New issue of Salvo, From the Editor

Salvo17

Opening Salvo

Finding Ourselves

In Never Let Me Go, a novel by the Japanese-British writer Kazuo Ishiguro (and now a motion picture), children at a boarding school in the beautiful English countryside are raised with ­little contact with the outside world. The truth about the origin and identity of the students of Hailsham School is veiled.

But by picking up on subtle clues and hints dropped in guarded conversations, one might begin to figure out that the children are all human clones, whose sole purpose is to become, after reaching adulthood, sources for organ "donations." After three or four such donations, a clone would "complete," that is, die.

In the course of their schooling, the students of Hailsham undertake many art projects, which are then sent away to a "Gallery." Years later, the purpose of the Gallery is discovered; the authorities believe that an examination of the students' artwork will help them find the answer to a much­debated question: Do clones have souls?

Thus, just as P. D. James's The Children of Men is not so much about a dystopian future of global infertility as it is a commentary on modern attitudes toward sex and children, so Never Let Me Go turns out to be not so much about the issue of human cloning as about the way our society educates students to think about themselves—especially their souls.

The students are simply never taught that they do, in fact, have immortal souls. They are treated as intelligent biological objects. Their health is looked after—they are given precise dosages of nutrition and vitamins—but only for the sake of their future "donations." They are taught the mechanics of sex, but because they will never marry or have children, they are confused about what sex is for, and their teachers do not help them understand.

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