Kazuo İshiguro

Günden Kalanlar

Kazuo İshiguro


 

Anasayfaya
Eleştiri sayfasına

30.04.2011

 


 

Editörün Notu : Darlington Malikanesinin başuşağı Stevens sarsılmaz bir güven ve sadakatle efendisine bağlıdır. Ancak Lord Darlington’ın vahim politik hatalar yapması onu kendi hayatını sorgulamasına neden olacaktır. Ayrıca vazifesine olan derin bağlılığı onu birlikte mutlu olabileceği bir kadına yakınlaşmaktan alıkoymaktadır. Vakar dediği resmiyet maskesi altında samimiyetten, dostluktan ve karşılıklı anlayıştan uzak bir hayat yaşar. Hayatının son aşamasında, efendisine olan bağlılığın bedelini ödediğini pişmanlık içinde anlar.


 

İŞİGURO, JAPON OLDUĞU İÇİN Mİ O KADAR İYİ ANLADI 'BUTLER' TİPİNİ?

'İngiliz Japonu'


http://www.milliyet.com.tr

Kazuo İşiguro, epey bir süredir epey bir başkalaşan yeni ortamda, edebiyatsevere unutmaya yüz tuttuğu 'edebi zevk'leri hatırlatan ve yeniden tattıran bir yazar.

Murat Belge / Sahaf

Kazuo İşiguro, Japon asıllı bir Birleşik Krallık yurttaşı. Ben onu bu yakınlarda "Remains of the Day" adlı romanıyla tanıdım ve çok beğendim. Sonra öğrendiğime göre bu roman '90'ların başında Can Yayınları tarafından Türkiye'de "Günden Kalanlar" adıyla yayımlanmış. Can Yayınları gene o sıralarda "Uzak Tepeler" adıyla, yazarın ilk romanını ("A Fale View of Hills") yayımlamış. Şu sıra iki kitap da tükenmiş durumda. Bu bakımdan görece yeni yazılmış olsalar da benim 'sahaf' kalıbıma uyuyor. Bu arada ben "An Artist of the Flooting World"ü ("Yüzer Dünyanın Sanatçısı") bir tanıdıktan ödünç alıp okudum. Viyana'dayken son romanı "Never Lot Me Go"yu ("Beni Hiç Bırakma") aldım ama daha okuyamadım. "The Unconsoled" ve "When we were Orphoans" adında iki romanı daha var.

İşiguro önemli bir romancı. Çok benzeri olmayan bir romancı olduğunu da söyleyebilirim. Okuduğum iki romanı ve şöyle göz atabildiğim üçüncüsüyle, bir "anlatı ustası" olduğunu görüyorum. Yalnız, burada ilginç bir noktaya değinmek gerek. Söylediğim bu kitaplarda İşiguro'nun tekniği genel çizgileriyle hep aynı. Buna karşılık, ele aldığı konularda büyük bir çeşitlilik var. Bunu biraz somutlaştırayım.

Sindirilmiş resmiyet
"Günden Kalanlar"ı okurken bunun bir de filmi olduğunu öğrenince şaşırmıştım: Ivory'nin yönettiği, Anthony Hopkins ile Emma Thomspon'un oynadığı bir film (1993). Film ayrıca çok başarılı bulunmuş. Bu adlara bakınca şaşırtıcı olmayabilir ama bence gene de şaşırtıcı.

Çünkü bu roman boyunca, İngiltere'de, 'butler' denen, frakı ve her türlü resmiyeti yerinde bir malikânenin baş uşağı olan kişi anılarını anlatıyor. Bunu yazar gibi veya somut birileriyle konuşur gibi yapmıyor; daha çok bir iç monolog havasında - ama iç monologda 'bilinçlik akışı' tekniğine kaçmıyor. Butler'in dinleyicisi ortada yok, diyebiliriz; ama o da dinleyen biri veya birileri varmış gibi anlatıyor.

O inanılmaz sindirilmiş resmiyet... Anlatılan her olayı kesin olgularla ve duygu iniş çıkışlarına izin vermeyen bir saygıdeğerlik akışı içinde sunmak... İşiguro işte böyle bir "anlatı ustası". Bu tonu bir an aksatmadan götürüyor ve bu müthiş disiplinli tonla duygusallığı, gerilimi hiç de az olmayan bir mutsuz aşk hikâyesi anlatıyor. Mutsuzluğun nedeni de bu ton zaten. Butler, tonuna sığdıramadığı bir şeyin varlığını da kabullenemediği için, bu aşkı (evde çalışmaya gelen bir genç kadınla) söyleyemiyor, söyletmiyor, dinlemiyor, bastırıyor.
Onun için şaşırdım işte, filmin yapılmasına ve başarılı olmasına. Romanın olağanüstü ustalığı bu 'ton'un denetlenmesiyse, bu 'dil'i sinemanın 'dil'ine nasıl çevirirsiniz? Halen de filmi görmüş olmadığıma göre, merakım devam ediyor. Ama göreceğim bu yakınlarda.

Yaşlanmış uşak
Butler, o baştan sona denetimli, kalıplı, perukalı sesiyle (ya da 'ton'uyla) kendisi için önemli ve başka herkes için son derece sıkıcı ayrıntılar üstünde dura dura (ama bunların okuru sıkmaması da bir başka mucize!) ve herkesi ilgilendiren olayları bastıra bastıra, merkezinde bu olamayan aşk hikâyesinin yer aldığı birçok olayı anlatırken, bir süre sonra, asıl anlatılanın, anlatılmayan olduğunu anlıyoruz. Efendim savaş zamanında Nazilerle ilişkileri, başka siyasi olaylar ve tabii aşkı ya da babası gibi özel hayatına ilişkin olaylar, hep bu tuhaf ton içinde biçimleniyor, anaforlanıyor, sonra soluyor ve gözden kayboluyor. Geriye, mesleğinin kendisine empoze ettiği o yapay tumturaklılık içinde ölen babasını bırakıp içki servisine koşan ve tutkusunu sevdiği kadına değil kendine de söyleyemeyen yaşlanmış uşak kalıyor, 'günden kalanlar'la baş başa.

Kitabı bitirdikten sonra, Japon kökenli bir yazarın bu yüzde yüz Britanyalı (ve artık soyu tükenen) 'butler' tipine 'vukuf'una şaşıp kaldım. Ama 'Japon' dedik, değil mi? Yoksa kendisi Japon olduğu için mi o kadar iyi anladı bu 'butler' tipini?

İyi bir Japon da duygularını disiplinli bir denetim altında tutan, onun için olmadığını bildiği şeye el uzatmayan, birtakım soyut şeref kodlarına karşı gevşemez yükümlülük bağları olan bir insan değil midir? Kişiliği, hiçbir zaman hayatın ve kaderin ona uygun gördüğü üniformanın içinden çıkmayan biri değil midir? Belki Japon olduğu için bu İngilizi bu kadar iyi anladı.

Bilge romancı
Önce yazdığı ama benim sonra okuduğum "Sanatçı"nın hikâyesi Japonya'da geçiyor. 1946, Japonya teslim olmuş, Amerikan işgali altında, yepyeni bir hayat tarzına geçmeye çalışıyor. Eski dönemin ünlü ve önemli bir adamı, bir ressam var bu sefer karşımızda. 'Butler'ı dinlediğimiz gibi şimdi de onu dinliyoruz. Bize değil ama sonuçta birine veya birilerine anlattığı bu 'anlatı'yı.

Gene, asıl konuşan, asıl 'anlatan', sessizlikler. Neyin ne olduğunu, en iyi, anlatıcının (adı Ono) açıklaması bittiği zaman anlayabiliyoruz. Onun dediğine inanmamak, en azından başka açılardan bakmak gerektiğini iyice öğrenmişiz artık. Onun kuşağı var: Japonya'yı savaşa sokanlar; ve genç kuşak var; savaşta yenilginin sonuçlarını yaşayanlar. Ama duraklayan, yer yer çağrışım sıçrayışlarıyla ilerleyen, ileri geri giden anlatıda, 'flash-back'ler oluyor ve ressamın babasının ya da ustasının temsil ettiği daha eski Japonya'yı da görüyoruz; bir de, 'torun' kuşağında, hazırlanmakta olan Japonya'yı seziyoruz.
İşiguro, epey bir süredir epey bir başkalaşan yeni ortamda, edebiyatsevere unutmaya yüz tuttuğu 'edebi zevk'leri hatırlatan ve yeniden tattıran bir yazar. Anladığım kadarıyla Türkiye'de tek baskıdan (ve yalnız iki kitabı) ileriye geçmemiş. Neden acaba? Bu 'edebi zevk'ler mi geçmiyor burada yoksa Türk okuru Japon duyarlığına nüfuz etmekte mi zorlanıyor? Yoksa sorun sadece tanıtımın yetersiz kalması mı? Çok muhtemel görünmese de umarım sonuncusudur çünkü İşiguro yabana atılır bir yazar değil. Genç yaşında bilge bir romancı. Anlatacağı yaşantı çok zengin ve anlatı yönteminin bilinçli ve denetimli kuruluğuyla bu zenginlik arasında çok yaratıcı bir gerilim yaratıyor.
 


SPARKNOTES

http://www.sparknotes.com

Themes


Dignity and Greatness

The compound qualities of "dignity" and "greatness" pervade Stevens's thoughts throughout The Remains of the Day. Early in the novel, Stevens discusses the qualities that make a butler "great," claiming that "dignity" is the essential ingredient of greatness. He illustrates the concept with a number of examples, finally concluding that dignity "has to do crucially with a butler's ability not to abandon the professional being he inhabits." Stevens develops this exclusively professional mindset only too well. Because he always dons the mask of an imperturbable butler, he necessarily denies—and therefore leaves unexpressed—his own personal feelings and beliefs. Stevens's pursuit of dignity in his professional life completely takes over his personal life as well. By suppressing his individuality in this manner, he never achieves true intimacy with another person. The fact that his view of dignity is so misguided is sad; we can tell that Stevens has wanted great things, but that he has gone about attaining them the wrong way.

Regret
Although Stevens never overtly discusses what he thinks "regret" may mean, it becomes clear, when he breaks down and cries at the end of the novel, that he wishes he had acted differently with regard to Miss Kenton and Lord Darlington. The tone of the novel is often wistful or nostalgic for the past; as the story goes on, the tone deepens into one of regret as Stevens reevaluates his past actions and decisions, and finds them unwise. Miss Kenton also openly says at the end of the novel that she often regrets the choices she has made in her own life. The overwhelming sadness of the ending is only slightly lifted by Stevens's resolve to perfect the art of bantering—it seems a meager consolation considering the irreparable losses he has experienced in life.

Loss
Literal and figurative loss abounds for almost every character in The Remains of the Day. Stevens loses his father, Miss Kenton, and eventually his hope of convincing Miss Kenton to return to Darlington Hall. Miss Kenton loses her aunt, her only relative; and loses Stevens when she leaves to marry a man she does not love. Lord Darlington loses two friends, Herr Bremann and Sir David Cardinal, and his godson, Reginald Cardinal, when they die. Furthermore, Darlington loses his reputation and some degree of his own sanity by the end of his life. Reginald Cardinal loses his father to death and his godfather, Lord Darlington, to Nazi brainwashing. There are both literal and figurative deaths: deaths of loved ones, and figurative deaths of dreams and ideals.

Motifs

Bantering

Bantering provides an element of lightness and humor in the narrative, yet it is still one that ultimately demonstrates the degree to which Stevens has become an anachronism. Stevens repeatedly tells of various failed attempts at bantering, and muses over why Americans like his new employer, Mr. Farraday, like to speak in such a casual and seemingly meaningless manner. By the end of the novel, Stevens cedes that perhaps bantering can be a way to exhibit warmth, and he resolves to try again with renewed zeal. The fact that Stevens uses the word "bantering" instead of "joking around" or "sense of humor" in itself shows how old-fashioned and formal he is.

Stevens's Rhetorical Manner
A recurrent structural motif in the novel is the rhetorical method Stevens uses to make his points. His primary manner of discussing a new topic is to pose a question and then answer it himself, incorporating into his answers a number of responses to anticipated counter-arguments. As rhetoric is a form of art and debate closely associated with England, this mode of discourse lends the novel greater authority as one firmly grounded in English culture and tradition. The rhetorical mode of discourse is intended to convince its audience; indeed, particularly in the early parts of the narrative, Stevens often succeeds in conveying the illusion that he fully understands all sides of the issues he discusses. As the novel progresses, however, we realize there are whole realms he has failed to consider, rendering many of his assumptions and arguments much weaker than they initially appear.

Symbols
The English Landscape

The most notable symbols in The Remains of the Day are associated with people and events, not with objects and colors. The English landscape that Stevens admires near the beginning of his road trip is one such significant symbol, as we see that Stevens applies the same standards of greatness to the landscape as he does to himself. He feels that English landscape is beautiful due to its restraint, calm, and lack of spectacle—the same qualities Stevens successfully cultivates in his own life as a butler aspiring to "greatness." By the end of the novel, however, Stevens is no longer certain that he has been wise to adhere to these values so rigidly, to the exclusion open- mindedness, individuality, and love.

Stevens's Father Searching on the Steps
Stevens and Miss Kenton watch Stevens's father, after his fall on the steps, practicing going up and down the steps. The elder Stevens searches the ground surrounding the steps "as though," Miss Kenton writes in her letter, "he hoped to find some precious jewel he had dropped there." The action of searching for something that is irretrievably lost is an apt symbol for Stevens's road trip, and indeed his life as a whole. Just as his father keeps his eyes trained on the ground, Stevens keeps thinking over memories in his head as though they will give him some clue as to how his values led him astray in life.

Giffen and Co.
The silver polish company in Mursden that is closing down is a symbol for the obsolescence of Stevens's profession. Indeed, the butler is also almost entirely obsolete by 1956. It is significant that Stevens knows all about the quality of the silver polish, the houses in which it was used, and so on—though he knows an incredible amount of detail about all things related to the maintenance of a great household, his knowledge is no longer nearly as important as it once was. There is no longer the demand that there once was in England for either silver polish or butlers; they are a part of a bygone era.
 

  Plot Overview

The Remains of the Day is told in the first-person narration of an English butler named Stevens. In July 1956, Stevens decides to take a six- day road trip to the West Country of England—a region to the west of Darlington Hall, the house in which Stevens resides and has worked as a butler for thirty-four years. Though the house was previously owned by the now-deceased Lord Darlington, by 1956, it has come under the ownership of Mr. Farraday, an American gentleman. Stevens likes Mr. Farraday, but fails to interact well with him socially: Stevens is a circumspect, serious person and is not comfortable joking around in the manner Mr. Farraday prefers. Stevens terms this skill of casual conversation "bantering"; several times throughout the novel Stevens proclaims his desire to improve his bantering skill so that he can better please his current employer.

The purpose of Stevens's road trip is to visit Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper of Darlington Hall who left twenty years earlier to get married. Stevens has received a letter from Miss Kenton, and believes that her letter hints that her marriage is failing and that she might like to return to her post as housekeeper. Ever since World War II has ended, it has been difficult to find enough people to staff large manor houses such as Darlington Hall.

Much of the narrative is comprised of Stevens's memories of his work as a butler during and just after World War II. He describes the large, elaborate dinner parties and elegant, prominent personages who come to dine and stay at Darlington Hall in those times. It is gradually revealed—largely through other characters' interactions with Stevens, rather than his own admissions—that Lord Darlington, due to his mistaken impression of the German agenda prior to World War II, sympathized with the Nazis. Darlington even arranged and hosted dinner parties between the German and British heads of state to help both sides come to a peaceful understanding. Stevens always maintains that Lord Darlington was a perfect gentleman, and that it is a shame his reputation has been soiled simply because he misunderstood the Nazis' true aims.

During the trip Stevens also recounts stories of his contemporaries —butlers in other houses with whom he struck up friendships. Stevens's most notable relationship by far, however, is his long-term working relationship with Miss Kenton. Though Stevens never says so outright, it appears that he harbors repressed romantic feelings for Miss Kenton. Despite the fact that the two frequently disagree over various household affairs when they work together, the disagreements are childish in nature and mainly serve to illustrate the fact that the two care for each other. At the end of the novel, Miss Kenton admits to Stevens that her life may have turned out better if she had married him. After hearing these words, Stevens is extremely upset. However, he does not tell Miss Kenton—whose married name is Mrs. Benn—how he feels. Stevens and Miss Kenton part, and Stevens returns to Darlington Hall, his only new resolve being to perfect the art of bantering to please his new employer.

As Salman Rushdie comments, The Remains of the Day is "a story both beautiful and cruel." It is a story primarily about regret: throughout his life, Stevens puts his absolute trust and devotion in a man who makes drastic mistakes. In the totality of his professional commitment, Stevens fails to pursue the one woman with whom he could have had a fulfilling and loving relationship. His prim mask of formality cuts him off from intimacy, companionship, and understanding.

Analysis of Major Characters

Stevens

Stevens, the head butler at Darlington Hall, is the protagonist and narrator of The Remains of the Day. A mercilessly precise man, his relentless pursuit of "dignity" leads him to constantly deny his own feelings throughout the novel. For Stevens, "dignity" involves donning a mask of professional poise at all times. Although there is merit in the ideas of decorum and loyalty, Stevens takes these concepts to an extreme. He never tells anyone what he is truly feeling, and he gives his absolute trust to Lord Darlington—a man who himself makes some very poor choices in his life. Although throughout much of the story it seems that Stevens is quite content to have served Lord Darlington—believing that Darlington was doing noble things at the time—Stevens expresses deep regret at the end of the story for failing to cultivate both intimate relationships and his own personal viewpoints and experiences.

Stevens is strongly influenced by his father. He constantly speaks of his father as though the older man perfectly exemplifies the quality of dignity, telling stories of his father's brilliantly self-effacing execution of his duties as butler. It is clear that Stevens wishes to be like his father, and, indeed, he succeeds only too well. Though Stevens is clearly a very competent butler who is always gracious and precise, his inheritance of his father's impossibly formal interactions with other people ends up limiting his personal growth and relationships. The interactions between Stevens and his father are, for the most part, completely devoid of any sign of familial warmth. If Stevens's relationship with even a family member is so distant, we can easily imagine how difficult it is for him to break away from codes of repressed formality.

With Stevens, Ishiguro uses two levels of narrative voice in one character: Stevens is alternately a narrator who is superior to the story he tells, and a narrator who is a part of, or within, the story he tells. Stevens at once displays himself as both a paragon of virtue and a victim of historical or cultural circumstances beyond his own control. In this second role, he manages to cultivate our sympathy. His extra-narrative role crumbles at the end of the story when he realizes that the façade he has cultivated is a false one. Ishiguro subtly increases the amount of doubt that Stevens expresses about his past actions, so that by the end of the story, a fuller picture of Stevens's regret and sadness has emerged.

Miss Kenton
Miss Kenton is the former head housekeeper of Darlington Hall; she and Stevens's father were hired at the same time. Miss Kenton is Stevens's equal in efficiency and intelligence, but she has a warmth and personality that Stevens never displays. When Miss Kenton first starts working at Darlington Hall, for example, she brings flowers into Stevens's austere room to try to brighten it up. Stevens summarily rejects Miss Kenton's attempts to introduce flowers. Indeed, the two disagree over household affairs with great frequency. Initially, these battles of wits only seem to highlight the affection the two feel for one another, but as the years progress, Miss Kenton grows increasingly tired of Stevens's nagging and his unwillingness to admit any more personal feelings, even though this is the only way he knows how to communicate with her. She finally leaves Darlington Hall to marry someone else when it becomes clear that Stevens will never be able to let himself express his feelings for her. Miss Kenton, unlike Stevens, does not substitute Lord Darlington's values for her own; she makes decisions based on her own thoughts and beliefs. In this sense, she displays more dignity and personal integrity than Stevens ever does.

Lord Darlington
Lord Darlington is the former owner of Darlington Hall. He dies three years before the present day of Stevens's narrative. Darlington is an old- fashioned English gentleman who feels regret and guilt about the harshness of England's treatment of Germany in the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. This guilt is compounded by the fact that a close friend of Darlington's, Herr Bremann, commits suicide after World War I. This event, in conjunction with the dire economic situation Lord Darlington witnesses on his visits to Germany, inspires him to take action. In the early 1920s, he organizes conferences at Darlington Hall to allow prominent Europeans to meet and discuss ways to revise the Treaty of Versailles; later, he invites British and German heads of state to Darlington Hall in an attempt to peacefully prevent the Second World War. All the while, however, Darlington never understands the true agenda of the Nazis, who use him to further Nazi aims in Britain. After World War II, Darlington is labeled a Nazi sympathizer and a traitor, which ruins his reputation and leaves him a broken and disillusioned old man at his death. Stevens always speaks highly of Darlington throughout the novel; he says it is a shame that people came to have such a terribly mistaken view of such a noble man.

Themes
Dignity and Greatness

The compound qualities of "dignity" and "greatness" pervade Stevens's thoughts throughout The Remains of the Day. Early in the novel, Stevens discusses the qualities that make a butler "great," claiming that "dignity" is the essential ingredient of greatness. He illustrates the concept with a number of examples, finally concluding that dignity "has to do crucially with a butler's ability not to abandon the professional being he inhabits." Stevens develops this exclusively professional mindset only too well. Because he always dons the mask of an imperturbable butler, he necessarily denies—and therefore leaves unexpressed—his own personal feelings and beliefs. Stevens's pursuit of dignity in his professional life completely takes over his personal life as well. By suppressing his individuality in this manner, he never achieves true intimacy with another person. The fact that his view of dignity is so misguided is sad; we can tell that Stevens has wanted great things, but that he has gone about attaining them the wrong way.

Regret
Although Stevens never overtly discusses what he thinks "regret" may mean, it becomes clear, when he breaks down and cries at the end of the novel, that he wishes he had acted differently with regard to Miss Kenton and Lord Darlington. The tone of the novel is often wistful or nostalgic for the past; as the story goes on, the tone deepens into one of regret as Stevens reevaluates his past actions and decisions, and finds them unwise. Miss Kenton also openly says at the end of the novel that she often regrets the choices she has made in her own life. The overwhelming sadness of the ending is only slightly lifted by Stevens's resolve to perfect the art of bantering—it seems a meager consolation considering the irreparable losses he has experienced in life.

Loss
Literal and figurative loss abounds for almost every character in The Remains of the Day. Stevens loses his father, Miss Kenton, and eventually his hope of convincing Miss Kenton to return to Darlington Hall. Miss Kenton loses her aunt, her only relative; and loses Stevens when she leaves to marry a man she does not love. Lord Darlington loses two friends, Herr Bremann and Sir David Cardinal, and his godson, Reginald Cardinal, when they die. Furthermore, Darlington loses his reputation and some degree of his own sanity by the end of his life. Reginald Cardinal loses his father to death and his godfather, Lord Darlington, to Nazi brainwashing. There are both literal and figurative deaths: deaths of loved ones, and figurative deaths of dreams and ideals.

Motifs
Bantering

Bantering provides an element of lightness and humor in the narrative, yet it is still one that ultimately demonstrates the degree to which Stevens has become an anachronism. Stevens repeatedly tells of various failed attempts at bantering, and muses over why Americans like his new employer, Mr. Farraday, like to speak in such a casual and seemingly meaningless manner. By the end of the novel, Stevens cedes that perhaps bantering can be a way to exhibit warmth, and he resolves to try again with renewed zeal. The fact that Stevens uses the word "bantering" instead of "joking around" or "sense of humor" in itself shows how old-fashioned and formal he is.

Stevens's Rhetorical Manner
A recurrent structural motif in the novel is the rhetorical method Stevens uses to make his points. His primary manner of discussing a new topic is to pose a question and then answer it himself, incorporating into his answers a number of responses to anticipated counter-arguments. As rhetoric is a form of art and debate closely associated with England, this mode of discourse lends the novel greater authority as one firmly grounded in English culture and tradition. The rhetorical mode of discourse is intended to convince its audience; indeed, particularly in the early parts of the narrative, Stevens often succeeds in conveying the illusion that he fully understands all sides of the issues he discusses. As the novel progresses, however, we realize there are whole realms he has failed to consider, rendering many of his assumptions and arguments much weaker than they initially appear.

Symbols

The English Landscape

The most notable symbols in The Remains of the Day are associated with people and events, not with objects and colors. The English landscape that Stevens admires near the beginning of his road trip is one such significant symbol, as we see that Stevens applies the same standards of greatness to the landscape as he does to himself. He feels that English landscape is beautiful due to its restraint, calm, and lack of spectacle—the same qualities Stevens successfully cultivates in his own life as a butler aspiring to "greatness." By the end of the novel, however, Stevens is no longer certain that he has been wise to adhere to these values so rigidly, to the exclusion open- mindedness, individuality, and love.

Stevens and Miss Kenton watch Stevens's father, after his fall on the steps, practicing going up and down the steps. The elder Stevens searches the ground surrounding the steps "as though," Miss Kenton writes in her letter, "he hoped to find some precious jewel he had dropped there." The action of searching for something that is irretrievably lost is an apt symbol for Stevens's road trip, and indeed his life as a whole. Just as his father keeps his eyes trained on the ground, Stevens keeps thinking over memories in his head as though they will give him some clue as to how his values led him astray in life.

Giffen and Co.
The silver polish company in Mursden that is closing down is a symbol for the obsolescence of Stevens's profession. Indeed, the butler is also almost entirely obsolete by 1956. It is significant that Stevens knows all about the quality of the silver polish, the houses in which it was used, and so on—though he knows an incredible amount of detail about all things related to the maintenance of a great household, his knowledge is no longer nearly as important as it once was. There is no longer the demand that there once was in England for either silver polish or butlers; they are a part of a bygone era.
 

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