Never Let Me Go

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Never Let Me Go Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kathy states that, around age 7, for about “nine months,” Ruth encouraged the other girls to believe that there was a kidnapping plot against Miss Geraldine, long considered the nicest of the guardians. Ruth had different theories for who could be “behind” the plot, but the group alternately thought that two other guardians, Miss Eileen and Mr. Rogers, were in charge, and that somehow also the woods surrounding Hailsham were to be the location of the kidnapping. But Kathy also notes that, after a time, the other girls seemed all to realize that the “fantasy” was of Ruth’s own doing—the girls simply liked being together, and “tried to keep the fantasy going as long as possible.”
Some of the students’ games seem to point to a darker, more violent environment surrounding them. Here, the idea that someone wants to “kidnap” Miss Geraldine appears innocent enough, at first, but in fact taps into some of the students’ basic fears about their world. The woods around the school, for example, are a prime place for worry—and here, as above, the students recognize that the world outside Hailsham is not a kind one, and that, perhaps, their lives are more contained, or at least more “regimented,” than those of other people.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
Kathy uses another example to illustrate Ruth’s willingness to persist in fantasy. Ruth always pretended to the other girls that she was a whiz at chess, and so, when Kathy saved up tokens to buy a chess set, she thought Ruth could teach her the game. but when the two sat down to play—after Ruth putting of their meeting for some time—it became clear that Ruth didn’t know the rules, and that she had been lying about her chess knowledge. Kathy got up and left Ruth after this, making Ruth angry, and Kathy later found that she had been kicked out of Miss Geraldine’s “secret guard” by Ruth.
Ruth’s tendency toward pretense—the fact that she often claims to know about things she does not, in fact, know—can lead the group into trouble. Later on, for example, in Norfolk, Ruth’s supposed knowledge of “couples’ deferrals” encourages Chrissie and Rodney to pursue the idea, even though Ruth has not heard anything about a deferral at Hailsham. Ruth seems to be the clone who most desperately wants "more" from life, and she isn't above being unkind or untruthful to feel like it is a possibility for her.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
One day, after being kicked out, Kathy ran into Moira, another girl who had been asked to “leave” the secret guard. When Moira commented on how silly the idea of the kidnapping plot was, however, Kathy became enraged, saying that she knew herself the plot was real, and that Moira didn’t know what she was talking about. Moira, confused, walked away, and Kathy still, to the present day, wonders why she rushed to Ruth’s defense, even though Kathy knew the guard to be a silly game, and even after Ruth had “snubbed” her.
Kathy's confusion about why she was loyal to Ruth suggests both her native loyalty to her friends regardless of their behavior, but also suggests that perhaps what she was loyal to was the idea of the possible kidnapping rather than to Ruth herself. That ridiculous story gave meaning to their lives, gave them purpose. To give it up is to give up that purpose.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
Kathy also recalls a moment where she tried to trap Ruth in one of her exaggerations. Ruth came to class one day with a new pencil case, and made it seem to the other students, without saying it directly, that the case had been a gift from Miss Geraldine. Kathy, however, realized that no guardian would “bend the rules” to give a student a special gift, and she realized that Ruth probably got the case from a sale. Kathy therefore found Ruth one day, later on, and implied that she (Kathy) had seen the log from the previous sale—although she hadn’t even looked—to judge if this made Ruth nervous.
Kathy is honest with herself about the ways in which she chafed at Ruth’s “authority” in their friendship. Kathy’s honesty about her own motivations is one of her hallmark qualities—and it makes her initial statement in the novel (that she is “too proud” of her skills as a carer) seem all the more implausible. Kathy is, in fact, quite modest and enlightened as to her own shortcomings. This, in contrast to Ruth, who seems not to understand the ways in which she manipulates those around her.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
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Ruth, in fact, did respond with alarm—realizing that Kathy would have been able to know, from the log, that Ruth simply bought the case—but Kathy, realizing her pettiness in “bluffing” and making Ruth feel bad, tries to correct the situation by pretending to Ruth that she “saw nothing interesting” in the logs. Despite this effort, however, Ruth walks way from Kathy, clearly upset that her little lie about the case has been discovered.
Kathy is far from perfect—she can be petty and is often frustrated, especially as a young girl—but her ability to recognize her shortcomings allows her to mature rapidly at Hailsham and afterward, in the Cottages. Ruth has her moment of maturation far later, however, only after she has begun her own career as a donor.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon