Chapter 3 Summary
Tommy and Kathy agree to meet by the pond after lunch. It is a covert meeting; although Tommy is no longer being picked on, Kathy is still reluctant to be seen with him. It does not help that what he has to say is quite shocking to Kathy: a guardian (Miss Lucy) told Tommy it is okay if he is not very creative.
When Tommy asked teachers to help him with his social problems, most of them gave him a standard answer. Many suggested that he might be a late bloomer who will eventually discover his creative talents. However, Miss Lucy said:
There’s at least one person here at Hailsham who believes...you’re a very good student, as good as any she’s ever come across, never mind how creative you are.
Tommy explains that Miss Lucy seemed to be seething with rage while saying this.
Miss Lucy is an unusual guardian. Although many younger students go to Miss Geraldine when their feelings are hurt or confused, the senior students tend to prefer talking to Miss Lucy. Miss Lucy is not as sympathetic as Miss Geraldine is. She is also athletic: she is a talented hockey player, and only a few of the boys can run as fast as she can.
Her views come as a shock to Kathy. Tommy suggests that he got the impression that Miss Lucy felt the students were not being taught enough. It is not that they do not work hard enough but rather that there is something they are missing. He thinks it may have to do with the students and donations, but Kathy explains that the students at Hailsham have all been taught about donations already. It seems like there is something Miss Lucy wants to tell the students but has not.
Tommy’s story reminds Kathy of some other things she finds puzzling, such as the Gallery. Early on, the students learned to point out works that were especially good as being good enough to go into the Gallery, but the students do not really know much about it, and it is a taboo subject. However, occasionally, “Madame” visits Hailsham, and when she does, the students’ best work is put on display. Madame selects some of these works. The mystique that surrounds Madame once aroused the girls’ curiosity. Consequently, the girls made a point of crossing paths with Madame during one of her visits, but they were surprised by what they saw. Madame looked at the girls the way someone would look at a spider. Kathy compares the experience to
walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange.