Gathering Blue

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Gathering Blue Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jamison is unfamiliar to Kira, but this is because women and men barely associate past the time of childhood. Jamison is tall and still young, judging by his three-syllable name, and he wears a wooden ornament carved by Thomas the Carver, a boy whose talents are highly coveted by the few who can afford jewelry and decorations. Jamison looks through a stack of papers he carries with him, and Kira privately wishes that she could read.
Kira doesn’t recognize Jamison’s name because she knows barely any men—this is another indication that the village divides men from women, with men in the stronger position. It’s unclear how we should regard Jamison, but it’s interesting that he wears an ornament. Perhaps this suggests that he has respect for art and artists; this would certainly endear him to Kira.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Jamison says that he’ll address Vandara accusations one at a time, and looks through his papers. Kira realizes that he wrote down everything that Vandara said, and realizes that writing has great value because it allows him to record things exactly so that there can be no arguments about it later. Jamison concedes that “it is the way” to let the deformed die when they’re still babies, but he opens a large book and refers the guardians to the laws of the village, which state that there can be exceptions to the village’s custom. He also concedes that Kira was born deformed and fatherless. The chief guardian notes that Kira’s father was Christopher, and Jamison reveals that he was hunting with Christopher on the day that Christopher was taken by beasts; some of the other guardians nod to show that they knew Christopher as well. Because Kira’s father was an excellent hunter, Jamison argues, Kira’s case is an exception to the laws. The guardians nod and seem to agree.
Jamison shows that there is value in following court proceedings—it’s not just pointless formality. By reading the accusations one at a time, Jamison makes it impossible for Vandara to change her claims later, or lie about what she said. The fact that Kira can recognize this shows that she’s intelligent enough not just to want to learn how to read but to recognize how reading and writing can provide power. Even though the Council seems to believe that Kira should be saved from the Field, the terms under which they reach this conclusion are disturbing. Clearly, the Council doesn’t have a problem with turning over children and babies to the wild—it’s just that this particular child is an “exception.”
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Power and Freedom Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Jamison continues to work through Vandara’s accusations. He concedes that Kira is lame, but points out that Kira works in the weaving shed. Kira is surprised that Jamison knows this, since men usually ignore women’s work. She nervously tells the council that she is strong with her hands and arms, but doesn’t bring up her weaving. Jamison then asks Kira to demonstrate her lame leg, a request Kira finds cruel. Still, she obliges, and walks before the council. Jamison points out that Kira is lame, but also notes that Kira is a valuable, punctual worker at the weaving shed. He also disputes that she eats a lot, since she is thin. With this, Jamison calls for lunch. The council will address the other charges afterwards.
Jamison’s knowledge of Kira’s work in the weaving shed makes us both trust him and distrust him—on the one hand, he’s using his knowledge to save Kira’s life, but on the other, why has he been watching Kira? We see this same ambiguity in the way Jamison forces Kira to walk around the courtroom—it’s kind and cruel at the same time.
Themes
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Power and Freedom Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The door guard brings food into the room. Kira receives roasted chicken and warm bread, but is afraid to eat as much as she wants, remembering Vandara’s accusation. Thus, she eats half of what she’s been given. Afterwards, the guardians retire to eat by themselves, and the guard tells Kira that the court will reconvene a short while later, when the bell rings twice. While waiting, Kira walks outside the Council Edifice, noting even as the trial is happening that life goes on for everyone else: babies cry, tykes fight, etc.
Even if she sometimes breaks the rules of the court, Kira understands how important it is to send the right message—the right image—to the Council. Thus, she doesn’t eat much of her meal. This kind of self-control is impressive in anyone, let alone a child. Kira shows more maturity when she walks outside and notices how life goes on without her. The ability to see the world from other points of view is often considered a hallmark of maturity.
Themes
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Power and Freedom Theme Icon
Pain and Maturity Theme Icon
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Kira sees Matt as she waits outside the Council Edifice. Matt tells her that he and other tykes have brought a pile of saplings to help her build, and asks her about her trial. Kira is privately surprised that Matt has heard about the trial so quickly, but she feigns bravery and says that it involves a lot of talking. Matt mentions that Vandara was accused of killing her own tyke by forcing him to eat a poisonous plant, but the Council found her innocent. He thinks that Vandara is cruel because her scar brings her pain. Kira thinks that her own pain makes her strong, not weak. She thanks Matt for his help, and, hearing the bell ring twice, returns to the Council Edifice.
Matt’s behavior shows that Kira isn’t alone in her village—there are other people, Matt included, who feel compassion for others instead of only caring about themselves. It’s important that the only two people like this we’ve seen so far are children. It’s as if growing up in the village means gradually giving up all compassion. Matt casts some doubt on the Council’s vision of justice when he mentions Vandara—it seems very likely that Vandara did kill her child, so the fact that the Council cleared her suggests that it often gets its verdicts wrong.
Themes
Self-Interest versus Compassion  Theme Icon
Inside the Council Edifice, Jamison proceeds with his defense. Vandara has accused Kira of being kept against the rules because of her grandfather’s influence. Jamison argues that exceptions can be made. As he does so, Kira feels the small piece of cloth in her pocket, and thinks about weaving. Katrina taught her how to dye threads; in fact, Katrina was responsible for coloring the threads used to decorate the robe that the Singer wore when he performed his Ruin Song. As a small child, Kira watched with fascination as Katrina made a small repair on the robe. Katrina once showed Kira’s own weaving to a guardian, who seemed interested and asked to see Kira’s work in the coming years. Katrina often said that Kira’s skill would far surpass her own. Kira also remembers her mother complaining that she couldn’t find a plant that could produce the color blue.
Instead of paying attention to Jamison as he defends her, Kira is thinking about her cloth, and about weaving. Clearly, Kira must love weaving if she can think about it when she’s essentially on trial for her life. It’s still unclear why Kira is thinking about weaving, but suggests the importance that her weaving will play in the novel. One hint that weaving will be important is the mention of the color blue. While we don’t yet know what blue is meant to symbolize, evidently blue is important enough to make into the title of the novel.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Power and Freedom Theme Icon
Kira stops daydreaming and realizes that Jamison is going down the list of accusations against her. She can tell that there has been a subtle change in the guardians’ behavior, in her favor. Vandara notices it, too. Kira clutches the cloth in her pocket, which suddenly feels warm to her. She wove the cloth when her mother was dying. As she wove it, the threads seemed to sing to her. She showed the final product to Katrina, and though Katrina was too weak to reply, she smiled. As she sits in the Council Edifice, the cloth seems to tell Kira that she will be saved.
Kira’s cloth seems like an externalized version of her own thoughts and emotions. Thus, instead of feeling that she’s going to win her case, she feels her cloth, which tells her that she’s going to win. The cloth is also a source of hope for Kira—even when her future is uncertain, she turns to her cloth for comfort. This was the case when she wove the cloth in the first place, and it’s the case as she feels it in the hall of the Council Edifice.
Themes
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Pain and Maturity Theme Icon