Ownership as a Function of Inheritance
Despite a recurring theme of ownership in recent readings, how is it that we’ve never discussed inheritance in this context? One’s inheritance (or lack thereof) explicably translates to the quality and degree to which characters in The Behavior of Hawkweeds, Soroche, and Never Let Me Go exhibit ownership of the tangible and intangible aspects of their lives.
Being “born” into a life without parents, siblings, or last name, inheritance was non-existent for the students of Hailsham. In their younger years, both pride and solace spawned from their collections built form sales and exchanges. A cassette tape, polo shirt, or poem were some of the only things students could indubitably call their own. The attachment to these objects did not seem understood by the students themselves, however, as many students eventually abandoned their collections or nostalgically questioned why a poem scrawled by a nine year old could carry so much significance for so many students at the time.
Antonia, on the other hand, has a very different ownership over the Gregor Mendel stories bestowed to her by Tati. Her inheritance of these tales gave her a deep connection with the history of her grandfather and his idol, which she strongly took to protecting when necessary, and never forgetting the true tale when it was often misquoted by her husband.
Zaga’s story told an even different tale – how one inheritance can be stronger than another. Even after being willed her late husband’s fortune and lifestyle, the widower never felt comfortable with a singular ownership over once-shared entities like the mansion, bank account, and possessions. Instead she slowly reverted back to her original lifestyle as the daughter of Lithuanian immigrants just making ends meet in the city.
While not often brought to light, the manner in which a character comes to inherit something (material or not) strongly affects their ownership of it, influencing their relationship with that something and the other people around them.