Hi Remains Rereaders! How’s your re-read going? If this is your first time hearing about the Remains Reread, it’s kind of an online read-along of The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro organized by Random House Canada. I’m going to be discussing part two of the book (see part one here) so there may be spoilers below. I would advise reading the part before continuing 🙂 If you would like to join us, here is the reading schedule.
For part two, we read chapters “Day Two: Morning” and “Day Two: Afternoon.” In this section, we continue to follow Stevens on his road trip through the English countryside but a bulk of the two chapters is spent learning more about Stevens’ past. In part one, Stevens tells us what he thinks a “great” butler is. In “Day Two: Morning,” he recounts a big event that he regards as a turning point in his life, an event where he “came of age as a butler.” (p84). He also gives us a little more insight into his relationship with Miss Kenton – but more on that later. In “Day Two: Afternoon,” Stevens wonders why he misled a person he just met into believing that he never served Lord Darlington personally, even though we know he clearly did. Is he ashamed of his former employer? Is he being truthful when he says Lord Darlington was a stand-up guy right till the very end, despite what rumours are saying? In this chapter we also learn a little more about Mr. Farraday and how he desperately tried to impress his visitors with the authenticity of Darlington Hall. His guests were not convinced that Darlington Hall was the real deal, so now I wonder if Mr. Farraday will try harder to prove to his friends that it is, in fact, an old manor, or try to sell the place. I guess these mysteries will be revealed in time!
Whenever I read books with first person narrators, one of the first questions I ask myself is “Is this narrator reliable? Can I trust him/her?” This question was raised especially early when it came to reading The Remains of The Day and in this part, the answer became a little clearer. As Stevens tells us about his coming of age as a butler, he mentions his work relationship with Miss Kenton. She is portrayed as an outspoken, bold, and forward employee. She outwardly criticizes Stevens’ decision in allowing his aging father to take on multiple duties even though he has shown neglect or absent-mindedness and is indignant when Stevens suggests that she is anything less than a competent housekeeper. However, Stevens later admits that he embellished the truth, saying “I am not sure Miss Kenton spoke quite so boldly that day… I cannot see even Miss Kenton having been so forward. …Now that I come to think of it, I have a feeling it may have been Lord Darlington himself who made that particular remark to me…” (70). This admission left me wondering what else he may have twisted, and whether any other lies or omissions will come to light as well. What do you think? Do you think Stevens is hiding something from us?
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this part and I can’t wait to continue reading The Remains of the Day. There are so many questions that have been left unanswered at this point and I’m feeling quite invested in finding out the answers to them. The writing has been really wonderful and I am definitely interested in learning more about Stevens. One of my favourite parts in this section is Stevens’ task of talking to one of Lord Darlington’s guests Mr. Cardinal about the “birds and the bees”. As usual, Stevens is a little more than awkward and it was so hilarious watching him try to get Mr. Cardinal in the right frame of mind. So, if you’re not reading along already, I would highly recommend doing so! I can’t wait to hear what you all thought of this part.
Are you enjoying Stevens as a character so far? What was your favourite thing about this part?