Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 409
In Part 2, Kathy and her cohort have left Hailsham and are living in the Cottages. Different students have gone to different areas of England, but Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are still together, and they have joined some “veterans” at the Cottages. However, this new community and the new setting cause friction, particularly between Ruth and Kathy.
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Life at the Cottages is designed to help the Hailsham students make the transition into the outside world, though the area itself is quite unlike Hailsham. An old farmyard makes up the Cottages. A hired hand works there, but otherwise it is mostly run by a small group of students. Before arriving, the students are required to choose a subject to study over the course of two years. Kathy chooses Victorian novels, though she admits she did not think about her topic very much before choosing. For many students, these essays are like a comforting and familiar task that ties them to Hailsham. However, there is certainly more than enough room for things other than study at the Cottages.
The veterans keep a close eye on the newcomers. However, the newcomers also keep a close eye on the veterans. Kathy notes that Ruth especially pays close attention to the veterans. When Ruth first comes to Cottages, she spends a lot of time “snogging” Tommy in public areas. However, before long, she picks up on the habits of the veterans. For example, when the veteran couples part ways, the girl will often punch her partner on the arm instead of kissing him goodbye. Before long, Ruth has picked up this habit.
It seems that the veterans are there as models for correct behavior, but Kathy soon notices that their habits are learned from television. She confronts Ruth and argues that their behavior is not “worth copying” if one’s goal is to emulate how people behave in the “normal world.” Ruth responds by suggesting that Kathy is jealous of the new friends she has been making, and she suggests that Kathy has not been working hard enough to get to know the veterans. Kathy realizes that she is losing the argument and says that Ruth is mistreating Tommy, but Ruth says she and Tommy have discussed things between themselves. Finally, she suggests Kathy has actually gotten to know a few of the veterans rather well before she laughs off the conversation as though to suggest that there is nothing wrong. Kathy just walks away.