Meaning and Themes in the Movie "Never Let Me Go"

Updated on July 15, 2016
Nalini Marquez profile image

Nalini combines her love of meaning, analysis, and critical thinking with movies, media, and discussion to bring a different perspective.

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"Never Let Me Go" Movie Meaning: Official Trailer

"Never Let Me Go" Movie Meaning: Spoiler Alert!

If you haven't seen the movie already, then you should probably watch the movie first.

Unless you are someone who likes to read things that might reveal content about a movie before deciding whether or not to watch it; in which case, spoilers should be no problem.

Please Note: This analysis is based solely off of the movie.


"Never Let Me Go" Movie Analysis

Below is my "Never Let Me Go" movie analysis and what I found to be the meaning in the movie "Never Let Me Go." Many of the themes and ideas were related or fell under categories but there were many ideas worth exploring within these categories.

"Never Let Me Go" Movie Meaning: Human Parallels and Human Feelings

-The fear of being alone.

-The desire for companionship, love, intimacy; the desire for relationships.

-“We all complete;” we all die. This reality is the same for both humans and clones.

-The idea of trying to make things right before one dies.

-The idea that much or most of our behavior is learned behavior.

-The idea that we can be conditioned.

-The idea that we can be controlled and manipulated by those in our lives.

-The idea that humans/society can look the other way when there is wrong being done.

-The idea that we can be/are detached and disconnected from the suffering and injustices done to/lived by others.

-The idea that there are different ways to accept or live with the same fate (seen through the different characters; however, their different ways were more like “shades of difference” as none of them truly had an extreme or very different way of accepting/living with their fates).

-The injustice of having human parts taken from you and yet still have to keep living so that more parts can be taken from you later…until death (“completion”); seen from Ruth’s character.

-Traps within traps/the way in which we can trap ourselves in our own lives in addition to being trapped by things that are out of our control (universal). Specifically in the movie, being trapped in one form of life and being trapped in a relationship with someone in that life (Tommy and Ruth).

-Being jealous of what others can have and being willing to take what someone else has, even if you don’t want it, just do you don’t have to be alone or face/live with your own fears (Ruth).

-Being able to be angry at one’s fate and it not being what one believed it to be; being angry at the reality of one’s fate; at one’s fate being different than what was preached; having a right to be angry, having a right to resent, having a right to want life and to not just be used so that someone else can live (seen through Ruth).

"Never Let Me Go" Movie Analysis: The Idea of Time and Life

-Time once lost, is lost.

-The preciousness of time: we all only have so much time (universal). This idea extends to both time wasted/taken from us and time given/had.

-The idea of “deferral”: accepting one’s fate but willing to accept a period of happiness (period of time) before the inevitable; a bittersweet idea; also the idea of creating a happiness among the hands that were dealt.

-The idea of waiting for things to happen as opposed to making things happen.

-A life unlived (that waits around the clock of someone else continuing to live): their lives are put on hold and incubate while other people live; life as a waiting period.

-A life unlived: being physically alive without being able to do what people should be able to do while living (in some ways, dead while living).


"Never Let Me Go" Movie Meaning: The Idea of Fate and Free Will

-Learning to accept one’s fate.

-The idea of fate vs free will (universal). This idea also extends to their incubated lives. All the while neither Kathy's nor Tommy’s character take control of their relationships even though in the specific containment in which they live, they could.

-The idea of how the free will of others can have a significant effect on the lives of others and can impose on the lives of others taking away their free will (universal)/how the free will of others affects our own free will (universal). Specifically seen in the movie on how the outside people puppet the lives of the clones and their fates/outcomes, and how Ruth’s character uses her free will to control and manipulate the lives of her friend and her lover/boyfriend.

"Never Let Me Go" Movie Analysis: Humans'/Society's Ability to Look the Other Way

-Being brought into being for the sole purpose of dying so that someone else can live.

-The idea that those that are sacrificed are less than those that are sacrificed for (universal); shown by the broken toys that were delivered to the school and the way that they look for their “originals” and conclude that they were made from junkies, convicts, etc.

-The idea of those that are sacrificed are less than those that are sacrificed for also relates to humans’/society’s ability to look the other way (universal); who is worthy, who is not, and how this assessment underlies/justifies the decision to look the other way. And in the case of the movie, to continue to make and use clones for the sole purpose of organ reaping.


Author's Note:

This is what I interpreted the meaning of the title to be based on what was in the movie but the book provides an altogether different meaning.

I wrote this analysis prior to reading other information regarding the movie and book, and kept my analysis of the meaning of the title as it is a fair interpretation given the film and as the analysis and themes provided on this page are based on the film only.

Meaning in the Title "Never Let Me Go"

Another aspect to include in the "Never Let Me Go" movie analysis is the importance and meaning of the title. The title of "Never Let Me Go" is an evocative phrase and can bring up many different feelings and associations in people. For me, it made me think about the preciousness of life and how most of our greatest gifts are each other. Like anything that we love and treasure, it is hard to let it go; yet as human beings we have to.

It is even more poignant because Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth have to let each other go and have to suffer a human suffering while not being considered human by those who force that fate upon them. In relation to that, there is also the fact that having to let people go (either in relationships or as they pass away) is a natural and inevitable process in normal circumstances. But through the creation of clones for the sole purpose of organ reaping, having to let people go is an unnatural process as the clones are created, live as humans, feel as humans, and form attachments as humans, and then are forced to let go of each other and their lives because they are created and viewed as non-human.

This form of letting go is completely evitable and reflects the way in which values have been turned inside out as to what it means to be human.

Food for Thought--Your Answers!

Do clones have souls?

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Food For Thought

-Do clones have souls?

-Is there a difference between a clone and a human being? What is the difference?

-At what point do we cease to be humans and are instead only bodies?

-In what ways does the soul reveal itself? In what ways do we accept the expressions and validation of the soul? What validates the soul? What validates a human being?

-The meaning of the title of the movie( "Never Let Me Go") in relation to the content of the movie and in relation to the messages the movie sends can be interpreted and connected in many different ways. In which way do you interpret it?

-If we all “complete,” how can a society live with itself or justify the creating of human clones to prolong life/avoid completion? How does determining death for another justify our right to live? Does it not need to be justified because the person/clone was made for the sole purpose of dying/organ reaping? Is it justified because the clone is not human? If so, then what makes us human? The idea of souls is a spiritual one but not everyone believes in spirituality or souls. So then what?

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