In Never Let Me Go, the vast majority of the characters are female. In fact, there is only one significant male character, Tommy. Adult male characters do not appear, and the reader does not learn about the overall gender distribution of power and governance.
The clone children grow up within the tightly restricted institutional environment of Hailsham, a juvenile detention facility with the superficial attributes of a school. Most of the adult authorities, called guardians, are female, including Hailsham’s head guardian, Miss Emily. One supportive guardian, Miss Lucy, promotes the children’s learning and artistic expression. Some of the children develop close attachments to the women, such as Ruth, who creates a “secret guard” attached to Miss Geraldine. The Hailsham guardians are contrasted to Madame, who does not work at the school but comes only to take work from the Gallery; she is presented as remote from the children.
Tommy is presented as alienated from the typical boys,...
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