Discussion Topic

Kathy's character evolution and personality changes from childhood to adulthood in Never Let Me Go


Kathy's character in Never Let Me Go evolves from a curious and naive child to a reflective and empathetic adult. Throughout her journey, she becomes more aware of the complexities and harsh realities of her world, showing resilience and a deep sense of care for her friends while grappling with her fate.

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How does Kathy's character evolve from part 1 to part 2 in Never Let Me Go?

The transition from part 1 to part 2 of the novel marks the end of Kathy’s childhood and her upbringing in the narrow confines of Hailsham. Along with Tommy and Ruth, she goes to live with a group of fellow future donors in the Cottages. For the first time, she meets people who were not raised at Hailsham. Although all three of them make friends with the new group, the experience is different for each of them. Kathy seems to handle the transition better than her old friends, but their emotional turmoil sometimes makes her nervous. Kathy feels strong sexual urges and acts on her desire, having sexual relations with several of the men living there.

Kathy works on a literature essay that is her last requirement from Hailsham, but her thoughts often stray toward the future. The other Cottage residents spark her curiosity about the rumors of deferment. A significant event for Ruth occurs when two Cottagers, Chrissie and Rodney, claim to have seen her “possible,” the original human from whom Ruth was cloned.

When the five of them go to look for this possible, Kathy gets her first taste of independent actions in the outside world. During the outing, although she empathizes with Ruth’s anxieties, Kathy starts to grow closer to Tommy. Not long after that day, Kathy decides that she will begin training to become a carer—the position the reader had long ago learned that she holds.

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How does Kathy's personality change from childhood to adulthood in Never Let Me Go?

One of the most defining characteristics about Kathy as a charater and how she develops from childhood to adulthood is the way in which she becomes more and more accepting of her lot in life and the kind of fate that awaits her. Whereas when she was at Hailsham, her life was filled with jealousy and envy of Ruth and her possession of Tommy, what comes to characterise her life later on is a stoical acceptance of what must be, although this is often tinged with the capacity of thinking of other possible futures. For example, examine the following quote that describes Kathy's acceptance of life and what it brings her:

We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've lived through, or feel we've had enough time.

The underlying aspect of life for Kathy is the way that she knows she will complete some day, just like every other clone (and human). Other issues, such as understanding the value of our life and its experiences, and feelings that we haven't had enough time, are completely secondary to this reality.

If we examine another aspect of Kathy's character we see that when she looks back on the kind of life she and Tommy and Ruth experienced, she is very introspective and thinks about what could have been done differently:

It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that. But the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the task. If we'd understood that back then--who knows?--maybe we'd have kept a tighter hold of one another.

Kathy learns through the experiences that she undergoes as part of becoming an adult, and recognises the value of clinging on more tightly to those you love in a vain attempt to try and have more time together before accepting the inevitable.

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