The Remains of the Day

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Stevens, an aging butler and the main character in Kazoo Ishiguro’s award winning novel The remains of the Day (1989), sets off on a motoring trip through the south of England. The story about to unfold takes place during six days, but consists mainly of flashbacks on events taken place earlier in Stevens’s life. Consequently, the history is of greatest importance in this novel. The setting is the English countryside in the summer of 1956 and the British society is at a turning point between old and new ways of life. The aristocracy is declining and the old distinguished house Stevens has been working for has got a modern American as its new owner.

Stevens is a man of old traditions who gets the opportunity to reflect upon his life and profession during some days off duty. The fact that he leaves Darlington Hall is significant for the story, since the sights he sees and the people he meets during the trip reminds him of events taking place earlier in his life. By leaving Stevens also takes an important personal step, since he has almost never been on a longer journey or had a vacation. During the days away from Darlington Hall Stevens needs to confront the world and becomes very much aware of the fact that society has changed rather drastically. The British Empire has been weakened by the war and winds of change have swept in over its people. Nevertheless, Stevens’s thoughts are mainly occupied by the golden era of the house when he was in charge of more than two dozens of employees and worked closely with the housekeeper Miss Kenton. Meeting Miss Kenton and examine whether she would be interested in returning to the house is the goal of the journey. Stevens and Miss Keaton’s former relationship is revealed gradually and it was like Stevens’s whole personality; characterized by restraints and ideas about what is proper behavior.

Stevens’s profession as a butler and the English landscape can be compared and according to Stevens, the beauty of the landscape...
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