The remains of the Day is the story of the journey of a man into the past of a motoring trip to the English countryside. First person perspective is used to tell the story. Narration of the story is in the form of a diary by Steven who is an English butler. The story begins at Darlington hall on July 1956, Steven have worked here for 34 years now. An American businessperson named as Mr. Farraday have owned the place. After the demise of Lord Darlington who was the previous owner of the property, Farraday purchased the property.
Steven was facing difficulties working under the new employer. He was persistently conscious about him being a butler as well. Although Steven liked Mr. Farraday, he was not very accustomed to the relaxed and more familiar manner. To be precise the fondness for joking of Mr. Farraday was the big concern for Steven and he considered it to be a kind of bantering. However, in order to impress the employer Steven throughout the novel repeats his desire beef up his bantering skills.
For taking, a driving holiday Steven was invited by Farraday one afternoon. Farraday offers his Ford to Steven to drive. Steven after receiving a letter from the former housekeeper of the hall Miss Kenton accepts the offer. Miss Kenton left the work at hall 20 years ago for her marriage. The nostalgic tone of her letter indicated that she wishes for returning to the Darlington Hall. Steven then decides to use his trip to pay a visit to her and find out if it was the case. At present, the number of staff at the hall is limited to four people and there are some small errors at the hall. Miss Kenton for the reason of her professionalism and affection towards the hall really wants to handle and remove these problems. The butler also feels that there may be some personal issues as well. He also especially draw conclusion from the letter that her married life is also falling apart.
Steven sets of from the hall with a road atlas, which named as “The Wonder of England”. He is recording his thoughts in his diary for the next six days. Whilst his trip interweaving the events Steven remembers the memories from the past of Darlington hall as a hub for great international affairs. Steven served Lord Darlington identifying him as man having deep sense of moral duty, throughout the glorified days of the hall from 1920s to 1930s. Steven recalls the events between World War 1 and 2. By serving this noble man, Steven repeatedly suggested that he was serving humanity.
The relationship with Lord Darlington was sketched out in the stories of Steven, it illustrated the evolution of his and Lord’s involving into political affairs as well. Eventually a scenario of secret meetings, elaborate dinners and political intrigue frequent visits of influential and powerful people, which were off the records. It eventually became vivid that Lord synthesized with the Nazis and in the diplomatic game of the Hitler to influence British government he was his pawn. Steven loyalty for Lord Darlington was still in place and he continued to believe Darlington was not a rogue personality at all. Although the trust in bond among them was lost.
Along with this memories Steven was also entwined in the memories with his father named William. His father worked at the hall during his declining years. He served as a head butler once, but now in his 70s the best position he can occupy at the hall is of under-butler. His father is revered by Steven and he believes him to be an epitome of greatness in butler. However, the communication between the two men is rare and the love between them is never really expressed, not until when his father is dying that too in the reserved terms. Both Steven and his father were trapped with the inability to communicate emotions effectively with each other. However, Steven shows a protective nature for his father. With the ageing of his father Steven following to his inability to work, he protects his dignity and protects him from the humiliation of not carrying out his responsibilities. Steven denies his father’s failing ability to serve strictly. Steven was not around when his father was dying but was serving his duty as a butler. Steven added he believed his father would have liked it that way.
Steven have the most guarded relationship with the housekeep Miss Kenton. Miss Kenton joins the hall in the year 1922 the same year his father joined the hall. It was never explicitly stated of the feelings of Steven for Miss Kenton, which deepened in the span of 14 years of service. On his trip, he recalls of the memory of the conversation and the moments of his desire to reach out to Miss Kenton but battles against his individual protective reserve. Steven tries to keep the relationship on professional reserve. Miss Kenton tries to break this barrier but Steven efforts of putting her away intensifies as he suppresses his feelings or her more. This eventually led in Miss Kenton getting married to another man and leaving Steven with a great unacknowledged regret.
The culmination of journey of Steven is bittersweet. He finally meets Miss Kenton now Mrs. Benn and quickly learns that even though she always wondered how life would have been with Steven in the past, she has now grown to love her husband and her daughter. She is even expecting a child. Steven realizes she no longer dwells on the past of what might have been happened otherwise and do not feel interested for returning to Darlington hall as well. The speculation of Steven were not true and he at that moment stated that his heart was breaking. He heads back to the hall after saying goodbye and decides to give up on his past. He decides to enjoy his days remaining at the hall perfecting his bantering skills.
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