings. This is quite obvious by the intense and scenic descriptions stated above . It is noted that Ishiguro’s novels are “ character studies and moral inventories that serve to illuminate the context of given political events. In the course of a story, then, a character is not ony seen struggling with their own feelings in reaction to interpersonal situations, but also a political environment.”

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StudyScroll. (2016). Context and Setting in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5 December, 2023]

"Context and Setting in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go" StudyScroll, Feb 26, 2016. Accessed Dec 5, 2023.

"Context and Setting in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go" StudyScroll, Feb 26, 2016.

"Context and Setting in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go" StudyScroll, 26-Feb-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 5-Dec-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Context and Setting in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 5-Dec-2023]

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