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Monday, March 09, 2009

Barren Bitches Book Tour 17 Barren: Never Let Me Go

This Tour of the Barren Bitches Book Brigrade had us read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I think I should warn you that this post could reveal info about the book that may spoil the surprise. Or maybe it will intrigue you further into reading the book. Who knows. But if you don't want the spoilers, stop reading now...



"One thing that struck me while reading the book is that the characters seem very passive. Although certain knowledge is withheld from them along the way, and they do have questions, they do not really rebel or protest their fate, or try to escape. They seem quite accepting of the future that has been laid out for them. Why do you think this is so?"


I think part of this is the fact that they don't have all the information. After all, they are children and then adolescents who are growing up in a sheltered environment. They are in the care of Guardians whom they trust implicitly. I don't know about anyone else, but as a child, I may have been curious about the world around me, but my life was my life. I never considered that it could be something different than it already was.


But I don't think that they never rebelled or protested. I think of Ruth and their expedition to seek out her Possible. Ruth did dream of a life that was different and even went so far as to see if it was somehting she may have been destined for. The fact that she didn't pursue it later doesn't negate the fact that the impulse was there in the first place.



If you knew with certainty that you had a child with a shortened life expectancy, would you raise the child any differently? For example, are there certain experiences you'd want to ensure that they had? Are there things that you wouldn't bother to make them do (flossing? eat healthy foods? go to school?) since they wouldn't have the same long-term impact as they would for other children? Would it make a difference in your parenting if you knew exactly at what age the child was expected to die as opposed to a general sense of foreshortened lifespan?


What a difficult question! The truth is, I don't know. I don't think that this is something you could really wrap your mind around or figure out unless you were actually in this position. At this point for me, I can barely wrap my mind around the fact that I'll have a child, let a lone how long that child's life could be. I think about my parents raising a child with cancer and I wonder how they might have grappled with this question. They didn't know until much later on that he for sure wouldn't make it. But there must have been the reality all the way along. I don't think they raised him any differently than they did us.

Would knowing when help? Maybe. Maybe it would help you to help your child make the most of the time they had. Or, maybe it would instill fear and/or panic, which would make those last days/ weeks/ months almost unbearable.

If you were a student a Hailsham, would you have wanted to know your ultimate destiny as a Donor? Why or why not? How do you think knowing at that point in your life would have affected you? Does this desire to know your outcome apply to your own real life? In what situations do you find knowledge helpful? At what times can it be detrimental?

This was my question. In many ways, it's the flip of the previous question I answered. But I find it easier. Answering whether you would want to know your fate or not at that age has a lot to do with your beliefs. Are you a person who believes in self-determination or do you believe in an ultimate Fate? For myself, I believe that I am meant to go through certain things in my life and achieve a certain outcome. How I get there and in what condition is completely up to me. I am a person who seeks knowledge. I like having info as it helps me make sense of an often confusing world. However, I do think knowing that kind of information at such a young age that your life would be shorter than most could be a little detrimental. There's a small period in our lives of innocence, it would a shame to see it grow even shorter.

Now hop a long here and check out what others had to say about this interesting and poignant book.

7 comments:

Another Dreamer said...

Interesting point about Ruth thinking about it. Kathy and Tom thought about it too, with the deferral thing, as did many others... so they weren't completely passive about it. But, they never tried too hard to do anything. The most effort anyone put into it was Kathy and Tom with the whole deferral business.

I think I can understand about them not having all the information. If you don't know exactly what is going on in the world around you, how can you fight it I suppose...

Interesting thoughts.

Kristin said...

Interesting take on things. I see Ruth's seeking her possible was more exploration than rebellion. I definitely see Tommy and Kathy's search for a deferral as more of a rebellion even though it ultimately got them nowhere.

loribeth said...

The "passive" question was mine, & I wrote it before i had finished the book. You're right that they weren't totally passive, although they never really pushed too hard. The most they seemed to hope for was a deferral of their fate, not a complete escape from it.

Annie said...

I think what you said about there being a short period of innocence in our lives is so true, and it would be a shame to see it become even shorter. I have always felt like my m/c made me lose my "pregnancy innocence" especially since my very first pregnancy ended that way. I never had the experience of a blissful pregnancy free from anxiety and fear (and I know I am not alone in that in these parts!). And while part of me wishes I could've known ahead of time so I could've gotten some tests done and maybe I wouldn't have had to lose all those babies...I don't know, to know that my future held m/c? That would have been a hard burden to bear--it was hard enough when I found myself there, but to know about it before I was even to that point in my life where I wanted a baby? I wonder if the fear would keep me from trying altogether too, even if I could have all the tests run and try to figure out what was wrong with me and maybe avoid it altogether.

Melissa said...

i loved this line "There's a small period in our lives of innocence, it would a shame to see it grow even shorter."

Cassandra said...

I wondered how you might answer the question about the child with the shortened lifespan, given your family history.

Good point about children not considering that their lives could be different, but it seems that there does come a time (usually during adolescence) when most kids do start to consider alternatives, in part because we are exposed to what those alternatives might be, such as friends' families. The Hailsham students never get to this point, perhaps in large part because they are so sheltered and have such limited exposure to what the rest of the world is like, until they're young adults and perhaps are past the point of questioning.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

"The fact that she didn't pursue it later doesn't negate the fact that the impulse was there in the first place." I think that's a really important point. And just because we don't act on something, doesn't mean that we don't notice and make a decision regardless.