Chapter 8 Summary

Kathy finds Miss Lucy alone in a small classroom by accident. Sometimes Kathy likes to imagine that she lives with just a few people rather than an entire school community. She goes to vacant rooms and looks out over the Hailsham grounds. However, this time she finds Miss Lucy alone in a room at a table filled with papers. Miss Lucy is not crying, but Kathy is still inexplicably unsettled by the experience.

She would discuss moments like these with Tommy, but by this point their relationship has changed. Lately, Kathy’s peers have become obsessed with sex. There is a lot of peer pressure to have sex, but Kathy notes that few students actually have had sex. Instead, it is more like there is an unwritten agreement to pretend that your friends are sexually experienced. However, it is harder to have sex at Hailsham than one would think.

The students have been taught that sex is beautiful and that they cannot have children from it, so at times it seems like they have been encouraged to become sexually active. On the other hand, there are no places that are private. It is against the rules for girls to go into the boys’ dorm; it is against the rules to go into classrooms in the evenings; the outdoors are not as private as they seem, and having sex in the fields could just as likely invite an audience.

Many students only pretend they have had sex, but Kathy knows at least a couple of people who are sexually active. One of the guardians actually caught one of Kathy’s friends having sex in a classroom. The students stopped and were sent to Miss Emily, who quickly said she is sure they will not repeat such behavior. Also, Kathy shares that Tommy and Ruth have been publicly dating for several months, so they have likely had sex as well. In many ways, it seems that being sexually active has taken the place of being creative.

Kathy begins studying for her first sexual experience. Previously, she felt that she should only have sex with someone to whom she is really attracted. However, now she feels that it would be better to practice so she will be an expert when the real opportunity arrives. She begins reviewing sex scenes in literature and films, though she is disappointed to find that neither offers much practical advice. She also begins to flirt with Harry C. However, just as her plans begin to take form, Ruth and Tommy break up, which confuses everything.