Chapter 6 Summary

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Kathy embarrasses Ruth by indirectly revealing the latter’s lie that Miss Geraldine has given her a pencil case. Although it only happened between the two of them, things remain awkward, so Kathy starts working to repair their relationship. Kathy does little things that allow Ruth to get more attention from Miss Geraldine, whom she adores. For example, if the two of them are both heading out the door of the classroom behind Miss Geraldine, Kathy slows down to let her friend go through first. Kathy can tell that Ruth appreciates these things. Soon Ruth returns the favor.

The students at Hailsham are not allowed to smoke and have been taught in detail about the dangers of cigarettes. In fact, when one student asks Miss Lucy whether she has ever smoked, the students are shocked to learn that Miss Lucy did smoke for two years before quitting. Miss Lucy explains that it was wrong of her and goes on to point out that the students at Hailsham are special and should particularly avoid the temptation of cigarettes. Although Kathy gets the impression that Miss Lucy is waiting for the students to ask another question, none of them does. However, they do hold the awkwardness against the student for a long time afterward. Like the Gallery, students at Hailsham do not discuss cigarettes.

Kathy has a Judy Bridgewater cassette tape. The cover of this tape features an image of the singer with a cigarette. However, what really attracts Kathy to the album is the third track, “Never Let Me Go.” Kathy does not care about the lyrics of the song, except for the line “baby, baby...Never let me go.” When she listens to the song, Kathy imagines

a woman who’d been told she couldn’t have babies, who’d really, really wanted them all her life. Then there’s sort of a miracle and she has a baby.

As a consequence, the speaker in the song holds her baby close to her while singing “never let me go.”

The song means a great deal to Kathy, but she does not reveal it to her peers. Instead, she listens to the song while alone. One afternoon, with the sunlight streaming through the window, she listens to “Never Let Me Go” while dancing with a pillow as a substitute for her imaginary baby. In the middle of the song, Kathy looks up to see Madame looking at her through the open doorway. She is surprised to see that Madame is crying.

Later, the students learn that they are unable to procreate. Months later, the cassette tape mysteriously disappears. As an adult, Kathy wonders whether her experience with Madame had something to do with the tape’s disappearance, but she dismisses the theory. However, as a child, she did go to her friends and inquire if they knew what had happened to the tape. When Ruth learns that the tape is missing, she acquires a new cassette with different music to make up for Kathy’s loss. It seems that things between the two have finally returned to normal.

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