Never Let Me Go Chapters 13-18

January 7, 2012

This section of the book focused on the Norfolk trip, and this led to several serious discussions amongst the characters. I found it interesting that Ishiguro was able to take all of the conflicts and weave them seamlessly into one plot line without making the book sound too busy.

The first topic we encounter is the idea of “deferrals,” which is really just a rumor that has been blown out of proportions. This idea not only reveals how little the donors know about how their lives will actually play out, as well as Ruth’s overwhelming need to fit in and please those that will allow her to fit in. I’ve noticed this characteristic of Ruth elsewhere in the book and am curious to find out if there is something driving this attitude. As for the cluelessness of the donors, I am reminded of animals sent to slaughter. This sounds cruel, but in my opinion, what is being done to these kids is even worse.

I’ve also noticed that there is a recurring disconnect in Ruth and Tommy’s relationship. Ruth seems to be using Tommy as some sort of status symbol/ arm candy. Tommy, on the other hand, cares for Ruth, but turns to Kathy when he has something on his mind. He can be honest with Kathy without fear of Ruth’s frequent ridicule. I think this makes a statement on the dysfunction of relationships with no real example to follow. Kathy spoke earlier about how Ruth learned most of what she knows from TV, and this constantly shows up in communication between Ruth and Tommy. It also seems that Tommy is with Ruth because he feels like he ought to be, while on the inside, he knows he’s in love with Kathy. In the store where Kathy finds her cassette, Tommy admits he’d dreamed about this moment. That sounds oddly like something a boyfriend would say, not just a friend.

I think the most important discussions in these chapters, however, centered around the gallery. Even being this far into the book, I still know astonishingly little about it. That is my biggest hint that the gallery is important: Ishiguro is saving the mystery for last.

Chapter 17 is a major turning point because Kathy decides to leave the Cottages. Ishiguro then skips over the training and jumps straight into Kathy’s narration of her time as a carer. She seems to handle the job well, although it seems like a very emotion-intensive, taxing job. After Kathy becomes Ruth’s carer, it seems that Ishiguro begins to hint that Kathy and Tommy really are meant to be together, as Ruth suggests the three meet up. I’m anxious to see how the meeting plays out.

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