In Never Let Me Go, how does Hailsham suppress the children's natural desires and identity?

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The children who live in Hailsham believe they are receiving an education, but in reality they are basically prisoners who are deprived of most information about the world beyond its grounds. Many of the Hailsham staff believe that they are improving conditions for the children, but nevertheless they enforce the rules. Because all the children are clones, none of them has parents or any experience of what growing up in a family might be like. Having been institutionalized their entire lives, they accept their situation as normal. The reader is encouraged to wonder what human nature is under such circumstances.

The ambiguities surrounding the institution are revealed in the attitudes and actions of Miss Lucy and Madame. Because Hailsham is not a school, the staff are guardians rather than teachers. Nevertheless, Miss Lucy behaves like a teacher, constantly trying to broaden the horizons of her charges, as well as show respect through honesty. She is frustrated because her suggestions for making a more humane environment are rarely heeded; the decision makers cannot see the point in investing resources and are not convinced that the children, as clones, have the emotional development about which Lucy is so concerned.

The idea of demonstrating that the children do have meaningful feelings and talents is the idea behind the art and the gallery. Madame’s visits to collect the artwork are something the children learn to anticipate, but not till the end, after they become adults, do they learn that the purpose was to demonstrate their humanity. In turn, that information would be used to improve their situation and make Hailsham a more amendable environment while they await their fate.

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