Kathy notes that, during the year in which she turned 16 (her final year at Hailsham), things became “mixed up” and confused. Some of this she attributes to the fact that they were going to leave school soon, and their careers as carers and donors were not far off. Other parts, however, she attributes to their being teenagers, and now knowing too much about the world or themselves. Kathy tells that reader that, one day that year, she walked into a room and saw Miss Lucy furiously scribbling out what appeared to be a student’s handwriting, on numerous sheets of paper. Lucy did not stop when Kathy came in, and Kathy wondered, later, what Lucy could have been trying to black out (although she never actually learns).
Miss Lucy’s furious scribbling is never explained—Kathy does not find out what Lucy has been trying to cover over with her pencil marks. But Kathy does understand, at this point, that Miss Lucy is seriously disturbed as to the mission of the school—and Lucy is increasingly distant from her fellow guardians, who she believes to be too “abstract” in their dealings with students. Kathy’s belief that life at Hailsham grew more complicated at this time stems in part from her observation of Miss Lucy’s struggles.
Kathy mentions that other students begin having very obvious sex lives, and that Hailsham rules seemed rather ambiguous as regarded sex. Ruth and Tommy had become an “item,” although their relationship was somewhat tumultuous, and Tommy appeared more withdrawn than he had in years—almost as sullen as he was when he was throwing temper tantrums. Kathy resolved that she herself would begin having sex, and picked a boy, Henry, as her intended “mate,” not because she liked him, but because she might “practice with him.” Kathy also wondered how exactly the other students were having so much sex, since they couldn’t go into the other sex’s dorms, and since they had very little free time to be alone. Kathy wonders whether Hailsham students at the time weren’t exaggerating the nature of their sex lives to seem “cool.”
Kathy’s behavior with Henry is a window into the many facets of her personality. On the one hand, Kathy is curious about sex, as all young people are, and wants to satisfy those urges with someone she trusts. Kathy also knows that sex, at Hailsham, can be separated from love and commitment, and she is eager to “improve” her sexual abilities so that she can later make love “properly” with someone she really likes. And Kathy is also, on occasion, a bit forward and socially awkward. This combination of traits—the kind of complexity that makes for a very human and realistic character—also prevents Kathy from consummating her friendship with Henry.