Never Let Me Go

Ruth Character Analysis

One of Kathy’s best friends, Ruth is a complex and often difficult person. Her pride is her greatest weakness, and she often pretends to know about things of which she has no actual knowledge. Ruth dates Tommy at Hailsham and later, at the Cottages, only to regret, while serving as a donor, that she “kept Kathy and Tommy apart.” Ruth then gives Tommy the information to find Madame, former head of Hailsham, so that Kathy and Tommy can request a “deferral” from donation and to live together as a couple.

Ruth Quotes in Never Let Me Go

The Never Let Me Go quotes below are all either spoken by Ruth or refer to Ruth. 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 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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

You know, Ruth, we might be coming here in a few years’ time to visit you. Working in a nice office. I don’t see how anyone could stop us visiting you then.

Related Characters: Chrissie (speaker), Ruth
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Ruth Character Timeline in Never Let Me Go

The timeline below shows where the character Ruth appears in Never Let Me Go. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
...so that her donors have gone to Hailsham school. Kathy served as a carer for Ruth, whom she mentions had been a friend of hers at Hailsham, though the two have... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
...but the other girls “gasp” at Tommy’s impulsiveness. Kathy walks back to the girls, where Ruth consoles her, saying that Kathy has managed to calm Tommy down somewhat. (full context)
Chapter 2
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 begins talking to the other girls about Tommy and her concerns for his wellbeing. Ruth agrees that the other boys are cruel to Tommy, but says that Tommy himself can... (full context)
Chapter 3
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
...their lives. The girls were all lying awake in their dorm, talking as usual, and Ruth mentioned that she thinks Madame is afraid of the Hailsham students. Kathy and the other... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
...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 worried they... (full context)
Chapter 4
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 becoming friends with Ruth. At first, when they were very young, around age “5 or 6,” the two had... (full context)
Chapter 5
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 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,... (full context)
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 uses another example to illustrate Ruth’s willingness to persist in fantasy. Ruth always pretended to the other girls that she was... (full context)
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... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
Ruth, in fact, did respond with alarm—realizing that Kathy would have been able to know, from... (full context)
Chapter 6
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 immediately feels guilty about hurting Ruth’s feelings and exposing her lie. In the weeks following this incident, then, she does everything... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
Kathy notes that Ruth had a chance to repay these kindnesses, when Ruth attempts to find Kathy’s “lost tape.”... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
...Kathy came to believe, after several weeks, that the tape was gone forever. One day, Ruth came up to her, saying she had also looked high and low for the tape... (full context)
Chapter 8
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
...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... (full context)
Chapter 9
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” 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... (full context)
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 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... (full context)
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
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... (full context)
Chapter 10
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
...designed to occupy the students minds during their two-year stay at the Cottages, where Kathy, Ruth, Tommy, and several others from Hailsham are sent. The Cottages, like several other communities around... (full context)
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 notices that Ruth has made certain adjustments to her behavior since arriving at the Cottages. For one, although... (full context)
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, Kathy is reading and Ruth approaches her, telling her the plot of Kathy’s novel (George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda). Kathy becomes... (full context)
Chapter 11
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 notes that Ruth’s comment stung her particularly, because during their initial months at the Cottages, Ruth and Kathy... (full context)
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
...“one-nighters” with boys at the Cottages. Although sex is more “grown-up” there, Kathy realizes, when Ruth makes her scathing remark during the Daniel Deronda conversation, that sex remains a taboo topic—or... (full context)
Chapter 12
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
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... (full context)
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
...a glass-fronted office in the Norfolk town—and this office conforms closely to the “dream future” Ruth had been talking about at the Cottages for several weeks. Kathy fills in the story... (full context)
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
Nevertheless, Chrissie, Rodney, Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy decide to take a day-long fieldtrip to Norfolk in order to track... (full context)
Chapter 13
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
...car and set off for Norfolk. Rodney drives, and Chrissie is seated up front, with Ruth in the middle of the back bench seat. Kathy tells the reader that Ruth spends... (full context)
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
...“deferral” of caring duties for Hailsham couples who can “prove that they’re properly in love.” Ruth nods heatedly in assent, as though she knew all about this possibility from Hailsham, but... (full context)
Chapter 14
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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... (full context)
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
...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... (full context)
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
Rodney and Chrissie nevertheless try to cheer Ruth up by inviting her and the rest of the group to go visit Martin, a... (full context)
Chapter 15
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As they are walking outside the shop, and waiting for the others, Tommy tells Ruth that he has another theory about Hailsham, one he’s been thinking about since they left.... (full context)
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...comes back, overjoyed from their laughing good time with Martin, and on the ride back, Ruth makes a special effort to include Kathy and Tommy in conversation. Kathy notably doesn’t tell... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...trip, the group experiences a certain kind of tension, and people don’t really speak about Ruth’s possible, or about the possibility of “deferral” much—perhaps because Norfolk itself was a strange and... (full context)
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Kathy also notices that her relationship with Ruth has once again grown strained. Ruth begins to pretend that she can’t remember things about... (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 discussion, and Kathy... (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... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Kathy realizes that, after this conversation with Ruth and Tommy, and its abrupt ending, it will be difficult to patch things over and... (full context)
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Kathy also has a conversation with Ruth, several weeks after the confrontation in the field with Tommy. Kathy learns that Ruth has... (full context)
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...this conversation, Kathy makes a comment about the rhubarb patches at Hailsham—a reference she assumes Ruth will understand—but when Ruth “only vaguely” remembers what Kathy is talking about, Kathy responds “sharply,”... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Laura talks for a long time about the difficulties of her job, before she mentions Ruth, whom neither Kathy nor Laura has seen for some time. Ruth is already a donor,... (full context)
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...that, since Kathy is allowed to choose her donors now, Kathy should volunteer to be Ruth’s carers. But Kathy says that might not be a good idea. Laura also mentions the... (full context)
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...balloons, Kathy decides that, though it might be difficult, she ought to try to be Ruth’s carer. She volunteers for the position and begins meeting with Ruth at a treatment center... (full context)
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Then, “out of the blue,” Ruth mentions one session that there is an abandoned boat that has run aground several hours... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Ruth and Kathy drive several days later to Kingsfield, to pick up Tommy at his treatment... (full context)
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Ruth talks on and on, in the car-ride to the boat, about a particular woman at... (full context)
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Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy begin talking about people they knew. Chrissie has completed, or died, during... (full context)
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...are now able “to talk more freely.” They spot an ad that resembles the ad Ruth once saw on the ground—of the office on which she based her dream future. Tommy... (full context)
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But Ruth counters that this wouldn’t have been possible—she wouldn’t have even known how to petition—and, suddenly,... (full context)
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Kathy begins to “sob” as Ruth goes on, saying that Tommy and Kathy ought to be together, and that the two... (full context)
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Kathy stops crying and realizes that she must drop off Tommy in Kingsfield and then Ruth in Dover. The three drive back quietly, and when Tommy leaves the car in Kingsfield,... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...carer for this part of his donating life. Kathy becomes very upset, and says that Ruth wanted her to be Tommy’s carer till the end, but Tommy counters that Kathy should... (full context)
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...Kathy have their last several meetings, and at their last one, they talk briefly about Ruth, wondering if Ruth would have liked to have known everything Tommy and Kathy found out,... (full context)
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Kathy tells herself that her emotions about Ruth are more complicated. She, too, is partly glad Ruth was spared this knowledge. She also... (full context)
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...after his fourth donation. She remarks to herself that, though she has “lost Tommy and Ruth and Hailsham,” she still has memories of these places, and she can keep these memories... (full context)