The 's Last Dancer And Kazuo Ishiguro 's Fictional Never Let Me Go Essay
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Li Cunxin’s autobiographical Mao’s Last Dancer and Kazuo Ishiguro’s fictional Never Let Me Go are two contemporary pieces of literature that explore the theme of identity. The underlying nature of identity itself is questioned in both texts with the Li and Ishiguro drawing attention to the importance of self-identity in today’s society. Both authors highlight the theme of identity through their portrayal of their characters living in hardship in their childhoods, defining themselves through the people around them, dealing with the lies and deceit that come with their confined worlds, self-identity dependent on setting and their changing personalities.
Cunxin and Kathy’s characters both centralise on their difficult upbringing and subsequent hope for a better future. In Mao’s Last Dancer, Cunxin’s poverty stricken childhood constructs a world of struggle and hardship. Although he insists that they were ‘luckier than the thirty million who starved to death’, Cunxin’s childhood shaped him as a person for the future. He longed to be the ‘frog’ that escaped the ‘well’. Cunxin’s ambition manifests in his unwillingness to give up when pleading with the Minister of Culture for permission to return to America. If Cunxin had not had the difficult upbringing he had, he probably would not have had the courage to persist. Similarly, whilst Ishiguro’s character, Kathy, also experienced hardship, it wasn’t financial destitution that disadvantaged her, but growing up at the sheltered