How does Kazuo Ishiguro present Tommy to make the audience feel sorry for him?

Ishiguro presents Tommy to make the audience feel sorry for him. What is the significance of Tommy's "interview"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tommy is presented as one of life's outsiders, a chronic misfit who doesn't really belong anywhere. By showing Tommy as a victim of merciless teasing and mockery, Ishiguro makes him a sympathetic character, despite his regular childish tantrums.

Although Tommy attended Hailsham along with the rest of the clones, there...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Tommy is presented as one of life's outsiders, a chronic misfit who doesn't really belong anywhere. By showing Tommy as a victim of merciless teasing and mockery, Ishiguro makes him a sympathetic character, despite his regular childish tantrums.

Although Tommy attended Hailsham along with the rest of the clones, there was always a sense that he was somewhat apart from everyone else. This would explain why he was always marginalized and singled out for bullying. For Ruth and the other clones, their whole identity is intimately bound up with their time at Hailsham. If Tommy was never a "real" Hailsham student—as Ruth seems to think—then the implication is that he lacks the kind of stable identity enjoyed by the others. Our sympathy for Tommy is heightened by the fact that he has to become a donor before the teasing stops. In other words, he has to go through the process of having vital organs removed before he's regarded by the others as truly one of them.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tommy is presented in a manner that reflects some immaturity, some moments of intensely powerful insight, and in a condition where the pain of powerlessness is felt on a personal level.  Tommy is not a monist and one dimensional character.  There are moments when Tommy does not exercise the best in judgments.  There are instances where he displays some level of emotional immaturity.  People like to provoke him to see his enraged reaction.  Tommy also is extremely insightful and insensitive.  He recognizes his own shortcomings, such as his failures in art.  Essentially, all of this reflects that Tommy is a human being.  Tommy might be a clone, but Ishiguro develops his characterization as a human being.  It is for this reason that Tommy cannot understand why he is so helpless and powerless to change his condition as a clone.  In constructing Tommy as a human being, the audience has no choice but to empathize with him.  He is a human being for all practical and emotional purposes.  When he is engaged in his donations, he is on a path where he will be harvested towards death.  It is not the death of a clone.  Ishiguro has constructed Tommy's death to be the death of a human being, one in which the reader sees little difference between themselves and Tommy.  When he dies, it is a moment where empathy is evoked because of the strong identification with him as a human being, not a clone.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team