Never Let Me Go

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Never Let Me Go Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One year after the trip to see the boat, Kathy does become Tommy’s carer. Tommy has now had three donations, and his condition is stable, though he is weaker. Kathy begins visiting him regularly in Kingsfield, and the two talk, read together, and even begin having sex—in part because, Kathy thinks, if they are to get a deferral, they’ll need to demonstrate that level of “physical intimacy.” Kathy says the sex with Tommy is good, although there is also a creeping sadness to it, perhaps because Tommy recognizes that, if they had begun having sex before, Tommy would be in better health. Sometimes Tommy comments on his weakness, which makes Kathy sad, and she tries to change the subject to enjoy the time they do have together.
Another extremely sad moment in the novel. The idea that Tommy and Kathy could have been having sex in the prime of their youth is a terrible one to bear, now that Tommy is so physically infirm. This, too, mimics something that “normal” people might experience, if they knew each other in their younger lives but were not able to come together until they were older. In many ways, then, Kathy is not just lamenting her personal situation, but is also upset about the passage of time—the way it has worn on their bodies.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
They generally avoid the subject of speaking to Madame, and one day, Tommy asks Kathy to look again at some of the new animals he’s been drawing. Kathy sees them and experiences a “flood of emotions”—she is grateful that Tommy has decided to share them with her again—but wonders, too, if the new drawings aren’t more “labored” than the previous ones, as though Tommy were trying to impress his audience (namely, Madame) with the idea of his artistic achievement.
Kathy’s perception here is incredibly keen. She notices that Tommy has been doing everything he can to make animals that Madame might like. Of course, Tommy has no idea what Madame desires—nor does he even know if Madame is still accepting art for the Gallery. Nor does he know if the Gallery still exists, or even existed . . . . Whether Tommy's goal is at all achievable is extremely questionable, but the work he put in regardless gives meaning to his life.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
But Kathy insists to the reader that, despite all the emotional complexities of this time, Kathy enjoyed her romance with Tommy. One day, Kathy returns to Kingsfield after a week away—she still has to care for her other donors in other places—and tells Tommy that, because she was near the place listed as Madame’s address, she parked outside Madame’s house and did in fact see Madame going inside. Kathy and Tommy discuss what this means, and they decide to talk to Madame as soon as they can, taking some of the animal pictures with them, to attempt to ask, once and for all, for a romantic deferral.
It turns out that Ruth’s information is correct—meaning that she has truly done Tommy and Kathy a service, allowing them to find a way to talk to Madame in person. Again, it is not clear how Ruth managed to get this information, and Kathy later realizes that, perhaps, it was better Ruth did not survive to go along—since the news Madame and Miss Emily share is so devastating to Tommy and Kathy.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon