Comparing and Contrasting ‘Pleasantville’ and ‘The Giver’

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Imagine a world where everyone has a great family, no finance issues, siblings aren’t annoying, every student has good grades, everyone goes to the school of their dreams, but they don’t see color and there is no real human emotion shown from people. Would all of this be worth the cost? In ‘The Giver’, the receivers are the only people who have feelings and memories. The elders, people who choose what the best is for their people in the community and sometimes they go to the receiver for help on making the right decisions, help the people from the community. The people who live in this community, do not see color, or have freedom on deciding for them.

There is no love, feelings, and real human emotion. Jonas is assigned to be the next receiver of the community; He was trained by the giver, who transfers memories of the pain and pleasures and greatness that life has to offer, who also shows him the truth and reality that is hidden to the community. In contrast, in Garry Ross’s ‘Pleasantville’, a black-and-white ’50s sitcom, called “Leave It to Beaver” which centers around the Parker family. George, his wife Betty, and their two children, Bud and Mary Sue. David is an expert on every episode and wants to watch the marathon, but his older sister Jennifer interrupts him and his binge-watching session because she wanted to do something else that involved the TV. During the fight between David and Jennifer, the remote-control breaks and the TV cannot be turned on manually.

A weird repairman shows up uninvited, and quizzes David on Pleasantville before giving him a strange-looking, old-fashioned, retro style remote control. The repairman leaves, and David and Jennifer promptly resume fighting. However, through some weird malfunction in the remote control, they are transported into the television, ending up in the Parkers’ black and white Pleasantville living room. David and Jennifer must now pretend they are, respectively, Bud and Mary Sue Parker. Both in “The Giver” and “Pleasantville”, it is important to embrace change. However, “The Giver” also emphasizes that trying to eliminate something will affect society while in “Pleasantville” it focuses more on the idea that something might look good and pleasant on the outside, but it is really un-pleasant and terrible.

Both “The Giver” and “Pleasantville” show us that it is important to embrace change. For example, in Pleasantville, when Bud and Mary-Sue first came to Pleasantville, everything was “scripted” and everything in Pleasantville was n black-and-white. The tried to change the people who live in Pleasantville. But when they changed people the people in Pleasantville, color started to appear because people were actually showing real emotion. Color started to show up because people started showing real emotion so like anger, happiness, love, confused, curiosity, etc. Towards the end of the movie, where some people were fighting every reason to show real emotion because they didn’t want to change from black-and-white to color because some people thought that if you were “colored” that you were different. At the end of the move where everyone showed real emotion towards each other, the whole community of Pleasantville was in color.

If citizens of Pleasantville showed real emotion sooner, the community would’ve changed a long time ago. This shows that when Bub and Mary-Sue got teleported into Pleasantville, it was a good thing for the citizens of Pleasantville because they made the community better by making it colorful and not as dull and fake as it was before they got there. Similarly, In “The Giver”, Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy living in a futuristic society that has eliminated all pain, fear, war, and hatred leaves his community because he wants to save his brother and he also knows something is not right in his community so he escapes his community hoping to seek or get answers from the Giver. The giver is someone who is the only people who has access to the memories that the people who creates this community that Jonas and other people live in don’t want them to know about because they might want to leave the co just like Jonas did or they would rebel and they don’t want that to happen.

In Pleasantville, when Bud goes to the city hall because he went to jail for painting something on the side of a fire department building in color and since they grew up in black and white and everything is in black and white. This shows that in “The Giver” when Jonas leaves his community, he is actually helping his community because he is giving them memories. When Jonas goes a certain distance, it will unlock memories for the people who live in the community and that is helping them because they can now know what the community really is and what they actually live through every day. Jonas decides to give the people who live in his community the ability to remember things because it can help them see how they really live. Like for example, when people can just kill people or “release” people and hum a happy tune, they now know that they were killing people because they broke the rules a couple times. Both “The Giver” and Pleasantville show us that it is important to embrace or except change.

On the other hand, Pleasantville emphasizes personal expression makes life unique. For example, when Bud and Mary-Sue came into Pleasantville everything was weird and unusual to them and everything was in black and white but when they started to go to school, they started to change their friends that hung out with them and they ended up changing the Pleasantville society around them. They changed the community by trying to make the other person show real human emotion. Like for example, when Bud was taking to the mayor of Pleasantville, he got so angry that he turned into full color and not black and white because he showed real human emotion and when Bud was talking with his Dad about ow much he loved and cared for his wife, he also turned into full color.

Another thing that happened when Bud and Mary-Sue did to change the Pleasantville community or society around them forever was they gave the people who lived in the community background information about different historical events like Bud was taking about the Grand Canyon and Huckleberry Finn and other stories that they had no idea existed. This shows us that when people show real human emotion, it can lead to people loving each other more or people showing real emption towards other people and not ‘fake’ emotion towards other people. Like for example, the people in Pleasantville could say “I really don’t love you” or “I am un-happy with your decision” with a smile on their faces because that is the way Pleasantville was created and that is how the director of Pleasantville wanted to be like. In addition, when Bud and his mom were talking about Pleasantville and when they were talking about how she was half black and white and the other half was in color.

They both were talking about how it is a good thing that she was in color because it shows that she showed real emotion. “No don’t cover it up mom, it look good on you….color is a good thing” (Bud). What Bud was trying to say was that showing real human emotion is a good thing because it doesn’t mean your ‘fake’ it means you really show emotion and that is something that is necessary in human life or nature. In “the Giver” however, when Jonas leaves his community to out and find the Giver he is trying to save his brother because he is going to be “released” and Jonas is hoping he is going to save him since he now knows what release actually is. This shows that when Jonas finds out what release is and that they are going to release Gabriel, Jonas’s brother, he hopes to save him from getting killed and not released.

Despite the similarities between these two texts, ‘The Giver’ focuses more on how if there is no memories there is no pain. The members of the community Jonas lives in will never be able to appreciate the joys of life because they have no memory of any pain, or regret, and an experience can not be valued unless you have a memory from a time you have suffered. This is one of the reasons why Jonas wants to leave his community. Jonas found himself irritated with the fact that his friends, “…were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on” (Lowry 99). His friends were playing a game in which they imitated the actions of a person in a war, which made Jonas frustrated. He felt this way because he had received a memory of war, it was painful, and a not pleasant thing Jonas had to experience. No one else in the commutiy experienced the same thing Jonas did, so they had fun while playing the game since they didn’t know much pain people feel during accrual war. Another example is the process of being released from the community.

Their lives aren’t precious to the people who kill people, so death to the isn’t a tragic thing. The only tragic thing is making a wrong choice, which is why having no memory was the better choice for the people who live in the community. When the community doesn’t feel sorrow, they can’t feel happiness either. When they can’t feel those emotions, they don’t have any excitement in their lives which makes their society a place not worth living. In “Pleasantville’ on the other hand, the idea od memory doesn’t come up as much as the idea od emotion. The people in the community were turning into color from black and white because people were showing real human emotion. People turn into color when they express themselves instead of keeping their feelings and emotions inside them. At first, they wanted to go back to how it was before, and they were not open to such a big change, but they realized that going from black and white to colored was a great change that happened in their community. When Betty changed colors, she didn’t want anyone to see her. She had a perfect life, she lived in a nice home with a nice caring family, she had clothes, she had food, but she decided to leave all that behind, so she could convey her true sentiment.

The simple things in life should be allowed to everyone and cherished and enjoyed. They might not seem like a huge part in our life, but once they are taken away, they would be very much missed and wanted again. Memories, new experiences, and color are some of the things that make us the most happy in life. Ignorance would definitely ruin all of these things and make life a very dull experience.

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Comparing and Contrasting 'Pleasantville' and 'The Giver'. (2019, Oct 01). Retrieved from

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