Never Let Me Go

Summary

Part 2, Chapters 10-11

Summary Part 2, Chapters 10-11

Kathy’s friendship with Ruth also becomes more strained at the Cottages, and their arguments reflect their opposing attitudes towards Hailsham. Ruth accuses Kathy of ignoring the veterans in favor of their Hailsham friends, reflecting her frustration with Kathy’s attachment to Hailsham. Kathy accuses Ruth of neglecting Tommy in favor of the veterans, reflecting her frustration with Ruth’s dismissal of their shared ties to Hailsham. At the same time, Ruth does show reluctance to entirely renounce her connections with Hailsham. Ruth’s new attitudes disappear when she and Kathy are alone, and she becomes more like her old self in the privacy of Kathy’s room. Ruth also shows an emotional attachment to her collection, asking Keffers to donate it to charity instead of throwing it in the trash. While her donation of her collection foreshadows the coming of adulthood and the start of her organ donations, Ruth’s refusal to throw the items out also reflects a wish to preserve something of her childhood. When she later regrets giving away the collection at her recovery center, Ruth more openly expresses a desire for memories of Hailsham that mirrors Kathy’s own nostalgia. This episode also highlights the irony in that all of the Hailsham students’ collection items were donated by people in the outside world who may at one point receive and benefit from the students’ donated internal organs.

Kathy continues express her frustration with Ruth’s pretenses, lashing out when Ruth pretends to have read Daniel Deronda. However, Kathy again expresses her frustration through subtle hints rather than direct confrontation. She changes the topic to Ruth’s imitation of the veterans’ affectionate arm-slapping gesture, labeling it as another form of pretense. In dismissing the gesture that Ruth uses to express affection towards Tommy, Kathy also hints that her own interest in Tommy is another underlying source of tension with Ruth. While Kathy begins to have sex at the Cottages, she never becomes part of a couple. Her intermittent sexual encounters with the veterans are purely physical in nature. Ruth’s indirect comment about Kathy’s one-nighters reinforces this tension, highlighting her own status as part of a couple while drawing on Kathy’s insecurities about her sexual urges. Kathy’s reflections on this conversation also show how much her friendship with Ruth relied on unspoken expectations about their behavior. Although Kathy believes that these expectations were mutual, the degree to which Ruth actually shared her unspoken assumptions is unclear.