Chapter 19 Summary

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Tommy’s recovery center in Kingsfield is not as nice as Ruth’s. In Dover, Ruth is at least kept comfortable and everything is new. Tommy’s recovery center is

out of the way and awkward to get to, and yet when you’re there, there’s no real sense of peace and quiet.

The bathrooms are too far from where the donors are kept, it is cold, and some rooms are not wheelchair accessible. When they meet Tommy again, he is recovering from his second donation.

Tommy has not been to see the boat yet, so the three set off with Kathy driving. Along the way, Ruth begins tell a story about someone she knows before Kathy finally jokes that she does not need to hear any more, and Tommy expresses his surprise as he was just about to say the exact same thing. When they arrive at the boat, they need to walk under barbed wire, and Ruth is afraid. Kathy realizes that the trip may well be hard on someone in recovery, and she and Tommy immediately help Ruth. Kathy thinks they help because they feel guilty for having ganged up on her.

On the way home, they gang up on Ruth again, this time defending an advertisement that Ruth criticizes. Kathy resolves the tension by suggesting that they will come across another advertisement that she thinks Ruth will like soon. It is an advertisement with several professional looking people in an open-plan office; it recalls the one Ruth had so admired during their time in the Cottages. Kathy and Tommy begin to ask why Ruth never tried to become a professional working in such an office, and they agree it must be difficult now to look at such an advertisement and not be able to say that she at least tried. When Kathy brings up Madame’s name during this discussion, she notices that Ruth suddenly has a look of triumph, which concerns Kathy.

Ruth starts by apologizing to Kathy for what she did. She goes on to explain that when Kathy confessed to having uncontrollable urges to have sex, Ruth lied and allowed Kathy to believe that what she felt was abnormal. Ruth admits that she used to get the same urges and that she slept with several other men besides Tommy during their time at the Cottages. Ruth asks forgiveness for this, but she does not ask forgiveness for what she admits to next: that she kept Tommy and Kathy apart. She knew all along that they should have been together. Ruth has located Madame’s address, and she wants Tommy and Kathy to try to obtain a deferment. If they fail to try, they will always regret it.

Tommy keeps Madame’s address when they drop him off at his recovery center. Back in Dover, things go badly for Ruth during her next donation. Kathy manages to be with Ruth during a final lucid moment and declares that she will try to become Tommy’s carer.

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Chapter 18 Summary


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