Never Let Me Go

Tommy Character Analysis

Kathy and Ruth’s friend at Hailsham, Tommy is known there for his temper tantrums, his lack of creative skills, and his “dullness.” Tommy dates Ruth though he is in love with Kathy, and by the end of the novel, it is revealed that Tommy, more than the others, has perceived the difficult realities of the life of a clone from a young age. Kathy serves as Tommy’s carer until his fourth donation, after which Tommy passes away.

Tommy Quotes in Never Let Me Go

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

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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:

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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:

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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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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 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:

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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:

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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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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:

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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:

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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:

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Tommy Character Timeline in Never Let Me Go

The timeline below shows where the character Tommy 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
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
...and they are looking out at one of the football fields, where a boy named Tommy is playing. Tommy is wearing his “special blue polo shirt,” which he has recently bought... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
The other girls begin laughing, as they realize the boys with whom Tommy is preparing to play are ready to turn a practical joke on Tommy. Tommy is... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
Tommy then walks by, on his way back to his room, and Kathy intercepts him, telling... (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 tells the reader that, several days later, Tommy came up to her—in a line for “medical checkups,” which occur weekly for Hailsham students—to... (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 night, in their large bunk-bed room, Kathy begins talking to the other girls about Tommy and her concerns for his wellbeing. Ruth agrees that the other boys are cruel to... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
Kathy flashes forward again, this time to her period of caring for Tommy, who she reveals was also one of her donors. Tommy and Kathy discussed a meeting... (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 then remembers how Tommy’s temper tantrums slowly began to disappear, even though his art, around age 13, never really... (full context)
Chapter 3
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 remembers her meeting with Tommy later that day, near the school’s pond, which allows them a certain amount of privacy.... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
Kathy hears Tommy and grows more excited and interested in his comments, as they appear to prompt her... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
...to another striking scene in her time at Hailsham—a scene that, like her conversation with Tommy about creativity, seemed to point to something interesting about their lives. The girls were all... (full context)
Chapter 6
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
...and was therefore somewhat separate from the other counties, the students, including Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, took this to mean that Norfolk was in fact a place in England where all... (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
Years later, when they were adolescents, Kathy told Tommy, and only Tommy, this story, and said at the time that she knew, at that... (full context)
Chapter 7
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Humanity Theme Icon
Kathy remarks to the reader that, in some way, she consider her conversation with Tommy by the pond, when they were thirteen, to be the “marker” between eras at Hailsham.... (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 and Tommy discuss this even much later, when Kathy is Tommy’s carer, and Tommy offers a theory... (full context)
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
Kathy remembers a particular story, again involving Tommy, who cuts his elbow in a small accident and goes to the Hailsham infirmary to... (full context)
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
As the chapter ends, Kathy recalls that Tommy asked her, during the later period of his donation, why the students didn’t think more... (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
...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... (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
...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. (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
Loving, Caring, and Donation Theme Icon
...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... (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... (full context)
Maturation and “Growing Up” Theme Icon
Individual Goals vs. Social Expectations Theme Icon
Losing and Finding Theme Icon
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Nevertheless, Kathy brings the subject back to Tommy and Ruth, and Tommy agrees to consider getting back together with his old girlfriend. But... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...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 the... (full context)
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...certain adjustments to her behavior since arriving at the Cottages. For one, although she and Tommy have only just restarted their relationship, the other “veteran” couples, including a pair named Chrissie... (full context)
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...has begun taking on the mannerisms of the older couples, and why Ruth occasionally ditches Tommy to hang out with veterans like Chrissie and Rodney. Ruth fires back, however, that Kathy... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...with her, Ruth says that she’s “in a couple” and “can always have sex with Tommy.” In fact, Ruth says that Kathy’s urges are a little “weird.” (full context)
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...takes a stack into an abandoned boiler room and leafs through them out of curiosity. Tommy chances inside and, seeing Kathy doing this, wonders why she is looking at the magazines... (full context)
Chapter 12
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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... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...that Ruth spends much of the drive talking to the couple in the front, leaving Tommy and Kathy staring out their respective windows—but when Kathy asks Ruth if she’d like to... (full context)
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...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 supposed special... (full context)
Chapter 14
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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... (full context)
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Outside the gallery, Tommy tries to lighten the mood, saying it was only “a bit of fun,” but Ruth... (full context)
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...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... (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... (full context)
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...used, old cassettes. She understands that this isn’t the actual lost tape from Hailsham, and Tommy is upset with himself that he didn’t spot it first, but he nevertheless offers to... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Kathy listens to Tommy’s theory in a kind of stunned silence, and thinks also, unrelatedly, of her own small... (full context)
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Kathy tells Tommy that his idea is interesting, but appears too flummoxed by the enormity of his theory... (full context)
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But Tommy tells Kathy that this is a silly idea, and anyway, if it were true, it... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...and troubling experience. One day, in late spring of their first year at the Cottages, Tommy does show Kathy his drawings of small creatures—which have parts that look like metal or... (full context)
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...Kathy’s new copy of the Bridgewater tape, and when Kathy tells Ruth that she and Tommy found it together in Norfolk, Ruth seems slightly miffed and suspicious, although they don’t fight... (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 feels she’s... (full context)
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...from their previous conversation—Kathy knows that there is nothing she can do now to convince Tommy that this is a lie. Kathy is desperately angry at Ruth for her bitter retort... (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 continue friends... (full context)
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...also has a conversation with Ruth, several weeks after the confrontation in the field with Tommy. Kathy learns that Ruth has apologized to Tommy for making fun of his animal drawings.... (full context)
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...Cottages and begin her job as a carer, without discussing the matter with Ruth and Tommy. (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Ruth in her (Kathy’s) car to see the boat, and after a brief conversation regarding Tommy, who is also working as a donor now, Kathy and Ruth decide to pick him... (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 place, with a dilapidated concrete “square” at its center, where... (full context)
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...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 seems shocked... (full context)
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Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy begin talking about people they knew. Chrissie has completed, or died, during her... (full context)
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...Ruth once saw on the ground—of the office on which she based her dream future. Tommy recognizes the ad as similar, too, to the office in Norfolk where they tried to... (full context)
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...change in Ruth’s tone, and she wonders what else Ruth is going to say. With Tommy still listening, Ruth admits to Kathy in the car that she “lied” to Kathy about... (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 of them should try to... (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... (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, though he is... (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... (full context)
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...reader that, despite all the emotional complexities of this time, Kathy enjoyed her romance with Tommy. One day, Kathy returns to Kingsfield after a week away—she still has to care for... (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... (full context)
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Tommy and Kathy sit in a dark room and look at the decorations while Madame goes... (full context)
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...asking how they know they are deeply in love, and begins crying a small amount. Tommy joins in, talking about their art and the gallery, and the idea that the art... (full context)
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...fourth person, enshrouded in the darkness, whom Madame wheels out to speak to Kathy and Tommy—it’s Miss Emily, the former head of Hailsham. Madame defers to Miss Emily, and says “it’s... (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 disillusioned with... (full context)
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...appear to live in a domestic partnership, have been collecting the art for years. When Tommy asks why—since the art is not used to determine whether people are truly in love—Emily... (full context)
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...must go, 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... (full context)
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When Tommy brings up Miss Lucy, Emily dimly remembers her, and states that Lucy opposed the way... (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 Kathy have... (full context)
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...for others (the clones themselves). This is what made her weep. At this, Madame calls Tommy and Kathy “poor creatures,” gets choked up again, and touches Kathy on the cheek, saying... (full context)
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...them spoke little. But soon, after it gets dark and they are on back roads, Tommy asks Kathy to stop the car near a cow-field. Tommy gets out into the dark,... (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,” when Tommy would... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Kathy notes that things between herself and Tommy become strained after the meeting with Emily and Madame, perhaps because they know there is... (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 tells her that he thinks he... (full context)
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Tommy notes that “he and Kathy have loved each other all their lives,” but that, at... (full context)
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Tommy and Kathy have their last several meetings, and at their last one, they talk briefly... (full context)
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...also feels that there is a “mean-spirited” part of her that wishes Ruth knew that Tommy and Kathy couldn’t get a deferral—perhaps so Ruth could feel even worse for “keeping them... (full context)
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Kathy says a final goodbye to Tommy, but since they have been saying “goodbye” to each other for a long time now,... (full context)
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Kathy also tells the reader that she allowed herself an “indulgence” after hearing of Tommy’s death. She drove back to Norfolk, and saw nearby a long stretch of trees designed... (full context)