Klara and the Sun

by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Student Question

How does the society in Klara and the Sun, with "lifted" children leading different lives, compare to our world?

Expert Answers

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The idea of “lifted” children which Ishiguro explores in Klara and the Sun is a staple of both science fiction and dystopian fiction, in which individuals are frequently artificially enhanced and given special privileges and/or moved into an elite class at an early age (as, for instance, in Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game). Arguably, this trope is so common because it reflects something which happens less systematically in real life, as wealthy parents buy advantages for their children. As in real life, the process is not without its dangers and disadvantages.

In Klara and the Sun, the disadvantages of this lifestyle are clearly shown in the lack of opportunities for social contact experienced by “lifted” children, as well as the dangers inherent in the process. One of the ways in which you might contrast this with the way the real world works is to think about the reasons why students attend expensive boarding schools and such elite universities as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. At educational institutions such as these, students are taught in person with a high level of individual attention from teachers and professors. They also make contacts who are likely to be able to assist them in their future careers. These are both social elements of education which are missing from Ishiguro’s dystopia, which has made society more impersonal at every level than is currently the case.

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