Danielle Yadao
Discussion Starter #1

All By Myself

Up to the very end of the novel Stevens remains the butler of Darlington Hall. He doesn’t break character, and yet there is the implicit desire for an emotional connection to another person. “It is curious how people can build such warmth among themselves so swiftly…I rather fancy it has to do with this skill of bantering” (245). This of course is a skill that Stevens has never mastered. The sentimental novel Miss Kenton catches him reading earlier on in the novel also suggests that Stevens wants to experience that warmth with another person. But then towards the end of page 245, Stevens remarks, “I have of course already devoted much time to developing my bantering skills, but it is possible I have never previously approached the task with the commitment I might have done.” He turns this approach for human warmth into another duty, a new article of his costume to don. Is he afraid of rejection? Even after all of the revelations about his wasted opportunity of a happy life with Miss Kenton and the wasted life of Lord Darlington, Stevens still doesn’t seem to be self-actualized. Is Stevens incapable of changing after living this way for so long? Is he in denial about his own wasted life? Or is Stevens simply resigned to the fact that there is nothing and no one left to change for?

Kate Watts
English 570
29 January 2009

The Likes of You and I:
Connected or Not?

Stevens continually idealizes the roles of butlers and those they serve. It is simply good enough to “sacrifice” and take “pride and contentment” in that action (244) (contrast to H. Smith pg 189). His faith in the importance of servitude is re-rationalized to give his life validity? He trusts the upper-class to make the right decisions, but if they fail, he shuns responsibility for the course of his life and humankind’s fate (contrast to pg 243 where he questions the dignity in having trusted Darlington). The repetition of “you and I” is greatly increased in the final pages. Is Ishiguro challenging the reader? Why end on Stevens’ return to worry about professional matters? He suggests the strangers talking on the pier are “united by the anticipation of the evening ahead” or maybe “bantering” (245). What does it mean if Stevens remains socially inept and continually misinterprets ideas of human connection?

Becca Payne
Moments Without the Suit

(239) Miss Kenton's confession of her longing for the possibility of a life with him is a little shocking.. it makes me wonder if he remembers it being so open and clear because that is what he wanted to hear... or if she was saying it because, after all these years she needs to know what his feelings for her are. If so, does she leave satisfied? Are the tears from a renewed sense of rejection, or can she tell (as other have previously in the story, such as his father's death) how he is feeling by his face?

“My heart was breaking” is one of the most honest, open moments in the novel. Followed a few pages later with, (244) “After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?” I think the suit is off, but then it seems he spends the last few paragraphs reluctantly putting it back on again. Why? Because it's all he knows? Does he feel naked and vulnerable and insecure when he is being honest with himself?