Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 468
Tommy, Kathy, Chrissie, and Rodney accompany Ruth to Norfolk to search for a woman who might be a possible for her. Ruth pretends that the trip does not mean much to her, and Rodney makes most of the plans, such as obtaining a vehicle. However, when it seems like they will not get a car after all, Kathy sees that Ruth is really upset. However, things work out and the five leave the Cottages for Norfolk together.
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The friction between Ruth and Kathy continues. During most of the trip, the veterans sit in the front and Ruth passes the time joking with them. When Kathy confronts Ruth on this, she is surprised by her friend’s response. Ruth asks why Kathy always makes things difficult, and Kathy sees that Ruth has been trying to put on a show to mask her feelings. They return to the car, but things are not the same for the rest of the trip.
They do not talk about Ruth’s possible even after they arrive in Norfolk. Instead, they begin to talk about going to see Martin’s flat. Martin stayed at the Cottages before Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy arrived. Now he is a carer, and Kathy is surprised that the veterans would want to go see him. After all, it is not allowed. The others tease Kathy before moving on to other discussions.
The most provocative thing they discuss is “deferment.” That people could defer their donations is a rumor only. However, Chrissie and Rodney have heard from one of their friends that only the Hailsham students can ask for a deferment. Even if their request is granted, their donations are only deferred for a few years. Also, to get a deferment, the students would have to demonstrate that they are really in love. When the veterans ask the Hailsham students about this, Ruth acts as though she knows all about deferment but cannot say very much. Kathy notices several things. For one thing, she suspects that the entire trip was a scheme to get the Hailsham students away from the Cottages so they could ask about deferment in private. She also sees how important deferment is to the veterans. But for Kathy the most important effect of the conversation is how it affects Tommy.
If students at Hailsham ever talked about deferment like Ruth is claiming, Tommy never heard about it. Ruth tries to cover up for him so that she will not be embarrassed in front of the veterans, but he is insistent that he never heard about deferment. So Ruth explains that Tommy is not really like a Hailsham student because he was always picked on. Kathy looks at Tommy and is unsettled to see the old Tommy—the one who would throw a tantrum and ruin things.