Klara and the Sun

by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Part Four Summary and Analysis

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At a friend's apartment in the city, Josie, the Mother, and Klara are soon joined by the Father. He's delighted to see his daughter but seems entirely disinterested in getting to know Klara. The Mother and the Father are cordial, but Klara senses some underlying tension between them that occasionally becomes outwardly apparent. The Father, Klara ascertains, is now living in an outsider community of others like him.

On the way to the portrait appointment, Klara is surprised to spot the Cootings Machine spewing pollution yet again. She doesn't have much time to fixate on it, and the Mother and the Father argue about the portrait as they drive past.

They arrive at the house of Mr. Capaldi, the portrait artist, where Klara sees complicated camera equipment and a series of unusual measurement charts. Mr. Capaldi invites the Mother for a secret peek at the work in progress, and she emerges from his studio somewhat unsettled. Sending the Father in for a look, the Mother reassures Josie that the portrait looks fine before settling shakily onto the sofa.

Mr. Capaldi asks if Klara would mind taking a quick survey for him, leading her into a small upstairs cubicle with a computer screen. As she sits down, she hears the Mother and the Father downstairs arguing about the portrait. Glancing out the window, she notices that the Father looks somewhat ill.

After completing the survey, Klara quietly steps across the landing to secretly look inside the studio before returning to the others. She's surprised to find Josie suspended inside the studio. As she comes closer, she realizes this is only an ersatz approximation of Josie—it has her face and her body, but no kind smile. Attempting to sneak back to the cubicle where she took the survey, she sees that the family below is now in a full-fledged argument that Mr. Capaldi is attempting to mediate. The Mother looks up and sees Klara, realizing that Klara, too, has now discovered the model of Josie.

The Father and Josie leave, and with trepidation, the Mother asks Klara what she thinks about what she's seen. Klara admits that she's suspected for some time that the portrait may be an AF and that it seems to be a very accurate outward representation of Josie.

As the Mother and Mr. Capaldi continue to argue, Mr. Capaldi insists that with Klara's contributions, this new Josie will not be an imitation of the original, but a "continuation." When the Mother reasserts her misgivings, Klara interrupts. If that's what they need, she says, she'll do everything in her power to continue Josie. But for now, she believes strongly that some special forces may be at work to restore Josie’s health.

The argument finally wanes, and the Mother and Klara leave to meet the others. The Mother goes inside a nearby restaurant to look for the Father and Josie, and soon the Father comes out and gets in the driver's seat of the car. They need a minute to themselves, he reports to Klara. As they wait, the two find a new rapport. Soon, they're discussing the complexities of the human heart and the extent to which one person may ever know another.

With uncertain optimism, Klara tells the Father about her intentions toward the Cootings Machine and how it might help Josie. After driving a short distance, the two find the machine parked in a vacant lot. The Father, a former engineer, tells Klara he thinks he knows how to dismantle it, but it will require a sacrifice on her part: the engine can be undermined...

(This entire section contains 1167 words.)

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by a small quantity of a chemical used in AFs. There may be consequences, he tells her—if they extract some of the chemical, her abilities could be diminished. Thinking this over, Klara decides to go forward with the process.

When she meets the others for dinner, Klara begins to notice that she's perceiving the outside world with less detail than she used to. Rick and Miss Helen are excited about their meeting with Vance, a former romantic partner of Miss Helen's who has influence at Atlas Brookings. As they search for him in a crowd outside a nearby theater, Klara struggles to clearly make out the faces of those she encounters.

Leaving Klara with Rick and Miss Helen, the Mother, the Father, and Josie leave for a family discussion. Vance urges Rick, Miss Helen, and Klara into a diner, and the four take a seat. He's impressed by Rick's engineering sketches, but the reunion soon becomes bitter. Vance, it transpires, has remained besotted with Miss Helen for years, but she's been ignoring him, only deigning to finally respond when she wants a favor for her son. His anger erupts at the table, and he leaves.

Returning to the friend's apartment, the three reunite with the Arthur family. From a sleepy Josie, Klara learns that there's been some vague discussion that they might not need an AF anymore, but Josie insists that Klara shouldn't worry about it. As the families begin their journey home the next morning, Klara stares at the Sun from the car window in eager anticipation of his help. To her dismay, she spots something familiar on the way out of town: a second Cootings Machine, even bigger than the first.

Analysis

In this chapter, some of the key foreshadowing in part one and part two comes to fruition.

As Mr. Capaldi's plan to continue Josie as an AF is revealed, Klara is able to make sense of some of her earlier interactions with the Mother. When they first met at the store, and the Mother asked her to imitate Josie, she wasn't just testing the extent of Klara’s perception—she was asking Klara for an informal audition to step into the role of Josie in perpetuity.

The trip to Morgan's Falls, too, makes more sense with the benefit of this revelation. When the Mother took Klara for a trip on her own and asked her to imitate how Josie might behave if she'd gone along instead, it wasn't just a pleasant day out—it was a trial run.

From Josie's father, more about the troubling state of the world is revealed. In his debates with the Mother, it becomes clear that civil unrest is proliferating outside the Arthur home. He lives in an armed compound with other former professionals who have been "substituted," implying that protection from violence is necessary for such a lifestyle. He and the Mother also argue about the benefits of fascism, implying that existing political and social structures have embraced it at either an institutional or an oppositional level.

This, again, highlights Klara's unique myopia. Her world is very full, but incredibly small—it's only by contact with those outside the household that the reader learns of the turmoil in the outside world. That this doesn't seem to impact the Arthurs at home, thus going essentially unnoticed by Klara, may be yet another function of the family's privilege.

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Part Five Summary and Analysis