Oh my. It seems I made the same mistake Robert made, thinking I was to post today rather than last week. Well, what to do except follow through.
In reviewing the trajectory of our reading list and our discussion of experimental/chaotic fiction, Never Let Me Go at first seems to me the most eerie of the works thus encountered--a sort of psychological thriller, perhaps. I can't get The Island out of my head, try as I might; I do think that striving too hard to understand the special nature of Hailsham and its residents tends to distract me from other things happening in the text.
A point of interest that I thought I would bring up here is the underlying sense of Hailsham as a simulacrum or a synthetic reality; the true purpose of the place being hidden from sight but nevertheless sensed in shadowbox scenes of the unfamiliar social infrastructure with guardians, donors, carers, etc. Kathy seems more or less oblivious to the unnatural situation/society she lives in (though of this I am not sure), whatever you wish to call it, which puts me all the more at unease. Whether or not this is on a dystopic route, I don't know; but something that I struggle with as I wait to find out more is how to compare the emotional import and personal intimacy we get with Kathy's anecdotes about Ruth and Tommy--how to take this stark display of human reverie against the backdrop of a seemingly artificial upbringing, where the children at Hailsham are not being raised in order that they may embrace a free future but rather for some end, some purpose, some donation. The all too human retreats to memory--of childhood imaginings, personal struggles, friendship and foeship--challenge the simulated circumstances the characters exist in. And the quote I chose to title this post shows how the challenge may extend deeper into paradox and the uncanny...reality versus artificiality, those seem to be at play here.