I think an art museum is like a kind of portal that transports our minds. For a while, we are taken out of our own bodies and our own world, into the artist’s—van Gogh’s, or Kandinsky’s, or Degas’. We see a world that they saw, along with all the glamour or distortion that their minds might have imagined; and we see it as our reality. And in those few moments, as we try to touch our minds to the artists’—we are happy, angry, puzzled, sad… or just still: quietly drinking in all the colors and emotions of that strange world. We stand quiet and stare, to burn it into memory so we can bring it back with us; ready to be re-lived again when desired, even if only in our minds.
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done. Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best. Night, sleep, and the stars.
The narrator, Kathy, tells this story—her story—so calmly. Even from the beginning though, there was a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. And as I found out the secret, or the thing-that-everyone-knows-but-doesn’t-really-know, the feeling of wrongness intensified.
It’s slowly revealed that Hailsham (the school that the 3 main characters attend) is not a normal boarding school, but rather a boarding school for clones who’s futures are already set: they donate their organs to their “other selves,” and when their bodies give out, they die. In essence, the clones live in a world that their human counterparts created in order to ease their consciences. (And I say humans for lack of a better word…Kathy’s narration more than shows the clones’ humanity.) This idea is wrong in itself, but it’s Kathy’s complacent tone—like her life as a clone is normal and alright and everything is just peachy—that makes the book feel so eerie.
Yes, this is a book that raises interesting and uncomfortable issues about cloning, but it’s more than that too. It’s a book about us humans. The characters remind me of people in real life, even of myself. So easily accepting, so easily satisfied— when Kathy finds out what she is and that the life she lives is for someone else, she doesn’t even try to escape because she doesn’t know any better. And at the end, although Kathy lets go of the past and moves on with her life without complaining or crying aloud, I feel like crying for her…for her inability to hope and for her ignorance that a thing called hope even exists…
Mom: Are you going to chug that bottle of water? Me: The best way to carry water is in your body. Mom: Is that a survival thing? Me: Now I’m thinking it’s from ‘Dune,’ and only works if you’re wearing a stillsuit.
“I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”—Frodo and Gandalf
“I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.”—Henry F. Lyte, “Abide With Me”