Sharing feelings: family members share feelings, in order to maintain order and sameness. Any negative feelings are dealt with immediately. Career assignments: the community elders assign jobs, when the children become twelves (12 years old), based on their observations of the children, throughout their early years and during their volunteer hours. This eliminates choice, while also making sure all jobs are filled. The family unit: is composed of spouses, which are assigned by the elders; they can apply for children (one boy and one girl), after being married for several years. This emphasizes the order and control that the elders want in the community. Dreams: like feelings, these must be shared to maintain order and especially so parents can know when children begin having sexual dreams -- those that create what the community calls, "stirrings." They are given a pill to suppress these urges, yet another example of control, as emotions and sexual urges will promote individuality, which is strictly forbidden. Early conflicts: The major conflict in the first 7 chapters is the protagonist, Jonas', internal conflict. The Giver & the Receiver of Memory: Jonas is "selected" as the community's new Receiver of Memory -- the highest honor in the community. He is trained by The Giver, who will transfer all the memories of the world to Jonas. The Receiver must keep all of the memories and not allow them to "leak" to the community, which would cause turmoil and chaos. He is constantly wrestling with what will be his career assignment, as he approaches the Ceremony of Twelve. This conflict provides much early exposition (setting and character development, mostly via flashback). Other minor conflicts -- Jonas' friend Asher's struggles with the precise language the community demands, Jonas' father struggling to nurture an underdeveloped "newchild," whom he calls Gabriel. Newchildren are the babies of the community. Jonas is embarrassed, when he dreams of his friend Fiona; he asks her to take off her clothes (strictly forbidden in the community), so he can bathe her. Release: It is learned early in the novel that people leave the community through a system of "release." It is said that community members are released to Elsewhere, leading readers to believe that this is a place outside the community. Unless someone is elderly, being released is the ultimate punishment, because no one has the desire to leave this "perfect world." Later conflicts: Jonas' skills develop rapidly, and he begins to question the concept of Sameness, as he wonders why the community members are kept from seeing color and from making choices. He sees the color red in Fiona's hair and in an apple -- perhaps a vague reference to the apple from the Garden of Eden, which led to the fall from grace of Adam and Eve.
Jonas is especially troubled, when The Giver transmits the memory of Christmas, and Jonas sees a real family, including grandparents and a Christmas tree and presents and, most importantly, love. He wants this in the community and is deeply saddened when his mother says the word, "love" is obsolete and imprecise. The final turning point: When the nurturers decide to release a twin newchild, Jonas witnesses video of his father giving a lethal injection to the infant, realizing that "release" is really the community's term for euthanasia. Jonas is so devastated by this that he decides to leave the community and he and The Giver plan his escape. When he learns that Gabriel is to be released, Jonas abandons the plan and steals Gabriel and his father's bike and flees. Jonas and Gabriel see what life outside of the community is like, when they see birds, hills, trees, flowers and the simple pleasures that Jonas has never known. They also see the harsh realities away from control and Sameness, as they begin to starve and freeze. Climax & Resolution: Jonas finds the sled from his dreams and from the memory The Giver transmitted and he and Gabe slide down the hill into Elsewhere, feeling love and hearing music. Interpreting the ending: There are two interpretations of what happens to Jonas and Gabriel in the end. 1. That Jonas and Gabriel have found the real elsewhere -- a symbol of hope for Jonas, where people hold onto the traditions of love and family that existed before Sameness. This demonstrates a hopefulness in Lowry's novel, that there is a bright side to life and that we can overcome our shortcomings. 2. Jonas has imagined this, solely based on what's left of the memories transmitted by The Giver, and he and Gabriel do, in fact, freeze to death, having left behind the comfort of their imperfect utopia. This version, some argue, makes Lowry's interpretation of society a negative one, suggesting that our struggles may be in vain and that having even the false hope that a place like Jonas' world is actually better than our own harsh reality. Still, others argue that even interpreting the end as one of death is positive, because it means that living a life filled with hope, love and passion, even for a short time, is better than living a mundane, emotionless, safe life. Utopian ideas: There are many arguable concepts that fall under the umbrella of a utopia, in Lois Lowry's The Giver. Here are a few: â€˘ â€˘
Sameness -- community members are colorless, wear the same clothes, live in dwellings that are exactly the same, and are forbidden from being disrespectful or lying. Transportation -- the only form in the community is bicycle, eliminating risk of accidental deaths and pollution.
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Environmental control -- there is really no form of weather; there's light and darkness, but no sun, temperature change or precipitation. No apparent prejudice -- there's no color, no noticeable religion, no social class, no politics and the clothing is virtually the same for all. No emotion -- although there is evidence of contentment, there is no recognizable emotion. Physical contact is forbidden, and there is no expression of love -- a word that is called "obsolete" by Jonas' mother. This lack of emotion eliminates any envy, arrogance, anger or passion, which eliminates many conflicts that accompany those emotions No discernible economy -- Community members work willingly, with no currency or compensation of any kind. This eliminates unemployment, tax burden and social class distinction; there are no wealthy or poor people in Lowry's community. No illness or fear of death -- the community members are healthy and have no fear of death, as they don't know what it is. To them, life ends with an honorable ritual release, when their life is complete.
Published on Aug 2, 2010