Gathering Blue

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Gathering Blue Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the evening after her conversation with Thomas, Kira goes to Thomas’s room and stares down from the window at the village. She sees the filthiness of the butcher, and the progress of the women working in the weaving shed. She wonders if Matt is walking through the village with Branch, but can’t see him.
Kira has had a hard life in the village, but she’s can’t entirely turn her back on it, because there are good people—Matt, for instance—who live there. Kira is empathetic and loving, even to those who don’t love her back.
Themes
Pain and Maturity Theme Icon
Thomas and Kira wait until night falls. Without knowing exactly why, Kira tells Thomas to bring his wood carving with him when they go to find Jo. Kira takes her cloth. To muffle their sounds, Thomas rips cloth off his shirt, and ties it around Kira’s walking stick so that it no longer “clacks” against the floor.
Kira proves once again that she has a unique intuition; thus, she tells Thomas to bring his carving. Thomas, for his part, shows no such signs of intuition, but proves himself to be highly resourceful, muffling Kira’s stick.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Pain and Maturity Theme Icon
Thomas and Kira quietly walk to the Jo’s room on the lower floor. Kira’s cloth tells her that they’re not in danger. Thomas uses his key to open the door, and Kira softly calls Jo’s name. Inside, Kira sees that Jo is barely larger than a toddler. She’s amazed that such a tiny girl could produce such powerful song. Jo calls for her mother, and Kira tells her to be quiet, that she and Thomas are her friends.
When Thomas and Kira first lay eyes on Jo, it’s Kira, not Thomas, who’s most sympathetic. Kira tells Jo that she’s among friends, and is clearly saddened that such a small child could be locked away in a dark room without anyone to care for her.
Themes
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Jo tells Kira and Thomas that the guardians make her learn new songs, and then she sighs like a much older woman. Thomas points to a chest of drawers In Jo’s room, and suggests that Jo climb to the top of it so that she can tap on the ceiling and alert Thomas and Kira if she’s ever in danger. Jo says that she used to climb in the Fen, though her mother beat her for doing so. Nevertheless, she climbs the chest of drawers now, and easily reaches the ceiling. Thomas gives her a hairbrush to use for tapping the ceiling.
Jo gives us a few details of her life: she was beaten when she lived in the Fen; she’s a preternaturally gifted singer; she’s forced to sing for the Council. Much like Kira, Jo’s suffering has made her grow up sooner than a toddler should; hence, she sighs like an older woman. Thomas isn’t as immediately sympathetic with Jo, but he helps her out by teaching her how to climb.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
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Kira and Thomas leave Jo, and Jo tells them that she feels better knowing that she has friends. Kira tucks Jo into bed and kisses her on the forehead—a gesture that Kira has never performed before, but which feels right to her. Jo makes a sound of pleasure, and says that the kiss reminds her of her mother.
Kira immediately knows how to take care of Jo, even though she’s never done anything of the kind before. Jo makes it very clear that Kira is a mother figure to her; we’ve already seen plenty of evidence for Kira’s maternal persona.
Themes
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Thomas and Kira return to their quarters. Alone in her room, Kira thinks about Jo, forced to live by herself. Kira wonders why Jo is being forced to learn songs. She answers her own question: Jo, like Kira and Thomas, is an artist. Kira realizes that she is no freer than Jo: although she can come and go as she pleases, she’s forced to work on the Singer’s robe. As she realizes this, Kira realizes that she is losing all interest in repairing the robe. She remembers Thomas complaining of headaches, and sees that she, Thomas, and Jo are being forced to embark on artist projects they haven’t chosen for themselves. She wants to be free of the robe, so that she can weave her own patterns and designs. She cries, wishing that she could leave the Edifice and return to her old life.
Inspired by her suspicions with the Council and with Jamison, and her contact with Jo, Kira begins to lose all interest in her art. When she thought that she was repairing the robe of her own free will, Kira was happy with her life in the Edifice—now, she sees that she’s a prisoner in a sense: she’s forced to work on an artistic project that she didn’t choose. Kira cries for the first time in months—once again, Lowry juxtaposes a moment of extreme pain and sadness with a moment of epiphany and personal growth. The novel suggests you can’t have one without the other.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Power and Freedom Theme Icon