Never Let Me Go Research Essay
“Men can imagine their own deaths, they can see them coming, and the mere thought of impending death acts like an aphrodisiac.” Crake, the antagonist of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, emphasizes something that is vocalized in many literary works: the prospect of death can drastically alter a person's behavior. However, in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, the antagonist Ruth is completely drained when she sees her death as opposed to the desperate, sexually stimulated men Crake describes. Ruth’s days of energy and sexual activity are when she is in Hailsham and the Cottages. During that time, Ruth serves as the main villain against Kathy, the protagonist of the novel. As a villain, Ruth is one of the most hateful characters in Never Let Me Go. Her villainy emphasizes the futility of trying to escape reality.
Even before Ruth and Kathy become friends, Ruth is the center of attention. Ruth relishes her position of power and control, and does whatever she can to make others her loyal followers. She enjoys it so much that when Kathy threatens this power and control by demonstrating to Ruth she knows that Ruth had lied earlier about her pencil case, Ruth is “at a complete loss for words...on the verge of tears.” Ruth manages to control her subjects by creating a system by which she is the judge, jury, and executioner. This system is the “secret guard,” a group created to watch over one of Hailsham’s guardians, Ms. Geraldine. This guard is ruled by Ruth as their Ceasar. When one of the members does something that jeopardizes her position as the group leader or insults her, Ruth does not hesitate to dismiss him or her and ruthlessly attack the outcast afterwards. Oftentimes this would be done by shunning the person. When Kathy is thrown out of the guard, she did not know until the next day when she went to talk to her friends and “they went silent and stared at me [Kathy]” and did not let her join their discussion. What is especially interesting about Kathy’s dismissal from the guard is that she stayed so loyal to Ruth even afterwards. Kathy goes so far as to lie to Moria, a fellow pariah, saying that “I heard them planning it [a plot against Miss Geraldine] myself” when Moria dismisses the guard as immature.
Ruth manipulates characters in the book, especially Kathy and Tommy, in ways that are completely immoral. Ruth proved her mastery of manipulation while she was still in Hailsham. She managed to keep together the secret guard “by hinting...there were things she’d yet to reveal” allowing her to “justify almost any decision.” The worst manipulation Ruth does by her own admission is keeping “you [Kathy] and Tommy apart.” Kathy begins to daydream about dating Tommy because of comment that she is be the “natural successor” of Ruth for Tommy. Ruth is aware that Kathy and Tommy are good friends, so she asks Kathy to help her restore her relationship with Tommy. Ruth knows Kathy is a loyal friend and thus...