Gathering Blue


Lois Lowry

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Themes and Colors
Art and Creative Instinct Theme Icon
Self-Interest versus Compassion Theme Icon
Power and Freedom Theme Icon
Pain and Maturity Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Gathering Blue, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Art and Creative Instinct

Gathering Blue is set in a town that, long after a worldwide catastrophe called the Ruin, is primarily characterized by the struggle to survive. It is a world without art, a world in which the villagers see art as lacking any practical purpose, and therefore as being useless. The novel focuses, though, on three young artists: Kira, who excels at weaving, Thomas, who excels at carving wood, and Jo, who excels at…

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Self-Interest versus Compassion

The people of the town in which Kira lives are marked by their anger, greed, and profound self-interest. Healthy villagers dispassionately drag the sick, dying, and deformed to die in the Field of the Living—it doesn’t matter if the sick are the villagers’ own family or friends. The villagers do this because resources are so scarce in the town that they are afraid that it costs too much time and food to nurse the sick…

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Power and Freedom

It’s clear from early on in Gathering Blue that the Council of Guardians wields a huge amount of power over the village. It presides over all trials, hosts the annual Gathering, and can expel anyone in the village at any time. What’s unclear, at least until the end of the novel, is the source of the Council’s great power. At any time, it would seem, the villagers could rise up and overthrow the Council—in fact…

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Pain and Maturity

It’s been noted that the characters in Lowry’s children’s books endure an unusual amount of pain and suffering. Gathering Blue is no exception: that Kira loses her mother isn’t so remarkable (there are plenty of protagonists of children’s books who are orphans, after all), but she has to drag her mother to a field and watch her corpse for four gruesome days. It’s fair to say that Lowry seeks to explore the impact of pain…

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Men, Women, and Gender Roles

At many points, Kira notes that her society is strictly divided along gender lines. Women can only perform certain jobs and go certain places. Many of them work by gathering food for the village, and others spend their time weaving. Men, on the other hand, hunt for food for the village. On the day of a hunt, they brag and argue and fight with each other. This isn’t a case of “separate but equal”; clearly…

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