In the novel Never Let Me Go, why do the students and Hailsham's administrators attach such high value to creativity?

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On the surface, the students of Hailsham value creativity and art skills because of the social status they infer. Tommy, for example, gets made fun of by his classmates because of his lack of artistic talent. Creativity and churning out good paintings, drawings, or poems is a means of grabbing...

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On the surface, the students of Hailsham value creativity and art skills because of the social status they infer. Tommy, for example, gets made fun of by his classmates because of his lack of artistic talent. Creativity and churning out good paintings, drawings, or poems is a means of grabbing attention, praise, and social status—i.e., fitting in.

What the students don't know—at least not initially—is that being creative is a sign of being human. The teachers know this and use the connection between creativity and humanity to argue that their students do, indeed, have souls just like natural human beings, even though they're clones.

Eventually, Kathy and Tommy realize just how high the stakes have been, as they discover that Miss Emily and Madame have been using the students' artwork to prove their humanity all along. They weren't looking for the soul of an artist in the students' work; they were looking for proof of a soul, period.

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Yes, both the students and the administrators at Hailsham value creativity, but the two groups value creativity for completely different reasons.

Unlike the students themselves, the administrators know everything to do with Hailsham students and their existence, including the fact that they are all clones with a specific utilitarian purpose: the students are brought into the world only to be used for their healthy organs, and they will eventually die when they run out of useful vital organs. The administrators seek to cultivate creativity in the students as a way to extend the experiment, as they believe that artistic ability is a measurable way to determine if the cloned students are fully human. All of the student artwork is an essential part of the body of cloning research that the administrators want to gather and analyze.

The students, on the other hand, value their own creativity for vastly different reasons. The students are unaware of the fact that they are clones and participants in an experiment. They see themselves as normal children who want positive attention, even love, from the adults around them. Creativity is one way to generate this attention, and the artists who exhibit the most interesting and promising artistic talents do indeed receive the most positive attention from the adults at Hailsham.

In conclusion, the students' simple desire to be loved and their childish determination to demonstrate creativity contrasts with the cold, hard rationale behind the administrators' scientific value of creativity.

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Until the students learn the ultimate truth, i.e. that they truly have no future and that there are no "deferrals" for those who claim to be in love, there is a glimmer of hope that they might be able to change their situation and possibly prolong their short lives. Creativity is valued highly by students and the administrators because, despite the purpose of the experiment of Hailsham and the other schools being a pragmatic one for the purpose of providing a supply of organs for medical use, the cloning of human beings is still considered a somewhat mysterious enterprise, and monitoring students' creativity was a way of exploring whether they were similar to actual human beings born to natural parents.

Miss Emily, the headmistress during the time that  Tommy, Kathy and Ruth were at Hailsham, is part of the "old guard" who still believed in the humanity of the clones, and felt pity for them. Hailsham was eventually closed and clones were produced in breeding centers, with the need for schools disregarded. "You poor creatures," Miss Emily says to Kathy and Tommy when they visit her to ask for a deferral. She explains that the Gallery, where Tommy's many drawing were displayed, was not for looking into their souls, but "to see if you had souls at all." The acts of drawing and other creative pursuits were the students' way of clinging to their individuality, which is slowly eroded as the cloning practices become more utilitarian with time.

 

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