Human Condition in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go


  • Zlata Lukić



social roles, habits, passivity, repression, imitation of life, rebellion, human(ity), suppression of feelings


The purpose of this paper is to highlight, through a comprehensive psychological and sociological analysis of characters in Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, how roles, rules, habits, and routines, imposed either externally or internally, ultimately take the better of us, making our lives empty and superficial. Ishiguro’s characters – parentless clones with a “higher” purpose in life, stand as perfect examples of how easy it is to forget what human existence is all about, how easy it is to sink into the bottomless sea of human tragedy, or, as Ishiguro himself once put it – “the sadness of the human condition”. The paper utilizes john Dewey’s Human Nature and Conduct, and the so-called “role theory”, to argue social role versus private life, passivity and suppression of feelings, while trying to provide answers to the key questions: why don’t the clones rebel and why can’t they be human.


Atwood, M. 2005. Brave New World. Slate Magazine. [Internet]. Available at: http://slate. com/id/2116040/ [08.02. 2010].

Cappo, E. 2009. Repression and Displacement in Kazuo Ishiguro’s when we were Orphans and Never Let Me Go. [Internet]. Available at: http://deepblue.lib.umich. edu/bitstream/2027.42/63944/1/cappo_emily_2009.pdf [02.03.2010].

Dewey, J. 1957. Human Nature and Conduct, An introduction to Social Psychology. New York: The Modern Library.

Ishiguro, K. 2005. Never Let Me Go. London: Faber and Faber.

Ishiguro, K. n.d. Interviewed in Bookbrowse. [Internet]. Available at: [12.01.2011].

Kemp, P. 2005. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Sunday Times. [Internet]. Available at: [08.02.2010].

Menand, L. 2005. Something About Kathy. [Internet]. Available at: [03.03.2010].

Messud, C. 2005. Love’s Body. The Nation. [Internet]. Available at: [03.03.2010].

Mohr, M. et al. 2008. The Preclusion of Rebellion in Never Let Me Go. [Internet]. Available at: Report.pdf [02.03.2010].

Puchner, M. 2008. When We Were Clones. Raritan Reviews. [Internet]. Available at: [28.04.2011].

“Sociological Theory/Role Theory”. n.d. Wikibooks. [Internet]. Available at: _Theory/Role_Theory [02.03.2010].

Wong, C. F. 2005. Kazuo ishiguro. Second Edition. Tavistock, Devon: Northcote House Publishers Ltd.

Wood, j. 2005. The Human Difference. The New Republic. [Internet]. Available at: [03.03.2010].




How to Cite

Lukić, Z. (2021). Human Condition in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go . Philologia, 9(1), 123–133.



Nauka o književnosti/Literary Studies