How plastic and artificial life has become. It gets harder and harder to find something… Real. ” -? Jess C. Scott, The Other Side of Life This quotation is ironic to the plot presented in the novel Never Let Me Go by Kazoo Guiros. The basic idea of the quote is that the more material items you obtain or desire, the more “plastic” you become. Although the clones in this novel are technically artificial, they appear, act, and think as humans showing their “realness”, despite the fact that they are being materially deprived.
Throughout Guiro’s images of eternal deprivation like: the “exciting” and “crowded” (42) Sales that sell seemingly useless items, the scenes of the desperate, run-down cottages, and the melancholic life of a career, we see that Hails is only different in some aspects from other, similar facilities and not all. Hails only concentrates on the early years of a clone’s life and stops its concern after the clones “complete” (5) their time there.
At Hails, clones only receive the bare necessities of life: food, water, and shelter. Without material items to interfere, the children are able to bypass this and use their minds creatively to create beautiful works of art. This is unlike humans who create materialistic monsters out of themselves by being overcome with want and greed. Arguably, life is simpler and more enjoyable without material items. For instance: Rut’s pencil case. It is a material item that causes turmoil between the girls.
Ruth loves Miss Geraldine and wants to make it a point that she is her favorite to the other girls. So, she uses a material item such as a pencil case, found at the Sales, to provoke the other girls. The Sales usually bring joy to the clones because they want to find new, exciting items that will set them apart from the rest. However, students will argue over buying an item because they have their “hearts set on the same item” (42). Conclusively, the Sales simply provide for a conflicting atmosphere.
When the clones aren’t worried about having better things than one another, they can use their imaginations to come together and bring about strong relationships that real humans do not always get to experience. At the cottages, life is cruddy. The structures are made from the “remains of an old farmhouse”, and are described as being “muddy”(116) and “chilly”(117). However, Kathy states that despite their poor living conditions, “none of us indeed the discomforts one bit” and “it was all apart of the excitement”(117).
The point is; being stripped of everything, including material items, allows the reader to focus on the core idea of the story: the harsh reality that the clones will one day be forced, unwillingly, to give these “donations” to their and eventually die having no sense of identity or choice in life. In the beginning, Kathy describes her life as a career nonchalantly and almost indifferently. She tells us she is “pleased with her work” (1) and does it “well” (2). There are many other careers who were short-lived, but Kathy has managed to maintain her position for nearly twelve years; “long ) as she describes it.
However, towards the very end of the book, a realization occurs for the reader. The job of a career is not “fun”, its horrible. There is no one to ‘talk to about your worries” or “have a laugh with” (207), it’s just “hour after hour” (208) driving lonely mile after lonely mile. “You’re always in a rush” and there never seems to be enough time especially considering that you are “always exhausted” (208). Guiro’s reasoning behind such a materially deprived scene is to spotlight the isolation the job of a career actually brings.
Throughout the novel, the clones are kept in the dark about their mysterious futures. People like Madame and Miss Emily claim that they are fighting to help the clones live better while they are at Hails. But, what about life afterwards? The images of material deprivation Guiros provides us with like: the Sales at Hails, life at the cottages, and life as a career allow the story to draw a clear focal point, emphasize the desolation that being a career brings, and show the reader that Miss Emily and Madame’s attempts to improve life for the clones are not far reaching.