Essay on 'Never Let Me Go' Symbols

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In the Anna Funder Stasiland (published 2003) non-fiction text explores the oppression through distressing events caused by the GDR and the impact it had on German citizens. Through investigating the inner conflicts of everyone, Funder acknowledges the GDR’s behavior by exposing, the abusive, manipulative actions that caused eternal grief and anguish. Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go (published in 2005) likewise deals with the personal loss that explores the emotional disturbance the main protagonists encounter. Both texts show in alarming detail that when the state holds power, torture, and misery are inevitable for citizens. Personal loss and suffering are embedded throughout both novels to present the mental and emotional issues that the characters experience in each chapter.

To begin with, both books carefully explore the real-life effects through the sense of personal loss and suffering. In Stasiland, the collapse of the Berlin wall is demonstrated as a symbol of the end of a traumatic event “People from the east and west climbing, crying, dancing on the wall.' Many suffered under the Stasi surveillance hence why the citizens in Germany are celebrating their freedom as they’re about to encounter their loved ones. Many of the German citizens suffered through not seeing their families allowing them to experience anguish; the fact that the citizens ‘danced’ and ‘cried’ the following verbs highlights a load of sentiments they’re feeling. Similarly, Stasiland is depicted as a loss of human freedom, “I was in love!” Koch was purposely forbidden to give his lover a chance, his hands were tied by the Stasi rule. Moreover, Kathy experiences a deep sense of loss as Kathy says “goodbye” to Tommy illustrating the homelessness Kathy goes through as a clone, as she remembers the memories she will cherish for life.

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Anna Funder identifies the torture the Stasi inflicted on the citizens of Germany. The personal narrative is shown throughout the novel as Anna Funder interviews the victims of the Stasi. Miriam is a prime example of suffering as when she got out of jail she was ‘no longer human’ She was dehumanized and psychologically tortured as she’d be constantly verbally abused by guards. This form of torture stayed with Mariam after she left the prison by becoming afraid of her husband, Charlie when he made sudden movements. Moreover, the morals and beliefs that were inserted in the students of Hailsham were cold-hearted and is shown through the first-person narrative that is depicted throughout the novel. Miss Lucy discusses the truth to the students that their lives are already destined “Your lives have been set out for you, you’ll become adults, then before you’re old before you’re even middle-aged, you’ll start to donate your vital organs 'This declarative message indicates the honest reason why the Hailsham students are there considering they’re only told the reason why in vague details. The semantic field of aging is evident in the words ‘aging’ and ‘old’. Moreover, the future tense is also significant in this quotation as they will start to donate their “vital organs” meaning that suffering is near. Therefore, the theme of suffering is illustrated within the students as they are about to experience the loss of their own lives.

Funder declares vulnerability through the description of Julia’s rape. Funder seems to find Julia’s story almost too agonizing to carry it undermines the heroic, extraordinary narratives about the rise of a new German state that she’s heard. Julia describes the man as “huge” and threatens to kill her if she screams. The semantic field of death is demonstrated in the words ‘screamed’ and the repetition of ‘kill’. The signification of loss is shown in Julia’s loss of dignity through the dominance and abuse of power of males. Julia is fragile in this state and feels hopeless, evidently in this asyndetic listing “distressed, dropped out and suicidal” This allows readers to sympathize and perhaps relate to Julia’s situation. The short sentence ‘I wanted to die’ illustrates how Julia suffered constantly. The word ‘die’ outlines how she was afraid to be put in such a traumatizing position. Due to this, Julia got involved with feminist and anti-rape groups to protect others from being assaulted as she was. This was only after 3 years; Berlin had changed so much. Anna Funder makes it clear that citizens of Germany are still traumatized by the actions the GDR committed and this caused eternal suffering.

The symbolism of The Song “Never Let Me Go” symbolizes both the intensity of human love and the fear of losing those whom one loves. Kathy imagines a mother holding tightly to her child, she sings a song that expresses her contentment as well as her fear of loss. The image of holding appears several times in the novel for example when Kathy and Tommy hold one another in the field when they realize that the deferrals do not exist. Kathy stating “it was never true” depicts that. This made Kathy realize that the superior entity always has the power to indoctrinate the young and as they mature, they realize that they’re fed lies all along. Moreover, the crumbling boat is a symbol of mortality that highlights the change of time and the essential hurt that comes with it. Although their visit is filled with sadness and a sense of loss, the students find the boat beautiful; the boat echoes their memories of Hailsham and their childhood.

Additionally, Frau Paul is argued to have experienced loss when she worked as a tour guide, and her ‘soul was buckled out of shape, forever’ as she was sentenced to four years of hard labor. This affected her mental health as she was forced to work under GDR rule. The reader feels in awe at Frau Paul who could show the prison to Anna Funder which she describes as ‘the smell of misery’ depicting the struggle of Frau Paul and where the GDR performed methods, that severely impacted people psychologically. Moreover, upon further speculation, Anna Funder states that Frau Paul was “made a criminal in the GDR, and because, saddest of all, she still feels like one.' She’s been brainwashed into thinking that she’s a ‘criminal’ and has been labeled like that by the GDR. Even though, Mielke died ‘the most hated man is now dead’ ex-Stasi agents continue to harass Paul, and others debate over Mielke’s reputation suggesting that the Germans still have not let go of the past but also the Stasi had ultimate dominance and control over Mielke when Funder learns that there’s been a request for the Stasi surveillance file this shows that the Stasi cannot be trusted. Moreover, Kathy experiences a sense of loss through losing Tommy “I waited long enough a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the fields and gradually get larger until I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, maybe even call” The emotive language gives us a notion that Kathy is going through misery and how extremely difficult it is to lose a loved one especially if you’ve been with them for such a long period.

Funder reads Charlie’s poem stating that “this land / I have been sown / Only my head sticks / Defiant, out of the earth / But one day it too will be mown / Making me, finally / Of this land.” Charlie’s tone is ominous as he describes that the Stasi tortured him and even seems to foretell his death. This also suggests that Charlie is inflicted and the relationship he has with the East Germans is perplexing. Mariam represents that she’s worried for her husband Charlie in this following quotation” Even in that terrible light, I could still see his head injuries. And I could see his neck—they'd forgotten to cover it up. There were no strangulation marks, nothing.” Here, Mariam is explaining that perhaps the Stasi murdered her husband as she spends years trying in vain to learn the truth about Charlie’s final moments. Likewise, Ruth’s death is significant in ‘Never Let Me Go’ as Kathy “lost Tommy and Ruth and Hailsham,” Kathy forgives Ruth for her past actions before she passes away. She knew that Ruth wronged her, but the memories will not fade away and will stay with Kathy.

To conclude, both writers explore the brutality the characters experienced. The use of linguistic features such as semantic fields and emotive language allows the readers to understand the character's actions and emotions Both depict the reality of a dystopian society that prohibits individual freedom allowing the characters to go through constant trauma and being trapped in a cycle of oppression and surveillance. The message the authors are trying to depict to the reader is that society may appear to be utopian but, as the readers interpret the novel, they will realize the world is imperfect. Moreover, ‘Stasiland’ depicts the loss of the civilian's worth under the Stasi regime, and ‘Never Let Me Go’ similarly, illustrates the damage influence superior individuals can possess.                                                                 

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Essay on ‘Never Let Me Go’ Symbols. (2024, May 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
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