What kind of moral and emotional responses does the novel "Never Let Me Go" provoke? Does the novel examine the possibility of human cloning as a legitimate question for medical ethics, or does it...

What kind of moral and emotional responses does the novel "Never Let Me Go" provoke?

Does the novel examine the possibility of human cloning as a legitimate question for medical ethics, or does it demonstrate that the human costs of cloning are morally repellent, and therefore impossible for science to pursue? What kind of moral and emotional responses does the novel provoke?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Ishiguro's novel Never Let Me Go can be interpreted as a warning, demonstrating to readers that the technological advancements around human life are not without complex ethical and moral issues. These issues are displayed in the clones' deep emotional responses and powerful relationships with each other, so their treatment in the novel provokes intense emotion in many readers. Some readers may feel pity for the clones, who have little agency in their lives, and others may feel a deep sense of sorrow and guilt that the clones must suffer for others deemed more valuable than they. In terms of ethical responses, some readers may question what qualities separate humans from clones after all; is the inability to procreate enough to treat the clones as non-human? And, morally speaking, is it right to create clone life only for the purpose of sustaining human lives?

Based on the deeply sympathetic portrayal of the clones in the novel, some scholars argue that Ishiguro does not believe it is right to create clones for the purpose of supporting human life. As evidenced by Cathy and the others, clones too closely resemble humans in their complexity and capacity to feel. It is then up to readers to experience the novel and determine for themselves if they agree with this moral viewpoint.

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appletrees eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The setting of the novel occurs in the recent past, and moves through to an assumed present. The notion of cloning is "futuristic" but by setting the novel in the 1970s at the beginning, there is an idea of normalcy in having established the schools where clones are educated. Although the overall sense one gains from the novel is that cloning is morally repellent, the failure of the main characters (Cathy, Ruth and Tommy) to look for any effective solution to their dilemma, beyond the fantasy of receiving "deferrals" for being in love, suggests that people are all too willing to accept it.

Even given the seeming injustice of the short lives of the clones, they themselves are accepting of their fate, which somewhat undermines the notion that cloning is somehow morally repellent. It seems that non-clones are even more likely to find the system morally questionable, as evidenced by the young teacher who decides to reveal the truth to the students at Hailsham.

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