Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kathy tells the reader that the tension didn’t really dissipate as the day in Norfolk went on. The group goes into a Woolworth’s so that Chrissie and Rodney can stock up on cheap birthday cards (they claim they’re always useful to have around), and there, Kathy overhears Ruth telling the couple that, at Hailsham, people knew about the “deferral” rumor but didn’t say much about it. Kathy pretends not to have heard Ruth lying about the deferral business, but Ruth knows that Kathy has heard her.
Another small, poignant moment. It is unclear what a “birthday” might mean for a clone—based on how clones are actually created—but Chrissie and Rodney nevertheless think it’s important to stock up on birthday cards in order to surprise their clone friends. Ishiguro sprinkles these tiny moments of sad realization—that clones want normal lives but cannot have them—throughout. And yet, even as they "play" at having normal lives beyond their reach, the clones still do have lives that are meaningful and human—the clones may not have birthdays, but the love and friendship behind the cards are real.
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
The group walks around Norfolk, with Rodney leading the way, trying to find the office where Ruth’s possible works. Finally, Rodney finds the place, and the office somewhat resembles the magazine ad from which Ruth derived her dream future. The group spots the woman inside and decides she does look a lot like Ruth. But soon the other workers in the office notice the five standing outside, and wave at them; the group giggles and begins walking away.
To the clones, and especially to Ruth, Chrissie, and Rodney, “normal” human life is so inherently “real” and interesting, that it is pleasurable simply to watch normal people going about their daily business. To anyone else in Norfolk, it would be immensely bizarre to stand outside an office and watch a few people talking to one another.
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
The group loiters down the street for a time, then Tommy spots Ruth’s possible walking away down the High Street, and the group decides to follow her for a moment. The woman ducks into a small art gallery, and the group follows, getting a closer look at her, before the woman eventually leaves, and the group is left back, looking at the art (which they hadn’t intended to buy) and talking to 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 the woman looks very little like Ruth, and isn’t her possible after all.
An instance of a real-life art gallery. Ishiguro makes an intriguing parallel here: that the art gallery the Hailsham students submit to exists distinctly from the real world, in which art is bought and sold, and created by “normal” un-cloned humans. Funnily, the Hailsham students seem to have very little to say about the paintings in this real-life gallery, as they are too concerned with their own embarrassment over the “possible” debacle—the fact that this is not Ruth’s clone parent after all.
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
Outside the gallery, Tommy tries to lighten the mood, saying it was only “a bit of fun,” but Ruth is enraged at the whole thing—though she says that now, all along, 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 would have given Ruth more hope that her dream future was possible, and Rodney and Chrissie would have been jealous of this outcome. Ruth also yells out that they all know who their real “clone parents” are—prostitutes, criminals, and others drawn from the dregs of society into the cloning program. This is the first time this information is mentioned, although the other characters seem to know implicitly that it’s true. The others fall silent as Ruth tells them that no “office worker” could therefore be a possible for them.
To Tommy, there could never be very much value in understanding the “normal” human who “gave birth” to a clone. Tommy seems to have accepted, from the beginning, the fact that clones at Hailsham and beyond have a different life set out for them. This doesn’t mean he is always happy about it—in fact, his tantrums as a young boy might be seen as a response to the close confines of his clone life—but he knows that Ruth can never learn anything about herself from seeing her clone parent. Tommy, like Kathy, seems content to make meaning and find happiness within the narrower bounds of a clone’s predetermined life.
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
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Rodney and Chrissie nevertheless try to cheer Ruth up by inviting her and the rest of the group to go visit Martin, a friend of theirs from the Cottages who now works as a carer in Norfolk. Rodney and Chrissie say Martin is 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 they aren't supposed to visit working carers, and since Kathy also wants some time to herself. Tommy volunteers to walk with Kathy, and Ruth, Chrissie, and Rodney as they go to hang out with Martin.
The first real indication that perhaps Tommy would rather spend time with Kathy than with Ruth. For a long time now, in the novel, Tommy and Kathy have seemed more simpatico than Tommy and Ruth—but Ruth exerts a significant pull on Tommy’s attention, and Kathy finds that Ruth does a good job of making Tommy feel that he must preserve their relationship, rather than deepen his friendship with Kathy.
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