The students at Hailsham are like many other students of their age. Friendships are very important to them. People argue with each other, make up with each other or simply change their friendship groups. However, what is different for Kathy and her friends at Hailsham is that apart from the guardians, all they have is each other. Therefore, their friendships become more important and much more intense.
Ishiguro’s presentation of the friendship groups in Never Let Me Go is very realistic. He portrays Ruth as a typical leader, the girl many other students look up to, and Tommy as the student who is often goaded into making a fool of himself for the entertainment of his friends. Ishiguro also shows that as well as having silly quarrels with each other,
But the next second Ruth gave a little laugh and said: ‘The idiot! (Kathy), the students also care for each other and offer support when it is needed,
'It’s nothing to worry about,' I said before the silence got humiliating for him. 'It’ll come off. If you can’t get it off yourself, then just take it to Miss Jody.' (Kathy to Tommy). In a way, Hailsham is a glue that bonds its students together. Even when they fall out, they will still be tied together because of their shared history, shared experiences, and the fact that they know so much about one another.
There are moments during the novel when Ruth hurts Kathy greatly. During their time at The Cottages, Ruth tries hard to be like one of the veterans and as a result, often snubs Kathy in the process or humiliates her by pretending to have forgotten an event that Kathy remembers quite clearly. Ruth’s behaviour is partly to blame for Kathy deciding to leave The Cottages to begin her career as a carer. However by the end of the novel, Kathy has become Ruth’s carer and their fondness for each other has returned.
In Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro shows the theme of friendship through:
When Kathy is a carer and begins to be given the option of picking some of her patients, she begins to seek out donors who used to go to Hailsham School.
… I started seeking out for my donors people from the past, and whenever I could, people from Hailsham.
Kathy’s use of the word
seeking suggests that she actively searches for past students from Hailsham in the hope of being able to care for them. This shows that friendship is of real importance to her and that she has not forgotten the students she was at school with.
Despite having their differences and not parting on the most amicable of terms, Kathy decides that the right thing to do would be to become Ruth’s carer. Her past friendship with Ruth means more to Kathy than any quarrel they may have had in their youth and she does all she can to make sure that she is
assigned to Ruth.
She already had a carer assigned to her at the time, and I remember it taking a bit of nerve on my part. But in the end I managed it, and the instant I saw her again at that recovery centre in Dover, all our differences – while they didn’t exactly vanish – seemed not nearly as important as all the other things: like the fact that we’d grown up together at Hailsham, the fact that we knew and remembered things no one else did. (Kathy)
Later when Kathy meets Tommy for the first time in many years their closeness is obvious,
My heart had done a little leap, because in a single stroke, with that little laugh of agreement, it felt as though Tommy and I had come close together again... (Kathy)
After a considerable amount of time apart, the friendship between Kathy, Ruth and Tommy is still strong. Ishiguro shows how they remain close because of their shared experiences and because ultimately they were the only ones who really cared for each other. With no actual family to turn to, friendship between the students was of the utmost importance.