Never Let Me Go - Essay writing

In the exam you will also be asked to write an essay. There will be a choice of two essay titles and you will be asked to pick one. Your essay must focus on the novel as a whole and therefore it is very important that you know the novel extremely well before you sit your exam. You must make sure you have a clear idea about:

  • plot
  • themes
  • characters
  • language, form and structure

When you are in the exam, it is a good idea to write a brief essay plan before you start writing the actual essay. This will help you to have control of the structure of your essay and make sure that you do not end up repeating points or, even worse, missing out valuable points.

Below, there are examples of essay titles from a higher tier and foundation tier exam on Never Let Me Go.

Higher tier

What is the significance of Hailsham School to the society Kazuo Ishiguro has created inNever Let Me Goand why is it so important to the students?

Foundation tier

Why do the students and guardians of Hailsham believe it is a special place which plays such an important part in their lives?

Planning your answer

  1. Introduction. Explain the purpose of Hailsham School.
  2. Comment on the importance of Hailsham to the students.
  3. Comment on the importance of Hailsham to Miss Emily and Madame.
  4. Comment on the way the rest of society sees Hailsham School.
  5. Conclusion. Here you should provide a general summing up of your main points.

Higher tier sample answers

Here are two sample answers that refer to point three of your essay plan.

Sample answer one

Miss Emily is the head guardian of Hailsham so the school is very important to her as she is the one who is in charge of it. Madame does not work at Hailsham but she collects art work from the students in order to display it in The Gallery. There are times during the novel when Madame seems uncomfortable at the school and when she is surrounded by the pupils and this is confirmed near the end of the novel. Miss Emily admits there were times when she too felt repulsed by the student clones at Hailsham. This implies that although Miss Emily is in charge of the school she does not like the students and does not want anything to do with them. The school was important to Miss Emily because she was in charge of it and because she could run it in the way she wanted to.

Feedback comments – some knowledge shown but improvements need to be made

There is a little too much retelling of the narrative in this answer. More analysis is needed.

This answer does not really explain what Miss Emily was trying to achieve in Hailsham, it merely mentions that she was the guardian who was in charge.

Miss Emily did not dislike the students. In fact, she wanted to ensure they had a better life than the one society was trying to give them.

Sample answer two

Miss Emily hoped that Hailsham School would prove to society as a whole that the student clones had souls and that they needed to be treated with more respect than they usually were. This is why Hailsham was such an important place to her. Miss Emily believed that in the wider world, the students would often get treated badly and she hoped that through providing the students of Hailsham with a solid upbringing and a sound education, she could prove that they should be treated as the equals of their human counterparts. Along with Madame, she also hoped that this might encourage society to stop using the clones as organ donors, believing that if the scientists and doctors saw them more like real humans than as clones, they would understand how barbaric it was to end the lives of the clones before they were even middle aged.

Feedback comments – a much improved answer

This is a much better answer.

There is no retelling here, but there are lots of interesting comments which focus on the actual question.

There is also some sophisticated use of language, such as ‘barbaric’ and ‘counterparts’ which help add depth to the answer.

Foundation tier sample answers

Here are two sample answers that refer to point five of the essay plan.

Sample answer one

In conclusion I feel that Hailsham School is important for lots of reasons. It is important to the students because they enjoy going to school there and making new friends. It is important to the guardians because it gives them somewhere to get a job and earn a wage. Hailsham is important to the rest of society because it means that the clones have somewhere to go before they are trained as carers. Really, I think these are the reasons why Hailsham School is such an important place.

Feedback comments – some knowledge shown but improvements need to be made

Use of the pronoun I should be avoided. It makes the writing seem informal.

This answer does not really develop any of the points. Even though this is the conclusion, some development is necessary.

There are some inaccuracies here. Miss Emily certainly does not work at Hailsham just because it provides her with a wage.

Informal sentence starters such as really need to be avoided.

Sample answer two

Overall, it would appear that there are a number of reasons why Hailsham School is so important. The school offers a place of safety to the student clones and allows them to enjoy a decent level of education in lovely surroundings. Other clones are not so lucky and end up in places which are far less appealing. Hailsham also allows students such as Kathy and Ruth to make lasting friendships which replace the family members they do not have. Hailsham is important to Miss Emily because it allows her to show the rest of society what the clones are capable of achieving. She and Madame want other humans to recognise that the students have souls and that therefore using them as donors should stop as it is basically the same as forcing a human to donate their vital organs.

Feedback comments – a much better answer

This answer is much stronger and benefits from the fact that there is no use of the pronoun ‘I’, instead a passive voice is used.

Informal sentence starters such as ‘really’ have also been avoided.

Much more detail is provided and the necessary development of points has been included.

There are no inaccuracies here.

Remember, it is essential to look over the assessment objectives before you go into the exam and try to bear these in mind when you are writing your essay.