Gathering Blue

by Lois Lowry

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How is the value of human life, especially the lives of the young ones, addressed in Kira's society?  

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Kira's society places a very low value on human life, especially the lives of babies and children. Kira's society values those who "contribute" to the physical needs of themselves and the community; thus Vandara, when she argues for driving Kira away, points out that Kira can't contribute by planting, weeding, or tending animals. Children can't do that, either, so they are considered a drain on community resources until they are able to work. A child who is born disabled is normally killed during the first few days of life. Babies or children who are orphaned are given to others who may want them because "healthy, strong tykes were valuable; properly trained, they could contribute to family needs and would be greatly desired." Yet until children are old enough to pull their weight, they are neglected and abused by the society. Mothers often yell at and beat or slap their children. There appears to be no formal education for youngsters. They run wild around the village. Kira tells them stories and teaches them games, but Vandara uses that against her, saying that it makes the children noisier and disrupts the work of the adults. 

The Council of Guardians, or possibly only Jamison, values certain children for their artistic abilities. This is in contrast to the overall attitude of the community toward children. The guardians kill (or try to kill) the parents of Jo, Thomas, and Kira so that they can harness the children's creative abilities for the Council's purposes.

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