Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kathy recalls how she went about “courting” Henry: she told him once, when they were alone, that she wanted to have sex with him, but then, when she kept running into him later, she told him several times that she couldn’t have sex “at that moment,” that they’d have to wait. Henry seemed OK with this then, but Kathy wonders, at the time of her narration, whether Henry wasn’t completely confused by Kathy’s behavior. Kathy also realizes, now, that she delayed having sex with Henry because she had feelings for Tommy—whom Ruth had recently broken up with, after six months together.
Kathy, like anyone, is capable of self-delusion, but is also wise to her own motivations after the fact. Here, Kathy knows that she is beginning to fall for Tommy, even as she recognizes that a relationship with Tommy would not really work, because Tommy is dating a close friend of Kathy’s. Henry is a perfect foil to Tommy: whereas Kathy is already close to Tommy, she has no relationship with Henry to speak of—and their physical romance fizzles before it can even start.
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
Several weeks later, however, Ruth expressed to Kathy, around the beginning of their last summer at Hailsham, that she had made a mistake with Tommy, and that she wanted to get back together with him. Ruth asked Kathy whether she could talk “sense” into Tommy and convince him to take Ruth back—Kathy is hurt by this, since she also has feelings for Tommy, but she also wants to help her friend Ruth, and she is pleased to hear that Tommy trusts her (Kathy) so much. Kathy agrees to talk to Tommy and try to convince him to get back with Ruth.
Kathy’s motivations for talking to Tommy on Ruth’s behalf are not immediately clear. Kathy’s loyalty to Ruth is significant—and perhaps this is a replay of Kathy’s previous interaction with Moira, in which Kathy defends Ruth even though Ruth has spurned Kathy’s affections. Here, Kathy still tries to curry favor with Ruth, despite the fact that this “favor” flies in the face of Kathy’s own desire—to pursue a romantic relationship with Tommy.
Themes
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
Kathy runs into Tommy, and the two begin talking about Ruth outside, near the playing fields. But Tommy appears distracted, and when Kathy asks what the matter is, beyond his failed relationship, Tommy replies that he had another strange interaction with Miss Lucy, several days before. Tommy ran into her in the hallway, and the two began to talk in a secluded corner of the school. There, Miss Lucy told Tommy that she had made a mistake, years earlier, in telling Tommy that his creativity didn’t matter—that it did in fact matter, “and not just as evidence, but for Tommy himself.” Tommy and Kathy are both perplexed by these finals words—they do not see how their art could be used as “evidence,” and they wonder what kind of value it would have for themselves, or for someone like Miss Lucy, who has now seemed inexplicably distraught at the school for months.
This appears to be another change in Lucy’s demeanor—and one that’s harder for the reader to track. What is possible is that someone in the Hailsham administration “spoke to” Lucy about her “outburst” with the students, perhaps reminding Lucy that her primary job at the school is to protect and care for the clones. But Lucy might also be trying, here, to connect with Tommy on a more personal level—and to be sure that he knows he ought to produce art, be creative, and live a full life because he too is a human being, capable of these kinds of enjoyment.
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
Nevertheless, Kathy brings the subject back to Tommy and Ruth, and Tommy agrees to consider getting back together with his old girlfriend. But in the following days, Kathy is startled to learn that Miss Lucy has left Hailsham and won’t be coming back. Kathy wonders why this could be, and runs off to see Tommy—who has a “dead” look in his eyes, and appears devastated by Miss Lucy’s departure. Ruth, who is less concerned that Miss Lucy is leaving, tells Kathy not long after that she and Tommy are in fact reconciled, and she thanks Kathy warmly for her help in “talking to Tommy.” Kathy says that Ruth was “very pleased” with her for the remainder of their time at Hailsham, which soon comes to an end that summer.
Ruth’s response in this section is very telling. Ruth seems not to care very much about Miss Lucy—she is far more concerned with her own fate and relationship with Tommy. Over the course of the novel, Ruth’s selfishness remains a complex but constant phenomenon. Ruth cares about Kathy and Tommy, to be sure, but Ruth also has trouble speaking honestly with her own friends. And Ruth’s self-consciousness, and desire to appear wiser than she actually is, continues to get her into trouble, even after the students leave Hailsham for the Cottages.
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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