Analysis of Lois Lowry’s the Giver
Lois Lowry’s novella The Giver tells an interesting story about a dystopian society. The book is written from the point of view of eleven year old Jonas. This society has eliminated choice by assigning all citizens jobs at the age of twelve. In this community there is never any conflict or pain due to the fact that everyone is the same and no one can see in color. The ability of choice is further eliminated by having a special council chose everyone’s spouses and each couple is assigned two children. The children come from birth mothers who never see the children. The babies are raised in a care facility by other community members. Jonas’ father works at the facility.
Jonas notices he is different when he sees an apple and it turns red as he has the ability to see color. Upon turning twelve Jonas is assigned the highly respected position of Receiver of Memory. The Receiver is the keeper of all the community’s memory and is referred to in an effort to keep from repeating the mistakes of the past. Even though Jonas gets to see color and experience things that the others don’t, he must also endure all the pain and hatred, through memory, that the community has sheltered him from. One day Jonas’ father returns home with a baby named Gabriel and tells Jonas that Gabe is having trouble living. His father says if he doesnt get well soon then Gabe will have to be “released.” In the community release is death although, it’s not treated as such.
Being released is a good thing and, the community does it to old people. Jonas begins to love Gabe because Jonas has feeling from his new memories. When Jonas finds out that Gabe is to be killed Jonas plans to escape with Gabe and release his memories unto the whole community. As the two get closer to the border of the society, the world fills with color. But other real world things come too such as hunger and pain. In the end, Jonas and Gabe climb a hill where they find a sled similar to then one from Jonas’ first received memory. As they slide down the hill on the sled Jonas believes he sees the lights of a Christmas village and hopes someone is there waiting for him, then the story ends. The book is full of large ideas and problems presented by dystopian society. One is shown by Jonas’ love of Gabriel. In The Giver, Lois Lowry shows through Jonas’ experiences that suffering is a necessary component for growth within oneself and empathy toward others.
One instance that Lowry demonstrates this truth is when The Giver gifts Jonas his first memory of pain. In this memory he is riding a sled yet, the slead loses control and Jonas is left with the feeling of a broken leg. When Jonas returns home he realizes he cannot speak about this feeling with his family because they have never known pain. This leaves Jonas feeling isolated. There is a clearly a strong contrast between the memories of pleasure and pain but, not as stark of a contrast as that between Jonas’ experiences and the lifelessness of the community. By using his transmitted memories Jonas is able to realize the value of joy and pleasure because he has a negative feeling to compare this to.
This is shown further when Jonas asks his parents if they love him. They tell Jonas that they don’t love him rather use very precise language to explain how they enjoy Jonas. According to a 1959 study conducted by psychologist Harry Harlow, maternal love is a key component in living a healthy life. The