What are some motifs in Never Let Me Go?

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Two central motifs in Never Let Me Go are art and music. In navigating themes of death, innocence, and eternal recurrence, Ishiguro illustrates how creativity embodies the practice of the soul exercising itself. Perhaps most significantly, Tommy’s art created throughout his time at Hailsham heavily mirrors his complex emotions; as he recounts, “hings like pictures, poetry, all that kind of stuff, [Miss Emily] said they revealed what you were like inside” (175).

When Tommy and Kath go to the Madame’s house to seek a deferral, she confirms this intent but with the emphasis that “We took...

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daniherb01 | Student

One important motif that can be found in Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go is water. An example of this is when Tommy imagines two people stuck in a forceful, raging river, in which Tommy says:

"I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever."

As in the novel's title, the two people caught in this turbulent water threshold want to "never let go," but the water, an intrinsic, inescapable part of nature, forces the two apart. Tommy, Kathy, and Ruth are trying desperately to hold onto one another and to life, but are unable to due to the nature of their very existence (as human donors). Essentially, the donors (such as Tommy, Kathy, and Ruth) have no control over their lives, and they are ultimately unable to change or escape their fate.