At the end of Remains of the Day, how does Stevens feel about Miss Kenton's (now Mrs. Benn) life and future?

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At the end of the book, as Stevens waits with the former Miss Kenton for her bus, the two have a conversation in which Stevens discusses his fears about Mrs. Benn and her marriage. As she leaves her husband not infrequently, and judging on the way that Mrs Benn talks about her life in her letters, he is concerned that she is being mistreated. However, Mrs. Benn assures him that this is not the case. Her unhappiness only comes when she remembers her unrequited love for him. This frank admission is something that shocks Stevens to the core, but he does manage to compose himself and express his assurance that the future that awaits Mrs. Benn will be very happy indeed:

We must each of us, as you point out, be grateful for what we do have. And from what you tell me, Mrs. Benn, you have reason to be contended. In fact, I would venture, what with Mr. Benn retiring, and with grandchildren on the way, that you and Mr. Benn have some extremely happy years before you.

It is typical of Stevens that he is quick to dismiss Mrs. Benn's love for him as mere "foolish ideas." Stevens naturally expresses every hope that Mrs. Benn will have a long and happy life ahead of her. This is central to his presentation in the novel. Ishiguro presents a narrative account that is profoundly unreliable, as Stevens, as the novel amply evidences, is so completely unaware of his own feelings that he is shocked to discover the love that Mrs. Benn had for him for so long even when it was so clear to the reader. It is yet another example of his stereotypical British reserve that he is able to swiftly put to one side what has just been revealed (even though Mrs. Benn's words will come back to haunt him later) and express confidently that Mrs. Benn will be able to enjoy a bright and happy future, even as the reader recognises that he can make no such assurance about his own future.

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The Remains of the Day

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