Gathering Blue

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Gathering Blue Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Christopher goes with Matt to find a place where he can sleep safely. Before he goes, however, he tells Kira about what happened to him after beasts supposedly took him. He reveals that there are no beasts in the forest, only deer, squirrels, rabbits, and other harmless animals. Christopher was going to be appointed to the Council of Guardians, and there were many others who were jealous of him for getting the position. Kira notes that jealousy and rivalry is still the way of life in her village—since they’re tykes, everyone is taught to fight and compete with one another. She adds that she would have been raised the same way had it not been for her lame leg. Christopher asks what Kira means, and Kira realizes that he can’t see that she’s lame; she tells Christopher that she was born lame. When she explains how her mother saved her from the Field, Christopher is proud.
Kira’s conversation with Christopher is full of information—the information that she’s been craving throughout the book, even if she’s wasn’t fully aware of it. Much of what Christopher tells her confirms what she—and we, the readers—already suspected: there are no beasts; the Council is treacherous and deceptive, etc. Perhaps the most significant part of their conversation, at least in this section, comes when Christopher shows that he’s proud of Katrina for saving Kira from infanticide. Even though this is the first time that Christopher has been made aware that Kira is lame, he isn’t disappointed at all—his love for his daughter as his daughter overshadows anything regarding disability or “productivity.”
Themes
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Christopher continues with his story. On the day he was “killed,” he was hunting in the forest. Someone clubbed him over the head and stabbed him from behind. Christopher isn’t completely sure who did it, but he has one person, whom he doesn’t name, in mind. When he came to, he found himself in the Field, having been dragged there to die. That night, strangers came to the Field. Christopher realized from the way they spoke and behaved that they weren’t from the village. They nursed him back to health with herbs, though they couldn’t repair his eyesight, which he’d lost when he was attached. Kira is surprised to hear this, since she knows of no one, other than Matt with Branch, who has nursed and comforted a wounded being back to health.
It’s a little strange that Christopher waits to reveal the name of the person who he thinks stabbed him—we can probably guess the person’s name, anyway. In any case, it becomes clear that the name “Field of the Living” isn’t as ironic as it seems. The cripples and disabled people who are left to be eaten by wild beasts sometimes end up surviving and going to live in a community of wounded and disabled people like them. And despite their disabilities, their life is better, full of nursing and kindness as opposed to the cruelty we’ve seen occurring in the village.
Themes
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Christopher explains that as the strangers nursed him back to health, they carried him through the forest for days, until they reached their community. Kira asks who the strangers were; Christopher responds that he is one of them now. He explains how in his new community everyone helps everyone else, and Kira realizes that he’s describing the same community of wounded and deformed people that Matt had tried to describe earlier. Christopher says that while his community used to consist entirely of such people, it has reached a point where the first generation has produced many healthy offspring. While he considers the entire community his family, he has never taken another wife, or had other children. Kira is about to tell Christopher that Katrina died of sickness, but Christopher interrupts her and says that Matt has already told him. Kira weeps for her mother for the first time in months.
We don’t get a lot of information about the strangers who take Christopher away to live with them. What’s important here, though, is that the kindness and caring of the disabled people has transferred to their own healthy offspring. Matt had speculated earlier that compassion was simply environmental: the disabled people were kind because they had to be in order to survive. But this new fact suggests that kindness and compassion can be taught and passed on. It’s significant that Kira cries during this section. Once again, Lowry juxtaposes a moment of personal growth—Kira is learning a huge amount of information about her father, and thus, who she is—with a moment of sadness. There can be no maturation without some sadness to accompany it.
Themes
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Kira, still weeping, asks Christopher why he’s never come back to the village until now. Christopher responds that for years, he didn’t remember what happened to him, due to the blows to his head. Then, he gradually began to remember a song Katrina used to sing, about how the blue sky always fades into night. Kira remembers this song, too. Christopher’s memory slowly returned about how he was clubbed and stabbed, but he was scared to return to the village because he thought the same people would attack him again.
It’s important that Katrina’s song concerns the inevitable departure of the color blue. It’s this kind of pessimism about blue—and about love, it would appear—that Christopher’s presence refutes. Blue can return—the literal color blue returns to the village, and love returns to the village in the form of Christopher.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
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When Matt arrived in Christopher’s new home, Christopher says, Matt said that he was looking for blue for his friend, a talented weaver. Based on this description, Christopher knew instantly that Matt must be talking about Kira. With this, Christopher yawns and says that he must sleep.
There appears to be an almost magical connection between Kira and her father. We’ve seen magical connections of this kind before: Kira felt a magical connection to her cloth, for example. It’s appropriate then, that Christopher seems to have the same kind of intuition. Simply hearing about the color blue, and about weaving, made him realize that he must have a daughter.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Kira tells him that he’s no longer in danger. Christopher responds that he and Kira will leave the village tomorrow. Kira protests; she tells Christopher that her friend on the Council of Guardians will protect him from danger. When Christopher asks her what she means, Kira mentions how Vandara called her before the Council. Christopher says that he remembers how Vandara got her cut: a tyke grabbed her skirt, and she slipped on sharp rocks. Some time later, that same tyke died from eating oleander. Some people suspected that Vandara killed the tyke, but there was no proof. Kira responds that her friend, Jamison, will help Christopher. But when Christopher hears this name, he touched his scarred face. Jamison, he says, is the one who tried to kill him.
We learn two highly important things in this section. First, Vandara lied about how she sustained her scar. In general, this point suggests that cruelty is often based on lies, not genuine toughness. The people in Gathering Blue who claim to be powerful—Vandara, the Council—are bluffing. Second, and even more importantly, we learn that Jamison was the one who stabbed Christopher. Throughout the book, Jamison has been a false father figure to Kira—generous but not compassionate. Now, it’s clear why: he’s a jealous, ambitious man, who doesn’t care about Kira or anyone else, but only wants to complete the robe so that he can maintain his power.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Power and Freedom Theme Icon
Pain and Maturity Theme Icon