Study Guide

Never Let Me Go Chapter 19

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Chapter 19

  • It's time for another road trip.
  • Kathy and Ruth arrive at the Kingsfield recovery center to pick up Tommy for their little reunion tour. After hugs and greetings, they are on their merry way to find the boat.
  • While on the road, there's a tense moment where Kathy and Tommy aren't paying attention to Ruth's long-winded anecdote about a fellow donor. When Kathy tells Ruth not to be so detailed, Tommy agrees. Somehow this makes Kathy feel like things are a-okay between her and Tommy, even after all this time.
  • But Ruth, well, she doesn't really act like Ruth. The old Ruth would have been annoyed by Kathy's comment and the fact that Tommy agreed with Kathy. But this donor-version of Ruth just accepts the situation.
  • Once the trio has parked the car, they start heading off through some woods to find the boat. There's a barbed wire fence with an opening that they need to duck through, and Ruth feels panicky that they won't be able to do it. In fact, you'd think this were a minefield judging by her reaction.
  • Kathy and Tommy help Ruth through the fence. It's clear just how weak Ruth has become. In contrast, Tommy seems to be pretty healthy, even without those vital organs he's already donated.
  • They exit the woods and see what they came for: a boat stranded on a marshland. It might seem simple, but they are all in awe of its beauty.
  • So the trio sits by some tree trunks and chats. They talk about what Hailsham might look like now and the rumors they've heard about completing.
  • To be honest, the talk is pretty grim. All three of them have heard that Chrissie completed after only her second donation, which is fairly early. Ruth is convinced that these early completions happen more often than anyone wants to admit.
  • On the drive back to Kingsfield, they pull the car over to look at a billboard showing an office building. While they're stopped on the side of the road, Ruth decides to confront the trio's past issues head-on. So she makes two confessions.
  • The first confession is about sex. Ruth tells Kathy that she also had super strong urges to have sex sometimes at the Cottages. Well, Ruth, you're about a decade late with that info. But she hopes Kathy will forgive her extremely belated truth-telling.
  • The second confession is about Kathy and Tommy. Ruth says the worst thing she's ever done is keep them apart. Ruth pressured Tommy into picking her even though he should have always been with Kathy. Ruth doesn't even expect them to forgive her, because what she did was just so awful.
  • Even though she doesn't expect their forgiveness, Ruth gives Kathy and Tommy something she hopes will help make-up for her selfish behavior: Madame's address. This way, Kathy and Tommy can try to apply for a deferral.
  • By this point, Kathy is sobbing and Tommy looks bewildered. Once again, it's been an emotional road trip.
  • After they drop Tommy off at his recovery center, Kathy and Ruth head back to Dover. There's definitely some tension between them, but there's also a sense of relief. At least now things are out in the open, which is more than we could say for the majority of Kathy and Ruth's friendship.
  • Over the next few days, things actually start turning around between Kathy and Ruth. They spend evenings shooting the breeze over biscuits and mineral water, just like old times. It's during these chats at the recovery center that they have all the talks we've heard snippets of throughout the novel.
  • Sadly, their bonded girl-time eventually comes to an end. A couple days after Ruth's second donation, Kathy sees her friend for the last time. Ruth can't talk and it's obvious she isn't going to make it.
  • Kathy sits with Ruth during her last hours, when Ruth is technically conscious but isn't really present. Kathy tells Ruth that she's going to become Tommy's carer, just like Ruth wanted. The two girls lock eyes for a moment and Kathy hopes that somehow Ruth knows that she and Tommy are going to do their best to get a deferral, and that Ruth's efforts weren't in vain.