Never Let Me Go - The question

Higher tier

Read the extract then answer the following question

What do we learn about the friendship between Kathy and Ruth at this point in the novel?

Foundation tier

Read the extract then answer the following question:

How do we know that Kathy and Ruth are not getting along very well at this point in the novel? Give reasons for what you say and remember to support your answer with words and phrases from the extract.

Remember you must only focus on this particular passage.

Look out for and comment on the writing techniques that Kazuo Ishiguro has used.

The extract

So that’s it, that’s what’s upsetting poor little Kathy. Ruth isn’t paying enough attention to her. Ruth’s got big new friends and baby sister isn’t getting played with so often...

Stop all that. Anyway, that’s not how it works in real families. You don’t know anything about it.

Oh Kathy, the great expert on real families. So sorry. But that’s what this is, isn’t it? You’ve still got this idea. Us Hailsham lot, we have to stay together, a tight little bunch, must never make any new friends.

I’ve never said that. I’m just talking about Chrissie and Rodney. It looks daft, the way you copy everything they do.

But I’m right, aren’t I?Ruth went on.You’re upset because I’ve managed to move on, make new friends. Some of the veterans hardly remember your name, and who can blame them? You hardly talk to anyone unless they’re Hailsham. But you can’t expect me to hold your hand the whole time. We’ve been here nearly two months now.

I didn’t take the bait, but said instead:Never mind me, never mind Hailsham. But you keep leaving Tommy in the lurch. I’ve watched you, you’ve done it a few times just this week. You leave him stranded, looking like a spare part. That’s not fair. You and Tommy are supposed to be a couple. That means you look out for him.

Quite right Kathy, we’re a couple, like you say. And if you must intrude I’ll tell you. We’ve talked about this and we’ve agreed. If he sometimes doesn’t feel like doing things with Chrissie and Rodney, that’s his choice...

(From Chapter Ten of Never Let Me Go)

Making a start

Before moving on, make some initial notes and highlight key details in the extract. Use the following points to help you:

  • What is going on in this passage?
  • Which words or phrases reveal how both Kathy and Ruth feel?
  • Which words or phrases suggest that their friendship is becoming troubled?

Analysing the extract

Higher tier

Read the extract then answer the following question:

What do we learn about the friendship between Kathy and Ruth at this point in the novel?

Foundation tier

Read the extract then answer the following question:

How do we know that Kathy and Ruth are not getting along very well at this point in the novel? Give reasons for what you say and remember to support your answer with words and phrases from the extract.

Remember, your key priority should be to analyse and comment on the language that Kazuo Ishiguro has used in this extract only. Look once again at the extract below and pay particular attention to the highlighted points. Think about how they help Kazuo Ishiguro suggest the nature of the friendship between Kathy and Ruth at this point in the novel.

So that’s it, that’s what’s upsetting (1) poor little Kathy. (2) Ruth isn’t paying enough attention to her. Ruth’s got big new friends and baby sister isn’t getting played with so often...

Stop all that. Anyway, that’s not how it works in real families. (3) You don’t know anything about it.

Oh Kathy, (4) the great expert on real families. So sorry. But that’s what this is, isn’t it? You’ve still got this idea. (5) Us Hailsham lot, we have to stay together, a tight little bunch, must never make any new friends.

I’ve never said that. I’m just talking about Chrissie and Rodney. (6) It looks daft, the way you copy everything they do.

But I’m right, aren’t I?Ruth went on. (7) You’re upset because I’ve managed to move on, make new friends. Some of the veterans hardly remember your name, and who can blame them? (8) You hardly talk to anyone unless they’re Hailsham. But you can’t expect me to hold your hand the whole time. We’ve been here nearly two months now.

(9) I didn’t take the bait, but said instead:Never mind me, never mind Hailsham. But you keep leaving Tommy in the lurch. I’ve watched you, you’ve done it a few times just this week. You leave him stranded, looking like a spare part. That’s not fair. You and Tommy are supposed to be a couple. That means you look out for him.

Quite right Kathy, we’re a couple, like you say. (10) And if you must intrude I’ll tell you. We’ve talked about this and we’ve agreed. If he sometimes doesn’t feel like doing things with Chrissie and Rodney, that’s his choice...

(From Chapter Ten of Never Let Me Go)

  1. The phrase, poor little Kathy, suggests Ruth is being patronising towards Kathy. Ruth is belittling her and treating her as a child and not as her equal. This hints that something is not quite right in their relationship.
  2. Ruth’s got big new friends and baby sister isn’t getting played with so often… When Ruth accuses Kathy of being like her baby sister, Ruth is suggesting that she has always been the dominant one in their friendship and that Kathy has needed Ruth far more than Ruth has needed Kathy. Ruth is also inferring that she is able to make new friends whereas she believes this is something Kathy is struggling to do.
  3. You don’t know anything about it. Here Kathy is trying to regain control of the situation by reminding Ruth that she knows nothing about the way in which real families work. This seems to suggest that for Kathy at least, her friendship with Ruth means more than just the typical friendship that develops between girls who have met at school. Kathy sees Ruth as representing the family she never had and therefore she is particularly upset by Ruth’s attitude.
  4. ...the great expert on families.At this point Ruth is being extremely sarcastic as she is aware that none of the student clones can be experts on families because they have never been part of a family. This level of sarcasm once again hints at the difficulty in the friendship between Ruth and Kathy.
  5. Us Hailsham lot, we have to stay together, a tight little bunch, must never make any new friends. Ruth’s words are meant to mimic how she believes Kathy feels. Ruth thinks Kathy wants everyone from Hailsham to stick together and ignore everyone else living at The Cottages. Ruth is implying that she feels differently and that she is ready to meet new people and move on from Hailsham.
  6. It looks daft, the way you copy everything they do. Here Kathy tries to make Ruth realise that she does not believe there is anything wrong with making new friends. However, as Kathy points out, she does feel that Ruth is embarrassing herself by trying to copy everything the veterans such as Chrissie and Rodney do. This implies Kathy is trying to prevent Ruth making a fool of herself.
  7. You’re upset because I’ve managed to move on, make new friends. Ruth brushes over Kathy’s criticism of her and instead turns the focus of their conversation once more upon Kathy. Ruth insists on maintaining that Kathy is upset because Ruth has moved on from their shared school days at Hailsham, whereas Kathy has not. Ruth believes Kathy is still annoyed because she has made new friends and is moving on with her life, leaving Kathy behind.
  8. You hardly talk to anyone unless they’re Hailsham. Ruth continues to criticise Kathy which again implies that their friendship is in trouble. Ruth accuses Kathy of not wanting to make new friends and of only wanting to talk to friends she had already made in Hailsham.
  9. I didn’t take the bait. This line hints at the close friendship Ruth and Kathy have had in the past. Kathy knows Ruth well enough to know that Ruth is doing all she can to annoy her and to say hurtful things. Therefore, Kathy tries to keep calm and tries to avoid giving Ruth the reaction she is expecting.
  10. And if you must intrude I’ll tell you.Once again Ruth is doing all she can to make Kathy feel uncomfortable, this time by implying that Kathy is becoming far too involved in her relationship with Tommy. The word ‘intrudes’ highlights this. Ruth is treating Kathy as if she is an outsider, not a friend she has known for many years.

Planning your answer

It is always a good idea to plan your answer carefully before you begin writing your essay. Planning will save you time as you will have a clear idea of what to write and it means you will make your points in a logical manner. You must always refer to the assessment objectives to ensure you have met the criteria.

Here is a plan you could use for your answer to both the higher and foundation tier questions.

Higher tier

What do we learn about the friendship between Kathy and Ruth at this point in the novel?

Foundation tier

How do we know that Kathy and Ruth are not getting along very well at this point in the novel?

  1. Introduction – What is happening in this scene? Give a brief overview.
  2. Comment on the way Ruth is treating Kathy in the extract and include details of the things she says to Kathy.
  3. Comment on the way Kathy responds to what Ruth says.
  4. Comment on the way Kathy feels in this extract.
  5. Conclusion. Here you should provide a general summing up of your points.