The Remains of the Day book review tries to understand the meaning of a life invested heavily in principles. Kazuo Ishiguro through this simple, eloquently told, well-crafted novel extends insights into the heart of the principle of dignity while ascertaining its worth.
The Remains of the Day is a heart-wrenching story of a man’s past dominated by a staunch commitment to work and its bearing on a life not lived well enough. Stevens is a man of strong work ethics who takes enormous pride in his job as a butler to Lord Darlington. Raised with a conscientious attitude towards his profession, he leads a life dictated by instructions, wishes, and disposition of his employer. Upon receiving a letter from Miss Kempton, a former colleague, Stevens takes a short trip to pay her a visit. As rare time-off away from work, the journey triggers a curious response in him, and Stevens begins to reflect on fragmented memories of his time spent in serving Lord Darlington alongside Miss Kempton. Moving back and forth in time, The Remains of the Day is a narrative of an aging butler reminiscing about events occurring at Darlington Hall during the built-up years of world war 2. As he travels from one stop-over to another, Stevens confronts memories of his brief encounters with Lord Darlington’s guests during dinners, luncheons, and private meetings while assigning meaning to his decorum in the challenging situations. Quite soon, the book institutes Stevens’s reverence for his employer. In his memories, Stevens is often seen defending Lord Darlington’s seemingly dubious anti-Semitic actions during the fragile years of the late 1930s. Where some of the reminiscences categorically assert Stevens’s unconditional submission to duty as a reason of both pride and joy, in few others, Stevens contemplates the effect, his unwavering loyalty and devotion to Lord Darlington had on his relationship with Miss Kempton. Eventually, Stevens stumbles upon his weirdness around Miss Kempton and recognizes it as a romantic funk that he had been unconsciously neglecting. The novel finally concludes with their meeting showing Stevens & Miss Kempton cherishing old times. Ultimately, it is revealed that all this while they were attracted to each other but Stevens’s idiosyncrasies of upkeeping dignity at all times rendered him unable to reciprocate his affection for Miss Kempton. After struggling for years, Miss Kempton (now Mrs. Benn) has eased up in her marriage and advises Stevens to make the most out of his remaining life as they depart ways.
Book Review-Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day
Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day is simple in outline and tactful in its pace. The author employs banter as a writing technique to focus on just the right detail, entrusting readers to read between the lines. Deductive nature of the context keeps the reading fairly flat but essentialist enough to shake off significant themes lying beneath the plot. Some of the conversation threads around greatness and dignity are astoundingly elegant. The readers can see the glimpses of two different worlds visibly intersecting under the common roof of Darlington Hall. Where Lord Darlington and his guests are people with power and position to influence the fate of millions, Stevens comes across as a man with limited opportunity to ease their temperament with his genteel manners and refined service. In the book, Stevens’s work is presented as a leveler that enables him to transcend from menial affairs of his life and contribute his bit in the matters of global prominence.
Though put in a cautionary light, The Remains of the Day is by and large an expression of a man’s intense appraisal of self conscientiousness and its unforeseen consequences. The novel arrives as an interesting read exploring austerity as the guiding principle in life of a man devoted to work. By portraying dignity as an overwhelmingly deterministic force, The Remains of the Day tells a story of missed opportunities in a life inflicted by personal repression.