Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The book, The Giver, written by Lois Lowry is told by an eleven year old boy with blue eyes named Jonas. Jonas lives in a society unlike any today. The rules are simple, and seemingly easy to follow as most of the characters are exactly the same in appearance and personality. Nearly every choice is made up for the dark hair and brown eyed citizens. Once Jonas turns twelve, along with all of his classmates, he will be assigned a job. His parents were matched by the government and he and his sister, Lily were assigned to them, just like all other families. The parents consider themselves lucky to have recieved such well behaved children from the birthmother assigned to them. Once Jonas turns twelve, he is assigned the position of Memory Receiver. He now must learn his trade from an older blue eyed man, the giver of memories, who holds the collective memory of the town. He experiences war, hunger, love, and even certain events such as sledding that are prohibited. Jonas is now thrust into a world of pain, love, and knowledge. The leaders of the town refuse to feel strongly about any subject, and instead give all feeling to the Memory Receiver. At the same time, Jonas's father brings home a child from his work, Gabriel, that is having trouble sleeping through the night. Instead of sending him to be "released" him immediately, his father attempts to train him at home. Jonas wonders why he shouldn't just be let live somewhere else until he asks the Giver. As he learns more about the village, he also learns more about the crimes committed by the officials. He has been brought up to believe that "release" is a pleasent experience, where the smaller of twins, the elderly, or a person who has committed a crime, is sent away from the village to live elsewhere. Instead, he learns that the person is euthanized with little concern. He is then outraged by the inhuman acts that occur in his own place of birth. He then attempts anything to get Gabriel to make it through alive. He begins to send pleasant memories to the baby to help him sleep. However, once brought back to the center for infants, he is unable to sleep through the night. Jonas uses this as a motivator and along with the Giver devises a plan for escape. They plan to leave for elsewhere and allow the memories back into the town for the citizens to deal with. Instead of a perfect painless world, the people will now have to deal with reality. The Giver plans to help them though this process of acceptance, so he decides to stay. When Jonas learns that Gabe is to be "released" the next day, the plan goes into action. He takes his fathers bike because of the childs seat on the back and a small suppy of food and takes off for elsewhere. Jonas travels for as long as possible until snow fall discontinues his biking. He stumbles along until he reaches a hill and finds a sled at the top. Similar to his first memory received, he sleds down the hill with Gabe in tow. He hears music, and sees a light. He believes that he sees a village to seek refuge in. The story ends with Gabe and Jonas walking the remaining distance to the village that may or may not be there.

Discussion Questions

1) Is the ending truely happy? Or does Jonas imagine seeing the town? Do you think that he really has made it to safety? Explain.

2) Is this empty society on to something by eliminating fear and emotion? Or is the joy felt by mankind greater than the suffering?

3) With euthanasia present in this novel, what attitude does the author seem to have about the subject, based on the events that transpire?

4) To what degree is The Giver a cautionary tale? What message could it be trying to convey?


Laura B. 13-14 said...

I have previously read this book and I loved it!! The book, I believe, is right to criticize society in what it has become today. I believe that our world today is trying to eliminate all kinds of suffering from poverty to self esteem issues, and to level everyone onto an equal playing field. But if we eliminate all kinds of suffering, them the true feelings of success and joy that people have worked hard to attain are now insignificant. Answering question number two, joy felt by mankind would be greater than the suffering. Because without the drive to succeed, what makes life worth living?

Betsy C 1314 said...

I agree! I found the book to be an example of why complete control by the government will end up in disaster. It may sound good from an outside perspective, but living in such a utopia would likely end in a decrease in the quality of life. Who cares if everybody is equal, if being equal sucks?

McKenzieM 11-12 said...

I haven't read the book but I agree with you. The government having too much control can lead to disaster. I think that the message is the world can't be perfect no matter how hard we try. The world is always changing and I think that you need to be your own person and fight for your freedoms.

Betsy C 1314 said...

Thanks for your input. We all agree that fighting for freedoms is worth it, because being too perfect and controlled is not a good way to life and thrive. I'm glad that we all got that same message.

Allie H 11-12 said...

This is one of the best books I've ever read. Regarding your discussion question # 2, I think this utopian society is not worth living even if fear and emotion are eliminated. It may seem convienient to live life carefree without fear and sadness, but the happiness and joy we ultimately achieve in life is worth all the suffering we go through. Going through a few hardships is part of life and it is impossible to go through life without them. How we handle these hardships is what defines us as people. It shows our courage, strength and fortitude. The joy we eventually achieve overrules the suffering we go through.

Kyle P. 13-14 said...

I think the book is an allegory about communism and Utopian society, which the author takes a negative view on. The way that everyone is assigned a job and is given equal status is very communistic. The communistic idea that the society as a whole is more important than the individual is also prevalent. I also think the author is saying that Utopian society is bad because if you live in a world were everything is perfect if something wrong happens you wont know how to handle it.