Hailsham: Childhood Metaphor in Never Let Me Go

Topics: Never Let Me Go

In the novel ‘Never Let Me Go’, Kazuo Ishiguro attempts to create an invented environment. This environment contains two main places: Hailsham and the Cottages. Hailsham is a boarding school for the adolescent clones; the place they grow up and get educated, however they do not get taught their destinies until later in life. Hailsham can be seen as a metaphor for childhood itself, as Ishiguro implements many relatable factors that occurred in average reader’s childhood too.

Tommy exploits the idea that Hailsham is a metaphor for childhood in a few ways.

For example the way Tommy clearly has anger management which forces him to throw uncontrollable fits of rage at minor tormenting relates to how everyone is different. Childhood is very much about finding and understand yourself, learning about who you are and growing up to become a better person than the adolescent version of yourself. In this way, the fact that Tommy is clearly different to all the other boys at Hailsham could be seen as an example of him finding out he is different to the others.

The relevance of Hailsham is that it is what proves to exploit this about Tommy’s personality. Another way in which Tommy realises that he is different is that he’s not as creative as the other children, rarely creating any work of the required standard for Madame’s ‘Gallery’. Tommy’s anger management leads to him constantly being bullied and picked on at Hailsham, which is another common feature in a normal person’s childhood.

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It could be interpreted that Tommy represents all victims of bullying, as there are no other references to bullying in the novel, whereas bullying is much more common in the non-fictional world. This inaccuracy would support the statement that Hailsham is a metaphor for childhood, while it is not completely accurate.

In Chapter 22, Miss Emily reveals the obvious, stating that the guardians lied to the clones when they were children:

“we kept things from you, lied to you. Yes, in many ways we fooled you. I suppose you could even call it that. But we sheltered you during those years, and we gave you your childhoods” The usage of the word ‘sheltered’ shows how the guardians at Hailsham acted as parents to the clones, providing them with shelter and raising them from birth. However it also implies the way guardians sheltered them from the truth, leaving them completely oblivious of their imminent fate for the first few years of their lives. Another way that this is done in the novel is by the usage of euphemisms – ‘carer’, ‘donor’, ‘guardian’, ‘completion’. As the clones are obviously taught these words from a young age, this rebounds onto the readers as the narrator uses them herself. This relates to childhood, as the act of keeping the harsh reality from children is exactly what parents in the non-fictional world do, by enforcing their children’s beliefs in characters like ‘Father Christmas’ and the ‘Tooth Fairy’. While the reality behind these fabricated characters is much easier to deal with than the realisation that you are a clone bread to donate your vital organs for real people, it is could definitely be seen as a metaphor in this way, as Hailsham is the environment that enforces their sense of security – treating them as if they were real children, rather than just clones.

The ‘Gallery’ at Hailsham is allows the clones to be creative, whilst giving them a purpose, as they have to push themselves to create the best art to reach the gallery. This is the main source of motivation that is posed upon the clones at Hailsham. The idea of creativity allows the clones to express themselves like normal children can and it is therefore thoroughly encouraged by the ‘guardians’ and Madame. The clones’ art leads to their own personal ‘collections’ and the trade of their through the currency of ‘tokens’. This can relate to pocket money that children receive for completing chores when they’re young – however instead of money you get tokens, which were received for good artwork – chores. This is obviously related to the idea of pocket money for normal children, as it is the means for motivation at Hailsham as the clones’ lives are otherwise pointless.

To conclude, Hailsham is used as a metaphor for childhood to an obvious extent. As it differs in motive from a normal boarding school, however there are obvious links between is and real life boarding school; at Hailsham, motivation in centralised completely around artwork and creativity, however in boarding school it is focussed upon success in later life, something the clones will not have a chance to experience. The strong metaphorical links between Hailsham and childhood would almost certainly lead the reader to question whether or not the clones are actually real, as other than reproduce, they are perfectly capable of all normal functions carried out by normal people. Morally, this is extremely stimulating, questioning whether harvesting soul bearing clones for our personal healthcare is right or not.

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Hailsham: Childhood Metaphor in Never Let Me Go. (2021, Dec 27). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/hailsham-as-a-metaphor-for-childhood-in-never-let-me-go-a-novel-by-kazuo-ishiguro/

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