Chapter 9 Summary
Now that Ruth and Tommy have split up, one of Kathy’s peers, Cynthia E., informs her that she might as well be Ruth’s “natural successor.” Although Cynthia does not seem to mean anything significant by this statement, it starts Kathy thinking, and it changes her plans. As an adult, Kathy is a carer for Harry, and she finds herself thinking about why she did not end up sleeping with him.
Although Cynthia seems to expect Kathy to start seeing Tommy, Ruth does not consider the possibility. Instead, she asks Kathy to talk to Tommy about getting back together. Although they have both hurt each other recently, she considers them even and is prepared to work things out. After all, they are about to leave Hailsham, so they should start thinking more about the future. Also, Ruth shares, Tommy has a great deal of respect for Kathy; she says that Tommy would rather have Kathy in his corner than any of the boys at Hailsham.
So Kathy talks to Tommy, who shares that his feelings are confused because of a recent private talk with Miss Lucy. During their first private talk, Miss Lucy told Tommy that it was okay for him to not be as creative as his peers, and he credited her with changing his perspective and allowing him to overcome being bullied. However, now Miss Lucy apologizes for giving him the wrong advice. She says, “Your art, it is important. And not just because it’s evidence.” Although neither Tommy nor Kathy can explain the significance of “evidence,” they agree that Miss Lucy’s behavior is weird. At the end of the conversation, Miss Lucy hugs Tommy, who assures his guardian that he will be okay. Regardless, at the moment, he feels too confused about things to get back together with Ruth. After all, their entire lives are before them. Although Kathy says Ruth is the best in their class, Tommy maintains that he will have to be sure of his actions before getting back together with her.
Soon after, the students learn that Miss Lucy “had left Hailsham and wouldn’t be returning.” There is no further explanation, and the students rush out of the classroom to tell others. Kathy knows how much Miss Lucy meant to Tommy, so she tries to find him first and tell him the news herself. She is too late. Kathy sees that while the other students look excited by the news, “Tommy’s eyes looked empty.” After that, Tommy reunites with Ruth, and Ruth thanks Kathy for helping her out.