Part One of the novel mainly involves Kathy’s memories of Hailsham,
Our day at Hailsham always began with an assembly, which was usually pretty brief, although as nothing is straightforward in Kathy’s narration she also mentions her role as a carer,
I won’t be a carer any more come the end of the year, and though I’ve got a lot out of it, I have to admit I’ll welcome the chance to rest - to stop and think and remember. At this point the reader is not clear what her
rest actually entails and certainly does not realise it involves donation and completion, which in this context means death. Kathy’s recollections of Hailsham are detailed and she provides the reader with intricate memories about her daily life at Hailsham, the other students, the guardians and the buildings that were part of the school,
The pavilion was big enough to take two separate groups without them bothering each other.
During Part Two of the novel, Kathy’s narrative is mainly about her time at The Cottages and other characters are introduced such as the veterans, Chrissie and Rodney. However, the shadow of Hailsham looms large and it is not long before Kathy begins introducing memories of her life at school into her narrative,
I think about the essay the same way I might a rounders match at Hailsham I did particularly well in... Her past life at Hailsham consumes her and the structure of the novel reflects this. Kathy never properly moves on from Hailsham, it remains an important part of her life long after she has actually left the school.
During Part Three of Never Let Me Go Kathy has left The Cottages in order to become a carer. Although she meets many donors, she still finds it hard to forget Hailsham and her old friends from the school. Eventually she gives in, realising that Ruth and Tommy are the only people she has ever really cared for,
There have been times over the years when I’ve tried to leave Hailsham behind, when I’ve told myself I shouldn’t look back so much. But then there came a point when I just stopped resisting. This results in Kathy becoming Ruth’s carer and beginning a relationship with Tommy. When both her friends complete, Kathy is left alone so that the ending of the novel is rather like the beginning, with Kathy contemplating her future as a donor and for a time at least continuing with her role as a carer,
I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to where I was supposed to be.
How important is the overall structure of this novel?
The structure of this novel is important because it allows the reader to see that Kathy never moves on from her time at Hailsham School. Although she physically leaves the school behind and moves first to The Cottages and then becomes a carer, Kathy remains emotionally tied to Hailsham.
Throughout her entire narrative, Kathy’s memories of Hailsham School impact upon her present life so that she is unable to live in the present without recalling her past,
It was that exchange, when we finally mentioned the closing of Hailsham, that suddenly brought us close again, and we hugged, quite spontaneously, not as much to comfort one another, but as a way of affirming Hailsham, the fact that it was still there in our memories. Here, the reader can see that Kathy is not the only student to recall Hailsham with fondness. When Laura, another ex-student, also recalls Hailsham, it helps her to reconnect with her past and she takes comfort from this, particularly as she finds her role as a carer a difficult one.