The Remains of the Day Book Club Wrap-Up Post

In the last discussion post, we discussed the key themes of duty and dignity. Today, this post is for sharing any general thoughts about the book and any favorite quotes. Here are just a few little tidbits I wanted to share.

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The Remains of the Day was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Here’s a clip:

 

Have you watched the movie? If so, please share your thoughts on how you think the book and movie compare.

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Did you catch where the title made it’s appearance in the book? It’s not the exact wording of the title but you’ll find it in Day Six – Evening:

“Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day.” (pg. 244)

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The subject of bantering provides some lightness to the novel; but I think that it also plays a part in Stevens growth. In fact, the novel starts out talking about bantering in the Prologue and ends with Stevens’ thoughts on bantering in the last chapter.

Stevens employer, Mr. Farraday, seems to want to have these miscellaneous, light-hearted discussions and Stevens feels he is just not good at it. He is not used to joking around or having light-hearted discussions with his employer; what he’s used to is everything being proper and showing no emotion. He tries to improve on this though.

How does this contribute to Stevens’ growth? Towards the end when he’s at the house where several people have gathered and are talking, he sees the warmth and liveliness of the conversation. He says:

“Listening to them now, I can hear them exchanging one bantering remark after another. It is, I would suppose, the way many people like to proceed. In fact, it is possible my bench companion of a while ago expected me to banter with him – in which case, I suppose I was something of a sorry disappointment. Perhaps it is indeed time I began to look at this whole matter of bantering more enthusiastically. After all, when one thinks about it, it is not such a foolish thing to indulge in – particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human warmth.” (pg. 245)

Here he realizes that this type of light-hearted conversation very well may be “the key to human warmth.” (pg. 245) In other words, he begins to see that these types of conversations seem to add to the friendliness and kindredness amongst the people having the conversations. He decides to practice the art of bantering with renewed effort and I think this holds the potential to helping Stevens show more emotion.

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What are your overall thoughts of this book? Do you have any favorite quotes? Please share in the comments below.

Also, this is the final post for this book club discussion. Feel free to continue the discussion in the first discussion post for this book  and in the comments of this post.  🙂

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The Remains of the Day Book Club Discussion Post #1

Welcome to the discussion of our book club title The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’m so excited to discuss this with you! This was the first title by Ishiguro that I’ve read. If you didn’t get a chance to read the Introduction post, you can do so by clicking HERE.

We’ll have two separate posts for discussion (which is explained more later in this post). I hope that this will make discussing the book easier in this blog format.

The Remains of the Day

As I already mentioned in the Introduction post, Stevens is a butler who goes on an automobile holiday to the west country of England. During this holiday, we learn what’s presently going on which takes place in the 1950s, as well as Stevens’ past as a butler and various events that occurred in that time which goes all the way back to right before World War II. Stevens also relates his own thoughts, feelings, and impressions about a variety of things; but principally, his thoughts on dignity and his job as a butler are foremost. Therefore, two of the biggest themes in this novel are duty and dignity. Let’s discuss those themes today. And then on Wednesday, I will put up a post for everyone to share their overall thoughts of the book along with any favorite quotes. That post will be kind of the general catch-all post for sharing various thoughts and insights on the book.

Today, let’s consider these two questions as we discuss the themes of dignity and duty:

Question 1 – Throughout the novel, Stevens relates his thoughts on the issue of dignity. These thoughts progress through the novel and we see how his thoughts on dignity change. Did you notice the changes in Stevens’ perspective on what dignity is as you read the book?

Question 2 – Stevens’ job as a butler and how that job is performed is of utmost importance to him and is a key aspect of this novel. How does his view of his role as butler and his perspective of dignity intertwine?

Stevens feels that a great butler has dignity. He spends a lot of time hashing out just exactly what this means…what dignity is, what greatness is. So we see this progression of his thoughts and beliefs as we read the book. Stevens starts out at the beginning of the novel sharing how he was a really good butler. He felt he had every reason to be proud of how he performed his duties. But then as he thinks back on some scenarios, he begins to see that some of what his employer did was regrettable. Yet, he still felt he did what he could do. In his mind, he was just the butler. He thought, what could he have done really? By the time we reach the end of the book, we see this transformation in his thoughts on dignity and his role as a butler culminate to where he finally begins to think that the essence of dignity as a butler really is about taking responsibility of one’s own choices.  Towards the end, he makes this comment about what dignity is:

“But I suspect it comes down to not removing one’s clothing in public.” (pg. 210)

I think what he’s trying to say here is don’t cover up who you are in public. Be the real you. In other words, the person you are in public should be the same as the person you are when you’re alone. And isn’t that the essence of authenticity? About being real?

I think that in this whole process Stevens goes through in his thoughts throughout the book, he sees what he once thought slowly being dismantled. So what was meant to be a simple automobile holiday for some time away, turns into a time for introspection of long held beliefs/thoughts.

Here are a just a few quotes relating to the discussion of these themes.

“And let me now posit this:  ‘dignity’ has to do crucially with a butler’s ability not to abandon the professional being he inhabits….The great butlers are great by virtue of their ability to inhabit their professional role and inhabit it to the utmost…” (pgs. 42-43)

“It would seem there is a whole dimension to the question ‘what is a “great” butler?’ I have hitherto not properly considered…” (pg. 113)

“A ‘great’ butler can only be, surely, one who can point to his years of service and say that he has applied his talents to serving a great gentleman – and through the latter, to serving humanity.” (pg. 117)

“A butler of any quality must be seen to inhabit his role, utterly and fully; he cannot be seen casting it aside one moment simply to don it again the next as though it were nothing more than a pantomime costume.” (pg. 169)

“’What do you think dignity’s all about?’ The directness of this inquiry did, I admit, take me rather by surprise. ‘It’s rather a hard thing to explain in a few words, sir,’ I said. ‘But I suspect it comes down to not removing one’s clothing in public.’” (pg. 210)

Let’s continue the discussion in the comments. 🙂 But before we do, I want to make a few comments regarding discussion. I think it goes without saying that we want to all have an enjoyable experience discussing books. The reading world is a wonderful place. There is such diversity in thoughts and opinions and that’s what makes it so wonderful! I ask that everyone please be kind and respectful in your comments. 🙂

May Book Club for The Remains of the Day: Introduction

The Remains of the Day was published in 1989 and is the third novel written by Kazuo Ishiguro. In 1989, the novel won the Man Booker Prize; and in 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1993, the novel was put to screen with the same name for a title, and it starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day is written in the first person, narrated by the principal character Stevens. Stevens is a butler about to embark on an automobile holiday to the west country of England. During this holiday, we learn about what’s presently going on, as well as Steven’s past as a butler and various events that occurred in that time. Stevens also relates his own thoughts, feelings, and impressions about a variety of things; but principally, his thoughts on dignity and his job as a butler are foremost.

History plays a key role in the story line. The present time Stevens is living in is in the 1950s. But he takes the reader back to the years leading up to World War II. Major historical names of the time make an appearance in the novel even though it is a fiction book with fictional characters.

As I previously mentioned, the virtue of dignity is a key concept in the novel. Stevens ponders what dignity is and reflects on it off and on throughout the book. Be watching to see if his ideas of what dignity is remain the same throughout the novel or if it changes as the novel progresses.

I look forward to discussing this novel with you in a few weeks!

May Book Club Introduction

The Remains of the Day

It’s May and that means it’s time to gear up for our May Book Club. I hope you can join us! We will be reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I initially planned to break this up into reading assignments for each week and then put a post up each week for discussion. However, after having read it, I really think this book lends itself to just having an open discussion of it at the end of the month instead of assigning sections to read each week. Therefore, here’s how our book club will work for this title. Tomorrow, I will post an introduction to the book. Everyone can read the book at their own pace throughout the month. Then on Monday, May 29th, I’ll put up a post to open up the discussion for the book.

I look forward to discussing this book with everyone!