Chapter 16 Summary
Things at the Cottages soon become complicated. Everyone is curious about how the Norfolk trip went, but the five who went do not talk about it. Rumors begin to spread and eventually die out. Soon several students leave the Cottages to begin their training, and now a new set of rumors begins about deferment. Some people have even begun to say that clones besides the ones who went to Hailsham can defer their donations.
Tommy continues to act on his theory that deferment is possible and that it is conditional upon clones’ proving they are in love. Consequently, he continues to work on his artwork. Although Kathy is reluctant to look at it, she eventually gives in. The work Tommy has done is actually quite impressive. The detail is meticulous and the animals somehow appear quite vulnerable. Kathy is so impressed that she says Tommy could show his illustrations to Madame.
Things between Tommy and Kathy seem good, and she is even getting along with Ruth. They are still having their nightly chats over tea. Kathy had been in a relationship with Lenny until he left the Cottages, but she admits the relationship was mostly about sex. Although she feels confused about his sudden departure, Kathy and Ruth have begun to laugh about him. In the midst of one of these conversations, Ruth finds the Judy Bridgewater cassette Tommy bought. Just as no one said anything about the Norfolk trip, so too have Tommy and Kathy not mentioned the gift. As Ruth leaves that night, she and Kathy seem to still be in good spirits. Looking back, Kathy wonders if Ruth truly was.
During another of their nightly discussions, Kathy and Ruth find themselves again laughing about Lenny. This time, they begin to talk about Tommy’s imaginary animals, and they start to laugh about them. However, soon after, Ruth finds out about Tommy’s theory that Hailsham students seeking deferment would have to show artwork to Madame. Again, Kathy knows something about Tommy that Ruth does not. This time, Ruth begins mocking Tommy and his theory and proceeds to belittle his illustrations—and she says that even Kathy laughs at him over them.
Kathy does not know what to do. It is clear that she is guilty of laughing at Tommy’s work, but she also feels betrayed. It seems like Ruth has set her up, but she cannot be sure. She does not know what to do, so she ends up leaving them. She feels as though she has triumphed and that
now they’d been left in each other’s company, they were suffering a fate they thoroughly deserved.