The Remains Of The Day


 by Kazuo Ishiguro
The passage in " The Remains of the Day", by Kazuo
Ishiguro, which best represents the theme of the story is
found on page 116, last paragraph of the page. This passage
is one of the final discussions Mr. Stevens has with
respect to his trying to determine what makes a great
butler. However, it is only one out of many possible
examples. In this specific instance he is saying that one
can be a great butler only if he works for an employer who
addresses moral issues. 
Mr. Stevens is very interested in trying to decide two
things. Firstly, he wants to know the exact qualities that
make a butler the best at his profession. Not only does he
say what he did in the passage, that the employer must be
moral, but he also focuses on direct aspects of what the
butler does. Examples of this are his emphasis on creating
a good work sheet, and on doing a totally errorless job. 

Mr. Stevens later discusses that, contrary to what was
fashionable at the time, a butler should not have an
opinion on current events. He states that while other
butlers work very hard at learning useless facts, it is
more important to spend that time working on the house.
This is further shown through a story Mr. Stevens tells
where he lets himself be embarrassed in order to maintain
this philosophy. 

He is asked by a drunken guest of Lord Darlington some
questions pertaining to current events. Rather than attempt
to make up an answer, Mr. Stevens instead gets embarrassed
by saying that he doesn't know. This story illustrates that
a truly great butler must know his place in the house and
know that he was not hired because of his political

The next thing that Mr. Stevens is trying to decide comes
as a result of his new American employer. This employer
enjoys engaging in playful bantering, an activity which Mr.
Stevens has never done before. During his road trip he
tries to decide if he should participate in this bantering,
and how he should do this. This is incorporated into the
theme of being a great butler. For while it is not part of
the traditional butler's job description, there is no
reason why bantering should not be included in order to
improve the employer-butler relationship.
The theme of this book is really Mr. Stevens trying to
decide if he succeeded at his job. During this trip, he
goes through various episodes of his life and compares
himself to the people that he considers to be the best
butlers of the time. While he often says that he was
successful in these specific episodes, he never says that
he could be among the ranks of those he calls the greatest
of his time. And until he is able to do this, Mr. Stevens
feels that he must continue to improve himself, which is
why he decides at the end to keep working on bantering and
other new things. 

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