The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Dayis a profoundly compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world postwar England. At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving "a great gentleman." But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington's "greatness" and graver doubts about his own faith in the man he served. A tragic, spiritual portrait of a perfect English butler and his reaction to his fading insular world in post-war England. A wonderful, wonderful book.
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Prologue · July 1956: Darlington Hall
A prologue is an introduction to the text to follow. Some critics believe a prologue should be used for two reasons: 1. To outline the backstory quickly and economically, saving the author from having to resort to flashbacks or ruses such as conversations or memories to explain the background to the reader. 2. To hook the reader and provide the story question right up front, giving them a reason to keep turning the pages to find out the answer.
Stevens, the narrator of the story, is a butler. The novel is a post-war British novel that will revolve around Stevens' profession as a butler and how it emotionally and mentally affects him. What do you predict will be explored through the eyes of Stevens?
Without changing the meaning of the text, which word could BEST be used to replace "negligent" as the term is used here?
As you can see, Stevens considers the duty of a butler very seriously. As you continue to read, you will see Stevens question the old-fashioned way of being a butler compared to the present culture of England. He begins to see the present culture less concerned with what is proper but with what is more efficient. See if his assumptions are accurate.
Even though Stevens does not care for his employer's bantering, why does he continue to participate in the conversation?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
It is important to note the structure of the text. This narrative is written in flashbacks that lead up to Stevens's departure. The style of the narrative is crucial in understanding the character's development. Learn more about structure in the following video clip. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 1 - Day One · Evening: Salisbury
The highlighted text contains an example of
The landscape will be discussed in more detail later in the text. Think about what the landscape could symbolize for Stevens or in general.
Ishiguro is juxtaposing the great English landscape with the great
The idea of dignity will appear more in the text. This theme will affect Stevens later in the text. How would you define dignity?
What is the central meaning of the tiger story?
What do these stories have in common? Does it show how the job of being a butler is bittersweet? They cannot express any emotion. Their purpose is to serve. Is this a life you would want to life?
How is Stevens influenced by his father?
Chapter 2 - Day Two · Morning: Salisbury
The fact that Stevens continues to read Miss Kenton's letters over and over again does indicate the loss he felt when she left. He indeed misses her.
This particular event holds extreme value. They both see Stevens's father looking at the ground as if looking for something. What is this "jewel" he is searching for? As you continue to learn more about his character, think about what this could symbolize. Do you need a refresher in symbolism? If so, view the short clip below. (This annotation contains a video)
What theme is prevalent in Stevens's rant about marriage between workers?
Even Miss Kenton can see how serious Stevens takes his role as a butler. She believes there is time to let your guard down and a time to work. Do you think Stevens knows this balance to life? Watch the short clip of this scene from the 1993 movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson to help you visualize the characters. (This annotation contains a video)
Now that you have read several pages of the novel, from which point of view is it told?
Is Stevens's father the one who keeps making mistakes? If so, what does this foreshadow?
What is Miss Kenton's purpose for confronting Stevens about his father?
Pay particular attention to the imagery used in this paragraph. The phrases "sky turning to dawn," "rickety staircase," and "pale light" mimic Stevens's father's aliment. The connotative meanings of these words create a dismal mood. See if you can locate this stylistic feature again as you continue to read.
What is the central purpose behind Stevens's father searching for something on the steps?
Many people may not think being a butler would "stretch one to the limit of one's ability and beyond" because it is a self-restricted career. But, who are we to judge? Was there ever a time where you felt you stretched yourself to achieve something others did not deem rewarding?
What deeper role does the duty of a butler play in the text?Choose the BEST option.
Stevens allows readers to see "behind the scenes" of the lives of servant workers. Does this make you view his job differently?
What can be inferred from the highlighted text?
Yes, it is! Why should a butler discuss the "birds and the bees" with someone of higher authority? How would you handle this situation?
Which of the following options best describes the mood established between Stevens and Mr. Cardinal?
The author of the book, Kazuo Ishiguro shares some interesting reasons for why he wrote this text. Watch the video below and pay particular attention to his main reason for using a butler as his subject. (This annotation contains a video)
After watching the short video in the previous annotation, what is the main reason for the author writing this text?
Stevens' father's decline is hard for Stevens because he does not know how to balance the emotions for his about father's sickness and continue to uphold a respected and dignified household.
Which of the following sentences uses the word subterfuge correctly?
The dialogue between father and son is somewhat hard to read. You feel a sense of regret and loss in Mr. Stevens of being a "proper" father. Readers also get a better idea of how hard it is for Stevens to express emotion and grieve over his father's ailment.
What effect does the use of personification in the highlighted text have on the reader?
Even though Miss Kenton would like to communicate with Stevens by letter or though other people, her approaching Stevens about his father's decline shows the good side of Miss Kenton's character. Maybe she truly does care about Stevens.
What does the highlighted text imply about Stevens' character?
Mr. Cardinal's comment about Stevens referring to Mother Nature adds humor to the story. He thinks Stevens is actually talking about nature instead of Mother Nature in the terms of sexual relations. In a time of despair (Stevens's father's decline), Ishiguro adds a lighthearted scene. Is this effective or does it take away from the deeper meaning of the text?
How does Stevens's reaction to his father's death relate to the theme of the novel?
Prologue - Chapter 2 Quiz
Chapter 3 - Day Two · Afternoon: Mortimer's Pond, Dorset
Stevens believes this generation has a more idealistic view of what is distinguished. Is he accurate? Think about your parent's generation. Has things changed since then? Think about why times change and if that is a good or bad thing, especially in the eyes of the character of Stevens. Does he fear change?
What can be inferred from the highlighted text?
The serenity of the pond and the peace it brings is similar to the ideologies expressed by Transcendentalist writers, such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau's "Walden Pond" and Emerson's "Nature" reflect the calmness and enlightenment found in nature.
Based off what you know about Lord Darlington, why does Stevens deny working for him?
Is Stevens being a hypocrite here? If he says he is not ashamed of his association with Lord Darlington, then why does he not defend him? What does this say about Stevens's character? Does he have doubts of his own?
Chapter 4 - Day Three · Morning: Taunton, Somerset
Stevens listens to a comedy show to help him improve his bantering skills. His failure to "banter" with Mr. Farraday it shows how he cannot adapt to ways of this generation.
What is one drawback to developing a narrative like this? The narrative is deliberate and detailed but what does it fail to deliver?
Stevens sees the company as a symbol of an aristocratic household.
When a character "drifts" it is called a digression. A digression is a section of a composition or speech that marks a temporary shift of subject. JD Salinger's famous character, Holden Caulfield, from "The Catcher in the Rye" is notorious for his digressions. See if you can locate any other digressions in the text as you continue to read.
What does the closing of Giffen & Co. represent for Stevens?
Chapter 5 - Day Three · Evening: Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon
Throughout the text, Ishiguro uses anecdotes to retell certain events. View the video clip below to learn more about anecdotes. (This annotation contains a video)
How are Stevens and Miss Kenton foils?
Miss Kenton is getting frustrated with Stevens' lack of humanity in terms of people on his level. He focuses too much on the sentiments of his employer rather than opening up to Miss Kenton who does indeed care for him. Again, why is Stevens afraid of being emotionally connected to others? Does this take away from his "greatness" as a butler?
What explicit information about Lisa can be drawn from the text?
This is an interesting point that Miss Kenton brings up. Is she assuming Stevens does not hire good-looking girls because he wants to avoid any emotional and/or intimate relationships?
Using the annotation above, how does nature provide a sort of enlightenment for Stevens?
According to some critics, Emerson's "Nature" explores idealism at length. He first points out that a change in perspective is caused by changes in environment or mechanical alterations (such as viewing a familiar landscape from a moving railroad car), which heightens the sense of the difference between man and nature, the observer and the observed. Altered perspective imparts a feeling that there is something constant within man, even though the world around him changes, sometimes due to his own action upon it.
Watch the clip from the 1993 movie below. What does the clip reveal about Stevens and Miss Kenton's relationship? (This annotation contains a video)
This particular scene can be best described as
Miss Kenton cannot wait around for Stevens to express his feelings for her. His rejection makes Miss Kenton look for a suitable gentlemen caller. She tells Sevens that he must have it all, but does he? Is there a sarcastic undertone in her statement?
At this point in the story, Stevens does not seem to change his character, although Miss Kenton's character does change. Stevens would be considered a
Can Stevens be more inconsiderate? Miss Kenton's aunt just died and she is feeling rejected by the one man who she desires, and all he can focus on is the dust.
What theme is prevalent in this scene?
Do you agree with Harry and Mr. Taylor's description of a gentlemen? What defines a woman and a man?
What makes Stevens a "true gent"?
Stevens does not mean he is going to leave and retire from his job, but that he is quite tired. This example illustrates the importance of considering
Here is the clip of this scene from the movie. Should Stevens really answer Mr. Spencer's questions? And, if he did, would it even matter? What does this say about his role as a butler? (This annotation contains a video)
The description of Lord Darlington creates what type of mood?
Chapters 3-5 Quiz
Chapter 6 - Day Four · Afternoon: Little Compton, Cornwall
Is this Stevens's second chance at love? He arrives early to meet Miss Kenton and cannot stop thinking about her throughout the narrative. Will he be able to reveal his true feelings or will he resort back to his old ways?
When an object is given human-like characteristics, ______ is being used.
Even though the protagonist in this story is not a child, readers still see a mental and emotional growth in Stevens. As you come to the end of the novel, does his character represent the definition of the literary term "bildungsroman"? View the short clip below to learn more about a bildungsroman. (This annotation contains a video)
Why is there so much tension between these two? What could this scene foreshadow?
The police arriving creates
What does the highlighted text imply about Stevens' character?
This is the time before the entire world knew the truth behind the Nazi regime. Lord Darlington was a Nazi sympathizer with the best intentions. He did not know what the real system entailed. His godson believes he is a pawn and is easily influenced by powerful, persuasive government leaders.
Miss Kenton's tears ______ many crying nights as a married woman.
After this chapter, some critics have expressed Stevens' character as being a tragic one. Do you think he is a tragic and pitiful character? What elements of the story contribute to your reasoning?
Chapter 7 - Day Six · Evening: Weymouth
Wait, her marriage is fine? This entire time, the narrative leads up to their meeting in hopes of a second chance at love. Do you feel bad for Stevens or was this what he needed to hear and see in order to let go of the past?
Mrs. Benn directly tells Stevens she did imagine a life with him and thought about what it would be like to be his wife. How does this make Stevens feel? More regretful?
What does Ishiguro use to contribute to the overall sadness of this chapter?
The stranger provides clarity for Stevens. He emphasizes the theme of not dwelling on the past but rather celebrating the present and looking forward to a greater future.
Chapters 6-7 Quiz