At first glance, the culture of Kira's village, as depicted in Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue, seems very different from our "typical" American culture. Look at the customs of naming, for instance. Children start out with names of one syllable, like Matt, but as they grow, their names grow with them. When they enter adolescence, their names grow by a syllable, like Kira. When people reach adulthood, their names contain three syllables: for instance, Vandara or Jamison. Finally, when one attains old age, his or her name lengthens again, to four syllables, like Annabella.
The differences in culture go much deeper than names, however. Notice how the Council of Guardians has nearly complete control over the lives and deaths of the people of Kira's village. When Vandara wants to take over Kira's land and wouldn't hesitate to do so by killing Kira outright, Kira claims a hearing before the Council. She knows, though, that the hearing could go either way. She might be allowed to keep her land, but the Council might also decide that, with her disability, she is a drain on society and would order her death. Indeed, lives seem to be rather cheap in Kira's village. Children are easily given away or killed. Anyone who cannot earn his or her keep is sent to the Field to die. Life is brutal. Love and compassion are relatively rare.
Kira's culture may lack love and compassion because it has forgotten that there is more to life than this world. While they have some idea of spirits and a collection of customs surrounding death, they have lost any concept of God. All they have is the 'Worship-object, the mysterious wooden construction of two sticks connected to form a cross. It was said to have had great power in the past" (27). The people bow to it out of respect but have no idea of its meaning or its symbolism. Even the Singer does not seem to mention the "Worship-object" in the song that preserves at least some of the history of the community, nor does the story woven into the Singer's robe (although it tells of creation) appear to record anything about God.
While Kira's culture seems very different from ours, the author may be hinting that if our culture is not mindful, it, too, may slip into some of the patterns, practices, and forgetfulness of Kira's village. The book might well serve as a warning to us all.