Tag Archives: When we were orphans

When We Were Orphans





Set in the years before, during and after the War. The characters’ lives are entwined with the fate of the city of Shanghai, as the Japanese troops close in.

One of Mr Ishiguro’s main talents is being able to explicitly portray the effects of world events on the lives of individuals. He forces us to think beyond dates, famous politicians, overarching economic significance, and to go down to the level of the commoner, the individual – people with individual thoughts, abilities, motivations and aspirations – the people who live out their lives amidst momentous events as such.

One of the themes which struck me strongly was the theme of change within an individual, childhood, and the preciousness of memories. The things we think we will remember forever, may not always remain clearly etched in our memories. There will come days when we reach for the memories we thought we had placed within easy reach, only to find that they had already faded, shrunk, or worse still, disappeared.

“Perhaps there are those who are able to go about their lives unfettered by such concerns. But for those like us, our fate is to face the world as orphans, chasing through long years the shadows of vanished parents. There is nothing for it but to try and see through our missions to the end, as best as we can, for until we do so, we will be permitted no calm.”