The Image Of Society In The Book The Giver

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The society in which Jonas lives in is essentially known as a dystopian world that portrays a failed utopian world. His society is a world where everything has gone wrong. Jonas society has attempted utopia – where they try to hide the pain, suffering and violence within these memories that no one other than The Giver and Receiver of Memory can know of. This world is heavily controlled by the “Elders” who program and manipulate the community, so they think and act in certain ways. In other words, the people within this society are emotionally stunted and aren’t equipped to receive or even handle human emotions.

Emotions are filtered and contained by the Giver. People are expected to maintain Sameness, where no one can make their own choices as it’s “not safe” and “wrong choices” might be made. Any differences are “sent away,” where we can assume they are banished or left to die outside the enclosed community. This is where the community is left to think of Elsewhere. At the age of twelve, everyone is given a job that best fits them. They continue school while also training for their new “life” and role which was of course given by the Elders. This is quite different to our society. Our world is less controlled and hidden from what lies beneath. Our communities fight. We aren’t “perfect” where hunger, hatred, conflict, illness and warfare doesn’t even exist. Although most of us would like to see less of these things, only few would be willing to give up the freedom we have. The novels community is also different from ours because everyone is formed to the government’s (Elders) will, and everything is once again the same. Harmony is maintained because of such government control, and how they convince people that it is their own idea. Rules are enforced by once again having the “Elders” control and create their own rules that each and every individual citizen of their community must follow. This is done by rulebooks that are received at ceremonies. They also always keep everyone under surveillance where if someone breaks a rule, the Elders will announce the broken rule and remind everyone that that certain thing cannot be done.

Jonas begins as an eleven-year-old protagonist in “The Giver.” Throughout the novel, we see different traits that Jonas upholds. He is intelligent and sensitive, as well as growing with these strange “powers” of perception that he is yet to understand. Jonas is later chosen to be the new Receiver of Memory for his community; “Jonas has not been assigned, … Jonas has been selected. Such a selection is very, very rare. …. Jonas was identified as a possible Receiver many years ago. We have observed him meticulously. There were no dreams of uncertainty. He has shown all the qualities that a Receiver must have; Intelligence, Integrity, Courage, Wisdom, and one last quality which is the Capacity to See Beyond.” (pg 60-62)

Even before Jonas is a Receiver, he is unusually thoughtful and expresses great concern for both his family and his friends, and thinks it’d be a good thing if he got closer to other people. After Jonas’ training begins, his “universe” widens dramatically. He has a new sort of awareness with strong emotions, new and beautiful colours, and a great suffering of “physical pain” (pg 62) which only helps him understand and become passionate about his society and the world around him.

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Jonas name has significance that some might not have picked up. According to the author; Lois Lowry, Jonas was named after the biblical character, Jonah, who is swallowed by a whale after going in the opposite direction God tells him to go because he is afraid. This to me means that in the book, Jonas is someone who wants to make a change go how his community is living because everything that is true about it, is hidden. They’re living a lie, and Jonas wants to change that. He wants freedom. This means that he wants to go in the “opposite direction” from the rest of his community, which is similar to Jonah from the bible. Jonas and Jonah were afraid of what might happen to themselves and they want to see beyond, so they can change their surroundings with truth. Jonas name in Hebrew also means “Dove.” This is a sneaky way Lois Lowry managed to get across the protagonist’s role and what he wants because the word “Dove,” means peace. Jonas wants to bring peace, hope, light and love to his community. He wants everyone to “choose, instead of the Sameness.” (pg 97)

A sign that makes Jonas special is his eyes. Between Jonas and The. Giver, there is definitely an association between those who can receive memories and those who have light eyes. For example, Jonas’s role as The Receiver is in some way pre-destined. He was born with the right attributes needed to become what he became. It fits, and means he’s supposed to do this.

Light eyes also give us the ability to hint the fact that Jonas and The Giver share a special bond, which is something that others will never have. It could also signal the close bond between Gabriel and Jonas. He himself always thought there was something peculiar about having light eyes, that somehow represent “depth” and the “Capacity to see Beyond.” Jonas has the ability to see deeper than others and the capacity to view the world differently with more reflection, insight, etc, which makes it appear his eyes are different to everyone else’s.

It is necessary to have a Receiver in this community because then people in the community don’t have to feel bad experiences/feelings or experiences from “the past.” As a result, they also cannot handle any serious or emotional experiences that may be intense due to them not being used to having them or even knowing that traumatic events exist or once existed in their society. The Receiver of Memory is trained by The Giver so that when they get released, the Receiver can take over. The Giver in particular shares wisdom of all his memories and pain from the past onwards to the Receiver who can then help the community when they have a problem or people like the “Elders” don’t know the answer to some thing or it’s new to them. The community feels that having a Receiver is necessary so that they can avoid pain, but they are actually just allowing adults to have the emotional maturity of a child. For this novel’s world, it is also important they have a Receiver because they are the only ones who can see the true things of their own society that lie beneath the boundaries that others cannot see themselves.

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The Image Of Society In The Book The Giver. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from
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