At first, Hailsham seems like an idyllic environment in which to grow up and get an education. Later, though, as the truth is revealed, the characters realize they were always living a lie.
Hailsham seems to be a school where students express their creativity and idolize their teachers while forming strong bonds with their classmates. When Kathy recalls her childhood at Hailsham, she seems nostalgic for the innocence of that time. Once the children "graduate" from Hailsham, they go off to other cabins where they live with other "graduates" before starting their roles as either "carers" or "donors." At this point, the young people learn that their destiny is basically to house donor organs for "real humans." The Hailsham students, it turns out, are clones. This explains why they have no memories and seem unconcerned about their parents. The donors give organ donations in one to three separate surgeries; when they "complete," they have nothing more to give, meaning they die. The carers are responsible for nursing the donors until the carers become donors themselves.
The Hailsham cohort have no real control over their "lives," and when they learn the truth they are, understandably, devastated. They look for ways around their fates. For example, Kathy and Tommy think that if they are in love, they can be spared; they even go to the home of a school founder only to be told that was always an unfounded rumor.
The Hailsham students are harmed by their time at the school because they are lied to—or at least not told the truth—about their purpose. On the other hand, how does one tell a child this is his or her fate? It seems unethical, but it is also an impossible situation. Never Let Me Go highlights these ethical conundrums that can result from advancing technology and medical progress. The novel asks whether we should pursue such a route even if it is possible, as it has dire consequences for some of the players involved.