Never Let Me Go discussion questions

  1. COMING OF AGE. Never Let Me Go is not your typical campus novel. When did you realize what was really happening at Hailsham?
  2. UNRELIABLE NARRATOR? The story is narrated by Kathy. “There have been times over the years when I’ve tried to leave Hailsham behind,” she says, “when I’ve told myself I shouldn’t look back so much. But then there came a point where I just stopped resisting.” Is the story Kathy is telling us (and telling herself) the true story? How would the novel be different if it were not narrated directly to the reader from Kathy’s perspective?
  3. LOVE. A hallmark of a coming of age story is the attention given to significant relationships, but in what way was it integral to this story? Did you expect love was a possibility for the characters?
  4. LANGUAGE. The world of Never Let Me Go employs words that don’t quite reveal the reality of the situation, e.g., words like carer, donor, complete don’t mean what we expect them to mean. How does this usage affect the story? Does our society sometimes employ language in similar ways? 
  5. VALUE. One character insists that if creativity, culture, and education are present in a person’s life, then that person has a good life. In the context of this story, do you agree? What do you think makes a good life? What do the characters value about their own lives, and is it enough for them? 
  6. LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP. In this story, Ishiguro explores love and friendship: how they sometimes coexist, and sometimes are in competition. How do you see these dynamics at work? 
  7. FATE AND AGENCY. Despite the characters’ anticipated fate, they never try to escape or change it. Why do you think this is? Do you think they could have altered their fate, had they tried?
  8. WRITER’S GOAL. Ishiguro says that his goal is the same for every book he writes: he’s always looking to illuminate some aspect of what it means to be human in a way that every reader can relate to. Reviews use words like “sinister” but Isiguro claims he thinks of this as is “most cheerful book.” Could you relate in any way to Never Let Me Go? Do you think he fulfilled his goal?
  9. SCIENCE FICTION. What genre(s) do you consider the story to be? Do you consider Never Let Me Go science fiction? Dystopian? Utopian? Realistic fiction?
  10. ETHICS AND IMPLICATIONS. What does the novel say to you on a moral and ethical level? What are the implications for how we live today?



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