Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go” presents the themes of the relentless passage of time and the inevitability of loss through Kathy’s focus on her memories rather than her focus on her future. Chapter 1 states, “My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old… On the particular afternoon I’m now thinking of, we were standing up on stools and benches, crowding around the high windows” (Ishiguro 1-5).
This is the first flashback we get of a novel-full many. By remembering all that which once was, Kathy wants to decelerate the relentless course of time that directs her towards loss. She doesn’t want to face what’s ahead of her, what time will inevitably bring, but focuses on the past instead. Also, the fact that she’s even got a past to focus on demonstrates how her time has run out; how time itself has advanced so much that she’s only got a past to look forward to.
Her hopes and dreams passed her by as her time on Earth expired, and so she was left with only the memories of what once was, and what she once had, which transfers me to the theme of the inevitability of loss. The more time passed, the more she lost. We get a bit of foreshadowing in the book when she loses her Judy cassette: “The tape disappeared a couple of months after the incident with Madame” (Ishiguro 62).
This gave Kathy her first taste of loss, and it foreshadowed just how more she would lose in the future. She came to lose her home, her best friend Ruth, and Tommy, and she will move on to lose her organs, along with her life (kind of makes you understand why she’s buried in her past; her future’s too depressing). She’s now got only her memories to hold onto, because everything else seems like a distant dream; however, all she is currently doing is delaying the inevitable, because loss will come no matter what she does.
This kind of illustrates a connection between time and loss; the more time passes, the more you lose, and since time is never late… well, they say that the inability to accept loss is a form of insanity, but when you’ve lost so much that you’ve got nothing else left but that which lives inside your head, even that form of insanity seems reasonable.