A community where there is no crime, no trauma, no unhappiness, and no greed. A community without love, desire, colors, and music. A community that has eradicated emotional depth. Does this community exist anywhere? Yes, it does. It exists in the pages of the amazing book “The Giver”.
Set in a dystopian world, the novel shows the struggles of the protagonist. Focused on a teen audience, the adolescent trials of the main character are familiar with the intended audience. However, adults will find the book equally compelling.
The 1993 American young adult dystopian novel “The Giver” takes you in too far off place where you ask questions about existence and the objects that encompass it. This work of Lois Lowry, John Newbery Medal winner, is painted in subdued hues and subtle strokes of elegance.
Let’s take a look at what the story is about and what we can learn from it as middle school or high school students or college students.
The plot of the Book
In this classic dystopian novel, Jonas is the part of a community where emotions have no place. After your birth, at each birthday, you achieve a milestone up until your 12th birthday. When a child reaches the age of 12, he/she receives a life assignment, and his/her training starts.
The assignment of the 12-year-old boy named Jonas is to be the Receiver of Memories. The Giver, his mentor, trains him and transfers his past memories of the humans. They are about deeds that other people in their community can’t even imagine, such as hunger, disease, and war.
However, in the midst of all this ugliness, there is beauty as well. There are emotions, colors, music, weathers, feelings, etc. Over time, Jonas develops an understanding of the choices that were made to create the world he loved in.
The depth portrayed in the book is riveting. The kid begins to resent the terrible secrets behind the perfection of the world. He and The Giver make a plan to change the existing world.
Meaning of Existence
When we read this book, we question things around us. We consider the pros and cons of the community Jonas is living in. Would we surrender our decision-making abilities so that we can live in peace? Is an existence without color or music worth living? Would we be ready to spend a loveless existence if it meant living without pain?
Jonas’ trials are not only riveting, but they are also enlightening as well. The role of the receiver of memory is one that entails mental anguish and Jonas struggles to deal with it. The book depicts his reactions to the existing hypocrisy in his world and the wrong acts of his elders perfectly.
Source of Debate and Discussion
This amazing book, The Giver, is taught in high schools across the US, and it offers an interesting critique of justice, fairness, and equality. Gathering Blue is the sequel to this book and it is a must-read as well. The community portrayed in the novel is one where all the citizens are the same; everything is regulated via medical and bureaucratic manipulation.
Even though the book depicts war and poverty, they are descriptive in nature and not graphic. Thus, the book is a safe read for children. The language is easy to read and understand. This is a nice book to introduce children to the world of dystopian and science fiction literature.
Moreover, it will surely spark debate, discussion, and conversation at the dinner table. It has been made into a movie as well. Kids can apply the wisdom gained from this book in their day to day activities.
Moment of Transition
In the beginning, Jonas is a normal child who is happy with his existence and is living in a content community. As is expected, he trusts his parents completely. However, when he sees the tape of his father killing and disposing of a newborn baby in the process called releasing, he loses his admiration and trust for his father.
This is the moment of change in the book – the moment where Jonas defies the existence and path set out for him. This symbolic transition from the mind of an unquestioning, trusting child, to that of an educated and self-determining adult, is pretty exhilarating.
The ending of the book is ambiguous as well, which makes the book even more interesting. There are two meanings behind the ending – either Gabriel and Jonas really find the ‘Elsewhere’ or that they freeze to death on the sled together.
No matter what the meaning of the ending is, the message that Jonas has made his own choice instead of following the community’s decision robotically resonates clearly. The community is a metaphor for censoring and restriction. By limiting the choices of the people, the joy and happiness are removed from existence.
This is an interesting and morally driven story about the existence of a young kid who lives in a society that is free of sadness and crime. The book is an enjoyable read, with a riveting storyline. This book develops the thinking and cognitive abilities of children. The reader can definitely relate to the things in the book, such as being scared of new responsibilities at first, but then getting used to them as they grow up.