Stevens is one of the most beloved characters in modern literature because his emotional arc is so clear. At the beginning of the novel, he is hopeful and anticipatory of a new adventure - one that he hopes will bring him personal fulfillment. By the end, he finds his dream quashed, and limps back to his old life to bear out the 'remains of his day.' Stevens very much owns every cell of Ishiguro's creation. He is the sole narrator and has full domain over every assumption, assertion, and thought. At no point can we question Stevens' veracity or retelling of events because there is no arbiter of truth in the novel, aside from his own recollections and comprehension of his own memories. Indeed, Stevens is so self-aware and clear about his own shortcomings and mistakes that we fully trust his rendition of events. At the same time, we're also clearly aware of Stevens' shortcomings in self-analysis. He is terribly blind to his own repression and inability to let go of work and pursue his own human desire. As the novel progresses, Stevens becomes a prisoner of his own fear, ultimately destroying his chance for true love. By the time he finally comes to terms with his own weaknesses, it is, in fact, far too late.
Miss Kenton is Stevens' object of desire, despite his inability to truly confess it. Miss Kenton, when the novel opens, has long left Darlington Hall. Indeed, the book begins nearly twenty years after her departure, which came before the start of World War II. The book, then, is Stevens' recollection of his time working alongside her as he begins his journey to go meet her. Miss Kenton clearly harbored her own affections for Stevens and tried deeply to get him to admit his affections for her. And yet, Stevens never could. As a result, Miss Kenton ends up marrying a man that she does not even love, it seems. The pivotal moment of her own personal journey comes when she tells Stevens of her engagement, hoping it seems that he might stop her. He doesn't, and as a result, twenty years later, when he arrives at her door, it's too late. She's already committed to a loveless marriage - one that she's grown accustomed to and settled for.
Lord Darlington is Stevens' and Miss Kenton's employer in the years leading up to WOrld War II. Darlington, himself, appears to be a German-sympathizer - specifically a Hitler sympathizer, as he seeks to keep Germany from falling apart in the wake of the Treaty of Versailles. That said, Darlington is a gentle man and treats Stevens and his staff delicately - except for one moment when he does fire two Jewish maids because of his German sympathies. Ultimately, Darlington is considered honorable by Stevens and a man worthy of deep respect.
Stevens' Father (William Stevens)
Stevens' father works at Darlington Hall with Stevens and Miss Kenton up until his death. Stevens' father is even more dutiful and devoted to his profession than Stevens. Indeed, Stevens refers to him as a great butler because of his prodigious skill and commitment. But his relationship with his son suffers greatly because of this devout dedication to work.
Mr. Farraday is an American aristocrat who takes over from Lord Darlington upon his death, and thus becomes Steves' employer. Compared to Lord Darlington, Mr. Farraday is nowhere near as formal -- and teases Stevens at his inability to be more casual and relaxed.
Sir David Cardinal
Sir David Cardinal is a friend of Lord Darlington's who shares his pro-German sympathies. SPecifically, David Cardinal believes that Germany should not have to pay reparations or suffer tremendously as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. He also asks Lord Darlington, who in turn asks Stevens, to teach his son Reginald about the birds and the bees.
Sir Reginald Cardinald
Reginald Cardinal is quite different from his father in that he is anti-fascist and anti-Nazi. Indeed, Sir Cardinal tells Stevens that Lord Darlington is being unduly influenced by his father to take pro-German action and ultimately help prop up the Nazis.
Herr Ribbentrop becomes a close friend to Lord Darlington while serving as the German Ambassador during World War II. He becomes a chief source of propagating Lord Darlington's pro-German sentiments.
Mr. Lewis is an American senator who visits Lord Darlington's convention that aims to lift German penalties for supporting the World War I Axis. In the end, he denounces Lord Darlington as an amateur politician.
Mr. Dupont is a friend of Lord Darlington who attends his seminal 1923 conference to help alleviate the penalties on the Germans post WW1. He arrives with sores on his feet and makes it a point of constantly harassing Stevens for medicine, ultimately leading Stevens to spend more time with him than his dying father.
Herr Breman is another German friend of Lord Darlington's who ultimately kills himself. Lord Darlington uses him as an example of the terrible conditions in post WW1 Germany.
Mr. John Silver
Mr. Silver is Stevens' father's employer before Lord Darlington.
Rosemary and Agnes
Stevens' current staff at Darlington Hall includes Rosemary and Agnes, two young girls.
Mrs. Clements and Mrs. Mortimer
Mrs. Clements is the current cook at Darlington Hall while Mrs. Mortimer worked there during the time of Lord Darlington, Miss Kenton, and Stevens' father.
Lord Halifax is the correspondent to Germany during World War II from Britain, who is also the Foreign Secretary of the country.
Lady Astor convinces Lord Darlington to fire his two Jewish maids because she is pro-Nazi and pro-fascist (and a member of a British fascist sympathizer group.)
Mr. Taylor lives in Moscombe with his wife and takes Stevens in when his car runs aground.
Harry is a friend of the Taylors who has dinner with them the night Stevens arrives. He tells Stevens he is a politician and that it is man's moral duty to speak up when it comes to his opinions.
Ruth and Sarah
Ruth and Sarah are the two Jewish girls that Lord Darlington fires upon the suggestion of Lady Astor. Miss Kenton tells Stevens she will quit if they are indeed fired, but later reneges on her vow.
Lloyd George is the prime minister of England in the years following WW 1, and thus Lord Darlington's efforts on behalf of Germany are meant mainly to convince Mr. George to change England's harsh policies in the wake of the Treaty of Versailles.
Dr. Carlisle meets Stevens at the Taylors and offers to give him a ride back to his car after hearing of Stevens' problems. He also says that he knows Stevens was a servant, and not a dignitary.
Dr. Meredith attends to Stevens' dying father on the pivotal night of Lord Darlington's convention in 1923.
The Remains of the Day Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Remains of the Day is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I believe that Ishiguro is attempting to illustrate the importance if individuals making their own decisions and standing up for themselves. Stevens was never able to do these things because of the stringent rules ivolved in his job and the...
No, I personally could not imagine working in a situation that called for me to be silent, unseen, and also to anticiapte the needs of another. It's hard enough doing this for your children.... and parents are never silent or invisible.