Monday, November 12, 2012

Rewind! Rewind!

As I sit down to write this post, I realize I have only 8 minutes before it is due, and I haven't (yet) finished reading the entire assignment. So I apologize in advance if it's slightly late, or if I step on any toes, say something obvious, etc. I had some car troubles, as I'm sure you'll understand. Anyway:
Something I note, over and over in this novel, is everyone's (not just the narrator's) obsession with memory and remembering, which goes hand-in-hand, it seems, with a collective disregard for the future; it isn't so much that characters are afraid to contemplate their futures, but rather, that they don't even care. This might only be relevant to the somewhat amusing fact that everyone knows they've got to "unzip" their vital organs in the future (which strikes me as fundamentally inefficient), but I think there might be more to it. The narrator links memory and sex/babies in several instances. For example, on pg 70: "So that's where I used to go, in the day when no one else was likely to be about, to play my song over and over;" and more explicitly on pg 99: "There'd be a chant of: 'Rewind! Rewind' until someone got the remote and we'd see the portion again, sometimes three, four times. But I could hardly, by myself, start shouting for rewinds just to see sex scenes again." I can't help but connect this need for repetition with a general impulse at Hailsham to remember/recreate/recount, even. It is almost as if, since the children "know" they won't be able to reproduce in the biological sense, they seek out every conceivable replacement as a means to assuage their instinctual drive for preservation. Enter Freud, once more, once more.


  1. I will agree with the obsession with memory and remembering, not so sure about the last bit. Kathy mentioned (I'm really bad about remembering page numbers) how there was almost this fear of the future, that they knew if they crossed that line, they could never go back which could explain their clinging to the past. Ruth seems to be the exception to this though. To me, she wants to move forward and do new things.

  2. I guess the obsession with memory and remembering that the two of you pointed out is due to the fact that the students actually don't have a future to look forward to. They know that their purpose is to donate their organs and thus to die rather sooner than later. Consequently the focus on the past and on their idyllic childhood is the only thing left to them. Ruth indeed seems to be an exception here. She refuses to remember their time in Hailsham and is the only one who dreams about an alternative future for herself (working in an office). Therefore, she seems to be the only one who is not completely resigned to her fate and questions the system they live in (at least a bit).


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