Klara and the Sun

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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Klara and the Sun: Part Five Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Josie starts becoming weaker 11 days after returning from the city. She has periods of strange breathing when she’s only partly awake. Meanwhile, Klara begins to help Rick with his studies. He comes and visits Josie, but she’s only able to stay awake for short periods of time.
The fact that Josie has trouble breathing could be symbolically connected to the big pollution-spewing Cootings Machine from the end of Part Four. Though that specific machine may not literally be causing her disease, air pollution makes it more difficult for everyone to breath.
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On one visit, Klara asks Rick if he’ll walk with her outside. Rick says Josie is worse than she’s ever been before and that the doctor and the Mother have given up hope. Klara, however, believes there is still hope and that help might come from somewhere they don’t expect.
Klara’s hope seems to be because of her growing faith in the power of the Sun, despite all the signs that things are getting worse.
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Klara says she must go back to McBain’s barn right before the Sun goes down. Rick says he’ll help. Klara asks Rick to really think and tell the truth about something: is the love between Rick and Josie genuine? Rick says he doesn’t have to think—the answer is yes. Klara is happy. They make plans to meet that evening.
Although Klara’s spirituality is similar to certain real religions, it doesn’t imitate any religion in particular. Here, the emphasis on true love resembles a fairy tale more than religion. Like a human, Klara uses stories and narratives to better understand the world.
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Quotes
That evening, Rick again carries Klara to the barn. He allows her to go inside alone and says he’ll be waiting in the same place as the last time. Just like the previous time, the barn fills with the sun’s orange light. Klara begins forming words in her mind to address the Sun again.
One of the main features of many religions is ritual, often involving repetition. Here, Klara comes back to the barn, demonstrating how her new spirituality resembles human religion with its repetition.
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Get the entire Klara and the Sun LitChart as a printable PDF.
Klara and the Sun PDF
Klara begs the Sun’s forgiveness for failing to stop the Cootings Machine’s pollution, but she asks the Sun to recognize her attempts to stop pollution. She once again asks the Sun to help Klara as it helped Beggar Man. She says she willingly gave up some of her fluid and would willingly give more, even all of it, to help Josie.
Klara’s spirituality also puts a major focus on sacrifice, a concept that is essential in both ancient and modern religions. While, on the one hand, Klara sees a transactional element to her relationship with the Sun, on the other hand, the Sun’s actions seem mysterious and unpredictable to her.
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Klara tells the Sun that she remembers how happy he was on the day that Coffee Cup Lady met Rain Coat Man on the street. She believes the Sun is happy when people love each other, and she says that Josie and Rick could be just as happy as Coffee Cup Lady and Rain Coat Man.
As Klara’s spirituality deepens, she pictures the Sun having more and more personality. A bright day is a day when the Sun is happy. Interestingly, very early in the book, Klara makes the decision on her own to use male pronouns for the Sun, raising questions about how she came to that decision.
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Quotes
Thinking back to the conversation between Vance and Rick, Klara tells the Sun that she knows favoritism isn’t a good thing. Still, she says that surely young people in love are the most deserving of the Sun’s help. The Sun goes most of the way down, but there’s one particularly bright spot left. It turns out to be some sheets of glass that Mr. McBain left around the barn. Then the Sun finally disappears all the way.
Klara’s reference to the conversation between Rick and Vance shows once again that she’s always listening, even when she gives no indication that she is. The sheets of glass in Mr. McBain’s barn seem to be yet another example of a window (or at least window-like object) appearing at a crucial moment in the story.
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In the following days, the Mother and Josie’s doctor argue about whether Josie should go to a hospital. The adults all take turns watching Josie, even though they know that Klara is as good as anyone at spotting danger signs in Josie’s health. The normal routine is disrupted, and no one takes meals at the usual time.
During normal times, the humans are willing to trust rationality and efficiency, believing in Klara’s proven capability as a caretaker. But in a crisis situation, as Josie’s health becomes critical, the humans rely less on rationality and put more emphasis on being there themselves to provide a human touch.
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One day when Rick is visiting, the Mother pulls him aside to ask if he feels like he won. Rick doesn’t seem to understand. The Mother says that Josie bet high—she (the Mother) might have shaken the dice, but Josie was the one who gambled (by being lifted). And Rick played it safe. Does Rick feel like a winner, she wonders. The Mother says that Josie has been excited about the whole world for her entire life. She asks Rick to think about his future and if his life is even worth anything, since he gambled for such low stakes.
The Mother seems to be in a dark mental place due to Josie’s declining condition. She has suggested in the past that she blames herself for the decision to have Josie lifted, but here she can no longer stand having that blame on her. Instead, she tries to justify her decision to have Josie lifted by insulting Rick and suggesting that even if he lives to an advanced age, his life won’t have been as full as Josie’s.
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Although Josie usually isn’t well enough to talk, Rick says that he spoke to her recently. He says that Josie gave him a message to pass on to the Mother at the correct time. The message was that Josie will always love the Mother, and that she would make the exact same choice about being lifted if she had to do it again.
Rick understands that the Mother is distressed and that this is the reason she said what she did. It’s unclear whether Rick actually spoke to Josie or whether he is inventing or perhaps embellishing the story. In any case, Rick showed during his meeting with Vance that he’s very good at understanding what adults want to hear.
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Quotes
The Mother is surprised by the message and can’t respond. Klara interrupts them and says that they have to go upstairs at once because the Sun is coming out. Rick and the Mother are worried, but they find that Josie is sleeping as normal.
Klara’s hopefulness contrasts with the humans’ lack of hope, raising the question of who will be proven right as Josie’s illness reaches its most critical point.
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In Josie’s room, Melania Housekeeper wants to close the blinds to let Josie sleep, but Klara insists that they need to open the blinds and let as much Sun in as possible. The Sun begins to illuminate Josie and her whole bed. They all sit and watch.
This is the most important scene with a window in the story. Klara’s insistence to keep the window open suggests that it is healthy to be open to the outside world—and particularly to nature. The scene of the light flooding into Josie’s room recalls many earlier appearances of the Sun, particularly in the store in Part One, as well as in Mr. McBain’s barn.
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Quotes
Josie wakes up and asks what’s going on. She asks if a blind is stuck and wonders why so many people are in her room. She says she feels better. The Mother says they should assume nothing, just take things one step at a time.
Josie seems to be healed by the Sun, proving Klara’s faith right. Because the whole story is narrated by Klara, however, there is reason to doubt whether things “really” happened exactly as she describes or whether Klara has deliberately presented the events in a way that confirms what she believes. This mystery is deliberately left unsolved. What is clear, however, is that Klara’s hope and the Sun (which represents nature) both played a crucial role in Josie’s recovery, suggesting that pessimism and isolation from nature can be unhealthy.
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