Chapter summaries part 1

Chapter 1 

The first chapter of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go begins with Kathy H. introducing herself. She says she is 31 and has been a carer for more than 11 years, and will be required to continue for eight more months. Kathy says that she is quite good at her job, and the donors she looks after appreciate her because she knows how to interact with them.

Kathy is a former Hailsham student, which makes other carers resent her because she can sometimes choose her donors. Kathy defends herself by saying that this was how she managed to reconnect with her old friends, Tommy and Ruth. Then Kathy remembers one of her donors who was not doing well after his third donation and asked her to tell her about her childhood at Hailsham in as much detail as possible. 

Kathy then mentions the sports pavilion at Hailsham and how she and her friends would go there to talk and laugh and sometimes to watch the boys play sports. She remembers one football game in particular, when the girls were laughing at Tommy, who could not seem to realize that the boys from Senior 3 were about to play a prank on him and not pick him for their game. When Tommy does realize this, he gets very angry. Ruth says the reason the boys keep picking on Tommy is because of his temper, but another friend, Hannah, says it’s because Tommy is lazy. Tommy is known for not trying to be creative and not working hard enough.

The girls feel guilty about laughing at Tommy and they leave the pavilion. As they pass Tommy, Kathy goes to him, trying to tell him that he will ruin his favorite T-shirt. Tommy accidentally hits her in the face but then calms down. 

Chapter 2

Kathy remembers that, after the incident on the football field, she started being more interested in what was happening to Tommy. This was mainly because she was going through a phase where she liked to give herself challenges. During that time, people were playing a lot of cruel pranks on Tommy. One night, Kathy tells her group of friends that things have gone too far, and what is happening to Tommy is not fair. Ruth agrees, but adds that it is Tommy’s own fault. 

People at Hailsham believe they know when Tommy stopped being creative. When he was a Junior, he drew a picture of an elephant just for fun in an Art class. Unfortunately, Miss Geraldine – everyone’s favorite guardian – was giving the class that day. Because she was a kind and compassionate person, Miss Geraldine did not seem to realize the elephant drawing was a joke and praised it. This caused resentment among Tommy’s peers, and Tommy experienced a complete loss of confidence. 

However, Kathy recalls that the situation changed unexpectedly while they were in Senior 4. Other boys start being friendly with Tommy and even allow him to play football with them. One day during the lunch queue, Kathy asks Tommy what happened. Tommy says he had a talk with Miss Lucy, who told him that he does not have to be creative if he does not want to. 

At first, Kathy does not believe this and is angry at Tommy for making fun of her. Tommy, however, insists it is true, and asks her to meet him at the pond after lunch, and he will tell her everything then.

Chapter 3

Kathy meets Tommy at the pond. Tommy tells her about his talk with Miss Lucy. Apparently, Miss Lucy told Tommy that it does n...

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