Madame’s Warning

While I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, one part of the book has left me unsettled. After Miss Emily left Kathy and Tommy, they had parting words with Madame before leaving the house. Madame finally remembers Kathy H, and Kathy immediately knows she is thinking about the time Madame saw her dancing in the dormitories by herself with her eyes closed, rocking her arms back and forth as if she would never let go of the baby. Madame listens but replies that she was crying for a different reason, because she saw a new world approaching:

More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let go. (272)

As a student who has always been interested in science, I tend to think and wonder about future technologies and the promises they hold. Rarely do I stop and ponder the negative social ramifications these technologies may also unleash. Just like in Ishiguro’s novel, our world is rapidly approaching a time where we are becoming more scientific and efficient and improving health outcomes. However, Madame issues a warning from her dystopian world that while all of these advancements may lead to cures for diseases, it can also force our society to regress into a “harsh, cruel world.”

As we press forward and test the seemingly endless limits of technology, one begins to question where it will stop. And I obviously don’t have the answers, but it’s relatively realistic (if you disregard problems with the futuristic societies such as Bokanovsky’s Process and the donor process) to imagine our society developing problems similar to those in Brave New World, Gattaca, The Island, and Never Let Me Go. However, I hope that our society can balance the efforts to advance technology while preserving the sanctity of human life. And although I don’t have the answers, many questions about genetic issues are worth considering since they will have a significant impact on our future. Where will the line be drawn with regards to genetics? Will embryonic stem cell research be allowed? Genetic screening? Gene therapy? Cloning of humans?

Let me know what you think.

Zac Ramsey


~ by zacr12 on February 6, 2008.

2 Responses to “Madame’s Warning”

  1. Perhaps this is just the pessimist in me, but isn’t the world already cruel and harsh? And hasn’t it always been? Systematic exploitation is already a fundamental part of our consumerist culture: we want everything cheap, cheap, cheap, and workers get a pittance to make that happen. That exploitation is a part of our country’s history, and it has changed over time to become one version or another. Cloning for parts seems to me like it would fall right in line with a host of practices, mostly ignored and forgotten, from which we currently benefit.


  2. I’m glad that you were feeling unsettled enough by this novel to raise such interesting questions. I wonder if you will have reached an answer for yourself for any of them by the end of the semester.

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