The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: Contrasting the Upper and Lower Classes

Powerful Essays
In The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro places Mr. Stevens’ stay at the Taylors’ house directly after Lord Darlington’s abrupt dismissal of two Jewish staff members, and he uses different tones and the repetition of key phrases in the two incidents to contrast the generosity, respect, and hospitality of the lower class with the racism, cruelty, and emotional detachment of the upper class nobles. Ishiguro especially contrasts the way the two classes treat each other with the courtesy of the lower class and the apathy of the upper class. Ishiguro uses a generally cold and distant tone while Lord Darlington is speaking to Stevens about firing the Jewish housemaids; however, he uses a warm and friendly tone when the Taylors and the rest of the villagers are speaking and being described. These contrasting tones exemplify the cold distance of Lord Darlington and the warm friendliness of the Taylors, and further of the upper and lower classes. In a memory of Darlington Hall, Mr. Stevens recounts a time when Lord Darlington heartlessly fired two Jewish housemaids without any notice, just because of their religion. Ishiguro has Lord Darlington use a very blasé tone during his conversation with Stevens to show his apathy while firing the two employees and furthermore show the racism of the upper class and their indifference to the rest of society. At the beginning of the conversation, Lord Darlington opens by saying: “‘I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking, Stevens. A great deal of thinking. And I’ve reached my conclusion. We cannot have Jews on the staff here at Darlington Hall’” (146). Lord Darlington almost randomly starts talking about firing Jewish staff members, without any preamble, showing the ease with which he can speak of ... ... middle of paper ... ...roughout the novel, Ishiguro seems to be subtly pointing out the flaws in Lord Darlington’s life and generally within the upper class. These two passages show one of these flaws, specifically the indifference and detachment of the upper class. The flaw would not be very obvious if only pointed out through the incident where Lord Darlington dismisses the Jewish housemaids; however, when juxtaposed with the hospitality of the Taylors the flaw is made extremely apparent. Ishiguro turns the firing of the two employees into a way of pushing the people out of the house and the Taylors’ hospitality comes from them accepting Stevens into their home. So, Ishiguro’s larger point seems to be that the upper class tends to nonchalantly push the lower class out of their lives at whim; however, the lower class benevolently accepts the upper class into their lives whenever possible.