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The importance of Kathy to the novel Never Let Me Go

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A revision guide for GCSE English Literature

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The importance of Kathy to the novel Never Let Me Go

  1. 1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro Lesson objectives: To explore the importance of main character Kathy to the novel as a whole To identify and explore the significance of the main themes in the novel
  2. 2. How is the character of Kathy important to the novel as a whole? 5-minute small group discussion
  3. 3. How is the character of Kathy important to the novel as a whole? Ishiguro identifies Kathy with the title of the novel and hence its central theme – the futile desire to cling on to a humane “old kind world” (p267) Through the presentation of Kathy, Ishiguro portrays the theme of loss. Ishiguro’s presentation of Kathy gives the reader an insight into the lifestyle of a carer in this dystopian society. As the first person narrator of the novel, Ishiguro presents the story through Kathy’s perspective. Through the presentation of Kathy Ishiguro explores the theme of friendship. Through the presentation of Kathy, Ishiguro illustrates the hopelessness of the clones’ lives.
  4. 4. It is important that Ishiguro presents Kathy as a realistic, fair-minded and perceptive character, so that she is a credible, believable character. How does Ishiguro establish these character traits/qualities:  Realistic: see opening lines of Chapter two, p13  Fair-minded: see the bottom of p3  Perceptive: 1. What does Kathy suspect about Ruth’s discovery of the Judy Bridgewater tape that Tommy had bought for her? P188 2. How does she show awareness of Ruth’s controlling nature? p189 The character of Kathy is important to the novel as a whole because: As the first person narrator of the novel, Ishiguro presents the story through Kathy’s perspective.
  5. 5. Ishiguro interlaces the adult Kathy’s memories into the story to show the gulf between childhood innocence and the harsh realities of the clone’s destiny. Look at p17 in chapter two. What does the adult Kathy now realise about the exchanges? How do we know that Kathy is resigned to her fate? What is the significance of “it’s almost like entering a hall of mirrors” considering that Kathy is a clone? The character of Kathy is important to the novel as a whole because: As the first person narrator of the novel, Ishiguro presents the story through Kathy’s perspective.
  6. 6. How does Ishiguro demonstrate the loneliness of Kathy’s lifestyle and the anonymity of transience of her destinations? (P203) What is the significance of the author’s repeated use of the driving metaphor for the life of a carer? (p6) What ultimately is the destination of the carer? The character of Kathy is important to the novel as a whole because: Ishiguro’s presentation of Kathy gives the reader an insight into the lifestyle of a carer in this dystopian society.
  7. 7. In Ishiguro’s presentation of Kathy as a carer, he also explores the theme of conformity. Despite witnessing first hand the brutality of a system that treats donors as a public utility, Kathy accepts the status quo and her own destiny within it, even taking pride in her capabilities as a carer.  Brutality pages 231-232  Public utility: what euphemism is used for the death of a donor? Page 203  Accepts the status quo (and conforms): page 17 and 165  Taking pride in her capabilities as a carer: pages 3-4 The character of Kathy is important to the novel as a whole because: Ishiguro’s presentation of Kathy gives the reader an insight into the lifestyle of a carer in this dystopian society.
  8. 8. Kathy’s friendship with Tommy is characterised by a joint desire to expose truths and mutual understanding and support.  A joint desire to expose truths: bottom of p278, p76 and p29-31  Mutual understanding and support: p7, p179-180 and p184-186 The character of Kathy is important to the novel as a whole because: Through the presentation of Kathy Ishiguro explores the theme of friendship.
  9. 9. In contrast, Kathy’s friendship with Ruth is characterised by preserving/exposing fictions and the experience of cruelty and betrayal.  Preserving/exposing fictions: 1. Top of p279 2. The secret guard game and how and why Kathy validates it when Moira says “It’s just another of Ruth’s made up things” p55 3. Ruth and Kathy’s responses to the exposure of Ruth being the recipient of a gift from Miss Geraldine p58-60 4. How Kathy continues to support Ruth’s acts, as reality becomes a stage for her at the cottages p127-128  The experience of cruelty and betrayal: 1. Examine Ruth’s failure to reassure Kathy about her sexual urges p126 2. Ruth’s betrayal of Kathy‘s trust in order to change Tommy’s view of Kathy p192-193 The character of Kathy is important to the novel as a whole because: Through the presentation of Kathy Ishiguro explores the theme of friendship.
  10. 10. Miss Emily’s revelations in chapter 22 quash any hope of a deferral but also Kathy’s assumption that the clones are perceived as part of humanity. P253-258 The boat scene and the symbolism of the hopelessness of them trying to live a fulfilling life. The character of Kathy is important to the novel as a whole because: Through the presentation of Kathy, Ishiguro illustrates the hopelessness of the clones’ lives.
  11. 11. The character of Kathy is important to the novel as a whole because: Through the presentation of Kathy, Ishiguro portrays the theme of loss. Explore the writer’s presentation of Kathy:  as having natural desires to be a mother and to play at caring for another on p70-71. Consider why Madame is crying about this and what you think is the “something extra in that look I couldn’t fathom”  The writer’s point about the scientific advances creating “a harsh, cruel world” in contrast to a humane world p266-267  Kathy sees Tommy for the last time on p280 and keeps his eyes on him in the mirror as she drives away for as long as possible.  Ishiguro presents Kathy’s view of her memories as something “no one can take away” on 281  At the end she describes her one “only indulgent thing” as she allows herself to grieve for Tommy in the field in Norfolk, as if she is looking for something she has lost. “The fantasy never got beyond that – I didn’t let it – and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing or out of control.” Even in the end she follows the rules and controls her emotions on p282 Ishiguro identifies Kathy with the title of the novel and hence its central theme – the futile desire to cling on to a humane “old kind world” (p267)
  12. 12. How is the character of Kathy important to the novel as a whole? Plan your answer to this whole text character question, using your notes. Spend 40 minutes completing this in your books, including evidence from the text and indepth discussion about the writer’s intentions. Try to show overview of the text as a whole, while zooming into key events to support your discussion points.
  13. 13. Themes & context This dystopian novel looks at the ethics of cloning and extending life expectancy through a donor system. Relationships are explored in the novel – from friendship and the role of family and parents, childhood bullying, love and the role of sex in relationships. Hope gradually fades for each of the characters, as they face their fate as donors. The individual’s obligation to society. Willful ignorance is shown by how the clones ignore their fate and how society accepts the donor system. Conformity and Rebellion are two contrasting ideas in the novel. Never Let Me Go – key knowledge Quotations “I don’t know how it was where you were, but Hailsham we had to have some form of medical almost every week” Kathy Page 13 “Then there were rumours almost every day of pranks that had been played on him…. I thought sooner or later someone would start saying it had gone too far, but it just kept on, and no one said anything.” Kathy Page 15 C6”Didn’t we all dream from time to time about one guardian or other bending the rules and doing something special for us? A spontaneous hug, a secret letter, a gift” Kathy Page 60 “If you’re to live decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you, every one of you.” Miss Lucy, Page 81 “We all know it. We’re modelled from trash. Junkies, prostitutes, winos, tramps, convicts, maybe, just so long as they aren’t psychos. That’s where we come from. We all know it, so why don’t we say it?” Ruth, Page 166 “Something in me just gave up. A voice went: ‘All right, let him think the absolute worst. Let him think it, let him think it’. And I suppose I looked at him with resignation, with a face that said, ‘Yes it’s true, what else did you expect?’” Kathy, Page 195 “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, Page 197 “Why did we do all of that work in the first place? Why train us, encourage us, make us produce all of that? If we’re just going to give donations anyway, then die, why all those lessons? Why all those books and discussions?” Kathy, Page 259 “I can see… that it might look as though you are simply pawns in a game. It can certainly be looked at like that. But think of it. You were lucky pawns. There was a certain climate and now it’s gone. You have to accept that sometimes that’s how things happen in this world.” Miss Emily, Page 266 Events 1-3 Kathy is a carer who reminisces about her former school Hailsham where she met Tommy and Ruth. Tommy is bullied and an outsider. Kathy and he are close. 4-6 Madame and the Gallery show the confusion the children feel about their role. Ruth’s secret guard and lies about chess and pencil case “gift”. Norfolk as the “lost corner” and the tape. 7-9 Miss Lucy hints at the truth about donations. Ruth and Tommy are together. 10-14 They move to the cottages. They visit Norfolk to find Ruth’s possible and discuss their origins. 15-17 Kathy and Tommy find the tape and are close. Deferrals are a topic of conversation. Ruth finds and tape and is jealous so forces them apart in the churchyard scene. Kathy becomes a carer and leaves. 18-20 Present day carer Kathy. Becomes Ruth’s carer and visits a boat with Tommy. They discuss donations and Ruth apologises for keeping them apart. 21-23 Kathy and Tommy visit Miss Emily who explains many mysteries of Hailsham and that deferral is untrue. Tommy has a tantrum in the field. He asks her to stop being his carer. She drives to Norfolk. Characters Kathy Empathetic, mild-mannered, passive and a conformist. Ruth Charismatic, manipulative, dishonest and selfish. Tommy Short-tempered, kind-hearted, enthusiastic and naïve. Miss Lucy Rebellious Miss Geraldine A kind guardian and art teacher Miss Emily Head guardian Madame Mysterious Keffers

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