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The Remains of the Day

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

"How can one possibly be held to blame in any sense because, say, the passage of time has shown that Lord Darlington's efforts were misguided, even foolish? Throughout the years I served him, it was he and he alone who weighed up evidence and judged it best to proceed in the way he did, while I simply confined myself, quite properly, to affairs within my own professional realm. And as far as I am concerned, I carried out my duties to the best of my abilities, indeed to a standard which many may consider 'first-rate.' It is hardly my fault is his lordship's life and work have turned out today to look, at best, a sad waste-and it is quite illogical that I should feel any regret or shame on my own account."

This passage, taken from the very end of the "Day Three—Evening / Moscombe, Near Tavistock, Devon" section, demonstrates Stevens's inner doubts about whether or not he has acted nobly, or with dignity, by unquestioningly accepting all of Lord Darlington's decisions. Stevens is trying to justify his actions not only to us, but to himself. If he were to admit that he was not actually serving someone with exemplary moral stature, he would have to admit that he made a mistake in whom he chose to trust and serve for so long and with such diligence. Though Stevens fears he has been mistaken, for solace, he clings to the fact that he did his work well. The entire narrative, in a sense, is a re-examination of his life, and at the end of the story, he admits to feeling both shame and regret.