Gender Stereotypes – Society in the Giver
“Differently than these two societies that are set in the past, the society in The Giver is supposed to be a futuristic society with no gender roles. The Giver’s society being “gender free” is progressive and defies gender roles, however, there are still certain aspects of the book that depict traditional gender norms. Ultimately, this novel takes place in a society where women challenge traditional gender roles and can rebel against the typical ideas, but still succumb to certain ideals.
In some ways, the characters of this book illustrate a post-gender society, such as the system by which people are assigned jobs. When a person is assigned a role at the age of 12, it is not based on whether they are a boy or girl, but instead on what the community believes fits them best. For example, Jonas’ mother, is an official for the Department of Justice, while Jonas’ father has a nurturer role. At this time, that was a very uncommon thing seeing as most women were at home caregivers. Moreover, Jonas is one of the only characters who shows emotions and is sensitive. Typically in literature, women are the characters who show emotion and men are supposed to be portrayed as stronger and tougher. The sensitivity of the men in this novel is similar to the sensitivity and “feminine” qualities seen in Laurie throughout Little Women.
Laurie is seen as a positive influence for the March girls in the novel, showing his kind and sensitive personality. At the time of Little Women, it was uncommon for men to have a role like Laurie had as most men are supposed to work or go off to war and not show much sensitivity the way that Laurie does. The society in these two novels are very different as Jonas is not looked down upon for showing emotions the way that Laurie is. One point that Laurie shows such sensitivity was when Jo rejected his proposal “That was all, except a little pause.
Then Laurie straightened himself up, said, ‘It’s all right, never mind,’ and went away without another word (Aclott). This part of the story clearly shows Laurie’s sensitivity and clear sadness as Jo decides she would rather be his friend than his wife, and Jo is taken back by his sensitivity.
While The Giver breaks many gender stereotypes, there are also certain aspects which indicate traditional gender norms within Jonas’ community. To begin, every family is assumed to be a typical nuclear family, not leaving room for diversity in women raising a family on their own. It is clearly stated that each family has “two children – one male, one female – to each family unit. It was written very clearly in the rules” (Lowry). This does not leave much room for diversity in families, which happens to be the same type of family as in Charlotte’s Web. The nuclear family family in both novels leads to many of the problems with gender stereotypes, as in Charlotte’s Web, there is a natural division between Avery and Fern since they are different genders and Charlotte is expected to grow up faster since she is a girl. The required nuclear family in The Giver is different than Charlotte’s Web because although it is a stereotypical nuclear family, everyone is supposed to be equal, which leads to more freedom inside of a family that you do not have the freedom to create, allowing for the mother in this novel to have a typically masculine job and the dad to be more of a caretaker. On the other hand, the family in Little Women is less of a typical family since the father is off at war and there are four sisters. With the father missing, it is necessary for some of the sisters to step up to a role to help the mother, which encourages Jo to be more masculine.”