Study Guide

Never Let Me Go Chapter 16

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Chapter 16

  • Now that they're all back from Norfolk, no one is really talking about their trip. Even Kathy and Tommy aren't taking the time to dissect Tommy's theory about deferrals and the Gallery.
  • In fact, the only time they chat about this theory is when Tommy shows Kathy his latest animal drawings.
  • Kathy thinks these drawings are totally unique, so that's nice. Tommy finally gets to be creative without being teased or having someone put his toothbrush in the toilet, which is a bonus.
  • Eventually, summer arrives and things are changing around the Cottages. A bunch of people have left to become carers in the previous spring, and now a new batch of residents for the Cottages has arrived.
  • One thing that hasn't changed is the complicated love-hate relationship between Kathy and Ruth. Kathy keeps getting annoyed at Ruth for pretending that she doesn't remember details about Hailsham. For example, one night when Kathy mentions the rhubarb patch at Hailsham, Ruth pretends like she's never even heard of it and Kathy tells her off.
  • But, in typical Kathy fashion, we can't fully understand what was going on in this conversation without some back-story.
  • So Kathy takes us back a few weeks, to when she was dating this dude named Lenny. The relationship didn't last long, because Lenny suddenly left to start his carer training.
  • In the post-Lenny weeks, Ruth decides to show her awesome gal pal side and is super supportive of Kathy. In one late night chat session, there's the potential for things to go wrong when Ruth discovers the Judy Bridgewater tape and how Kathy and Tommy found it together in Norfolk. Ruth appears a little miffed that no one mentioned it to her, but seems to let it go. Crisis averted, or so we think.
  • Kathy and Ruth change topics from the tape to Tommy's animal drawings. They engage in a bit of light-hearted teasing, since Ruth clearly doesn't think much of the animals. Kathy laughs along with her friend, never really stopping to say how good she thinks the drawings are.
  • So far, all this seems harmless enough. But then several days later this chummy late-night conversation blows up in Kathy's face.
  • She comes across Tommy and Ruth having a conversation in a nearby abandoned churchyard. When Kathy gets the feeling that she's interrupted something, Ruth's jealousy rears its ugly head.
  • Ruth is upset that Tommy talked about his latest theory on the Gallery with Kathy. To Ruth, the fact that she, his girlfriend, is just finding out now is so not cool.
  • To make matters worse, Ruth tells Tommy that his drawings aren't any good, and that even Kathy thinks they're a joke.
  • At this point it is appropriate to start screaming at the page for Kathy to stick up for herself and tell Tommy how much she likes his artwork. But she doesn't—Kathy just stays silent.
  • And then she walks away, which apparently is something people like to do in this book instead of finishing a conversation.