Relationship between Kathy and Ruth

The relationship between Ruth and Kathy is one of the key elements in the novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Although Kathy and Ruth are best friends for most of their life, there is often friction in their relationship, mostly because of Ruth’s unstable personality and because they are both in love with Tommy.

Ruth sometimes manipulates Kathy and takes her frustrations out on her

Kathy is not initially friends with Ruth. When she is little, she seems eager to avoid Ruth because of Ruth’s temper (Chapter 4, 82%). It is Ruth who approaches Kathy almost randomly and draws her into a game. Even at this early point, their relationship is not entirely equal. Ruth always wants to be a leader and have things done her way, while Kathy, at this point, is rather submissive, except for a few instances when she gets angry.

Ruth does not like for Kathy to call her out. Every time Kathy tries to stand up for herself or to ask Ruth not to do something, Ruth immediately turns things around so that Kathy looks like the bad person. For example, during the drive to Norfolk, when Kathy suggests that she can sit next to Tommy so Ruth can talk to Chrissie and Rodney in the front, Ruth gets angry and accuses Kathy of being “difficult” and making “trouble” (Chapter 13, 11%). 

After the disappointment with the woman who they thought was Ruth’s possible, Ruth does not hesitate to take her frustrations out on Kathy. After Ruth’s outburst, the others want to visit Rodney’s friend, but Kathy decides to stay behind. Ruth takes this personally and tries to make Kathy look as if she is the unreasonable one:

‘Well, what do you know? Who’s the upset one now?’

‘I’m not upset. But sometimes you speak garbage, Ruth.’

‘Oh, look who’s upset now. Poor Kathy. She never likes straight talking.’ (Chapter 14, 100%)

Ruth often humiliates Kathy in...

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