Discuss postcolonial themes in The Remains of the Day.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the fundamental tenets of postcolonialism calls for a reevaluation of previously held beliefs and ideas.  For example, it is not unusual for a postcolonial text to reexamine the relationship between the foreign power that occupied an indigeneous nation.  In much the same way, one of the critical elements out of Ishiguro's work lies in how Stevens has to reexamine Lord Darlington's actions on a political scale and his own actions on a personal one.  The revisionism of history on both planes of existence is one element of postcolonial thought present in the novel.  To a great extent, this process of revisionism rests in the notion of reexamining and reclaiming an element of identity.  A postcolonial theme in its own right, Stevens journey towards reclamation of his own notion of identity and how right and wrong were both misread at different points in his life.  The notion of "reclaiming" this identity comes through Stevens' reexamination of it.  Finally, I would say that the postcolonial notion of "hybridity" is something with which Stevens must come to terms.  The postcolonial text often features the "hybrid" individual as someone that has one foot in one realm and another foot in another.  Seemingly living a dual consciousness in both realities, being in the world is formed out of both.  In a way, Stevens experiences his own notion of "hybridity" in how he must reconcile himself in the past with who he is right now.  He must come to terms with his own failures both on a personal and professional level.  This consists of his own missed opportunities for love and his misplaced faith in Lord Darlington.  Like his own father before his death, Stevens must reconcile the decisions of the past with the ever uncertain present and an even more uncertain future.  In this, a postcolonial representation of Stevens is present.

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