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Human behaviour: An exploration of representation, narrative, and the clone body in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go

Bloor, Heather (2015) Human behaviour: An exploration of representation, narrative, and the clone body in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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In this dissertation I will be looking at the novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, paying particular attention to the narrator, Kathy, and how her use of narrative representation distances herself from her bodily subjugation. Narrative representation does not only reflect experience, but also has an active role in constructing it. Our reliance on the narratives of others in constructing our own sense of ‘self’ tends to encourage a repetition or recycling of the social values contained within them, and present a model of ‘human’ life which is more reflective of our textual encounters than our bodily experience. In Never Let Me Go, the clones primarily read nineteenth-century literature, and the values and beliefs espoused by such texts, as well as the structural life models they contain, are evident in the clones’ attitudes towards their purpose as organ donors, as well as in Kathy’s structuring of her own life narrative. The value given to this represented, or narrative, self, at the expense of bodily agency, is supported by the notion of mind-body dualism, in which the ‘self’ is equated with the mind rather than the body. This can lead to the body being seen, and treated, as an object. But because the clones themselves are also taught to prioritise a representation of self over a bodily self, they do not rebel against their lack of bodily autonomy, and continue to base their narratives upon models of human lives that bear little resemblance to their own. In this dissertation I argue that the only way for the clones to be recognised as ‘human’ by their wider society is to be able to represent themselves and their bodily difference, in order to affect a change in social and historical narratives, as well as in the definition of what it is to live a ‘human’ life.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Moody, David and Jenkins, Brett
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