Use of structure in Never Let Me Go

The novel is centred on the life of the narrator Kathy and her two school friends, Tommy and Ruth. Although other people enter Kathy’s life, such as Chrissie and Rodney, Tommy and Ruth are always there. This is mainly because Kathy’s memories of them are so strong and after Ruth and Tommy begin the donation process, Kathy re-enters their lives becoming firstly Ruth’s carer and then Tommy’s.

The novel is split into three parts:

  • Part One covers chapters one to nine
  • Part Two covers chapters ten to 17
  • Part Three covers chapters 18 to 23

When writing about structure think about:

  • How is the text put together?
  • What is the significance of this?
  • How does the structure reflect the themes of the text?
  • What is the overall effect of the structure?

Evidence and explanation of the structure used

At the opening of the novel Kathy tells us that she is 31 years old but most of her narration involves her memories of the past, when she was a student at Hailsham School or when she was living at The Cottages. Therefore, her narration is not straightforward or chronological, as she tends to jump from recalling one incident to another in a very non-linear way.

Often, Kathy begins to recall a certain incident but will get easily tempted into reminiscing about another event, or giving the reader information about other students or guardians. During Chapter Four Kathy begins to tell the reader about the head guardian, Miss Emily. However, she interrupts her recollections with, But that’s not really what I want to talk to you about just now. What I want to do now is get a few things down about Ruth, about how we met and became friends, about our early days together. Kathy has total control over her narrative and the reader has to wait for Kathy to decide when she wants to give further information about Miss Emily before they find out more about the head guardian.