Never Let Me Go

by: Kazuo Ishiguro

Part One, Chapters 7-9

Summary: Chapter 7

Kathy’s memories shift to her last years at Hailsham, from roughly age thirteen to age sixteen. She recalls these years being darker and more serious than the ones before, and sees Tommy’s confession at the pond as a marker between the two periods. Miss Lucy continues to behave strangely around the students. One day, Miss Lucy and a group of students take shelter from a rainstorm in the sports pavilion. Miss Lucy hears two boys discussing what it would be like to become actors. Miss Lucy, visibly upset, announces that such talk is inappropriate because their futures are already determined: when Hailsham students reach adulthood, they will fulfill their purpose in life by donating their vital organs. Miss Lucy expresses frustration with the other guardians who refuse to speak directly to the students about their futures.

Kathy explains that the guardians tended to lecture on donations and sex at the same time, and she wonders if they did so to keep the students from focusing on or questioning donations. She also recalls that Miss Emily urged the students to be cautious about having sex in the outside world, where non-students attach more significance to sex because they are capable of having children. Although the younger students avoid discussing donations, Kathy and her classmates begin to joke about them as teenagers. In one running joke, students pretend to “unzip” themselves and hand over their organs. This joke emerges after several boys pull a prank on Tommy, convincing him that a cut on his elbow will “unzip” unless he keeps his arm straight. After Miss Lucy’s speech in the pavilion, the students avoid talking about donations again.

Summary: Chapter 8

During her last summer at Hailsham, Kathy is daydreaming in a quiet hallway when she hears a strange hissing noise. Following the noise to a nearby classroom, she finds Miss Lucy angrily scribbling out a stack of handwritten papers. Kathy apologizes and leaves the room, feeling ashamed and confused. The adult Kathy pauses to note that Tommy also had a strange interaction with Miss Lucy that summer, although he did not tell her about it until years later. Kathy does not describe the interaction, but says that Tommy’s old temper returned around the same time. She recalls showing Tommy a hand-painted Hailsham calendar, which she had just purchased at one of the Exchanges. Instead of praising it, Tommy walked away. At the time, Kathy assumed that his strange moods related to his recent breakup with Ruth, whom he had been dating for six months.

Kathy reflects on the guardians’ contradictory messages about sex. Although the guardians encouraged the students not to be ashamed of sex, they also discouraged students from having sex at school. The students developed many theories about whether or not the guardians actually wanted them to have sex, but Kathy thinks that Ruth’s theory was the most probable. Ruth thought that the guardians wanted to prepare students for sex in the outside world, but did not want to deal with them having sex at school. Kathy recalls feeling left out at Hailsham because many of her friends claimed to be having sex. While she doubts many of these claims were true, she does know that Ruth had sex with Tommy. Kathy says that she also wanted to have sex, as a way of practicing for the future. She spent several weeks preparing to ask her classmate Harry C., but Ruth and Tommy’s breakup changed her mind.

Summary: Chapter 9

Kathy explains why she postponed her plan to have sex with Harry C. Soon after Tommy and Ruth’s breakup, Kathy's friends began to hint that she was Ruth’s “natural successor” to be Tommy’s girlfriend. Kathy adds that she saw Harry at a recovery center a few years ago. He had just given a donation, and she isn’t sure that he recognized her. She returns her focus to Hailsham, where Ruth soon asks her for help in getting back together with Tommy. Ruth says that Tommy respects Kathy and will listen to her advice. Kathy worries that Ruth will hurt Tommy again, but Ruth claims to be done playing games. Ruth points out that they are adults now, and will soon leave Hailsham. Kathy agrees to meet with Tommy.

Tommy tells Kathy that he is not upset about the breakup, but about a recent conversation with Miss Lucy. Earlier in the summer, Miss Lucy admitted she had made a mistake in telling him that it was okay to be uncreative. She said that Madame’s Gallery was more important than she had first realized, and alluded to the students' artwork as “evidence.” Miss Lucy urged Tommy to begin making art again. Kathy is intrigued, but focuses on encouraging Tommy to get back together with Ruth. Tommy says that he cannot rush back into the relationship, especially since they will be leaving Hailsham soon. The next day, the students hear that Miss Lucy has left Hailsham for good. Tommy and Ruth get back together that evening.