Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 913
Duty and dedication are at the heart of this novel. Stevens has lived his life in pursuit of perfect dutifulness. He has willingly made every personal sacrifice along the way, and when he realizes what he has given up in life, it is too late. He cannot reconnect with his family members because they are all dead, he cannot choose a different vocation, and he cannot marry and enjoy romantic love. As he made these sacrifices, he did so gladly, because he felt that the best way to be of service in the world was to serve a great gentleman. By convincing himself that Lord Darlington was such a man, Stevens deceived himself into believing he was living honorably. Sadly, he allowed himself to be so blinded by duty that he ignored his own judgment and needs.
Stevens’s father provides a role model for his son’s extreme devotion to duty. Stevens recalls a story about his father in which a general was coming to visit his employer. This general was responsible for the needless death of the elder Stevens’s other son, who was under the general’s command at the time. The elder Stevens understandably feels deep loathing for this man, yet when he is called on to act as his valet, he does so with emotionless dedication. The elder Stevens’s employer had offered to allow his butler to leave the house for the duration of the general’s stay, yet he...
(The entire section contains 1316 words.)
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