The Giver by Lois Lowry sets place in a futuristic society. It is undetermined the exact location or period that the story takes place. This society is based on a utopian community. A perfect society, where everyone is safe, they have never suffered pain, or ever heard of violence, but the citizens have no individuality, choice, or any freedom. The setting of this community is composed of a collection of houses known as dwellings were the same in shape, color, and size. It is surrounded by agricultural fields and open land. There is a river near the community that separates the community from the neighboring communities, which the citizens are unaware. “Contact with nearby communities is very limited and with the larger world unknown.”
The community is highly controlled and isolated from the rest of the world. Life is strictly governed and based on the concept of the sameness. The citizens of the community are watched through surveillance, have to follow extensive rules, and follow certain rituals. The members of this committee do not have access to anything that provides information or entertainment.
“There is no art or visual or aural culture. Citizens have no access to books. There are, apparently, no telephones, newspapers, televisions, computers or other electronic media devices in the home.” Their entire life is controlled by the committee. The elders of this committee make every decision, decide the members' place in society They decide how many children will be born in a year, how many people will belong in a family, who will get married to each other, and determine each member's occupation. “Lowry’s citizens have their entire life’s work and even marital status decided by the Committee.”
Along with People, mankind controls nature. The climate in the setting of this utopian society remains the same, it is a comfortable, and predictable weather. They eliminated harsh weather such as Snow, rain, and excessively hot conditions, which would be brutal for agriculture, cause sunburns, Natural disasters such as floods, tornados, and hurricanes. They eliminated Valleys, hills, and dangerous roads which could cause road fatality. By eliminating all these factors, they made this perfect community. Where its members will never face starvation, losing their home or being homeless or pain of losing their loved one from any road fatality. The citizens of this society along with the elder committee members are unable to see color. The members don't know color or that it even exists. This genetic modification was due to eliminating racism. Since nobody will be able to tell the difference between color, they would not be able to identify skin color, and everyone will be the same. “human perception is based on recognizing contrasts. Without recognizing contrast, we lack in human perception and understanding as evident in Lowry’s dystopia. The comparison of Jonas’ secondary world to our real world view, then, directs us to troubling the notion that this same tactic of ignoring human differences—a colorblind stance, for example—may be prevalent in our own society with similar consequence.” Not seeing color applies to daily actives like picking out clothes, since they are oblivious to the fact that color exists it does matter, and there is no choice or individuality.
It is obvious throughout the story that uniformity is valued more than individuality. Sameness is the idea practiced by the leaders. The committee members believe everything in the community should be the same, and everything given to the citizens should be equal because if it is not the same the that creates issues. They want to create a utopian society where everything is the same and, therefore it is considered equal. When the concept of sameness was created. They decided that individuals in the community did not need individual memories of the past. Even though some memories brought joy, there were memories such as war, death, violence, that would cause burdensome to the community. Having memories would cause the citizens to make choices, and making choices goes against the ideology of sameness. They are kept away from knowing the past because all the memories would bring so much pain, and the members have lived in a well-protected world that they would not be able to handle the chaos. The only person who has all these memories is referred to as the giver, he holds all the memories from the past is called when there is a decision to be made.
In this community, the giver guides all decisions made in the community. He is the only person in the whole community who holds memories of the past. As he grew older and became weakened, the committee of elders decided it was time to have a new giver. Jonas, the protagonist of this story, is chosen to become the receiver of memory an honorable position in this community. “As with all ‘‘twelves,’’ Jonas is to be assigned his lifetime community role at the annual Ceremony; he is bestowed a great honor to be named the next Giver. Slowly the burden of this role is revealed: in order to protect the stability of the community, Jonas must receive and internalize from the current Giver what is exclusively his.” Jonas is now required to see the giver in the Annex, a building different from others. The Annex is the representation of what was before the time of Sameness. This building contains books on multiple subjects unlike, the community, were reading, and any other source of getting information is highly restricted, it has a buzzer on the front door, there is an on/off switch on the speaker, and the only place that has a lock on the door. The Annex is the only place in the society along with the giver who has seen joy, pain, color, and many more memories.
The very first memory that is transferred to Jonas by the giver was a memory of sledding down a snowy hill. He finds this memory very thrilling, and surprising. As the weeks pass, Jonas begins to receive more and more memories, and soon he starts seeing the color red. Jonas his disappointed when he finds out no-one can see color and the giver explains that this was due to genetic modification. While he is receiving memories from the giver, he learns the true meaning of release. In this community, infants were taken from their mothers at birth and raised in a nurturing center until the age of one. When they turn one, they were given to couples with a successful marriage after, their application for a child has been approved by the committee. Infants were closely watched, and the ones that show any signs of being weak or different are released. He soon gets attached to one of the infants at the nurturing center. The infant's name was Gabriel, he was supposed to be released since he was a week infant. From the memories, he learns that being released means that they are going to be killed, that his father is the one who unknowingly along with others are performing this task. “when Jonas’s father, a professional child nurturer, good-naturedly euthanizes a newborn baby with no understanding that he has taken a life.... his training as Receiver that Jonas, who views the killing of the newborn, understands its meaning.” This convinces Jonas to escape to the elsewhere because once he crosses the river all the memories will come to the citizens. “Jonas’s decision to abandon his role as Receiver of Memory is meant to force his community to bear memories of the past so they can truly feel love and anguish and understand the implications of their actions. The result, if successful, will be to end the a temporal ever-present in which his townspeople live and return them to historical time.”
Elsewhere is a term used in this society to keep the citizens in dark. Jonas realizes that the term elsewhere is just a cover-up, but in reality, they are killing innocent children and the elderly to control the population. They use this term to cover up for people who have been executed for breaking rules. According to the citizens elsewhere is this pleasant site where people are sent permanently. Using words like death and murder would be considered highly inappropriate because the members have lived in a safe environment and exposing them to such words would make them feel unsafe. Elsewhere is also referred to as something beyond the boundaries of the community, and no one knows what exists beyond that place. When Jonas crossed the boundary all the memories that were held came rushing back to the citizens. “If he is to save little Gabriel's life, he cannot wait to enact the Giver's plan or to take advantage of any other preparations. By night, he and little Gabriel sneak out of town by bicycle and head for the Elsewhere that Jonas hopes exists. They sleep, hidden by day, and pedal all night, taking care to stay out of sight of the search parties and planes. Worn out and hungry, they continue to flee, looking for a safe haven. In the end, it is only Jonas's determination and perseverance that keeps them on their way.”
The setting of this story plays an important role in the lives of all the community members and affect them. People in this utopian setting have given up their Individuality, their freedom, and the ability to make choices, and unknowingly adapted Sameness. Jonas learns there is a whole undiscovered world. He finds his society filled with lies and dysfunctional. The members have lived in a well-protected world. where sameness is valued more than individuality. “ As much as the novel focuses on recovering the past as the means to achieving full humanity, Lowry also shows that memory is the primary utopian tool for opening up the future.”