How does Gathering Blue relate to our world now?
Authors use dystopian fiction to look at current society with a critical eye. In Gathering Blue, Kira's society reflects the possible outcome of human culture if some aspects of modern culture remain on their current trajectory. Euthanasia is something that some people today advocate for, and the formerly held moral beliefs about these forms of taking life are becoming less clear for some.
For example, The Netherlands legalized physician-assisted suicide in 2002, two years after Gathering Blue was published.
Lowry also creates a post-Christian society where members pay outward obeisance to a "Worship-Object," a cross, without knowing what it stands for. The people have no sense of morality as defined by the Golden Rule; instead, they seem to live in a dog-eat-dog manner where they only care about themselves and hardly even value their children, except as workers. The research organization Barna reports that between 2013 and 2015, the number of people in the United States who can be called "post-Christian" increased from 37 percent to 44 percent. If that rapid trajectory continues, one can imagine that Lowry's vision of religion could occur in the not-too-distant future.
Lowry also envisioned a world with no technology and little education. As hard as it is for us in technology-saturated environments to imagine, there are developing countries where technology and education are not available to the people who live there. Lowry's book is probably set somewhere in the region of the Southern United States. To think about the United States reverting to a culture without technology is disturbing. The book invites readers to consider how education and technology elevate a society and improve the lives of citizens. The guardians in Kira's society control what technology and education there is. Keeping technology and education available to everyone helps keeps citizens free.
Finally, Lowry explores the role that the arts play in improving society. As an artist, Kira has the opportunity to "create the future." A culture that does not value its artists, like Kira's culture, lacks joy and fulfillment. It is not only technology and education that help create a better society. Artists play a unique role in society, and citizens benefit by engaging in and appreciating art in its many forms.
Lowry finds many ways to connect Kira's dystopian world with issues of concern to contemporary readers.