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Part one Summary Chapter 1-9

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Part One

Chapter one

Pg 3     We are introduced to Kathy and the fact that she is a carer. We are spoken to as if we know and understand the world that she lives in. This has many implications for the reader but the most important is that it shows Kathy knows no other way of life/world. The tone is conversational and help develops the theme of memory.

Pg 4     Kathy leads us to believe that those who came from Hailsham are special and even resented in part by others. She is happy to be able to choose to care for those from Hailsham. Again she introduces us to issues we are not fully aware of, like Tommy and Ruth. This helps again to plunge us into her world and memories.

Pg 5     Kathy speaks about one of her doners who was dying and wanted to hear about Hailsham. He desire to hear the stories and talk as if they were his own show an escapist fantasy theme. This doner knows he will die and takes Kathy’s memories as if they were his own.

Pg 6     Kathy begins to remember Hailsham’s sports pavilion and tells us of how she would do this often while driving around.

Pg 7     We learn that the sports pavilion was a difficult place to find a quiet spot and that Ruth was the one to generally get one for the group. Straight away we are shown that Ruth is a strong character. We get introduced to Tommy and the way the other students tease him. The girls watch this from the window.

Pg 8     Kathy tells us that Tommy is wearing his favourite blue polo shirt that he got in the sales. Here we have Kathy’s caring nature.

Pg 9     Tommy does not get picked to play football and is left shouting as the other boys run off to play.

Pg 10   Ruth reveals that what is happening to Tommy maybe cruel but in the same breath says he deserves it. They believe that Tommy is suffering because he is not creative and did not put anything into the spring exchange. As Kathy walks with the girls she begins to move towards Tommy.

Pg 11   Kathy mentions the dirt on his shirt to Tommy and in a rage he accidently strikes Kathy in the face. Kathy continues to try and talk to Tommy but he is rude towards her. She seems to understand that Tommy regrets this but leaves anyway.

Pg 12   Ruth puts her arm around Kathy to see if she okay as she returns to the group.

Chapter two

Pg 13   Kathy begins by mentioning the medical the students had every week. The description is uniform and in a sense institutional, one line up the stairs the other going down on the other side. Tommy stopping to talk to Kathy causes people to stare. This is a break from the norm emphasises institutional living.

Pg 14   Tommy apologises numerous times. Kathy reveals that she was embarrassed by Tommy on the stairs but that she became more interest in what was happening to him over the next few weeks.

Pg 15   Kathy remarks that the bullying got worse. It happened mostly at sports even though Tommy was a very good sports man. This shows that the students of Hailsham put a lot of importance in the exchanges. We also learn that the exchanges happen four times a year. Kathy goes on a tangent to mention this again bringing in the conversational tone to the text.

Pg 16   The Guardians controlled the exchanges and how much exchange tokens everything was worth. Kathy believes that the exchanges were important to the students as it was their only way of building personal possessions. This idea shows the limitations of their existence at the time.

Pg 17   Kathy moves to how she was having this conversation with Ruth after her first donation. Again the mixing of flashback technique shows the conversational development of the text.

Pg 18   Kathy talks to Ruth about the importance placed on the exchange and how futile it all seemed but Ruth would rather avoid the conversation. The avoidance of reality is a constant within the text.

Pg 19   Kathy returns to her youth and the realisation that Tommy had not been creating for years. We find out that Tommy earlier had made a poor attempt at an elephant that relieved ridicule. We learn that Miss Geraldine was one of the favourite guardians.

Pg 20   Miss Geraldine praises the picture and the other students became resentful from that point. Kathy fells that Tommy was struggling with art and that was the reason for his silly attempts. Teasing started in art and moved gradually from there.

Pg 21   Tommy stopped becoming angry and reacting to people after a while and the teasing stopped. Kathy watched as Tommy was accepted again.

Pg 22   Kathy reveals that Tommy’s social demeanour improved and that is why she feels people became more accepting of him. Kathy talks of the lunch queue being the best place to talk because of the acoustics of the room. The idea that there was nowhere for students to talk in secrecy suggests a cleverly controlled environment.

Pg 23   Kathy asks Tommy what has changed. Tommy reveals that he had a chat with Miss Lucy and asks Kathy to tell no one. Tommy reveals to Kathy that Miss Lucy told Tommy that if he did not want to be creative then he did not have to be.

Pg 24   Kathy is angry at Tommy as she believes he is lying. Tommy pleads with her to meet him at the pond so that he can explain what happened to her.

Chapter three

Pg 25   Kathy goes to meet Tommy and remarks that the place was not that private as people could see you from all around. Again the lack of privacy is important.

Pg 26   Tommy and Kathy talk trying to pretend they have just happened by each other. Kathy eventually asks about Miss Lucy.

Pg 27   Tommy talks about the conversation that he had and describes the setting.

Pg 28   Tommy remarks that Miss Lucy was shaking with rage when she was talking about art being unimportant. This hints at the futility of the exchange and what Hailsham society believed to be important.

Pg 29   Miss Lucy also mentioned to Tommy that the students were not being taught enough. Tommy believes that this has to do with the donations. Here we get the feel that the students are being kept from an important secret regarding their lives.

Pg 30   Miss Lucy’s outburst with Tommy gets Kathy thinking and she starts to question the society that she lives in. Kathy begins to question the relevance of the gallery.

Pg 31   Kathy’s inability to explain the reason behind the gallery or if there is a gallery shows that the students of Hailsham do not truly understand their purpose in life and their reason for being. This brings in more of the idea of their sheltered/censored existence.

Pg 32   While there is a sense of freedom throughout the text the reality of the freedom is something different. When the students talk to a teacher after class and the gallery is accidently brought up the conversation changes. This incident works on the theme of freedom actual and perceived.

Pg 33   Ruth, Kathy and the girls talk about Madame and Ruth believes that Madame is afraid of the students. This will be important later on when it is revealed that society fears people from these institutions and what they represent or could represent.

Pg 34   The description of the Hailsham grounds shows that there is no place to hide. We get the idea of a ‘big brother’ society where the students are always under watch.

Pg 35   Madame arrives and the girls intercept her to see how she reacts. The reaction is one of fear and this could be seen as a representation of how society views Hailsham and its counterparts.

Pg 36   Kathy ponders Madame’s reaction and she discusses how at the time they did not fully understand her reaction. Kathy goes on to show how the students knew how this could happen and they had a lot of information about what they were. However they had the information but never fully understood it. Again we have the idea that there is a type of freedom, open society but not as free and open as the students believe.

Chapter four

Pg 37   Kathy begins by telling us that conversations about Madame stopped after this incident. She shows that the students feared what delving into this issue might reveal. This brings up a new issue where we have to question if it was the students of Hailsham themselves that chose not the process the information they received about their lives because the prospect of fully understanding their existence frightened them.

Pg 38   Kathy talks about the ‘tokens controversy’ and then the exchange. The moving from conversation to conversation builds the theme of memory and develops the conversational tone of the text.

Pg 39   The tokens controversy was when a student asked the guardians if it was possible to receive tokens if Madame took their stuff for the Gallery. Instead of the student getting in trouble the guardians themselves argued with each other on the issue and it was agreed the students would receive some tokens for their work if selected.

Pg 40   A students asks Miss Lucy why Madame takes their stuff for the Gallery. Everyone present fears Miss Lucy getting angry but she just says that it would be too difficult to explain but that the Gallery was important.

Pg 41   Kathy explains about the ‘Sales’ and how they were always a disappointment compared to the hype built up to them.

Pg 42   Kathy talks about how rowdy the sales could get and then how they would get a lecture from Miss Emily the next day.

Pg 43   Kathy discuss the lectures and then how her and Ruth later would remember and discuss them. Change of subject and timeline here is again developing the conversational tone.

Pg 44   Kathy discuss Miss Emily getting angry

Pg 45   Kathy changes the conversation and begins to tell us how she became friends with Ruth.

Pg 46   Ruth approaches Kathy one day and asks her if she would like to play with her horses. Ruth asks Kathy while there are others around. By ignoring the others around Kathy, Ruth is showing her strong character and showing that if she wants something she will go and get it regardless of the feelings of others.

Pg 47   The description of Ruth leading Kathy through the older kids with purpose again shows her string confident character. By remaining a couple of steps in front of Kathy she is also showing that she feels in charge.

Pg 48   Having asked if Kathy liked Miss Geraldine, Ruth tells Kathy that she will let her be one of Miss Geraldine’s secret guards.

Chapter five

Pg 49   We learn about the secret guard and the idea that they were protecting Miss Geraldine from a kidnapping. We see Ruth’s strong imagination but also her strong character. Ruth is leader of this group and often brings in new people and kicks out others depending on how she is feeling.

Pg 50   We learn about students that went into areas that they were not allowed to go. The stories of what happened to these students are horrific. We get the idea that these stories go around to keep the students from exploring and going places that they cannot be watched. This develops the idea of a restricted, ‘big brother’ society.

Pg 51   They continue to discuss the secret guard. Other than this it seems that the students would have nothing else to do.

Pg 52   Kathy talks about how they had out grown the secret guard but kept it going for Ruth. We have to ask is this because they liked her or because they were afraid of her strong character?

Pg 53   Ruth pretends that she knows all about chess. Kathy hassles Ruth for a week to teach her chess. When Ruth finally does Kathy realises that Ruth does not know anything about chess. This shows us how Ruth likes people to believe she knows more than she does because she wants to feel important and knowledgeable. When Kathy leaves the chess game having realised this Ruth later keeps her out of the secret guard. This shows Ruth’s vindictive nature.

Pg 54   Kathy meets a girl that was also thrown out of the secret guard and when she says that it is ‘stupid’ Kathy defends Ruth and the guard.

Pg 55   Kathy goes on to explain how she was angry with the student for her remarks. Kathy says she believes she was angry because she was not ready to cross that line yet because she believed ‘beyond that line, there was something harder and darker’. What we get here is the idea that Kathy was afraid of what Ruth could do if they were not friends. Here we see that Kathy is aware of the harshness of Ruth’s character.

Pg 56   Kathy moves to an incident three years later. Develops the conversational/memory narrative. The incident revolves around a pencil case that Ruth has and leads everyone to believe she got it as a present from Miss Geraldine. Again Ruth’s devious character.

Pg 57   This incident angered Kathy and Kathy made to question Ruth. Here we are seeing that as time moved on Kathy gained more confidence in dealing with Ruth.

Pg 58   Kathy decides Ruth cannot get away with her lies and reveals to us that everything bought in the sales is recorded and who bought it. Here we see how the students of Hailsham are monitored and there is nothing secret in this society.

Pg 59   Kathy lies to Ruth about having seen the register from the sales and this sends Ruth into a panic.

Pg 60   Kathy sees that this has really upset Ruth and begins to feels bad and says that she sawing nothing of interest in the register. Here we have Kathy’s kind, soft nature.

Chapter six

Pg 61   Kathy tries to make it up to Ruth by suggesting in front of others that Ruth and Miss Geraldine do have a special relationship and Kathy can see that this pleases Ruth.

Pg 62   Kathy still feels that the relationship has not fully improved and begins to tell us about another time a student brings up the fact the pencil case is gone. Ruth says she has hidden it.

Pg 63   Kathy tells the student that they cannot tell her where the pencil case came from for secret reasons. The others agree with her and Ruth is really pleased and starts to treat Kathy a lot better.

Pg 64   Kathy moves on to discuss her tape and Norfolk.

Pg 65   We learn in their innocence they decide that if you lose anything it would turn up in Norfolk.

Pg 66   Kathy is still reminiscing but she does stay at that that stage in their lives they knew nothing but Hailsham and that anything outside of Hailsham was a fantasy land. Here we get a glimpse at the sheltered/gated community that the Hailsham students live in. Kathy goes back to the tapes. Again the random switching of events adds to the conversational/memory idea.

Pg 67   Kathy describes the cover of the cassette. We get the idea that Kathy is so fascinated because the picture shows a woman in a flirty pose with a cigarette in an ashtray. We get the idea that this is a lifestyle that Kathy desires but knows she cannot have as she goes on to explain how the guardians try to prevent smoking. The lengths they go to prevent smoking again show a gated/censored community.

Pg 68   They ask Miss Lucy if she ever smoked and she says she did but stopped because it was bad for her. She goes on to explain how it would be worse for them and that they are ‘special’. Here we see that physical health is coming across more important than mental health. So far it has all been about keeping their bodies right but sheltering the students so much that they lose freedom of thought and expression.

Pg 69   Kathy says that the students remained quiet when Miss Lucy spoke and explains that they knew about donations but did not fully understand them. This is important later when Kathy will go on to explain that the students were told things but never fully understood them at the time. When they do realise they feel they kind of knew already and just accept it. We get a brain washing feel to this when it is explained later on. Kathy goes back to talk about her tape and favourite song ‘Never let me go’.

Pg 70   Kathy goes on to explain that she liked the song because she felt it was about a woman who wanted a baby for a long time and finally had one after many years. This in some ways shows the desires of Kathy as she too cannot have babies. She is denied the rights of a woman to have children and we have to take the idea her that subconsciously at least Kathy would like to have children. This is our first serious look at the lack of personal freedom and choice.

Pg 71   Kathy remembers listening to the song and using a pillow as a baby. She realises that she is being watched by Madame and that Madame is crying. She goes on to explain that Madame’s looks normally give students the ‘creeps’ but this look is different. Here we must look at the idea of Madame questioning the real humanity of the students of Hailsham.

Pg 72   Kathy tells us that years later she told only told Tommy what had happened. She goes on to say that years later they all knew they could not have babies and that somehow she thought she had already know but didn’t realise she knew. This develops the brain washing idea of earlier.

Pg 73   We learn that a couple of months later the tape disappeared. Kathy mentions that she could not link it to Madame and even now still does not. Simply by mentioning it she brings across the idea of the shady/gated element of Hailsham.

Pg 74   We learn that it was Ruth that put in the most effort to find the tape for Kathy.

Pg 75   Ruth gets Kathy a different tape and Kathy is happy with the gesture. The most important part here is the reaction to that happiness. Kathy tells us that the students in Hailsham did not hug. The idea that they did not make the simple gesture of hugging goes on to show how in some way the students were not fully developing emotionally. Compassion and care seem to be lacking in their social graces.

Chapter seven

Pg 76   Kathy goes into years from thirteen to sixteen and refers to them as darker years. We have to take this idea because she is maturing and understanding more and therefore can begin to see the realities behind Hailsham to some extent. She begins to explain through an episode with Miss Lucy.

Pg 77   She begins to talk about a time in the pavilion with Miss Lucy.

Pg 78   They are waiting for it to stop raining so they can play rounders and some students are talking about possible jobs in the future. Miss Lucy interrupts them.

Pg 79   Miss Lucy says she feels like she needs to make the students understand. She informs the students that they have been told but not told. This again hints at the sinister element of Hailsham and the censorship/brain washing that goes on.

Pg 80   Miss Lucy explains that they will not be able to be actors or anything like that in the future. They will leave Hailsham and not long after they will start donations. In talking about their future they are informed that essentially they do not have one. Complete lack of freedom here.

Pg 81   The students discuss Miss Lucy and not what she said. Here we avoidance of the issues. Tommy explains to Kathy that maybe the guardians told them things when they were too young so that they would not fully understand. We learn that the talks about donations came at the same time as the talks about sex. The guardians clearly are telling the students important things when they have them distracted by other things.

Pg 82   They are told about sex and disease. They are also warned about emotions.

Pg 83   Kathy begins to discuss a gash in Tommy’s elbow.

Pg 84   Kathy explains that Tommy was told if he moved his arm it would unzip. This goes in some way to show how innocent the students were.

Pg 85   Tommy finds out the truth and gets angry.

Pg 86   We learn that the students used to laugh about the possibility of unzipping after donations. This again shows that the students did not truly understand what was going to happen to them.

Pg 87   Kathy and Tommy explain that they were never thought to care about the guardians but they began to notice that Miss Lucy seems troubled.

Chapter eight

Pg 88   Kathy is waiting in the corridor and looking out the window when she hears a noise.

Pg 89   Kathy investigates and finds that the noise is coming from Miss Lucy and she looks troubled.

Pg 90   Kathy feels shame for having found Miss Lucy but cannot explain it. She does not talk to Tommy because she feels that he is struggling and there are things happening with him and Ruth. Again Kathy here shows that the students do not understand how to deal with their emotions.

Pg 91 &92       Kathy shows Tommy some drawings from a younger student and Tommy gets annoyed.

Pg 93   We find out that Tommy was in bad form because he and Ruth had had a fight and had been going out for six months. We see that the students were allowed to have sex when they wanted to but they did not have a place to have sex. Here we have the idea of freedom perceived rather than real.

Pg 94   They students discuss sex and gay sex and we can see clearly that they do not understand the concept of sex at all. One student believes that it is good for their organs. Again we see a society that is socially inept.

Pg 95   They agreed after this that they would not really discuss sex.

Pg 96   Kathy reveals to us that she found a boy she wanted to use as practice. This again shows a socially uneducated society.

Pg 97   Kathy tried to prepare for sex by reading and watching films. Again even though they are told about sex and they are allowed have sex the students are really uneducated about it. What Kathy herself is showing are the same worries and hang ups of a normal teenager and in some way showing us through her eyes that she is a normal teenager?

Chapter nine

Pg 98   Kathy tells us that Tommy and Ruth had broken up and it was suggested that she was the natural successor. This unnerves Kathy a little bit.

Pg 99   Kathy reveals that she did not have practice sex with the boy, Harry.

Pg 100 Kathy talks about how she put Harry off but also about the fact that he did not seem to mind.

Pg 101 Ruth asks Kathy to talk to Tommy so that she can get back together with him.

Pg 102 Ruth and Kathy talk about Tommy.

Pg 103 Kathy talks to Tommy and tells him how she can see that he is not happy.

Pg 104 Kathy believes that it is the break up with Ruth that is bothering Tommy but Tommy reveals that he does not really care and it is more Miss Lucy that is bothering him.

Pg 105 Tommy reveals that Miss Lucy told Tommy she made a mistake by telling him not to try with his art work.

Pg 106 Tommy reveals that the art work will be important for him later according to Miss Lucy. Miss Lucy revealed to him that there are a lot of secrets that he may find out later if he goes searching. She also suggests that ‘They’ will not make it easy. Again we see secrecy and some element of deception.

Pg 107 Kathy explains to Tommy that they will talk about this later but he has to get back with Ruth. Tommy does not seem to want to be with Ruth.

Pg 108 Miss Lucy has left Hailsham and the students are shocked.

Pg 109 Having heard the news Tommy gets back with Ruth. Kathy remarks that he looks vacant. With Miss Lucy gone so do the answers for Tommy. It seems that Tommy has reacted badly to this news. Does Miss Lucy’s leaving have anything to do with the fact that she is too honest and open at times with the students?


4 responses »

  1. Useful notes but would be really helpful if backed with quotes, thanks anyways 🙂

  2. Very useful, helped me understand the book even more thankyou.

  3. Great summary, complete, useful and well writen. Thank you

  4. Thats great! helped me with my homework :)) thanks


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