Study Guide - Gathering Blue

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Explore Now. Buy As Gift. Overview The perfect companion to Lois Lowry's, "Gathering Blue," this study guide contains a chapter by chapter analysis of the book, a summary of the plot, and a guide to major characters and themes. BookCap Study Guides do not contain text from the actual book, and are not meant to be purchased as alternatives to reading the book. We all need refreshers every now and then. Annabella tells Kira that she must come every day to learn all the plants and what colors they yield, and she begins going over them almost immediately. Kira pays close attention, knowing that her very life may depend on gaining the knowledge her mother was unable to pass on before her death.

Gathering Blue Study Guide Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Before Kira and Matt begin the walk back to town, Annabella makes Kira recite what she is able to remember from her first lesson. Kira recalls a fair amount of what she has been taught, and Annabella seems pleased. Annabella gives her some colored thread to begin her repairs on the robe, though she reminds Kira that she will still need to learn to make them on her own. Kira asks if Annabella knows how to make blue dye, and the old woman admits that she does, though she has none.

Making blue requires a particular plant that she does not have, though she points to an overgrown path into the woods at the edge of her garden and speaks of others yonder far away that have some. Chapter 8 Analysis Kira's journey through the forest is a common metaphor for any rite of passage.

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By traveling into the woods to meet her new mentor, Kira begins to literally and figuratively tread the road that she will follow for the remainder of her days. Ironically, Matt, a very small boy, and Branch, a disabled dog, are Kira's protectors on her travels. One would hardly consider such a pair to be fierce guardians, but given Kira's limited mobility, Matt and Branch become more valuable than they might be to someone in perfect health.

In Kira's society, one's name continues to grow by the syllable as one ages.


Matt, being very young, is only one syllable. Kira, in her teen years, has progressed to two syllables. Jamison, in the prime of adulthood, bears three. Annabella, clearly considered elderly by today's standards, has the honor of a four-syllable name and commands a certain respect from the children because of it.

The relationship between Kira and Annabella is also a metaphor for the symbiotic nature of life. The threader needs the dyer to color her materials, and the dyer needs the threader to make use of her product. Such is the way of life, with all things depending on something else. As she works, she recites the names of the plants and their uses, diligently trying to learn them all.

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Thomas stops in her room to visit and then offers to write the names of the plants so that he might help her study. Women are forbidden from learning to read and write, so Kira accepts his help, but she takes care to avoid looking at the words for fear of learning how to read. The next morning, Kira visits her mother's old color garden in hopes of salvaging some of her mother's plants.

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The sight of the pen already being constructed where her home once stood saddens her, but she is surprised to find some of her mother's color plants still growing. She quickly harvests what she can and hurries back to the Edifice, enduring taunts from the passing Vandara along the way. One morning, Thomas visits Kira in her room, asking if she had been awakened in the night by a sound like a child crying.

Kira, a little surprised by the question, says that she slept soundly, and Thomas shrugs the notion off as a bad dream he might have had. He presents Kira with an intricately carved box as a gift, and she places her decorated scrap of cloth in it for protection. Kira shyly explains that the scrap seems to speak to her sometimes and appears to have a life of its own.

Thomas admits that he has a carving from his childhood that makes him feel the same way. Kira learns that Thomas has been given the task of repairing the Singer's staff, the ravages of time have worn away its carvings. As the days progress, Kira begins to shorten her study time with Annabella in order to begin the actual work on the robe.

She is awed by the complexity and sheer scope of the artistry featured on the robe. It tells the history of her people in pictures, and she knows that she is doing important work. Kira finishes her work on a sleeve one evening and finds that her fingers are aching, and she retrieves the decorated scrap of cloth from its box and places it in her pocket, seeking its inexplicable comfort. Kira walks down the hall and enters Thomas' room just as he is finishing his day's work. The two have become good friends and have begun eating their evening meals together. They can hear the sounds of the men preparing for the next morning's hunt in the plaza below.

Kira notices with dismay that Matt has selected a spear, apparently intent on joining the hunt, despite his youth. Panicked, Kira begs Thomas to help her stop Matt from going on the hunt. At first, he does not understand why she would care if a tyke would go on the hunt, pointing out that there are too many of them anyway. Once she explains that Matt is her friend, Thomas begins to show concern. Kira feels a throbbing coming from her hip and discovers that the sensation is coming from the scrap of cloth.

It feels like a warning. This is a strange contradiction in a society that appears obsessed with maintaining its history. After all, it is Kira's sole responsibility to maintain the robe containing their past, just as it is Thomas' job to maintain the staff serving the same purpose. Preventing an entire gender from learning a more permanent method of record keeping is at odds with remembering the past. The concept of the oral tradition is a strong theme throughout the novel, and its validity comes into question when the reader finally hears some of the Ruin Song late in the story. It will come to light that time and the transient nature of human memory have corrupted the Ruin Song, though the degree of inaccuracy is never addressed.

At this stage, Kira displays a desire to learn to read and write, but she is still bound in her mind by the traditions of her village. She takes special care to avoid learning the skills in deference to the ways of her village. Meanwhile, the connection between Kira and Thomas deepens as she learns of his official role as keeper of the Singer's staff. Now more than just a friend, Thomas has become a co-worker. Thomas' lack of concern for Matt's safety as the boy attempts to join the hunt reinforces the cheapness of life in Kira's village.

He does not show any concern at all for the boy's life until Kira impresses Matt's importance to her upon Thomas. In modern society, children are generally protected to extremes, but Thomas shows no inherent concern for the children, actually pointing out that he feels there are too many of them, implying that they would be better off to lose some during the hunt. It is a place for men only, as they behave brutishly before every hunt, with much boasting and conflict.

Thomas leads the way, and as they weave through the men, one of them grabs Kira. She fends him off with her walking stick, hurrying to find Matt.

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Kira and Thomas soon find Matt, who is showing off his spear to his surrounding friends. He has covered his underarms and chest with swamp grass in an effort to simulate body hair, and the smell is overpowering. Thomas disarms Matt and gives the spear away, and the three of them return to the Edifice. The three of them share a pleasant meal together. Afterwards, Matt tries to take Kira's pendant, but she says he cannot have it because it is a special memento of her parents.

Matt wants a gift, as he has never received one, and Kira and Thomas give Matt a bar of soap, which he solemnly accepts before leaving for his home. After Matt leaves, Kira tries to explain to Thomas the feelings she sometimes gets from her decorated scrap of cloth. She shows it to him, but it seems devoid of the comfort or life that it sometimes exudes when she is alone. Thomas understands completely, and he shows Kira the bit of wood he carved as a child, confiding that it feels exactly the same way to him. Their objects seem to warn them of danger and to soothe them when they are uneasy, and this unlikely connection makes their friendship stronger than ever.

Chapter 10 Analysis The gathering of men preparing for the hunt symbolizes mankind at its most basic. The men behave only a shade better than the animals that they are preparing to hunt. The trappings of civilized society fall away, and the men behave brutishly, the distillation of man's subjugated animal nature. When Kira is detained by one of the men in the crowd, he refers to her as a trophy. It is unclear whether the remark is meant as compliment or an insult about Kira's bad leg, and the interpretation is left to the reader. Matt, still far too young to realistically join the hunt, represents the impetuousness of youth and the desire to mature.

He goes so far as to disguise himself with moss to appear older, and while holding his spear, he gains respect from the other boys of similar age. As Kira and Thomas share their private feelings about their respective special objects, their connection deepens, though their relationship remains strictly platonic throughout the story.

The objects represent the power of their individual gifts, and since these artisans will record the future on the Singer's robe and staff, the objects also represent youth's ability to create the future. She is certain that a beast was stalking her as she walked through the woods. She could hear it growling at her just off the path and out of sight. Annabella can see that something is wrong and asks Kira about it, but when Kira speaks of beasts stalking her, Annabella dismisses the idea.

She takes Kira inside for some tea to help calm her down. Annabella continues to teach Kira the names and uses of the various plants that she grows, but Kira repeatedly insists that she has heard the beasts in the woods. Finally, Annabella tells Kira that there are no beasts, and if Kira heard something in the woods, then it was a human pretending to be a beast to keep her afraid of the woods.

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