The Remains of the Day

Banter Symbol Icon

As Stevens grows accustomed to Mr. Farraday, his new American employer, he finds himself needing to address what he sees as the new requirements of his position. Mr. Farraday is much more informal than Lord Darlington, and he tries to banter casually with Stevens, who is taken aback. Banter thus begins to take on a special importance to Stevens, as it is emblematic of the way the modern world is shifting. Stevens tries to study banter as one might learn to polish silver—through constant practice. In the novel, Stevens’s studiousness about banter has a humorous effect on the reader, though (or perhaps because) Stevens takes his task so seriously. Stevens’s anxiety about banter and his inability to adapt to a demeanor that, among foreigners and younger Britons, is perfectly natural signals the way in which Stevens’s beloved aristocratic society of great country houses is crumbling around him. In response, he lives increasingly in the past, in the recollections that make up the bulk of the novel. However, at the end of the novel banter presents itself as something that Stevens might be able to learn, which gives him one possible way to face the “remains of the day.”

Banter Quotes in The Remains of the Day

The The Remains of the Day quotes below all refer to the symbol of Banter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dignity and Greatness  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Remains of the Day published in 1990.
Prologue: July 1956 Quotes

It is quite possible, then, that my employer fully expects me to respond to his bantering in a like manner, and considers my failure to do so a form of negligence. This is, as I say, a matter which has given me much concern.

Related Characters: Mr. Stevens (speaker), Mr. John Farraday
Related Symbols: Banter
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
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Day Three: Morning Quotes

I had been rather pleased with my witticism when it had first come into my head, and I must confess I was slightly disappointed it had not been better received than it was. I was particularly disappointed, I suppose, because I have been devoting some time and effort over recent months to improving my skill in this very area. That is to say, I have been endeavouring to add this skill to my professional armoury so as to fulfil with confidence all Mr. Farraday’s expectations with respect to bantering.

Related Characters: Mr. Stevens (speaker), Mr. John Farraday
Related Symbols: Banter
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
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Banter Symbol Timeline in The Remains of the Day

The timeline below shows where the symbol Banter appears in The Remains of the Day. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: July 1956
Politics and Loyalty  Theme Icon
Authenticity, Performance, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Stevens acknowledges that such banter is perhaps more common between employer and employee in the U.S., and it has certainly... (full context)
Day One: Evening
Dignity and Greatness  Theme Icon
History, Retrospection and Regret Theme Icon
Later, it would occur to Stevens that the man might have meant this as a bantering remark, but he felt that he couldn’t offend him, so he continued on. He was... (full context)
Day Three: Morning
Dignity and Greatness  Theme Icon
Class Difference and Social Change Theme Icon
Politics and Loyalty  Theme Icon
...or six other customers remained around the bar until late. One of them tried to banter with Stevens, who did his best to respond wittily, and was pleased when the group... (full context)
Day Six: Evening
Dignity and Greatness  Theme Icon
History, Retrospection and Regret Theme Icon
Politics and Loyalty  Theme Icon
Authenticity, Performance, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
...seems they are strangers who paused to watch the lights come out and are now bantering together. Perhaps his bench companion simply expected the same from him, in which case he... (full context)