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Chapter 1 Summary

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is set in England in the late 1990s. The narrator, Kathy H., says she is thirty-one years old and has been a “carer” for eleven years. She explains that although this seems like a long time, “they” want her to continue for another eight months. Some really effective carers are asked to stop after just a few years; she asks what can explain her longevity.

She explains that her “donors” tend to exceed expectations. They recover quickly and are rarely classified as “agitated,” even before their fourth donation. Kathy is quick to point out that she is not bragging. Given her experience, she gets to choose with which donors she will work. Although her detractors argue that this is just because she went to Hailsham, she points out that she has worked with all sorts of people. Besides, people are not machines, and being a carer can wear after a while.

Modest though she may be, Kathy does have an impressive record, and it seems that her success can be at least partially explained by her ability to tell what her patients need. For example, in one case, the donor had a difficult background. He did not want to share his childhood memories. Instead, when he found out that Kathy went to Hailsham, he wanted to hear about her childhood. In fact, he wanted to remember so that it would feel like it was his own childhood. The aura that surrounds Hailsham is powerful, and Kathy still thinks about her time there when she drives around the countryside.

She remembers the sports pavilion. She recalls watching with the other girls as the boys pick teams. The girls are all focused on Tommy, who is a talented player...

(The entire section is 449 words.)