The Giver

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The Giver

The GiverBy: Lois Lowry


Individuality v. Society

In Jonas's "perfect" world, there is no sense of individuality. People do not have freedom nor choice. They can not choose their role and the people passively accept all rules and customs. Life in Jonas' community is very routine, predictable, and unchanging. The people have given up on the concept of individuality, except for Jonas once he meets the Giver.

Coming of age

The annual December ceremony, when the "birthdays" of all children are celebrated at the same time, this is a ritual full of rites of passage. As children grow older, these rites allow them more responsibility. At Twelve, children are assigned jobs and adult status is thrown upon them. After Twelve, age is not counted. For Jonas, at his 12th "birthday" he gets assigned to train with the giver and his life changes forever.


Pain vs. Pleasure

In Jonas' community, the people passively accept all rules and customs. They never question the fact that they are killing babies simply because these babies are somewhat different, or that they are killing old people who they decide are no longer productive to the community and no longer "serve a purpose." The community members follow rules over time, because for them, killing has become a routine practice, horrible and senseless actions do not morally, emotionally, or ethically upset them. This does not effect them because they know nothing else but what they are told to do by the elders.

The idea of "sameness" is dominant throughtout The Giver. The people of the community have no choice, no sense of happiness nor sadness. Without choice, no one suffers the consequences that come from making wrong choices, but they also don't experience the joys that come with making right ones. However, there is no love, music, art, or joy. Sameness was created by elders of the past. There is no feeling or emotion and the people of Jonas's community don't understand genuine emotion or pain, because their lifestyles simply allow no opportunity to experience it.


Memory plays a major role throughout The Giver. In the past, the elders Jonas's community decided to give up their memories in order to eliminate the pain and regret that came with them. They were trying to create a totally peaceful society without conflict, war, or hate by eliminating emotion entirely, and they did just that. However, Jonas realizes that without memories, a person can't learn from mistakes, celebrate accomplishments, know love or happiness, or have any feeling or emotion. Jonas begins to experience memory, and eventually when the reciever dies, all of his memories are released to the community.

Lowry, L. (1993). The Giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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