Study Guide

Never Let Me Go Chapter 11

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Chapter 11

  • Okay, so we already know that Kathy and Ruth have a ridiculously complex friendship that can go to pieces over a pencil case and be rectified by a cassette tape. And at the Cottages their bond only gets funkier. They have late night chats where they tell each other their deepest darkest secrets. But they also fight… a lot.
  • Somehow this love-hate relationship works for them. The unspoken rule is that neither girl can use one of the secrets shared during their special talks as a weapon to insult the other one.
  • But when there's an unspoken rule between two friends who have a tough time communicating, that rule is bound to be broken. And when Ruth says that thing about Kathy getting to know "some of the veterans" during their Daniel Deronda chat, Kathy sees this as a huge betrayal.
  • To understand this betrayal, Kathy needs to give us some back-story. It all started with a conversation Kathy had with Ruth about sex. When they arrived at the Cottages, Kathy had hoped to meet a boy and become part of a couple. But somehow that plan went awry, and she ends up having a few one-nighters with some of the veterans instead.
  • These one-night-stands have Kathy a little freaked out, so she confides in her gal pal Ruth. Kathy tells Ruth that sometimes she has such a strong urge to have sex that she'd just about do it with anybody. Ruth thinks this is pretty strange, but is sympathetic and tells Kathy not to worry about it.
  • Oh, so that's why the comment about Kathy getting to know "some of the veterans" was so hurtful. Ruth was making an accusation based on something Kathy had confided in her. Got it.
  • In hindsight, Kathy realizes that Ruth might also have felt betrayed that Kathy was getting on her about the elbow tapping thing.
  • Ruth was really intent on fitting in with the veterans and putting Hailsham behind her. And that's probably why she was imitating that silly movement.
  • This makes a lot of sense when Kathy realizes that Ruth didn't take her collection chest with her from Hailsham to the Cottages. Plus, the items that Ruth did bring with her she eventually asked Keffers to take to a charity shop.
  • Kathy gives us some more details about life in the Cottages. Apparently they never really talk about the people who had left to become carers. And they never really talk about the "courses" that people attend for a few days at a time to learn to become carers. Basically, don't talk about that whole carer business.
  • People at the Cottages were also pretty obsessed with porn magazines. The rags circulate around the house until old Keffers would get mad and confiscate them.
  • One day, Kathy takes some of these porn magazines into the boiler hut and starts flipping through them. She's zooming through the pages super quickly, only looking at the girls' faces. When Tommy finds Kathy flipping through these magazines, he explains that she's not supposed to go through the pictures at the speed of light.
  • But Kathy has her own reasons for the way she's rushing through the stash of porn. And, of course, she's not going to tell us what those reasons are just yet.