You are on page 1of 7

Hail Sham: the hidden power of words in Never let me


“Learners should learn the truth about political and religious ideology that
motivated human irrational and destructive behavior, by the same logic they learn the
truth about sex, evolution, history, and whatever is considered to be the truth to be
passed on to the next generation. They should be alerted to the danger that we could
become unfair when we judge, hate, condemn and fight people of other groups, to the
danger that we could do unto others that which we hate to be done to us.”

O. Nester, The Virus of Dehumanization

Dystopian literature was born as a resource to criticize existing social
conditions and political systems. While utopian literature depicts ideal worlds,
dystopian literature shows the flaws and failures of imaginary societies. These
societies are in opposition to utopias, and the aim of a dystopian writer is to
uncover the faults of those ideal social constructions. Some characteristics of
dystopian writing are dehumanization, class distinctions and oppressive and
authoritarian institutions. One of the main resources of dystopian literature is
defamiliarization and one powerful way of doing this is through language.

This paper deals with the hidden meaning of the words used to illustrate
the different stages in the life of the characters of Never let me go by Kazuo
Ishiguro, insofar as they provide interesting interpretative possibilities. I will
focus on four extracts and will link them to the idea of dehumanization
presented by Olek Nester and the thoughts of Paulo Freire on critical thinking
and the authenticity of language.

Fabián Blundell : 1B : Literature .::

Kathy gives great importance to this profession of sorts that has been imposed on her. The task of the carer is to be the nurse of a clone whose vital organs are removed for human transplants.” even before fourth donation. And I can think of one carer at least who went on for all of fourteen years despite being a complete waste of space. villains and heroes.” In Ishiguro’s novel. That’ll make it almost exactly twelve years. slavers and slaves.:: . In his book The Virus of Dehumanization. until the end of this year. maybe I am boasting now. First extract My name is Kathy H. a political psychologist. when to listen to everything they have to say. and still is. I shall start by analyzing the word carer. There are some really good carers who’ve been told to stop after just two or three years. and by and large. and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years. and when just to shrug and tell them to snap out of it. But then I do know for a fact they’ve been pleased with my work. I know when to hang around and comfort them. Their recovery times have been impressive. and always have been. When children are old enough to learn that there are. when to leave them to themselves. what Kathy is so proud of. remarks that “Dehumanization is a system of orientation in one's world by which people of other groups or categories are not perceived as humans. is actually keeping her patients motivated so they can live longer and thus resist more organ donations. wars. I have too. Dehumanization. I know. WE and THEM. That sounds long enough. being able to do my work well. especially that bit about my donors staying “calm. but actually they want me to go on for another eight months. they would be probably old enough to learn that there has always been. Therefore. etc. So I’m not trying to boast. and seems extremely happy about her performance. Okay. perpetrators and victims of genocide. Olek Netzer.. Fabián Blundell : 1B : Literature . I’m thirty-one years old. My donors have always tended to do much better than expected.” I’ve developed a kind of instinct around donors. Now I know my being a carer so long isn’t necessarily because they think I’m fantastic at what I do. and hardly any of them have been classified as “agitated. But it means a lot to me.

Fabián Blundell : 1B : Literature . The first definition we mentioned is the one taught to clones. she is very sympathetic and caring towards them as if she pitied them. building up her self-esteem. “an unauthentic word is one which is unable to transform reality. one which cannot denounce the world. Boasting about her outstanding performance is one of the symptoms of the “virus of dehumanization”. The word carer is naturalized. for denunciation is impossible without a commitment to transform. into verbalism. According to Paulo Freire. Kathy feels this need proper of naive thinkers. and acts as positive reinforcement to keep Kathy unaware of reality. and there is no transformation without action. Secondly. to keep her controlled and predictable. we will focus our attention on the word donor.:: . Donors are bound to their pre-fixed destiny as well as carers but Kathy pays no attention to this. reflection automatically suffers as well. Kathy really treats them as patients. This unawareness or incapacity to see reality has been achieved through dehumanization of the vocabulary teachers used with them while they were growing up. and the word is changed into idle chatter. Its meaning is hidden. carer becomes an unauthentic word. The latter definition is the plain truth never revealed to them. leading Kathy to believe that she is playing a very important role in society. Donors are not only former carers but also clones who have been selected to start donating organs.” It becomes an empty word. or what is worse concealed. When a word is deprived of its dimension of action. into an alienated and alienating “blah. The ideology imposed is so deep inside their minds that hardly ever will they engage in critical thinking in the whole plot. for her the important thing is accommodation to this normalized “today”.” From this perspective.

but strands were always coming loose and floating around her. teacher or parent is in fact the oppressive look of the keeper of a prison. Miss Emily is one of these so called guardians and her main purpose is to make her students hold fast to Hailsham’s guaranteed space and adjust to it. our head guardian. She wore her silvery hair tied back. It is time to deal with the word guardian and its uneasy connotations. protector and defender are all synonyms of guardian and refer to a person that looks after another person or a property. we probably recognised that it was her presence. Children at Hailsham thought of teachers as their guardian angels.:: . acted as a key to safety and approval and never did the children felt they were being controlled or manipulated by these mighty guardians. The verb to guard has to do with watching. looking and observing. so we could say they are authentically performing as their nickname suggests. To accomplish this goal. always very straight with her head right up. Fabián Blundell : 1B : Literature . They protect the system. The kind look of the guardian angel. made you think she was. like they were beneath her contempt. as the text says. This treasure is truth and all the real intentions hidden behind the institution. On the other hand. deliberate voice. We were all pretty scared of her and didn’t think of her in the way we did the other guardians. intimidating though it was. Shielder. By the evening. They would have driven me mad. deceiving. but something about the way she carried herself. She wasn’t especially tall. with bits of loose hair everywhere which she wouldn’t bother to push away off her face when she talked to you in her quiet. she was a pretty strange sight. Guardian’s tasks involve cloaking. Guardians. and even in the Juniors. was older than the others. Even if a guardian ignored them they would still respect them and their decisions. But we considered her to be fair and respected her decisions. they are here to be caring towards other people. that made us all feel so safe at Hailsham. Second extract Miss Emily. they care about this treasure they need to keep in secret. they behave tenderly and lovingly towards the victims. lying and cheating. but Miss Emily always ignored them.

properly in love. not what it seems to be. The dehumanization of this concept was necessary to turn this word into a ‘blah’ word as Paulo Freire states. Welcome to a place where you will be deceived. and if you could show it.:: . So it is not desirable to show that we are abusing others in order achieve our own goals. We. They sorted it out so you could have a few years together before you began your donations. On the other hand the body could be seen as land where you grow organs. this is way its meaning may be so hard to bring to the light. A donation is always a good thing. and you were in love with each other. If we take into consideration the medical practice of taking an organ from one body and implanting it into another. helping us understand Ishiguro’s scheme when he named the most important institution in the book. then the people who run Hailsham.” Donations have a positive connotation. The real Fabián Blundell : 1B : Literature . A sham is also a person who makes deceitful pretences. Any dictionary will surely clarify both meanings. you give them as a gift. A hail is an enthusiastic greeting while sham stands for something that is a counterfeit.” Chrissie continued. this action is always encouraged. really. the crops or organs will be naturally removed from the land. Once the land is ready to be harvested. guardians. What about Hailsham? It looks like a real name of a town or city due to its “ham” ending. You donate your organs. Third extract “What they said. We as part of the society believe in equality and struggle hard to achieve it. “Dona” means gift in Latin. In this case donations were necessary to make people live longer at the expense of other human beings. “was that if you were a boy and a girl. Hailsham could then be understood as a welcome to a place where nothing is what is seems to be. Society fears desperately the idea of being uncaring. salute you. It is a compound noun formed by two different nouns: hail and sham. they sorted it out for you. Let’s take a look at Hailsham as a noun.

Your lives are set out for you. the dominant elites use the banking concept to encourage passivity in the oppressed. You’re not like the actors you watch on your videos. This practice is incompatible with a truly liberating course of action. and this fear is particularly clear at the end of the book when they feel the need to go an ask Miss Emily about deferrals. and take advantage of that passivity to fill that consciousness with slogans which create even more fear of freedom. before you’re even middle-aged. But I’m not. you’re not even like me.” Fabián Blundell : 1B : Literature . then before you’re old.” Although the intention of this essay is not to deal with love and all its meaning it is important to highlight love as a slogan created to once again make students fear freedom. none of you will be film stars. but none of you really understand. Students are always afraid of talking about this so-called pure love.:: . Love is seen as symbol of salvation. If you’re going to have decent lives. you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you was created to do. “In their political activity. You’ve been told. all of them.meaning of the donations was cloaked and teachers played their role to plant in their students’ minds the positive meaning we all know. And none of you will be working in supermarkets as I heard some of you planning the other day. corresponding with the latter’s submerged state of consciousness. some people are quite happy to leave it that way. and I dare say. You’ll become adults. real love. then you’ve got to know and know properly. have been decided. None of you will go to America. by presenting the oppressor’s slogans as a problem. as I see it. Fourth extract “The problem. You were brought into this world for a purpose. and your futures. helps the oppressed to eject those slogans from within themselves. is that you’ve been told and not told. which.

as Kathy and finally when you have finished reading it as if you were you yourself let me know who has read this essay twice.:: . Being a donor has never been part of my purpose and even though love is always haunting us. as I see it. leaving all pre-concepts behind. I will certainly not be a carer and try to keep you safe and warm when lights go out. but none of us really understand. we’ll start to donate our vital organs. The problem. Being a donor has never been part of my purpose and even though love is always haunting us. I am definitely not turning into a guardian who constantly seeks to impose his interpretations. I now encourage you to read this essay carefully and critically. all of them. and I dare say. some of you will be film stars. and our futures. We’ve been told. I am definitely not turning into a guardian who constantly seeks to impose his beliefs. Fabián Blundell : 1B : Literature . some people are quite happy to leave it that way. Hailsham is not the only place where slogans are created. then please pay attention to this final extract. then we’ve got to know and know properly. If we’re going to have decent lives. Our lives are set out for us. then before we’re old. But I’m not. is that we’ve been told and not told. Conclusion? ( paper ) You may have already noticed the last extract lacks analysis by the time you read this. And some of you will be working in supermarkets as I heard some of you planning the other day. We were brought into this world for a purpose. We’ll become adults. before we’re even middle-aged. have been decided. Read it as Miss Lucy. You don’t need me to interpret this passage but in case you still don´t believe in the hidden power of words. love donations were once created in an institution called Hailsham. Conclusion? ( presentation ) I do not intend to explain you why did Miss Lucy have this necessity to tell her students what was really going on. Having said this. we’re not even alike. Some of you will go to America. That’s what each of us was created to do. We’re not like the actors we watch on our videos. I intend not to explain you why did Miss Lucy have this necessity to tell her students what was really going on. I will certainly not be a carer and try to keep you safe and warm when lights go out. as Miss Emily.