Meanwhile, Kathy’s memories of the Exchanges and the Sales are tinged with nostalgia. Her detailed explanations are also part of her ongoing effort to provide context to readers unfamiliar with Hailsham. But while these school traditions are traditions unique to Hailsham, they also highlight the presence of a world beyond its walls. Although students remain on school grounds, objects regularly pass between Hailsham and the outside world. Madame takes away the best artwork before each Exchange, while items from the outside arrive on trucks before each Sale. Both traditions also show the students’ limited opportunities for collecting personal possessions at Hailsham.

Kathy’s earliest memories of Ruth highlight Ruth’s unpredictable anger, suggesting that this is an inherent and enduring part of Ruth’s personality. Ruth’s imaginary horses, meanwhile, show her interest in make-believe. Kathy and Ruth solidify their friendship while playing a game of make-believe, contrasting with the way that Kathy and Tommy later bond over their search for truths about Hailsham. Ruth’s imaginary game also highlights her difficult disposition, as she bosses Kathy around and grows inexplicably cross with her. However, these memories also show that Kathy’s knowledge of Ruth is both partial and subjective. While she remembers Ruth’s anger in the sandpit, for instance, she does not know why Ruth was angry and recalls few other details about Ruth from that period. Kathy’s early recollections of Ruth may say as much about how Kathy remembers her as they do about Ruth herself.