Never Let Me Go

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Kathy H. Character Analysis

The novel’s narrator and protagonist, Kathy H. was a student at Hailsham and a friend of Ruth’s and Tommy’s. While at Hailsham, Kathy slowly realizes the truth of her fate—that she is a clone created expressly to eventually donate her organs to other "real" people, and that her “job” is to work as a carer for other clones who have donated some of her organs and then as a donor of her own organs. Kathy also deals with the more typical problems of an adolescent, including friendship, sexual relationships, and questions of life’s purpose. Kathy has a particular attachment to a cassette tape called Songs After Dark, performed by an artist named Judy Bridgewater, and containing her favorite song, “Never Let Me Go.” At the close of the novel, Kathy serves as a carer for Ruth and then for Tommy, who becomes her lover. She then turns to her mandated work as an organ donor.

Kathy H. Quotes in Never Let Me Go

The Never Let Me Go quotes below are all either spoken by Kathy H. or refer to Kathy H.. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Never Let Me Go published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes

So I reached forward and put a hand on his arm. Afterwards, the others thought he’d meant to do it, but I was pretty sure it was unintentional. His arms were still flailing about, and he wasn’t to know I was about to put out my hand. Anyway, as he threw up his arm, he knocked my hand aside and hit the side of my face.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Tommy
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Tommy's "wild furies" are one of his defining features as a character. In the beginning of his time at Hailsham, these furies are viewed—by students and those in positions of authority—as part of his immature state. Tommy, by the administrators' logic, is an aberration, a student who needs to be normalized to behave more quietly like the other Hailsham students.

Kathy, however, seems to understand that Tommy's anguish runs deeper. Tommy, in this instance, is not just mad that he has ruined his shirt, or that he has been made a fool of in the schoolyard. Kathy senses that Tommy's fits are in some way involuntary (particularly in their physical manifestations), and that he is actually upset by the constraints of the school itself—even if Tommy himself does not understand why Hailsham is such a hard place for him to live and study. This behavior of Tommy's, his willingness to test, without exactly knowing why, the norms of his life, will induce in Kathy a desire to question some of the rules she lives by—and that society places on her and the other donors.

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Chapter 2 Quotes

Well . . . . The thing is, it might sound strange. It did to me at first. What she said was that if I didn’t want to be creative, if I really didn’t feel like it, that was perfectly all right. Nothing wrong with it, she said.

Related Characters: Tommy (speaker), Kathy H., Miss Lucy
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

At this point in the novel, Tommy has developed a willingness to discuss some of his more complex emotional states and problems with Kathy. Tommy's conversation with Miss Lucy—in which Lucy argues that Tommy doesn't have to be creative at Hailsham, despite an institutional emphasis on art classes—is one instance of an emotionally thorny and confusing episode.

What is especially odd about the conversation between Lucy and Tommy is the fact that, as revealed later, Tommy really is creative. He is a talented cartoonist, and his "animals," as he and Kathy call them, are intricately modeled and imaginative representations of his inner life. What Lucy appears to be telling Tommy, in a halting manner, is that Tommy, Kathy, and the other students have lives that are set out for them in advance. They do not have before them the kinds of choices that others must make as they mature. In some sense, this makes Hailsham a prep school that prepares its students for non-life—for organ donation and eventual death. It also means that Hailsham "classes" are, in a sense, just filler until the realities of the students' fates set in.

Chapter 3 Quotes

The gallery Tommy and I were discussing was something we’d all of us grown up with. Everyone talked about it as though it existed, though in truth none of us knew for sure that it did.

Related Characters: Tommy (speaker), Kathy H.
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

The Gallery is an example of a persistent and convincing rumor that is maintained among the students of Hailsham. It claims that the Headmaster of the school selects the students' best art to adorn a Gallery, one that is then, presumably, shown to others in some capacity—although the students are not allowed to leave Hailsham, and therefore do not know exactly where this Gallery could be.

This passage is important for several reasons. It demonstrates the Hailsham students' desire to learn about the world beyond the school's walls. The myth of the Gallery generates among the students a real interest in creative work, not just for self-expression but for a way to become, in a sense, "famous," an exhibited artist showing work to others. It also shows the way that stories of the outside world are generated within Hailsham, and how they attempt to explain what is ultimately beyond the donors' control. The students' lives, even after Hailsham, are circumscribed by their institutionally-determined role as people who will give organs to non-clones. But the students also live a kind of gentle fantasy, in which their art might be shown to the world, and their creative efforts might be praised alongside those of non-cloned individuals.

Chapter 4 Quotes

I accepted the invisible rein she was holding out, and then we were off, riding up and down the fence, sometimes cantering, sometimes at a gallop. I’d been correct in my decision to tell Ruth I didn’t have any horses of my own, because after a while with Bramble, she let me try her various other horses one by one, shouting all sorts of instructions about how to handle each animal’s foibles.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Ruth
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Kathy's relationship with Ruth is one of the central relationships in the novel. Kathy finds in Ruth someone she can talk to—but Ruth for a long time acts superior to Kathy, as though she knows things about Hailsham Kathy doesn't know. Ruth, to Kathy, appears to be someone whose future is not necessarily marked out in advance. For Kathy this is intoxicating. Ruth's imagination, like Tommy's, is different from that of the run-of-the-mill Hailsham student.

Ruth's horse-riding, as an imaginary activity, is indicative of her view of life. Ruth pretends that she can "grow up" the way other people (non-clones) do. Like them, Ruth believes she might have a future where she achieves wealth or fame, or has a family. Ruth's relationship with Tommy, once it develops, has in it a kind of seriousness that, to Kathy, appears more mature and separate from other sexual dalliances that are common at Hailsham. Thus, in "extending the reins" to Kathy in this scene, Ruth both opens the possibility of friendship and pairs with it a slight feeling of superiority—as though she is deigning to speak to Kathy despite Kathy's relative immaturity.

Chapter 5 Quotes

When it came down to it, though, I don’t recall our taking many practical steps towards defending Miss Geraldine; our activities always revolved around gathering more and more evidence concerning the plot itself.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Ruth, Miss Geraldine
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

Ruth's earlier fantasy of riding imaginary horses on the Hailsham grounds is a prelude to some of her more involved fantasies. The "plot" against Miss Geraldine is Ruth's idea. The other girls follow it, including Kathy, although, as Kathy here notes, they do so not because they think the plot is actually true. Instead, they want to appease Ruth, who is more or less the leader of their group. They want to show her they are "cool" and capable of thinking "outside the box" of normal Hailsham students.

The idea that Miss Geraldine might be kidnapped points to a larger threat of violence, which creeps in as the novel goes on. For the clones at Hailsham will, in fact, be subjected to terrible, painful procedures as they age—their organs will be harvested until they expire. Their fate is the stuff of science fiction horror. That is the primary dramatic irony of the book—that the students fantasize about a world of mythical and violent behavior, yet they themselves will be subject to institutional violence as they mature.

Chapter 6 Quotes

It’s not good that I smoked. It wasn’t good for me so I stopped it. But what you must understand is that for you, all of you, it’s much, much worse to smoke than it ever was for me. You’ve been told about it. You’re students. You’re . . . special.

Related Characters: Miss Lucy (speaker), Kathy H., Ruth, Tommy
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Lucy clearly wants to speak as forthrightly as possible to the students of Hailsham. She does not want to sugarcoat their futures. But Miss Lucy also most operate within the institutional structures of Hailsham—she cannot just yell out to the students, at least not at this point, what their violent fate must be.

This passage is an example of Lucy splitting the difference, doing her best to be honest to the students without jeopardizing her own position within the Hailsham structure. Smoking is not permitted for any of the Hailsham students because their health is paramount—it is, in fact, their primary contribution to society. Their organs must be as "pristine" as possible, which is why, before they even reach early middle age, the students begin donating to others who might need them. Lucy thus does not disrupt the established order of Hailsham—she is still invested in making sure the students don't smoke. But she hopes to explain the policy in more detail as a way of relating more directly and honestly to the student population, whom she clearly cares about.

I froze in shock. Then within a second or two, I began to feel a new kind of alarm, because I could see there was something strange about the situation. The door was almost half open . . . but Madame hadn’t nearly come up to the threshold. She was out in the corridor, standing very still . . . . And the odd thing was she was crying. It might even have been one of her sobs that had come through the song to jerk me out of me dream.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Madame
Related Symbols: The Judy Bridgewater Tape, The Judy Bridgewater Tape, Hailsham
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of the most important passages in the novel. Kathy believes that the song "Never Let Me Go" is about a mother who does not wish to "let go" of her child, and by dancing to herself in her room, miming this song, Kathy is participating in a fantasy of motherly love. Kathy, like some other Hailsham students, expresses a dim and abstract desire to have a family. She wonders what it would be like to care for someone in that way, to maintain that form of "normal" human connection she has witnessed in representations (film and book) of life outside the school's gates.

What Kathy does not quite realize, however, is what Madame knows all too well: Kathy can never have a family. She is condemned to a life in which she must "care" for others by giving of herself in the most serious and sustained way. Kathy's donation of organs is a kind of selflessness beyond anything conceivable for a non-clone. And though the reader is slowly putting together the nature of Kathy's sacrifice, it is Madame's teary understanding of Kathy's humanity, in this scene, that sets the stage for further revelations later on in the novel.

Chapter 7 Quotes

The problem, as I see it, is that you’ve been told and not told. You’ve been told, but none of you really understand, and I dare say, some people are quite happy to leave it that way. But I’m not. If you’re going to have decent lives, then you’ve got to know and know properly. . . . Your lives are set out for you. You’ll become adults . . . and before you’re even middle-aged, you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you was created to do.

Related Characters: Miss Lucy (speaker), Kathy H., Ruth, Tommy
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

This is another very important passage in the novel, and a scene in which Miss Lucy's relationship to the students changes somewhat. Before, Lucy has been content in maintaining Hailsham policy while also engaging with the students more directly and openly, telling them that they are special, that their lives will be determined by rules that don't necessarily apply for non-clones. Lucy has not, till this point, used the term "clone," but she nevertheless feels that the "special" status of Hailsham students must be addressed and explained to them.

What changes in this section is the directness with which Lucy addresses the students. She has overhead some of them discussing possible careers they might like to entertain in later life, and some of them, just before Lucy begins to speak, have said they would like to be actors. This, for Lucy, is simply too much, and she has to speak. She notes that any career other than organ donation, or caring for other donors, is utterly impossible for Hailsham students. Here the reader learns just how serious and unchangeable the fate of Hailshamites is—they have no choice regarding their future, and their lives are wholly predetermined.

Chapter 8 Quotes

And you didn’t want to do it in the fields even when it was warm enough, because you’d almost certainly discover afterwards you’d had an audience watching from the house passing round binoculars. In other words, for all the talk of sex being beautiful, we had the distinct impression we’d be in trouble if the guardians caught us at it.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Kathy note the ambivalence Hailsham seems to have toward sexual activity among its students. On the one hand, Hailsham students are, for reasons that are not explained, sterile—they cannot bear children of their own. This means that sexual activity will not have any pregnancy consequences, and that, therefore, the school seems not to mind too much that the students are having sex. Indeed, the school argues that students should be healthy and enjoy their bodies. It is implied that sex might somehow be better for them, and might lead to better organ health and improved donations later on.

But the school also doesn't really make it possible for the students to have sex. There might be several intertwining reasons for this—a kind of prudishness, or a feeling that sex between clones is something that non-clones find repellent or wrong. At any rate, Kathy understands that sex is neither prohibited nor explicitly a part of school life—and it is this relatively consequence-less quality of sex that makes the act feel less romantic, less a part of human maturation, than it might be for non-clones.

Chapter 9 Quotes

Don’t you realize, we won’t be here together like this much longer?
I do realize that, Kath. That’s exactly why I can’t rush back into it with Ruth. We’ve got to think about the next move really carefully . . . . Like you say, Kath. We’re going to be leaving here soon. It’s not like a game any more. We’ve got to think carefully.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Tommy (speaker), Ruth
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

One of the threads running throughout the novel is the love triangle between Tommy, Ruth, and Kathy. Ruth, who in many ways presents herself as someone who "knows the ropes" and is mature and world-wise, snags Tommy early on. They date for some time, and though their relationship seems largely happy, they break up toward the end of their time at Hailsham.

But Ruth quickly realizes that she wants Tommy back, and she enlists Kathy to help her do this. Kathy talks to Tommy, and when Tommy says he is weighing his options in getting back with Ruth, Kathy also seems to demonstrate real concern for Tommy, although she never tells him outright that she has romantic feelings for him.

Kathy's inability to assert herself quite so strongly as Ruth is therefore a refrain in the novel. Ruth, in Kathy's eyes, gets "what she wants." Kathy is more passive, she tends to listen, to offer advice when asked—but she has a harder time maintaining a romance, or even identifying to herself what she wants. The reader often has the feeling that he or she knows more than Kathy about Kathy's own emotional state.

Chapter 10 Quotes

For the first weeks after we arrived, she [Ruth] made a big deal of it, always putting her arm around Tommy . . . it wasn’t long before Ruth realized the way she’d been carrying on with Tommy was all wrong for the Cottages, and she set about changing how they did things in front of people.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Ruth, Tommy
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

What Kathy notes here, without offering her own opinion on the matter, is Ruth's ability to adapt her behavior quickly to her surroundings. Ruth is concerned, perhaps excessively so, with what other people think of her—she is always trying to seem "in the know," prepared for whatever the world will throw at her. Ruth enjoys showing Kathy that she, Ruth, acts like a grownup, while Kathy tends to follow behind, passively waiting for others to show her the way.

Thus Ruth felt at Hailsham that one demonstrated one's relationship status by openly embracing a partner in front of others—showing her possession of Tommy. When Ruth realizes that this is "uncool," that "the veterans" at the Cottages do not demonstrate their love in this way, she demurs, and instead touches Tommy in front of others in a more subtle or sly manner.

Kathy, for her part, announces these changes to the reader, sensing what they might tell him or her about Ruth. But Kathy refrains from saying too much on top of this—she does not blame Ruth openly for being so quick to court the favor of those around her. Only much later will Kathy speak with Ruth more honestly about the ways Ruth makes Kathy feel.

Come to think of it, I suppose you haven’t been that slow making friends with at least some of the veterans.

Related Characters: Ruth (speaker), Kathy H.
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of Ruth's crueler statements—indeed, the depths of Ruth's cruelty toward Kathy are found when the two of them are at the Cottages together. Ruth is here implying that Kathy has slept with a good deal of the men in the Cottages—and even that Kathy has a "problem" with her sexuality, that she cannot control her urges.

Ruth, by contrast, makes it seem like she easily and effortlessly maintains total fidelity to Tommy. Ruth implies that Kathy's behavior with some of the men in the Cottages has marked her as a promiscuous person. And in saying it in this way, sideways rather than directly, Ruth also implies that many people at the Cottages know about this—that Ruth is somehow doing Kathy a "favor" by telling her what others are supposedly whispering about Kathy's sexual exploits.


Chapter 11 Quotes

You were different. I remember. You were never embarrassed about your collection and you kept it. I wish now I’d done that too.

Related Characters: Ruth (speaker), Kathy H.
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:

This is a moment that occurs before Ruth's comment about Kathy's sex life at the Cottages, but that Kathy relates to the reader only after the other conversation. Ruth, because of her desire to seem mature, gets rid of her "collection" of gifts and other objects from Hailsham. She does not want to be tethered to memories of that place, the way that Kathy and perhaps Tommy do. Ruth looks only forward, into a future where she wonders whether she can't escape the life prescribed to her as a donor.

This passage also sheds light on Kathy's relationship to her own past and future. Kathy loves Hailsham—she thinks of it fondly, and when Hailsham closes later in the novel, Kathy mourns its loss even though she knows she can never go back there. Hailsham represents a time of companionship and learning—even though her "preparation" was to be a clone donor, and not for any other worldly future. But Kathy also has a sense of her own future that is in line with the one prepared for her at Hailsham. Kathy wants to be a caretaker—she looks forward to helping other people.

Chapter 12 Quotes

The point about Chrissie—and this applied to a lot of the veterans—was that for all her slightly patronizing manner towards us when we’d first arrived, she was awestruck about our being from Hailsham. It took me a long time to realize this.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Chrissie
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

Kathy informs the reader that the "Hailsham" name carries a great deal of weight, especially among those who were not educated there. It has a pedigree—it is a school unlike other academies where donors are prepared for their jobs.

Kathy does not tell the reader how she was selected for Hailsham, or how that process works—which donors are assigned to which schools as young children. But she does convey just how special Hailsham is to her. What one learns in this passage, then, is that others feel the Hailsham "mystique" as strongly as Kathy herself does.

Later in the novel, however, Hailsham will be revealed to be just one method of socializing young donors—and it gains its "pedigree" because of how comfortable and progressive it is compared to other clone schools. Other methods are not so developed, and many are even quite barbaric. Instead of resembling prep schools, other donor academies are more like prisons or barracks, where donors are fed and housed but not enriched culturally.

Chapter 14 Quotes

We all know it. We’re modeled from trash. Junkies, prostitutes, winos, tramps. Convicts, maybe, just so long as they aren’t psychos. That’s what we come from. We all know it, so why don’t we say it?

Related Characters: Ruth (speaker), Kathy H., Tommy, Chrissie
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:

Up till this point, Ruth has spoken to others as though she were not constrained by the cultural expectations of donors. For example, Ruth has made it seem that she might be able to work in an office, like her "possible." She has also asked some of the other couples at the Cottages whether it is in fact possible for donor couples who are in love to ask for a deferral of their donation duties, so that they might have more time together. All these utterances combined make it seem that Ruth really believes she has a life outside the predetermined course for all donors.

Here, however, Ruth blurts out what she really thinks. Ruth is aware not only that her clone life is unchangeable, but she knows, too, that she and the others are probably cloned from "undesirable" personages in society—that clones are at the absolute bottom of the social ladder, that they are used only to make sure that other, "normal" people can live. Ruth is devastated by this information, which is why she goes to such great lengths to make it seem that she is not concerned with it at all.

Chapter 15 Quotes

Well . . . I really wanted to find it [the cassette tape] for you. And when it looked in the end like it wasn’t going to turn up, I just said to myself, one day I’ll go to Norfolk, and I’ll find it there for her.
The lost corner of England! And here we are!

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Tommy (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Judy Bridgewater Tape
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

This joke between Tommy and Kathy about the "lost corner of England" is one that unites them. Tommy genuinely wishes to find another version of the Judy Bridgewater tape of "Never Let Me Go" for Kathy. He seems even to think that the version he finds in Norfolk will be the very same version that Kathy lost. Even though Kathy knows better, she is delighted to share in this caper with Tommy.

Tommy and Kathy's friendship is defined by this sort of reciprocal care and shared hopes. While Tommy is with Ruth, Kathy remains a good friend to them both, even making sure the couple gets back together before leaving Hailsham for the Cottages. Kathy's behavior toward Tommy and Ruth is thus an elaboration of her own selflessness. She is willing to put her friendship with each of them ahead of her underlying desire to be with Tommy in a romantic way.

Chapter 16 Quotes

God, Tommy, these must take so much concentration. I’m surprised you can see well enough in here to do all this tiny stuff. I wonder what Madame would say if she saw these.
I suppose I’ll have to get a lot better before she gets to see any of it.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Tommy (speaker), Madame
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:

Kathy deeply enjoys seeing Tommy's work. She believes that the animals Tommy creates are a genuine and eccentric expression of Tommy's creativity, and she believes that Tommy really has a chance, in showing the animals to the "powers that be" (namely the Madame), to prove that the clones are worthy of at least some input into the course of their lives. In other words, Kathy likes the animals because they are an expression of what makes Tommy Tommy. And she likes, too, that the animals might be a way of convincing people in positions of power that clone creativity is akin to "normal" non-clone creativity.

Ruth, for her part, will use Kathy's initial response to Tommy's animals—a kind of quiet awe and surprise—and warp it, to make it seem that Kathy believes Tommy's work to be crude and upsettingly strange. In other words, Ruth will distort Kathy's feelings toward Tommy for her own ends. Ruth does this later on because she is threatened by Kathy and Tommy's intimacy—because she worries that Tommy really loves Kathy, and not her.

Chapter 17 Quotes

Well, Kathy, what you have to realize is that Tommy doesn’t see you like that. He really, really likes you, he thinks you’re really great. But I know he doesn’t see you like, you know, a proper girlfriend. Besides, you know how Tommy is. He can be fussy . . . . Tommy doesn’t like girls who’ve been with . . . well, you know, with this person and that.

Related Characters: Ruth (speaker), Kathy H., Tommy
Page Number: 200-201
Explanation and Analysis:

This is another instance of Ruth's cruelty toward and manipulation of Kathy. Ruth makes this point about Tommy's lack of affection for Kathy because Ruth senses that Kathy and Tommy do in fact have a real intimacy. The two get along very well, they speak confidentially to one another, and Tommy has shown Kathy the nature of his artistic work—something that Ruth perhaps feels is too intimate to be shown to anyone other than herself.

Ruth thus combines several threads she has used before against Kathy. She argues that Kathy has been too promiscuous previously, and that this is something Tommy "wouldn't like." She makes it seem, too, that Tommy has always considered Kathy to be nothing more than a friend—a person in whom he can confide, but not an object of romantic interest. And Ruth makes it seem that only she is a "proper girlfriend" for Tommy—that she is the only person who can treat Tommy the way a boyfriend ought to be treated.

Chapter 18 Quotes

It was that exchange, when we finally mentioned the closing of Hailsham, that suddenly brought us close again, and we hugged, quite spontaneously, not so much to comfort one another, but as a way of affirming Hailsham, the fact that it was still there in both of our memories.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Laura
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

Laura and Kathy, unlike Ruth, are attracted to Hailsham as a place and as an idea. For them Hailsham has been a source of real comfort. It was one of the highlights of Kathy's life—a time when she was surrounded by good friends and genuine companionship. Kathy takes great pains to point out to the reader that, after Hailsham, life for donors becomes increasingly isolated, until the donor has only one meaningful relationship remaining—that of the donor and the caretaker, who will also become a donor in due time.

Laura and Kathy therefore reconnect because they are happy to see each other. But, more importantly, they are happy to remind each other of a time they both shared, a time when they were embedded in a meaningful and sustained community. This is exactly what each of them, and many of the others donors, have been lacking since leaving Hailsham several years before.

Chapter 19 Quotes

I’d like you to forgive me, but I don’t expect you to. Anyway, that’s not the half of it, not even a small bit of it, actually. The main thing is, I kept you and Tommy apart. That was the worst thing I did. . . . What I want is for you to put it right. Put right what I messed up for you.

Related Characters: Ruth (speaker), Kathy H., Tommy
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:

This outburst of Ruth's, which is designed as an apology to Kathy and to Tommy, is very similar to Ruth's outburst of several years before, when Ruth argues that they all know they are cloned from "undesirable" personages in society. In this case, Ruth again wishes to clear her conscience of something that has been weighing on her for some time, and that she has been trying to keep repressed or secret.

The primary difference, however, has to do with Ruth's relationship to other people. In her first outburst, Ruth argued against the existence of her own "possible" because she was so exasperated by her own lack of opportunity in the world. Her outburst was thus not so much directed toward others but toward her own despair. In this latter instance, however, Ruth realizes that her behaviors of the past have influenced the possibility of a relationship between Kathy and Tommy. Ruth wishes, in this case, to atone for something she has done wrong—to make it right while Kathy and Tommy are still alive and able to spend time together.

Chapter 21 Quotes

Poor creatures. What did we do to you? With all our schemes and plans?

Related Characters: Madame (speaker), Kathy H., Tommy
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Madame wonders aloud whether Hailsham was, after all, a good thing. The initial idea of Hailsham, as she goes on to explain, was to help clones to feel like members of society‚to make sure they had hobbies, friends, and fond memories—before becoming donors and caretakers. The idea undergirding the Hailsham system was thus a fundamentally humanist and benevolent one, even if the reality that that system supported was inhumane.

But as the Madame and Miss Emily go on to explain, the Hailsham system was something like a Band-Aid over a disturbed and upsetting system, wherein humans were used and "mined" to keep others alive. The enrichment that Hailsham therefore afforded the young donors came to seem, to many, like an ever-greater cruelty. Because, of course, neither Tommy nor Kathy could actually live the kind of "normal" life that was, in some sense, modeled for them at Hailsham. The Madame therefore reveals the ambivalence built into the institution of Hailsham: a desire to ready clones for their jobs without necessarily explaining directly what those jobs would be—to build up their hopes and dreams and then crush them.

Chapter 22 Quotes

I was thinking about back then, at Hailsham, when you used to go bonkers like that, and we couldn’t understand it. We couldn’t understand how you could ever get like that. . . . I was thinking maybe the reason you used to get like that was because at some level you always knew.
. . . That’s a funny idea. Maybe I did know, somewhere deep down. Something the rest of you didn’t.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Tommy (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:

Kathy realizes at the end of the text just how deep and intuitive Tommy's sense of himself has always been. Tommy has known, and been frustrated by, the total impossibility of a "normal" life for the clones. Tommy knew this, and harbored this frustration, even in his early days at Hailsham, when he used to get angry when others would make fun of him. Tommy saw what was at the end of the road, beyond the Hailsham gates, and he saw this far more clearly than anyone else.

Kathy, too, has sensed that clone life did not really fit in with the mirage of a more normal life that was made apparent to the clones at Hailsham. But Kathy was not so openly angry about this. Instead, Kathy's tone throughout the book has been one of wistfulness, a nostalgia touched with sadness but never completely angry. This feeling of the loveliness of the past, and the fact that the past can never be reclaimed, is something that knits Tommy and Kathy together by the novel's end.

Chapter 23 Quotes

. . . and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field, and gradually get larger until I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, maybe even call. . . . and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing . . . I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.

Related Characters: Kathy H. (speaker), Tommy
Related Symbols: Hailsham
Page Number: 288
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of the most affecting and beautiful passages in the novel. What becomes painfully clear, by the end, is the depth of Kathy's love for Tommy. Their romance has been, and remains, impossible. Each must die, and before that, each must care for another donor. Their lives cannot be changed. Their love, powerful as it is, cannot alter their circumstances.

But this does not mean that Kathy and Tommy cannot love each other. That is one of the deep and affirming lessons of "Never Let Me Go." Tommy and Kathy remain attached to one another even after Tommy's death, because Kathy tries as hard as she can to remember her friend and lover as he was, to place him in her mind among the beautiful fields of Hailsham. It is a great sadness that this past cannot extend indefinitely into the future. But the past really did happen—it was real. And Kathy insists on this reality until the end of her own life.

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Kathy H. Character Timeline in Never Let Me Go

The timeline below shows where the character Kathy H. appears in Never Let Me Go. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...is set in an alternate version of England, in the 1990s, and the narrator is Kathy H., a former student at the Hailsham school. Kathy now works as a “carer,” although... (full context)
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Kathy notes that she enjoys thinking about Hailsham, and she often tries to choose the people... (full context)
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Kathy often thinks about Hailsham when she drives around the English countryside, visiting her donors. In... (full context)
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...Tommy stands alone, raging wildly, getting himself muddy in the process, as the girls (excluding Kathy) laugh at him from the nearby pavilion. (full context)
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Tommy then walks by, on his way back to his room, and Kathy intercepts him, telling him that he’s gotten his favorite polo shirt dirty. Tommy, instead of... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Kathy tells the reader that, several days later, Tommy came up to her—in a line for... (full context)
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One night, in their large bunk-bed room, Kathy begins talking to the other girls about Tommy and her concerns for his wellbeing. Ruth... (full context)
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Kathy flashes forward again, this time to her period of caring for Tommy, who she reveals... (full context)
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Kathy then remembers how Tommy’s temper tantrums slowly began to disappear, even though his art, around... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Kathy remembers her meeting with Tommy later that day, near the school’s pond, which allows them... (full context)
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Kathy hears Tommy and grows more excited and interested in his comments, as they appear to... (full context)
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Kathy then fast forwards to the present, and tells the reader a little about the Gallery.... (full context)
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Kathy then flashes back to another striking scene in her time at Hailsham—a scene that, like... (full context)
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...see Madame, and gathering in a line, they walk toward her, saying hello. The girls—especially Kathy and Ruth—notice that, as they approach Madame, Madame becomes extremely nervous, as though she were... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Kathy briefly details an event at Hailsham, dating from around the time she was ten, which... (full context)
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Kathy was surprised to learn that Miss Emily was willing to give these students a small... (full context)
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Kathy also describes, briefly, the sales, which, unlike the exchanges, were held at Hailsham so that... (full context)
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Kathy also recalls becoming friends with Ruth. At first, when they were very young, around age... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Kathy states that, around age 7, for about “nine months,” Ruth encouraged the other girls to... (full context)
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Kathy uses another example to illustrate Ruth’s willingness to persist in fantasy. Ruth always pretended to... (full context)
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One day, after being kicked out, Kathy ran into Moira, another girl who had been asked to “leave” the secret guard. When... (full context)
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Kathy also recalls a moment where she tried to trap Ruth in one of her exaggerations.... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Kathy immediately feels guilty about hurting Ruth’s feelings and exposing her lie. In the weeks following... (full context)
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Kathy notes that Ruth had a chance to repay these kindnesses, when Ruth attempts to find... (full context)
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Kathy wonders, now, while telling this story whether they really believed in this “lost and found”... (full context)
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But Kathy notes that she has gone off on a tangent, and describes her lost tape. The... (full context)
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Kathy returns to describing the tape, and one song in particular that she loved on it,... (full context)
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One day, Kathy notes, she was doing exactly this—playing the song loudly, and dancing along, as though cradling... (full context)
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Years later, when they were adolescents, Kathy told Tommy, and only Tommy, this story, and said at the time that she knew,... (full context)
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A few weeks after the “Madame incident,” Kathy continues telling the reader, the tape “disappeared” from Kathy’s collection. Kathy wondered whether this disappearance... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Kathy remarks to the reader that, in some way, she consider her conversation with Tommy by... (full context)
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Kathy states that Miss Lucy always seemed “a little different from the other guardians,” and a... (full context)
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Kathy and Tommy discuss this even much later, when Kathy is Tommy’s carer, and Tommy offers... (full context)
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Kathy also recalls how Miss Emily began talking to the students about sex—which, for the students,... (full context)
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Kathy remembers a particular story, again involving Tommy, who cuts his elbow in a small accident... (full context)
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As the chapter ends, Kathy recalls that Tommy asked her, during the later period of his donation, why the students... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Kathy notes that, during the year in which she turned 16 (her final year at Hailsham),... (full context)
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Kathy mentions that other students begin having very obvious sex lives, and that Hailsham rules seemed... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Kathy recalls how she went about “courting” Henry: she told him once, when they were alone,... (full context)
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Several weeks later, however, Ruth expressed to Kathy, around the beginning of their last summer at Hailsham, that she had made a mistake... (full context)
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Kathy runs into Tommy, and the two begin talking about Ruth outside, near the playing fields.... (full context)
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Nevertheless, Kathy brings the subject back to Tommy and Ruth, and Tommy agrees to consider getting back... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Kathy begins Part 2 by reminiscing about her essay, which is the final assignment given to... (full context)
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Kathy also describe Keffers, the grumpy maintenance man who cares for the Cottages, stoking wood for... (full context)
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Kathy notices that Ruth has made certain adjustments to her behavior since arriving at the Cottages.... (full context)
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One day, Kathy is reading and Ruth approaches her, telling her the plot of Kathy’s novel (George Eliot’s... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Kathy notes that Ruth’s comment stung her particularly, because during their initial months at the Cottages,... (full context)
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Kathy has several “one-nighters” with boys at the Cottages. Although sex is more “grown-up” there, Kathy... (full context)
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Later on that autumn, Kathy discovers a cache of pornographic magazines at the Cottages—the joke there is that a former... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Later on, during the first winter of their time at the Cottages, Ruth pulls Kathy aside and tells her, excitedly, that Chrissie and Rodney might have spotted a “possible” for... (full context)
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Kathy is “skeptical” about this possible idea, however, because Chrissie and Rodney noted that they saw... (full context)
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Nevertheless, Chrissie, Rodney, Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy decide to take a day-long fieldtrip to Norfolk in order to track down Ruth’s possible.... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...Chrissie is seated up front, with Ruth in the middle of the back bench seat. Kathy tells the reader that Ruth spends much of the drive talking to the couple in... (full context)
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...nods heatedly in assent, as though she knew all about this possibility from Hailsham, but Kathy and Tommy are confused, and Kathy realizes that Ruth is pretending to know about this... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Kathy tells the reader that the tension didn’t really dissipate as the day in Norfolk went... (full context)
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...the kind elderly gallerist. After a time, the group walks outside, and at this point, Kathy notices a distinct change has come over them, since on further inspection, they realize that... (full context)
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...she thought it was a stupid idea. Chrissie and Rodney try to “comfort” Ruth, and Kathy notices that the couple are “relieved” that Ruth’s possible wasn’t actually found—since, Kathy thinks, that... (full context)
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...a really funny guy, and that Ruth would like him; Ruth agrees to go, but Kathy says she’ll stay behind and meet up with the group when they drive home, since... (full context)
Chapter 15
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After the other three leave, Tommy tells Kathy that he never cared much about the “possible” idea, since he figures it doesn’t really... (full context)
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...it’s the “lost corner” of England. They come upon a second-hand shop and, sure enough, Kathy discovers the tape among a box of other used, old cassettes. She understands that this... (full context)
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Kathy listens to Tommy’s theory in a kind of stunned silence, and thinks also, unrelatedly, of... (full context)
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Kathy tells Tommy that his idea is interesting, but appears too flummoxed by the enormity of... (full context)
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But Tommy tells Kathy that this is a silly idea, and anyway, if it were true, it wouldn’t matter,... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Kathy notes that, after the Norfolk trip, the group experiences a certain kind of tension, and... (full context)
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Kathy also notices that her relationship with Ruth has once again grown strained. Ruth begins to... (full context)
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Soon thereafter, Kathy runs into Ruth and Tommy around the Cottages—the two of them are having a heated... (full context)
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Though this is not strictly true—Ruth has warped Kathy’s comments about the drawings from their previous conversation—Kathy knows that there is nothing she can... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Kathy realizes that, after this conversation with Ruth and Tommy, and its abrupt ending, it will... (full context)
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Kathy also has a conversation with Ruth, several weeks after the confrontation in the field with... (full context)
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At the end of this conversation, Kathy makes a comment about the rhubarb patches at Hailsham—a reference she assumes Ruth will understand—but... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Kathy recounts the start of her life as a carer. She says that the long hours,... (full context)
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Laura suggests that, since Kathy is allowed to choose her donors now, Kathy should volunteer to be Ruth’s carers. But... (full context)
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Because of this feeling about the balloons, Kathy decides that, though it might be difficult, she ought to try to be Ruth’s carer.... (full context)
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...and Ruth is in the mood for a break from the monotony of the hospital. Kathy, hesitant and first, finally agrees to take Ruth in her (Kathy’s) car to see the... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Ruth and Kathy drive several days later to Kingsfield, to pick up Tommy at his treatment center—a run-down... (full context)
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...in the car-ride to the boat, about a particular woman at her treatment center, but Kathy and Tommy finally complain to her—saying they don’t understand the point of her story—and Ruth... (full context)
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Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy begin talking about people they knew. Chrissie has completed, or died, during her second donation,... (full context)
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...back into the car, and though their conversation at the boat was a difficult one, Kathy feels they are now able “to talk more freely.” They spot an ad that resembles... (full context)
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...wouldn’t have been possible—she wouldn’t have even known how to petition—and, suddenly, Ruth also begs Kathy to forgive her. Kathy is surprised by the change in Ruth’s tone, and she wonders... (full context)
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Kathy begins to “sob” as Ruth goes on, saying that Tommy and Kathy ought to be... (full context)
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Kathy stops crying and realizes that she must drop off Tommy in Kingsfield and then Ruth... (full context)
Chapter 20
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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,... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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But Kathy insists to the reader that, despite all the emotional complexities of this time, Kathy enjoyed... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Tommy and Kathy have a hard time getting to the seaside town where Madame lives—Tommy has to run... (full context)
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Tommy and Kathy sit in a dark room and look at the decorations while Madame goes upstairs to... (full context)
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Kathy, excited, begins her speech, but finds that her ideas are “garbled,” even though she has... (full context)
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...saying, to no one in particular, if she should “proceed” in her explanations, and finally, Kathy realizes that Madame is addressing a fourth person, enshrouded in the darkness, whom Madame wheels... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Miss Emily begins speaking to Kathy and Tommy, telling them that Madame, or “Marie-Claude” as she calls her, is now somewhat... (full context)
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But Emily notes that all this came to an end once the Morningdale Scandal struck. Kathy asks what this scandal was, and Emily responds that, in Scotland, a rogue scientist named... (full context)
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...since her assistant is arranging for the sale of a piece of furniture. Tommy and Kathy say that this is all difficult and disappointing news to hear, and that for them... (full context)
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...Lucy’s method would have been no better for the clones in the long run. When Kathy complains that Madame always found the clones “repulsive,” Emily defends her, saying Madame “gave her... (full context)
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Emily says, however, that she “really must go” outside, and so Kathy and Tommy walk out and watch Emily's assistant help Emily into her car. Madame and... (full context)
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Kathy explains her fantasy regarding the child in her arms, and Madame counters that, although she... (full context)
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On the drive back, Kathy notes that the two of them spoke little. But soon, after it gets dark and... (full context)
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But this time, Kathy’s response to Tommy and his tantrum is different. Kathy tells Tommy that, “back at Hailsham,”... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Kathy notes that things between herself and Tommy become strained after the meeting with Emily and... (full context)
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One day, when Kathy is visiting and tending to Tommy, the two go outside for a walk, and Tommy... (full context)
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Tommy notes that “he and Kathy have loved each other all their lives,” but that, at this point, they are like... (full context)
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Tommy and Kathy have their last several meetings, and at their last one, they talk briefly about Ruth,... (full context)
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Kathy tells herself that her emotions about Ruth are more complicated. She, too, is partly glad... (full context)
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Kathy says a final goodbye to Tommy, but since they have been saying “goodbye” to each... (full context)
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Kathy also tells the reader that she allowed herself an “indulgence” after hearing of Tommy’s death.... (full context)