Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go Chapter 22 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- Tommy and Kathy have a long Q&A session with Miss Emily. If you ask us, it's about time they get some answers about their strange existence.
- Q: Kathy asks if the rumors about deferrals are true. Even just a little bit true?
- A: Miss Emily tells her that they are not. And our hearts sink.
- Q: Tommy steps in: Were the rumors about deferrals ever true?
- A: Nope. Miss Emily says that even before Hailsham closed and before something called the "Morningdale scandal" there was never ever the option of getting a deferral.
- Q: Tommy wants to know why Madame took their best art away. Was it for her Gallery?
- A: Miss Emily tells them that Madame did have a gallery, of sorts. What's left of the gallery is in the house they currently sit in.
- Q: But that still doesn't answer why Madame took away the students' best art. Also, Kathy wants to know why they bothered teaching Hailsham students to produce art if they are just going to give donations and die. Why bother teaching Hailsham students at all?
- A: Miss Emily tells them that Tommy was partially right when he said that Madame took their art to reveal their souls. But the truth is even more shocking than that: "we did it to prove you had souls at all" (22.19). Now that's just cold.
- Q: Kathy wants to know why on earth that needs to be proven. After all, it seems pretty obvious to her that she has a soul.
- A: Miss Emily says that in the beginning, clones were just part of medical science. No one really thought about their welfare at all. But then people like Miss Emily and Madame came out of the woodwork to start Hailsham, and a couple similar schools were started as well. They wanted to prove that clones deserved decent living conditions and could be just like ordinary people. Or at least they could be ordinary until that whole organ donations thing had to start.
- By the late '70s, a decent amount of support had grown for these humane efforts. They would hold big events where they'd display the clones' artwork, hoping to prove just how human the students really were. By the way, Miss Emily insists on calling them students, with a great deal of emphasis, instead of clones.
- Q: Kathy asks why anyone would want to treat them poorly. It just doesn't make sense to her.
- A: Miss Emily explains that the first breakthroughs in medical science happened in the early 1950s. The discoveries happened quickly, and people were excited. In fact, people were so excited that most didn't really consider the ethics behind growing these students with the sole purpose of harvesting their organs.
- Eventually, it was just impossible to turn back the clock. People liked having cures for their diseases, and weren't going to go back to a time when their own health was more at risk. So people just tried their best to ignore the fact that clones were behind their cures. And they pretended that clones weren't really people.
- Then the pro-clone movement started. Miss Emily, Madame, and some others fought for clone rights, but all they could really hope to achieve was better lives for the clones before beginning donations. And until the "Morningdale scandal" they at least achieved those goals.
- Q: Kathy asks what this whole "Morningdale scandal" refers to. And we're grateful because we've been dying to know.
- A: Miss Emily gives the history. This dude named James Morningdale was trying to figure out a way for humans to have super-human children. Basically, he wanted all children to be genetically superior "Captain America" types. This really freaked people out. If a new generation of kids could be engineered to be smarter and better than those already living, what would happen to those regular humans already slumming it on earth?
- So even though Morningdale wasn't trying to engineer a superior version of humans for donations, the whole thing turned the public opinion even further against the pro-clone movement. The idea of engineered beings became something dangerous. It was easier to ignore clones than bring them up like bona fide human beings who could think for themselves.
- Q: Tommy wants to double-check that there really are no deferrals. None at all?
- A: Miss Emily says there's nothing to be done, except for them to live the life that's set for them.
- Q: Tommy and Kathy both want to know if any of this relates to Miss Lucy. Does all this stuff have something to do with why she left?
- A: Miss Emily explains the circumstances of Miss Lucy's departure. Miss Lucy—who Miss Emily calls Lucy Wainright—thought that students should be told more about the future that was set out for them. This was problematic because the whole idea behind Hailsham was that it was better to shelter the students from the truth. And if that meant lying to them sometimes, then that was okay because it gave students a childhood and some form of happiness (and no ability to fight for themselves, Shmoop might add).
- According to Miss Emily, this is why students like Tommy and Kathy could get into their art and enjoy their lessons. If they knew the end was such a bleak one, what would have been the point? So Miss Lucy was fired to protect their innocence.
- The Q&A session ends when Miss Emily must go help Madame move a small cabinet. Madame has been making weird interjections throughout the Q&A, while also helping the moving men to remove the small cabinet from upstairs. Apparently Madame and Miss Emily have gone into debt trying to save Hailsham, and now they are selling off some personal belongings as a result.
- But before Miss Emily departs entirely, Kathy tells Miss Emily that Madame was always afraid of them. Miss Emily says that they were all scared and disgusted by the students (that seems a little rude!), but they still did the right thing and fought for the students' welfare.
- Tommy and Kathy leave the house, without the deferral they were hoping for. When they encounter Madame on the front pavement, Madame says that she remembers Kathy.
- Kathy reminds Madame of the time Madame saw her singing and dancing to "Never Let Me Go." Madame says that Kathy must be telepathic, because that is exactly what Madame was thinking of. According to Madame, even today when she hears that song she thinks of the Hailsham girl dancing in her room.
- But it turns out Kathy and Madame weren't imagining the same thing while little Kathy was dancing to the Judy Bridgewater track. Kathy tells Madame how she was imagining holding a baby.
- Madame, in contrast, was imagining a little girl clinging to an old world while a new harsh world of medical advances was rapidly coming. To be fair, it probably would've been impossible for little Kathy to have such a complex thought, especially since she wasn't entirely aware of all the medical advances that led to her existence.
- On the way back to the recovery center, Kathy takes the back roads and she and Tommy are fairly quiet. Then, out of the blue, Tommy says that he agrees with Miss Lucy's way of thinking, and not Miss Emily's.
- When he asks Kathy to pull over so he can get out and walk into the nearby cow field, Kathy gives him a moment alone. After all, it's been a long day and he has lost three organs so he could be feeling car-sick.
- But then Kathy hears Tommy screaming. She gets out of the car to find him flailing and yelling in the darkness. When Kathy first approaches Tommy during this tantrum, he resists her hug.
- Eventually he stops screaming and flailing, and the two hold each other in the middle of the field.
- So far, this whole road trip has been pretty depressing. But then we get a bit of comic relief, because Kathy tells Tommy that he smells like cow poo.
- The little laughter doesn't last long, though, because Kathy gets serious again. She tells Tommy that she thinks he had tantrums when they were kids because "at some level you always knew" (22.105).
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