To quote Elmer Fudd, ” There’s something vewwy scwewwy going on awound here.”
While I realize that my reading in spurts of this novel (busy on other stuff like writing and learning web setups) is partly to blame for my lack of ‘getting it’ so far, there’s still an obvious manipulation on Ishiguro’s part of the narrative. While it seems fairly straightforward in a linear timeline, there are the quirks of the interplay between characters that don’t follow normal processing.
It appears that while Mr. Ryder’s confusion about what he’s doing in this hotel, in this city, seems to upon occasion clear up, the dialogue doesn’t jive with the facts as we learn them. For example, he meets an elderly porter at the hotel who talks him into going to see his daughter and grandson and Ryder, upon meeting them, realizes that it is his wife and son. She doesn’t ask why he’s staying in a hotel but leads him on a merry chase through the back alleys of the city until he ends up losing her, going back to the hotel, only he has her child–his son–with him. He proceeds to dump the kid off on his grandfather without any acknowledgement of who he is (and why doesn’t he seem to know his father-in-law anyway?) and goes out to meet with Sophie–his (maybe) wife.
Therefore, I’m strongly of the opinion that Ryder is not a person at all, but a representation of man’s memory or conscience. It seems that the people he meets are those that he has either been in contact with at some point (Sophie, his son, his old schoolmate) or someone who he doesn’t appear to know but who prevails upon him to right a wrong that’s been done in their own childhood or something they’ve done to a child (the hotel manager’s son, the old porter).
There is a theme of childhood emotional abuse and Ryder may be this baggage that these other characters are harboring. Interesting concept. Sort of Jacob Marley-esque.