How does Ishiguro characterize Tommy and to what ends?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tommy is characterized as a loner, despite the fact that he eventually becomes friends with Kathy and dates Ruth. His tendency as a youngster at Hailsham to give in to his emotions and to throw tantrums makes him different from the rest of the students, Kathy explains. As well, Ruth describes Tommy as a boy who is often left out of group activities and mocked for being different, and she even goes as far as to say Tommy isn't a real Hailsham student. All of these details give the reader the sense that Tommy is a bit of an outcast, which makes his sense of belonging that comes along later in the book when he becomes a donor all the more poignant. Ironically, in order for Tommy to be included and to feel like a part of a bigger community, he must give up his organs, the parts of him that make him alive.