Stevens's Flashbacks: A Journey of Doubt
Often, when one realizes a belief or an ideal they have been so ardently following is a farce, one tries to deny this by reliving and glorifying their past, to assert the belief. This can be clearly seen in Ishiguro's novel, The Remains of the Day, through the protagonist Stevens. Stevens believes in an outdated definition of dignity, passed down to him by his father. It stresses professionalism at all times, emotional restraint, and a blind loyalty to his Lord Darlington. However, with the death of Stevens's father, Lord Darlington, and the absence of an old-fashioned staff, he loses those who exemplified dignity and brought out this "quality" in him. He tries to relive the past by telling of his father's death, the firing of the Jewish maids and the death of Miss Kenton's aunt. In order to deny he is losing this once esteemed dignity, Stevens consistently tries to create a security for himself by flashbacks, but in doing so, progressively reveals to the readers feelings of doubt and regret.
Steven's father was the epitome of dignity for Stevens; the one who maintained a detachment from emotions in order to practice servitude and professionalism at all times. Stevens tries to recount various points where he glorifies himself like his father. As Stevens recounts when his father was ill, the elder Stevens had said "I'm proud of you...I hope I've been a good father to you. I suppose I haven't." (p.97) Although Stevens brushes this off with a nonchalant remark, the readers begin to grow a doubt that perhaps Stevens is looking towards the wrong ideals. Stevens's present employer was Mr. Farraday, a man who was genuine and kind indeed, but who did not exemplify the venerable dignity Stevens was...