Never Let Me Go
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The curriculet is being added to your library
"Carer," "donor," and "recovery times." These are words you should be turning around in your head now, wondering what the narrator is referring to. Is she involved in the medical field?
Based on the context, we can best infer that Hailsham is what?
What is the narrator's memory of Hailsham mainly about?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Have you noticed that this story unfolds gradually? Not a lot of information is provided up front, so as readers we must pay careful attention to textual details and do a lot of inferring. For example, what are the people in this novel donating that requires recovery? And did you notice that they make more than one donation? Watch the video below on using textual evidence and making inferences. (This annotation contains a video)
Our narrator's name is Kathy and she's thirty-one. What type of narration or point of view does this novel have?
Tommy's explanation makes sense, doesn't it? After all, he did stop throwing tantrums, which seemed to be what the other kids were trying to provoke. Also, behavior like that does often stop when kids get older and more mature. But Kathy's interest implies it has another, mysterious explanation.
Critical readers can safely predict which of the following?
What does Tommy mean, "Outside, out there, they sell everything"? Something sinister is going on. Can you sense it? Do you think this novel is about a different type of society or world? This novel is starting to read like a dystopian novel.
Which of the following details does not support that this novel takes place in a strange and different society?
So the narrator and the other students in this school are different. They are separated from others who are on the "outside." The mood created in this last scene is very frightening, and we recognize that this novel must be a genre other than realistic fiction.
One of the common elements of dystopian fiction is that the main character realizes that something within the society is wrong, and he or she rebels in order to try and fix it.
Which character seems to want to rebel in some way against the way things are at Hailsham?
Ruth has quite the imagination. Even at the beginning of their friendship, Ruth takes on the leadership role while Kathy is more of a follower. Do you think this will always be the dynamic of their friendship, or will the friendship develop as Ruth and Kathy mature?
Ruth's predominant character trait at this point in the novel is which of the following?
How has most of the story been told so far in this novel?
What two emotions are strongest in Kathy during this event, and in what order do they occur?
Below is a map of England showing how Norfolk is indeed out of the way. On this map it is in yellow, the farthest area out to the right. How do you think the remoteness of this setting might affect the novel's characters and plot? (This annotation contains an image)
This should definitely peak your interest. How are the students at Hailsham "special"?
Which of the following is not true about the students at Hailsham?
You may want to listen for a minute to the song "Never Let Me Go" by Judy Bridgewater." (This annotation contains a video)
Besides taking great care to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, what else must the students also especially avoid?
Foreshadowing is when a writer hints at events that may happen later in the story. It is usually very subtle, but critical readers can pick up on it most of the time. Watch this video on foreshadowing and see if you recognize any examples of it throughout the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Irony is when things are exactly opposite of what you would expect. Isn't it a bit ironic that none of the students, especially Kathy, being as inquisitive and reflective as she is, have questioned or discussed the horrible things Miss Lucy told them that day on the pavilion? Why aren't they outraged?
Which of the following lines is an example of foreshadowing?
It has occurred to us, hasn't it, that Tommy and Kathy are really the two who belong together. Are they realizing it as well?
What is ironic and disturbing about Kathy's recollection of seeing Harry again?
Tommy is a complex character. He's definitely what we call a "round" character, fully developed and multi-faceted. Flat characters, on the other hand, are one-dimensional, always predictable, and do not change over the course of a story.
These "Culture Briefings" again show how the students are closed off from the regular world and are "alien" to everyday things like restaurants, taxis, police, etc. What other details have demonstrated just how different their world is from yours?
Quiz 1 Part One
Why is this paragraph reflective of one of the themes in this novel?
Kathy is suggesting that the students and veteran students learn a lot about how people on the outside behave from television. Does this happen in the real world as well?
How do the students measure how each other is coping with the changes of living at the Cottages?
In many ways Ruth is not a very good friend to Kathy. She ignores Kathy and Tommy in front of the veterans. And when it suits her, she breaks confidences with Kathy. Kathy always seems to forgive Ruth and accept her for who she is. Kathy is perhaps a better friend to Ruth than Ruth deserves.
Which item below was probably in Ruth's collection?
Certainly the writer wants us to be in suspense about what Ruth means by "a possible." It could mean a "possible" mate, but Ruth is with Tommy. Since this story reveals these important plot details gradually, we know we will be guessing and inferring for awhile.
Why is it weird that Ruth and the others are talking about their futures?
The "possibles" are made to seem different than Rodney, Chrissie, and the others. What one word subtly makes that clear?
This idiom, "the penny seemed to drop," shows that Tommy finally realizes that he is supposed to play along with Ruth's lie about the boy from Hailsham who became a park ranger. There never was a boy, but Kathy is playing along with Ruth and finally Tommy does too. Doesn't this behavior by all of these characters seem very sad and desperate? After all, they envy young people who get to do what they want.
Ruth obviously likes to pretend she knows about things to get attention. What other evidence do we have from the novel of her attention getting behavior?
A "pushchair" must be a wheelchair, and this is the second time they are mentioned. Why are there so many of those in this village? Think about it.
Which of the following is the best interpretation of this highlighted text?
It seems that all of these characters-- Rodney, Chrissie, Tommy, Kathy, and Ruth-- are clones of someone else. So a "possible" is a real person who was "possibly" a clone model for one of the students. This provides us with another common element of science fiction: the misuse of advanced technology. Currently, we have the ability to clone animals, and scientists have achieved that. However, for ethical reasons primarily, we have not yet cloned humans.
What do you think Tommy is not saying?
This conversation implies more about the "science fiction" elements of this novel. But it many ways this novel doesn't have most of the common traits of science fiction. Watch this video about science fiction. Think about how that genre does and does not apply to this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Which aspect of science fiction does this novel contain?
Maybe Tommy's animals look something like this. Based on the details in the text, do you think so? (This annotation contains an image)
What emotion is probably behind what Ruth says here?
Why is Ruth so cruel? Maybe a better question is why do Tommy and Kathy remain friends with her when she treats them so cruelly?
In other words, what has Ruth just told Kathy?
Quiz Part 2
It seems that an emerging theme in this novel is the loss of innocence. Once the students leave Hailsham and then the Cottages, they can no longer be in denial about their bleak future. Watch the video below on theme. Think about other plot details as we continue that help develop this theme. (This annotation contains a video)
What metaphor is used to describe how Kathy feels about Hailsham closing?
In England, they often refer to cookies as "biscuits."
What have Ruth, Tommy and all the other donors, donated?
What can we infer "completed" means?
It's very sad that these three could never even really have a dream of what they want to do with their lives. Working in an office--as ordinary and uneventful as that sounds to us--was a wild, elusive dream to Ruth.
What is Ruth really asking forgiveness for?
One of the scariest things about this book isn't just the fact that the characters are clones whose sole purpose is to donate needed organs for other people. What makes it truly frightening is the normalcy in which this horrible practice is carried through. Why isn't Kathy screaming in rage about what they have done to her friend?
The fact that the characters are created solely for donating organs is almost treated matter-of-factly now. Click on the link and read the first two paragraphs of the science article. What crucial difference exists between the cloning discussed in the article and the cloning that takes place in the dystopian society of this novel?http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cloning-endangered-animals/
The difference in Tommy's drawings probably represent what?
Tommy is probably wearing a catheter or a colostomy bag which he must wear all the time. This is a subtle detail of Tommy being no more than just a walking organ donor, being prepared for more surgery.
Notice how well the writer creates an eerie mood. Everything is dark. There are cobwebs and murky glass, a crooked shade, and muffled sounds from above.
What does Madame think of Kathy and Tommy's theory?
What is Morningdale and what does it have to do with Hailsham closing? Throughout this novel, crucial plot details are revealed gradually. For example, we've been waiting to hear just why Madame would take the best artwork from Hailsham for her "Gallery." Now it seems we will finally find out. This is evidence of a skilled writer because this technique creates suspense.
Why would people doubt students like Kathy and Tommy would have souls?
Miss Emily is providing a lot of background information. Apparently, cloning for medical science has been a widespread practice. Miss Emily and Madame and others felt sorry for the clones and wanted to create a better life for them. From that came schools like Hailsham and Glenmorgan House. They wanted to show the world that given education, care, and culture, the students could be just as much human as anyone else. But why? Why do all that if you know the students will still be used for organ donations and medical testing?
Miss Emily claims, "We're all afraid of you." This is cruel to say. It sounds almost as if Madame and Miss Emily somehow blame the students for their predicament.
What have we learned in this chapter that is the most surprising about Madame?
Read the following article on human cloning. It too is for future medical use, but it is quite different that what this novel proposes. Read this short article and be able to explain the difference. (This annotation contains a link)
Now that you are approaching the end of the novel, watch the movie trailer for Never Let Me Go. Which of the following plot elements is included in the movie version but not in the book?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXiRZhDEo8A
Based on this paragraph, what inference should we make about a fourth donation?
We can understand why Tommy wants another carer. Most people do not want their loved ones to see them die and suffer. It's too hard on everyone.
Miss Emily mentions several times that people of the world prefer to not be reminded of the clones and rather have them stay in the "shadows" no matter how close to human they are. In the world of this novel, what is the payoff for that kind of indifference?
Quiz Part 3