The world in which Takers live is forever stormed with destructiveness, overpopulation, and depletion of resources. All of which are consequences of living in a civilization. Daniel Quinn portrays mother culture as the voice that influences the choices of the Takers.
There have always been overarching notions and ideals of civilization since the dawn of time; and as Mother Culture puts it, the Taker lifestyle of being destructive and unhealthy is the only “right” way to live. Ishmael explains in the novel, “Mother Culture, whose voice has been in your ear since the day of your birth, has given you an explanation of how things came to be this way. You know it well; everyone in your culture knows it well. But this explanation wasn’t given to you all at once. No one ever sat you down and said, “here is how things came to be this way, beginning ten or fifteen billion years ago right up to the present” (40). Quinn uses this term to personify culture and makes it another character in the novel. As a “mother”, culture nurtures, feeds, and gives Takers the tools needed to understand the culture in which they are born. This explanation is ambient in any culture, it is something that everyone knows and accepts without any question.
Mother Culture explains and preserves a lifestyle that is healthy and self-sustaining. Ishmael continues to describe mother culture as something people never discover. “According to the Takers, all sorts of useful information can be found in the universe, but none of it pertains to how people should live. By studying the universe, you’ve learned how to fly, split atoms, send messages to the stars at the speed of light, and so on, but there’s no way of studying the universe to acquire the most basic and needful knowledge or all: the knowledge of how you ought to live” (96).