In Never Let Me Go, how does Ishiguro use Tommy to explore his ideas about love and loss?

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

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One way that Ishiguro is able to use Tommy to explore ideas of love and loss is in how Tommy strives to find hope in both.

Ishiguro constructs Tommy as highly optimistic.  He strives for the confirmation that everything is going to be ok.  This can be seen early on in the story when he talks about how he felt after speaking with Miss Lucy: "Well... The thing is, it might sound strange. It did to me at first. What she said was that if I didn’t want to be creative, if I really didn’t feel like it, that was perfectly all right. Nothing wrong with it, she said."  It is clear that Tommy seeks hope.  Part of the reason why he has his temper tantrums and "short fuse" is because he wants everything to be fine.  As a result, he can be easily baited.

Tommy is not emotionally distant from restoration. His natural response to hurt is to find hope.  Whether it was in proving his artistic capacity or appealing for a deferral because he is in love with Kathy, he displays optimism. Even if his desire for hope might cause greater challenge, Tommy never loses it.  Ishiguro might be suggesting that the only potential way to deal with the harrowing conditions of love and loss is holding onto hope and never letting go.

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