The following passage reveals the cracks and gaps of Stevens' previous idealistic beliefs about the nobility and the fundamental role that Lord Darlington played in his life.
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 have 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 if 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 (201).
In this passage Stevens admits to his employer's foolishness, and he also recognizes that by putting his own interests, indeed his whole existence, in the hands of Lord Darlington, he had made his life a waste. He believed that it was his duty to let his social betters make decisions for him because they had a greater ability to do so. By giving up any political responsibilty for his actions, Mr. Stevens does not define himself outside of his subordinate relation to Lord Darlington; he is himself colonized.
Engulfed by the system of hierarchy, Stevens believed that his sole responsibility was to "inhabit" the role of a butler, whose service he considered proper and above all, dignified. The concept of dignity ruled his life to such an extent that Stevens repressed all of his emotions. Any display of feeling he considered a sign of political disempowerment and weakness. Paradoxically, the very system of hierarchy that gives him a sense of self-worth also dehumanizes him. He has paid a heavy price to hegemony; he has denied his family, his sexuality, and his self.
Ishiguro shows us the political implications and human sacrifice, in what at first seems to be a harmless account of a butler's life. The inconsistencies of Mr. Stevens' theories about dignity, loyalty, and servitude reveal the emptiness of hierarchy and as a consequence, the emptiness of his life. Accordingly, when Stevens starts to deconstruct and question the ideals which previously formed the basis of his life, does the symbol of the Victorian era collapse. The awakening to the meaning of his life allows Stevens to receive some retribution for his suffering, although the traces of colonialism and imperialism can not, for Stevens nor for the Egyptians, be fully erased.