The Giver


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The Giver

 

onas lives in a "perfect" world where war, disease, and suffering have all been eradicated. Everything is in order; everything is under control. The people have no worries or cares. The Community strives for "sameness," in which everyone and everything are the same and equal. To help the Community function as a cohesive unit, each member is assigned a position in society. When Jonas turns twelve, the Community selects him to be the new "Receiver of Memories." Only the "Giver" knows the truth and memories of the past, and now he must pass these memories on to Jonas.

 

The Giver is a wonderful book. Lois Lowry skillfully crafted an intriguing and profoundly thoughtful story. She subtly creates an uneasy feeling that something is wrong with this "perfect world." The Community's advisors intend to establish security within utopian society, but they really establish a stifling dystopia. To protect people from the risks of making poor or wrong decisions in life, the advisors plan and dictate the lives of the people. In effect, the citizens have no freedom of choice; they do not choose their job or even their spouse. Moreover, the advisors inhibit the people's ability to feel because they want to spare them from the hardships and pain of life. For instance, individuals must take a pill everyday, which suppresses passionate feelings. The citizens do not know or experience true emotions like love. One of the goals of the Community is to achieve "sameness" so that no one feels embarrassed or gets excluded for being different. However, this limits individuality and freedom of expression because everyone conforms to a certain desired image. Finally, to relieve the population of the horrors and devastation of the world and the past, the advisors isolate the Community from the rest of the world (also known as "Elsewhere) and give the burden of holding the memories of the past to a single member of society: the "Receiver." Therefore, the Community lives only in the present, and the people have a narrow perspective of life because they only know their community and way of life. They are naive; they do not gain knowledge or wisdom from the memories. While receiving the memories, Jonas learns a different and better way to live and realizes what he and the Community have been missing.

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He decides that something must be done to change the current conditions and enlighten his community.

 

Although it is a Newbery Award Winner, The Giver is a controversial book that has been challenged and even banned. After parents complained that the violent and sexual passages were inappropriate for children, the Bonita Unified School District in California temporarily banned the novel from classes. The Giver has been challenged in other school districts around the country for its "mature themes" of euthanasia, infanticide, and suicide. I do not agree with banning and challenging of this novel. It is a great book, and part of what makes it so great is the incorporation of these controversial issues. They force readers to wrestle with their own thoughts and figure out their stance on the issues. Good literature makes readers think. Banning this book takes away the freedom of speech, the freedom to read, and the freedom to learn and explore. The banning of The Giver is ironically similar to the actions of the Community that lead the Community to its suppressive and stifling state. A powerful story, The Giver keeps readers in suspense, touches them, and stays with them for a long time. I love this book, and I encourage everyone to read it.

 


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