This was an essay I wrote for a Dystopian Literature course while earning my MFA. The concept of cloning has always fascinated me, but within the framework of feminism and the overreach of government control (for better or worse), I truly enjoyed researching the subject of the cloned body in Utopian and Dystopian literature we read for class.

Original submission date: December 19, 2016

The Cloned Body in Utopian and Dystopian Literature

In a world where governments continue to grow in both power and size, the body of a citizen of a state is subject to the powers that maintain their society. In societies where governments lead to the creation of a need-based relation with its constituents’ bodies, this is a crucial element to the success of their society’s security and stability. However, in the course of this goal of maintaining order, individuals become fodder, and this can be seen with great clarity in the works of fiction. Across utopias, dystopias and apocalyptic fiction, the need to use the body of the citizen as a way to preserve the stability of that society often removes the sense of identity and self of the individual. One method of conversation used across the genres of utopias, dystopias and apocalypses is the topic of clones, or the cloned body. In some ways the ultimate inhuman figure and the ultimate figure of Michel Foucault’s theories on biopower in action, the clones of Herland compared to the clones of Never Let Me Go and Cloud Atlas are very different. Yet, at the core of each of the societies featured in each novel, the manipulation of the bodies—including their physical form, their language and their sexualities—of the cloned citizens is both key to the stability of society as well as how the society retains the clones’ loyalties. The body becomes a commodity, produced by the state for the state, and a sense of humanity is lost in the unequal exchange.

In a series of lectures titled, “Security, Territory and Population,” Foucault addressed the specifics of what he called governmentality, or the process by which a government exercises power over the body of it’s populace. He concluded that after the state became “administrative” after the fall of feudalism, it became more “governmentalized” (220). In place a feudal lord, we had governments that were “formed by the institutions, procedures, analyses and reflections, the calculations and tactics that allow the exercise of this very specific albeit complex form of power,” over a population (Essential 219-220). The concept of population proves to be important for Foucault’s theories, as “population comes to appear above all else as the ultimate end of government” (216) because in this new governmentality state, “government has as its purpose not the act of government itself, but the welfare of the population, the improvement of its condition, the increase of its wealth, longevity, health, and so on” (216-217). This increased specialization and responsibilities, according to Foucault, have shifted the powers of government to great impact the individual body of those living under that government’s control.

Also addressed by Foucault is the concept of “biopower.” Foucault described it a mechanism of government “through which the basic biological features of the human species became the object of a political strategy, of a general strategy of power” (Security 16). Since the advent of modern government, according to Foucault, the body has become an object of control for the government to ensure the security and stability of a population. Foucault’s theories on governmentality express the notion that governments can and will choose to control the bodies of their constituents. While one can argue the benefits of universal health care or mandatory vaccinations as required by law, the obvious negative responses to government intervening into the bodily concerns of its people can be found. They can be even more easily spotted within the utopian, dystopian, and apocalyptic (UDA) fiction genres, particularly within the utopian and dystopian genres, where the concepts of government control typically grow to extreme measures, particularly when concerned with the body of the constituent.

Foucault also calls forth the concept of the milieu, or the space that the body makes up, as being connected to this issue of biopower and governmentality (Security 35). He explains that the milieu is “a field of intervention,” especially on a large scale like that of a population, that exterior forces can attempt to manipulate (36-37). The government, he argues, controls and can alter the milieu of the citizen. It comes to treat the body “as a machine” concerning discipline and function, particularly in terms of life related measures, such as reproduction or health (The History of Sexuality 139). This is related to the body of the worker, which the philosophy of Karl Marx is more concerned with (Marx 66-67), which unsurprisingly is synonymous with the body of the citizen in UDA societies. For the citizens of utopian or dystopian governments, they are part of the system that keeps the government or country afloat. Their bodies are the cogs in a larger machine. While Marx criticized the enforced laborer’s loss of self to the need of the machine, for UDA fiction, the very body of the citizen becomes the machine. The identity of the citizen is lost to the plural “we” of this fictionalized government.

None is more obviously commodified or pluralized than the body of the cloned human in UDA fiction. “A clone,” Jimena Escudero Perez writes, “is an identical individual, one hundred percent human, who is nevertheless viewed as a subversion of the self” (5). Utilized primarily as tools to preserve the state, the clone becomes a symbol of the utilization and commodification of the citizen by government, for the sustainment government. In some ways the clone has become the ultimate representation of the Other in UDA literature, as they stand in for oppressed minority groups in varying shapes due to their ability to appear human and yet still incur revulsion unlike any other group in real life. There is no race no gender or national lines that divide the clone from the original, just the arbitrary ruling that one is a copy and the other the original. The clone stands as a representation of this oppressed minority class, be it of racial or commercial difference, as the government inflicts its will upon their bodies.

Cloning is a “monstrous parody of the mirror stage,” as for the clone, there is a lack of “image into which the subject can project itself” (Marks 342). The mirror stage as developed by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is a “phase of self-recognition and separation” when one sees the self in the mirror (344). For the clone, according to John Marks, they cannot enter this stage as they are unable to separate from their progenitors (344). In her paper addressing the natality of clones in fiction, Jervis discusses how a clone’s “society’s insistence that they have no right to belong to, or act on, the common human world” prevents them from ever truly achieving that mirror stage (Jervis 201). Clones play “a crucial role in articulating (post)humanity through fiction” (Perez 20), an action that Marks correctly points out as the only way we can truly discuss the concept of cloning, given it’s illegal status in our world (Marks 332). This discussion of this inhuman other and the forces of biopower meet in surprising ways, even in the utopian landscape of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland. To begin, this paper will look at the physical constraints governments place upon the cloned body for each novel selection. Then, focus will turn to how more invasive control over language and sexuality also impact each cloned population.


While far more prevalent in the dystopian literature field, the manipulation and commodification of the clones of the utopian Herland provide an example of “positive” clone usage. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland is a feminist utopia where the citizens of Herland are all women and all, through the act of parthenogenesis, biologically clones of the mother before them. Perez, in her paper that addresses the sense of “evilness” that comes with the science of cloning of human beings in fiction, states that “in most clone narratives there is no tension or rivalry between the original and the clone(s)” because they “are simply unaware of each other’s existence” (6). This is not true of Herland, where their entire society is built upon the cloned citizens, as all are part of this cloned citizenship. The irony of Herland is that unlike many of the dystopian versions of cloning and the subjugation of the cloned population, Herland is entirely dependent upon the clones existence, for every member of their group is a clone. There is no revulsion of the human versus the non-human, and instead this would in effect become a clone utopia, as the clones are seen as both natural and a result of nature. It was through a natural development of parthenogenesis that the population of Herland was able to survive. This is in direct contrast to much of a clone imagery that comes from both fiction and reality, where the clone is uncanny and unnatural.

Yet, as Lynne Evans examines in her paper discussing the feminist flaws of Gilman’s novel, there are certainly dystopian threads throughout the foundations of Herland and its cloned population. There are some of these tensions that Perez described present in the fact that the women of Herland are all expected to be Mothers, and mothers that fit the requirements decided upon by their leadership. Marks, in a thorough discussion of the implications of the real dangers of cloning, states: “We should never, it is claimed, treat a human being exclusively as a means, but rather as an end itself” (339). This is what the utopian governing body of Herland does by stressing the need of each citizen to be part of a reproductive machine. As one leader states to the narrator, the “children in this country are the one center and focus of all our thoughts. Every step of our advance is always considered in effect on them—on the race” (Herland 67).

Consumption plays a large role in clone narratives and the bodies of the Herlandians are indeed part of a consuming system that makes up their society’s sense of governance. While technically a socialist endeavor, the governing system in place in Herland is entirely focused on the bringing forth of the child. Motherhood is essentially the consuming of the mother’s body to feed, teach and raise, the child. Evans points out that even while glorifying the possibility of every woman of Herland as capable of bearing a child miraculously through parthenogenesis, not every woman is “fit” (Herland 57) and will be denied the chance to raise a child even if they choose to have one (Evans 10). In a society such as theirs where identity is solely wrapped up in being a Mother, this kind of authoritarian control can sever an “unworthy” woman from her own sense of self. Following Foucault’s theories on biopower, this type of control is meant to protect their race and society against extinction, an act of security as well as perseverance, but it is at the same time a form of control that takes the body’s milieu and places it into the position of an object to maintain and enforce.

Never Let Me Go

Comparatively to other works in dystopian literature, Herland is a positive example of biopower influencing the lives of cloned humans, regardless of its imperfections. Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go (NLMG) takes the implications of the state exercising total control over the bodies of its cloned population in a very different direction. In the most literal sense, the body of the cloned human in the novel becomes something to be consumed. “Their bodies,” Lauren Jervis states, “are appropriated by others and disposed of at will” (9) The others in this case are the normal humans and inevitably the state that runs the donation program. In their alternative 1990s England, the cloned humans of NLMG are obligated to donate four of their internal organs to the human population when called upon, before eventually “completing.” Narrated by Kathy H., a cloned student of the highly regarded school, Hailsham, the novel explores the cloned existence in a more personal fashion than Herland. The students are complex and driven by passions and desires, like any other children and eventually young adult might, even as the true purpose of their existence—organ donation—is slowly revealed to the reader.

Consumption of their bodies is again very literal: Hailsham students and other clones from other schools around the country are cogs in a medical machine that keeps the rest of the population healthy. Kathy’s story is directed to another donor during her role as a carer, or a clone who takes care of clones currently going through their four different organ donations. Kathy tells her story, one of a young girl growing up in a boarding school designed around the care and education of future donors. She and her two close friends, Ruth and Tommy, grow up accepting their fates, all the way through Ruth’s eventual death, or “completion.” After hearing about a possible way to defer—not permanently avoid—their donations by demonstrating that they have fallen in love, Tommy and Kathy go to find the former headmistress of Hailsham. They are disappointed by Miss Emily’s dismissal of this deferment as mere rumor. Their fates are sealed and Kathy, against perhaps the reader’s own sense of betrayal, accepts it.

Humanity “has always been fascinated by” the “replicas of the self.” (Perez 5), but Kathy’s narration slowly shows that the clones are instead fascinated by their “possibles” (NLMG 139), or the genetic progenitors from whom they were cloned. The cloned children grow up with a parent, without a sense of racial or ethnic identity, and they only know each other and their school environment as normal. Considering that “because identity can only be defined in terms of opposition,” the clones’ lack of ability to confront their possibles and more specifically their origins limits their ability to conceive an identity outside that of the donor (Perez 15). When confronted by Miss Lucy, a Guardian at the school, for expressing desires of lives outside that of their prescribed fates as donors, they are told that their “lives are set out for” them (NLMG 81). Perez states that this exemplifies “the profound discomfort” the clones have toward the opposing “humane hopes” of a future and the reality of their “inhuman fate and purpose” (Perez 12).

The clones of NLMG exhibit a bizarre resistance to identifying the true horror of their fate as organ donors, almost to the point of seeming inhuman in their indifference. Marks points out that “fictional clones have projected an aura of otherness” and “deficient uniformity” that exaggerates a sense of the uncanny (Marks 333). The uncanny in NLMG comes from the sheer banality of Kathy’s interpretation of the clones’ fate. While it is implied that the clones are genetically modified beyond just reproductive limits (NLMG 72-73), Kathy’s subjective indifference to their fate is perhaps more disturbing than the actual cloned body. This indifference, a sign of government’s success in its production of cooperative bodies, creates the inhumanness of the clones at the same time as it evokes human empathy for their plight. Marks calls the clone’s life “engineered humanity” (Marks 333-334), which seems to be true of Kathy and her fellow donors. Cloning “‘commodifies’ the human” (Marks 346) by making it something you can break down into parts, like pieces of a machine or recipe. Following Kathy’s indifference to her fate, it does appear that the clones own sense of self-preservation has too been broken down into something inhuman. As Perez points out, part of what makes NLMG shocking is “the conformism of the victims” and the contextual assembly” of Kathy’s narrative (8).

It may also be true that the environment of Hailsham and the other schools that other cloned students across England attend may have a greater role in manipulating the students. Political theorist Hannah Arendt’s principle of natality, where the contingency of birth is a foundational event for the existential liberty of the individual, could explain their behavior through a stark lack of parental and “natal” influence in their early lives (Jervis 191). Jervis writes that “Unconsciously, or at least intuitively, Hailsham students experience some kind of lack from not having a natal relation of any kind” (198). “The students do spend time imagining possible “dream futures” they could have” (200), but they never act on their desires or hypothetical chance of a normal life. Jervis’ final assessment that the clones react indifferently to their world and their unfair deaths could be a direct cause of their realization that “they have no claim on society” (201).

In NLMG, there is a strong emphasis on creation as evidence of the soul, as through their artwork the students submit evidence of their humanity to their overseers. However, Jervis points out that “rather than conferring humanity upon the students…this value placed upon artworks has the effect of reinforcing the hold that the ultimately inhuman system Hailsham and its complicity with the programme of ‘donations’ has over the students” (349). Miss Emily, the former headmistress of Hailsham, reveals that their attempt to prove such humanity in their students failed and the school was shut down. The students who once lived there were perhaps the last of their kind to be seen as something remotely human; the conditions in the future for the next generations would not be as kind (NLMG 265).

This is part due to the fear and distrust normal humans have toward these ‘uncanny’ inhumans. Miss Emily admits that even the Guardians feared the cloned children, even as they raised them (NLMG 269). While looking for their possibles, Ruth is harshly critical of their origins, stating they came from the “trash” of society. This is “alienating” according to Jervis, since it pushes the students away from normal humans and it is “reinforced by the repulsion normal humans have for the clone children” (201). Kathy’s realization of outsiders fearing her and other clones brings her a startling revelation about herself. “It’s like walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange” (NLMG 36). What is trouble and strange to Kathy is not so much that someone might fear her, but perhaps the realization that there is something to fear after all.

Cloud Atlas

For other types of clone literature, some make even the donation system of NLMG seem humane. While the clones of Cloud Atlas only appear in person in the fifth and seventh chapters of the novel, the Orison of Sonmi~451 shows us a world on the brink of apocalypse and balancing the unequal classes of purebloods versus fabricants, or the clones on which their society runs. The apocalypse is nearly upon them—with radioactive deadlands encroaching them apparently on all sides from nuclear war—and yet the people of Nea So Copros enjoy lives of excess where monthly spending quotas are mandatory for their hyper-capitalist society. To support these excesses exist the fabricant class of humans,who are seen more as animals rather than human by the so-called purebloods who lord over them. Luke Hortle addresses the sheer amount of mass commodification and death that afflicts the cognitively limited and abused fabricant class. The society, Luke Hortle writes, “sustains itself through the human’s institutionalized exploitation and consumption of disabled posthuman bodies” (260).

The extreme commodification of the body of the clone in Cloud Atlas makes Hailsham seem merciful in comparison in many ways. While consumption of the clone plays a role in each of these narratives, Sonmi~451 and her kin were literal food for the masses, food that they themselves served and consumed. Clones are created in labs, put into workforce positions such as the diner that Sonmi~451 worked and lived at, and then eventually reharvested to produce food Sonmi~451 serves the purebloods and herself. Their intelligence is dimmed with drugs and they are seen as inferior in almost all ways. Drawing from Foucaultan concepts of biopower, Hortle points out that “…the construction of fabricants as biopolitical capital draws upon their ontological proximity to both the human and the nonhuman” (260). They are neither animal nor human; they are products and producers, but never the “consumer” (Cloud Atlas 188) like the purebloods. Marks states that cloned humans “would inevitably become the victim of discrimination” (340), but the disappearance of human nature that accompanies the clones of Nea So Copros is startlingly obvious and insidious.

There is more push back by the clones in Cloud Atlas, however, than there is in NLMG. Sonmi~451 joins what she believes is a political movement after she witnessing an increasing amount of terrors inflicted upon the fabricants, including the “slaughterships” (Cloud Atlas 363) that the fabricants had believed would take them to a lovely retirement. Her efforts to remedy their plights while experiencing her increasing “ascension” (221), or elevated intelligence, are ultimately betrayed by the state that had orchestrated the whole rebellion to further isolate and vilify the fabricants, cementing their imprisonment as part of the biopolitical system. Hortle aptly points out that despite the humanizing effect of having a cloned narrator, such as with Kathy in NLMG or Sonmi~451, their “elevation from less-than-human worker to knowledgeable narrator within the humanist form of the novel” cannot “save either woman” (Hortle 259).

From the outside of the clones, all three novels can be seen as utopian for normal humans. The consent of the Herlandians is a given, but the people of England and the people of Nea So Copros are content with their gifts from the enslaved clones, because from their perspective, there is no immoral act occurring. While one person’s version of utopia can be another’s dystopia, the division of clonehood on the clones versus human citizens is vivid. In Cloud Atlas, the clones are quite literally fodder for the machine of society, fuel to keep things moving in Nea So Copros, with no benefits extended back to the clones. Yet in his extensive interview with Sonmi~451, the Archivist is shocked to hear her state that the clones were slaves, as if the thought never crossed his mind that the clones were human enough to be slaves (Cloud Atlas 201). The clones are mechanized; they are objects. When clones enact human qualities—Sonmi’s sense of self, Kathy’s sad song and dance that Madame observed—it deeply disturbs that image of the object for the human observer.

Ultimately, all three novels explore differing scenarios that could affect the cloned human, but the governmental forces remain mostly the same. As Foucault described in his lectures, government remains focused on maintaining order within the milieu of the citizen, and in these specific novels, the milieu of the clone is not just physically contained. The methods of enslavement are totaled with the inclusions of control over discourse and the sexualities of the cloned humans, in ways that unify their very different examinations of clones.


Language is highly regulated in clone narratives, as “a sense of solidarity” that Evans notes, is a method of preventing dissent (10). Evans points out Foucault’s commentary that “Discourse…is a mechanism of power through which society implements control of its subjects” (Evans 11). Within the framework of clone narratives, the cloned humans often face restrictions in their forms of speech or even outright manipulation of their cognitive abilities. In Herland, “the language itself, they had deliberately clarified, simplified…for the sake of the children” (Herland 87). This sort of dynamic shift of focus in language is reflected in every other element of their society, where the child is the center and the woman the producer of the child. While the motivations here were to foster the best environment possible for the children in their care, the heavily skewed emphasis of the child over the mother makes this alteration of language one more aspect of government interfering with the development of its people as a means to an end.

The question comes down to, what is the intention of this manipulation of language? What was the “end” that the original founders of their female-only society intended to make? Evans looks at how Herlandians do not have a sense of eternity, nor a desire to “go on” in any other way but through the body of her child, which is startling to Van, who sees eternal life as a goal as a Christian (Herland 99). Evans addresses this as a result of the women seeing themselves “as a collective” that represses individual desires and fears in favor of the interests of the children (Evans 8). They rid themselves of things that don’t serve their purposes—large animals like horses that “took up too much space” (Herland 41), male slaves who attempted to take over, and the very language they speak, only to further their singular goal. The process of this becomes repeated with each generation, never changing, not even their way of speech.

This kind of repetition of action as a way to solidify normalcy of the cloned existence is an important motif of the clone in literature. Existence in Herland is mandated by the repetition of a single action, specifically motherhood, and this act of repeating this kind of cycle is found in other clone narratives. In NLMG, the actions of the cloned children often become repetitive, or cloned actions, of the creation and sharing of artwork, as well as symbolically in Tommy’s artwork. As noted by Shameem Black, Tommy’s drawings of tiny mechanical animals represent a “soullessness” that is truer to his inhuman nature than that of the “soulful” and standard art that Hailsham encouraged (Black 801). This is exemplified even more obviously in Sonmi-451’s story, where fabricants clock in and out of work with no changes or alterations. The cloned body is part of a greater machine in these narratives, churned out as needed and never wasteful, as perfected objects of use by the government. It is interesting to note that the repetition of lives, presumably reincarnation, in Cloud Atlas seems to mirror to a certain extent the repetition of the clone life in Sonmi~451’s story.

In NLMG, we see shifts of discourse that attempt to lessen the shock of the clones’ fates, such as the use of “completed” instead of calling it death (NLMG 101). Through the usage of these euphemisms, even the most natural of human actions is otherized and wrested from their control. As Jervis points out, following the theories of natality, “A proper education—one that introduces children to the world they live in while protecting them from the dangers of political exposure to that very world—is an important part of helping nurture children’s future ability to bring their natality to bear on the renewal of the public realm” (204). The students are arguably cared for, perhaps better at Hailsham than other places, as Kathy slowly realizes from conversations with other clones from other schools. This care does not make up for the lack of familial contact they will never possess. Their education is also primarily focused on the aesthetics of art: they produce multitudes of artwork throughout their lives at Hailsham, unknowingly fulfilling the school’s goal of trying to prove they indeed had souls.

One of their Guardians, Miss Lucy, attempts to get through to the students that they “have been told and not told” (81) about their fates, mostly out of presumed frustration of their seeming inability to realize they had to futures outside of donations. Her phrasing of “you’ve been told and not told” is perhaps the clearest example of the condition of the discourse pertaining to cloning in their world. The world around them, specifically the normal humans who will be receiving their organs someday, seem utterly removed from the clones’ lives, and the same can be said in reverse. Isolated and given nothing but the state of clonehood as their identity, the clones have no choice but to embrace the euphemisms of donations, carers, and completion, instead of being permitted to recognize the tragedy of forced organ removal and state sanctioned death. At their school during the art exchanges, the word exchange creates for them the illusion of choice and equal exchange. There is no equal exchange, Black points out, because the students can only “be killed but not sacrificed,” slaughtered but never murdered (789). All the while, they are raised with the language of fairness and of a purpose, something that children without proper natality or identity could only hope to be given.

In Sonmi~451’s story, language is further controlled through drugs and limited social interaction for the fabricants in Sonmi~451’s diner and presumably elsewhere. The literal dumbing down and evisceration of linguistic abilities is an extreme example of controlling discourse. Sonmi~451’s friend, Yoona-939, starts to “ascend” or regain consciousness, and Sonmi~451 recalls being confused by the other fabricant’s new words (Cloud Atlas 200). As Sonmi~451 develops during her own ascension, she too finds ways of hiding her growing intelligence but still tries to use language in new ways and is disheartened when her fellow clones fail to respond (Cloud Atlas 245). Words are literally withheld and the fabricants are told that they only need the ones that they are given. Sonmi~451 later witnesses a fabricant child being thrown to her death, who can only scream, with no protests permitted to her, for the benefit of those who discard her (Cloud Atlas 351). It is entirely dehumanizing and a subjugating feature of controlling discourse. This government control over language, in varying shades of simplicity and horror, further places the clone into the position of Other.

Reproductive futurism of clones

The body’s sexuality is also specifically controlled through biopolitical measures. Foucault addresses the intersecting milieu of the individual body and the population of a society in many ways, but he points out that sex “became a crucial target of a power organized around the management of life rather than the menace of death” (The History of Sexuality 147). Among Foucault’s theories on the government regulation of the body of the citizen and its bodily processes is the control over sexuality in his lectures on The History of Sexuality. Foucault discusses the element of blood as a symbolic and sometimes literal element of control that early societies used, such as through warfare, to dominate a population. Slowly, especially through the usage of eugenics the earliest forms of racism in the sense of biology as well as forms of sexuality, the concept of blood as identity began to take shape (History of Sexuality 149). Because of these things, Foucault says, “for the first time in history…biological existence was reflected in political existence” (142). Eugenics plays a large role in the formation of clone narratives, as well as the idea of real clonehood, in the sense that humanity is artificially created. Foucault argues that the deployment of sex “mechanisms of power” are connected to the body and our very species, which is used by the government to control the population (147).

For Herlandians, this means reproduction of the next generation. As Evans points out in her critique of Herland as a feminist utopia, there is not so much a freeform or liberal take on sexuality in the female-only colony, as much as there is a lack of sexuality at all. “You see, we are Mothers, and we are People, but we have not specialized in this line,” meaning sexual intercourse (Herland 108). Evans points out that the women of Herland have no sexual desires (3). They still wind up experimenting with the coupling of three of their women with three of the outside males, having decided that they wish to return to a bisexual existence. While this may undermine part of Gilman’s feminist intentions from a modern frame of mind, it also maintains the usage of motherhood as a function. The new couplings of man and woman aren’t made out of initial independent desire. The two sides are brought together because the Herlandians want to return their reproductive futures to what had been before. Their goal, in the end, was always for the new child yet to be. The repeating cycle of giving up the body of the mother for the child continues, with or without the cloning process. In some sense, this is liberating the clones of Herland, but the people, who are made up entirely of clones at this turning point, are still subjected to the same obligations.

The alienation of sex found in Herland differs from NLMG, where there is a high level of sexual activity among the students, during and after their time at Hailsham, even to the point where Kathy worries there is something wrong with her (NLMG 128). The clones of NLMG do not have the same milieu of sexuality as the women of Herland, as their “management of life” is focused on the sustained life of others via the milieu of the clones’ literal bodies. Instead of reproducing life, they extend the life of another. Their sexuality is policed only in the restriction of reproduction, removing it as a possibility. Partners are exchanged and sex among students is ignored for the most part by the Guardians, as the clones could not reproduce anyway.

The clones’ sexual milieu of Sonmi~451’s world are even more restricted in the sense that their preoccupation is not with reproduction or even sex as a concept. Sonmi~451, as she ascends, seems to drift toward heterosexuality in response to stimuli around her. When Sonmi-451 begins her own sexual relationship with Hae-Joo Im, it is almost a compulsion to remove herself from the mass slaughter they had just witnessed of other fabricants (362). Sexual intercourse—heterosexual intercourse specifically—for the fabricant gives her “human value.” In similar ways, NLMG’s clones “believe being in love will stave their deaths” (Hortle 263).

All of this comes back to the fact that reproduction for clones is strictly controlled by the state—and for NLMG and Cloud Atlas, there is no reproductive future. As Hortle examined for the case of reproductive futurism found in Cloud Atlas and specifically Sonmi~451’s story, the posthuman body, “As killable and non-reproductive,…attracts a desire with no future” (262). There is no future for that of the clones of NLMG or Cloud Atlas, but opposite of this, reproduction is the only future for the women of Herland. Evans also points out that the cloned mothers of Herland recognize their self-perpetuating existence is an aberration: “We have always thought it as a grave initial misfortune to have lost half of our little world” (Herland 66). Unlike the clones of Herland, however, there is a permanent loss of that “little world” of heterosexual reproduction for the clones of NLMG and Cloud Atlas. The clones of these worlds cannot replicate anything beyond what repeating patterns they are already capable of making: either female daughters, the literal extraction of parts of their bodies, or the entirety of their body and soul to feed the masses.


Otherizing a group protects a majority and a government with access to a population of humans that can be denied personhood is an opportunity to create the ultimate Other. As Perez explored, the clones is not a doppelganger (5), or a phantom of the self. A clone is real and exists in real space, occupying a presence before the original. It is this uncanny presence that causes the greatest divide between the original and the clone in these science-fiction narratives. To a certain extent, as fellow humans, the male outsiders presented itself as the “real” humanity that the Herlandians had forsaken to survive. Their “bisexuality” stood at odds with the reality of a world without a need for it. The realness of the clones of Hailsham facing the weary Guardians of the school unsettled the teachers, even as they did their best to protect the students from the harshness of a world that was repulsed by them. The humanness of Sonmi~451 as she developed greatly disturbed the humans around her; the very nature of her “ascension” was orchestrated by the government to cause even more distrust and hatred toward clones.

Of all the methods of control used by governments to both protect and maintain society, control over the body remains constant since the origination of the sense of government. By examining these levels of control over the body of the clone in literature, we can see that the complexity of control is not just limited to expecting the fulfilment of a single duty. The body of the clone is an extreme example of the commodification of the human. Even in the scope of a utopia, or the more harrowing forces of dystopian government, the cloned body is a clear example of what happens when the milieu of a person is treated as property rather than an individual.  

As Perez stated, clones in literature are “labeled ‘less than human’” and this “implies the possession of certain humanness, yet, insufficient to enjoy the privilege ‘human’ denotes” (17). This plays a major role in the subjugation of the cloned class in NLMG and Cloud Atlas, but even in the peaceful Herland, the cloned body is never owned by the person within it. There are expectations that will never leave the cloned body, that they are born into without hope of stepping away from. Their humanness, their right to selfhood, becomes lost to the process of governing either themselves or being governed by those above.

What drives a response from the reader who has never experienced clonehood or a cloned person in reality to feel empathy for these clones is the fact that they are both uncanny and yet familiar. As Marks puts it, the clones “remind us of both the pervasive instrumentalization of much of human life,” and at the end of the day, we too “are composed of ‘inhuman’ mechanisms that can be abstracted—and even extracted—from our bodies” (Marks 350). We are not different from the bodies we read and sympathize with on the pages of these novels, because within their struggles to find evidence of their humanity, we are reminded of our own struggle to maintain our own.

Works Cited

Black, Shameem. “Ishiguro’s Inhuman Aesthetics.” MFS Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 55 no. 4, 2009, pp. 785-807. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/mfs.0.1637.

Evans, Lynne. “‘You See, Children Were The—The Raison D’Être’: The Reproductive Futurism Of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland.” Canadian Review Of American Studies 2 (2014): 302. Project MUSE. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.

Foucault, Michel. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1977-78. BASE, pp. 1-23. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.

Foucault, Michel, and Paul Rabinow. The Essential Works of Michel Foucault, 1954-1984: Vol. 3. London: Penguin, 2002. Print.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Herland. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1998. Print.

Hortle, Luke. “David Mitchell’S Cloud Atlas And The Queer Posthuman.” LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 27.4 (2016): 253-274. Academic Search Premier. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. New York: Vintage International, 2006. Print.

Jervis, L. “Childhood in Action: A Study of Natality’s Relationship to Societal Change in Never Let Me Go.” ESC: English Studies in Canada, vol. 38 no. 3, 2012, pp. 189-205. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/esc.2013.0012.

Jimena Escudero, Pérez. “Sympathy For The Clone: (Post)Human Identities Enhanced By The ‘Evil Science’ Construct And Its Commodifying Practices In Contemporary Clone Fiction.” (2014): BASE. Web. 9 Nov. 2016.

Marks, John. “Clone Stories: ‘Shallow Are The Souls That Have Forgotten How To Shudder’.” Paragraph: A Journal Of Modern Critical Theory 33.3 (2010): 331-353. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

Marx, Karl. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. New York: International Publishers, 1964, pp. 67-68. Print.

Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas: A Novel. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2012. Print.

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