Jacklinn Bennett
Jan. 27, 2009
The Chicken or the Egg

“This employer embodies all that I find noble and admirable. I will hereafter devote myself to serving him” (200-1). This quotation caught my eye because it seems to answer the “chicken-egg” question Nick raised. Stevens seems to indicate that Lord Darlington fulfilled his preconceived ideas of nobility, and, therefore, Stevens chose to serve Darlington, rather than Darlington being the source of Stevens’ ideals once Stevens entered service.
Stevens goes on to defend the value of his life’s service to Lord Darlington asserting the servant is not to “blame in any sense because, say, the passage of time has shown that Lord Darlington’s efforts were misguided” (201). However, if Stevens, using his own best judgment, chose to serve Lord Darlington, deemed Darlington a worthy master, shouldn’t he feel “regret and shame” (201) when the master’s actions and, thus, the domestic’s service prove to be “a sad waste” (201)? On page 126, Stevens was “nothing but proud and grateful” when he reflected upon his years with Lord Darlington, whom he was then declaring a “gentleman of great moral stature” (126). If he is going to claim credit for his master’s successes, mustn’t he also share blame for the failures or shortcomings?

Joe Roberts
The Role of the Banality of Evil in Relation to The Remains of the Day and the Common Joe
On page 146 Lord Darlington says, “We cannot have Jews on the staff here at Darlington Hall.” Stevens responds deferentially. Only outside of Darlington’s presence do we see that he is actually ‘perturbed’ by this order. Do we believe that Stevens is actually perturbed? Do Stevens’ actions portray what Hannah Arendt first termed “the banality of evil”? That is, in the words of Wikipedia, “the thesis that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.” How about Miss Kentons’ actions on page 149 with the threat of leaving as a protest against anti-Semitism, but not following through—Is Ishiguro trying to say something about the paralysis of the common Joes to fight anti-Semitism in Great Britain and in Europe? How do the commoners of Great Britain effect political change and overturn the rooted idea of dignity (pages to think about: 184-186; Harry Smith’s response on 189)

Kyle Gray
Mr. Stevens the Gentleman
Through Stevens we get a guide of sorts as to what it is to be a “great butler.” In fact we are given a clear outline of how one should conduct himself in the presence of others. One of the main points of this outline is never allow yourself to “take off your uniform” unless you are by yourself. This point is reiterated on page 169 when he tells us that according to the Hayes society butlers should, “never allow himself to be ‘off duty’ in the presence of others.” It is strange then to wonder why Stevens allows himself to be seen as a gentlemen involved in foreign affairs simply because lower class citizens perceive him as such. Is this not removing the uniform in the presence of others? Did he not remove it in front of Miss Kenton only to realize it later? Is it that Stevens wants to remove his uniform but doesn’t know how? How much does the belittlement he received from Lord Darlington’s friends play into this situation? And finally was it this belittlement that formed his idea of the word dignity?