Essay on ‘the Giver’ by Lois Lowry
English: Discuss how Lois Lowry creates different worlds in texts that comment on our own world in the novel, The Giver. | The Giver Essay | Cameron MacKay14/11/2010| | Lois Lowry’s highly acclaimed children’s novel The Giver, constantly refers to important themes in the storyline to portray messages of morality to the reader. These are conveyed through themes in the book. Some of these themes such as the expression of Individuality, the issue of Euthanasia, and the Customs and Rules of the Community convey especially strong messages to the reader, and can be correlated with certain ethical issues in our own world.
I will be focussing on these particular themes to uncover what Lowry thinks about our own ‘society’ and its morals and how they could change. One way that social customs/rules can be echoed in our world is through laws in our own world. Other, more disconcerting topics like euthanasia and death really shock the reader (Ch. 19, pg. 187-189) and extensively express the flaws in the Community. Another, most important theme is about the expression of Individuality and its importance inside Jonas’ Community and our own society.
In The Giver, themes and ideas about the fictional societies’ social customs and rules are conveyed to the reader as messages and are shown through Jonas’s point of view (we read this through his silent narrative). The Community in The Giver has a set of written rules that must be followed by everyone. This correlates to our own government and the laws citizens of the country have to follow. These general rules and customs are constantly referred to in the novel, stated and pondered over by the main protagonist; Jonas. Some rules such as respecting elders and apologising (pg. 1) seem reasonable or maybe even rational and logical, but major rules like no lying, and the daily custom of sharing dreams and feelings would breach privacy, and completely violate any secrecy or intimacy. It’s like being interrogated! “It was one of the rituals, the evening telling of feelings…Their parents, of course were part of the ritual: they too, told their feeling each evening”- (pg. 15/16). Using this idea of strict rules and laws, Lowry has made us think to our own society and government, and the way that we could turn out if people strive for a utopia; achieve over-perfection’ which eventually leads down a dark path into imperfection. The theme of euthanasia and death in the novel conveys a certain message to the reader by using the author’s distinct writing style depicting what Jonas witnesses throughout the storyline. At a certain point in the story, Jonas discovers the true meaning of Release [When people are expelled from the Community] (pg. 187-189). In chapter 19, Jonas again wonders what really happens during and after the Ceremony of Release.
As he watches the recorded video he is forced to watch by the Giver, he realises that the Elders and Nurturers of the Community are actually killing people who apply for release behind the citizens backs. We, as readers are horrified at this moment, because we witness the ‘official’ slaughtering of an innocent baby- performed none other than Jonas’ father. “He pushed the plunger very slowly, injecting the liquid into the scalp vein until the syringe was empty…As he continued to watch, the newchild, no longer crying, moved his arms and legs in a jerking motion. Then he went limp.
His head fell to the side, his eyes half open. Then he was still. ” (pg. 187-188) At this point in time, we realize that the Community has taken too drastic measures to obtain a utopian presence at the expense of many innocent lives- transforming a perfect government into an evil and bad group of people. In fact, similar themes to this are explored in movies like ‘I, Robot’, ‘Logan’s Run’, and ‘Pleasantville’, in which a society run by robots or perfect people turns sinister when those people or machines try to make everything better than it should be and make big and scary sacrifices. For ‘I, Robot’ the robots causing havoc who are controlled by V. I. K. I, and the assassination of the Chairman of U. S. R, for ‘Logan’s Run’ the ritual sacrifice of 30 year old adults, and in ‘Pleasantville’ the absence of colour, true love, diversity in weather and creativity. ) Lois Lowry uses this theme and example to imply that unnecessary death could be the end result of an overambitious society or government. The moral: be happy with what you’ve got and don’t eliminate happiness, because it will only be replaced by sorrow.
In The Giver, the importance of irrepressible individuality is a strong, significant theme that is essential to the storyline. This idea is developed and shown mainly through the characterisation of Jonas (i. e. his verbal speech and thoughts that are proven and carried out by his actions). Jonas gradually uncovers the meaning of being an Individual at many different stages in the book. The first time he witnesses his ‘difference’ is when he sees the apple. “…And again- in the air, for an instant only- it had changed…Jonas had been completely mystified. Ash? ’ he had called. ‘Does anything seem strange to you? About the apple? ’” “So Jonas laughed too, and with his laughter tried to ignore his uneasy conviction that something had happened. ” (pg. 39-40) Jonas continues to experience feelings of uniqueness and separation from his family and friends. For example, on page 86- “‘The thing that had happened with the apple they changed’ ‘It was the sort of thing one didn’t ask a friend about because it might have fallen into that uncomfortable category of being different. ” These quotes exemplify that being different is something completely unwanted in the society. Lowry has used these realistic, believable, examples to get a simple message across; through the ‘over-perfectionism’ of the Community, and through striving for uniformity, people dislike or are even paranoid about being different, special or unique. Talents should be cherished, not hidden or made forbidden. I particularly enjoyed this novel, as the rational amount of suspense and ‘page-turning factors’ balanced the difficult themes and surprisingly dark ideas.
All in all, The Giver has succeeded and achieved to a point where readers have noticed the correlation of her created world and our own Earth, and the significance of the actions and feelings of Jonas, the Giver, and all of their family and friends mentioned in the story. We finally realise that the expression of individuality and uniqueness must be perfectly balanced with uniformity and ‘sameness’ to create the perfect society. The creative and intimidating plot ideas really haunt us and make us think: humans will always try to be perfect, but they will never really succeed.