The Giver Dystopian Novel Analysis by Ralph K Jones

Dystopian Literature Review

The Giver: Giving up Life in Order to Live

The Giver by Lois Lowry depicts a world that has been deprived of both pain and joy. While the members of the community appear to lead happy lives, it is reiterated several times throughout the novel that they know nothing of the true human experience, the good and the bad. The Giver teaches us that although life can be exceedingly painful, the good makes it all worth it in the end.

The Giver: Giving up Life in Order to Live

The Giver takes place in a society where the natural order of life is suppressed. People are forced to take pills to prevent their sexual impulses, and they aren’t allowed to have intimate relationships with one another. Families are assigned according to a committee, and if identical twins are born, only one is allowed to live. Furthermore, members of this community can be subject to “release” due to old age or criminal infractions, which is a euphemism for execution. Worst of all, the community adheres to a principle of “Sameness” to prevent the difficulties that arise from individuality. There is no colour, no changing seasons, or anything else that could excite the senses of a human being.

The story of The Giver follows Jonas, a twelve-year-old boy who is about to have his lifetime occupation selected for him during a ceremony. He is eager to find out what job he will be assigned, but he is surprised to find out that he was given the honorable role of “Receiver”. Jonas’ role as the Receiver is to accept the countless memories of the world from the previous Receiver, which are all contained within a single person.

The Giver in-depth Review

When Jonas first begins receiving memories, he is in awe at how greatly his life is transformed. He begins to see and feel things he had never experienced before, including colour, love, and pain. However, when he tries to ask his parents if they love him, he learns that the concept of love doesn’t exist in his society. After experiencing the depth of emotions, he begins to question how life without it is worth living.

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

― Lois Lowry, The Giver
Putting the Colour Back into the World

Jonas’ attitude shifts once he discovers the true nature of a “release”, as he watches his father perform one on an infant. He develops a strong desire to give all of the world’s emotions back to their rightful owners, and he concocts a plan with the Giver to do so. Before he leaves the community, he finds out that Gabriel, an infant who had been staying with his family, was about to be released, so he decides to take him with him. At the end of the story, Jonas arrives at a new society after a long and arduous journey with Gabriel, and it is implied that the community he left got its memories back.

Putting the Colour Back into the World

The tale within The Giver is a perfect example of a society forfeiting its humanity in order to live painlessly. By eliminating the burden of choice from a society, people do not have to worry about making the wrong decisions. However, in order to gain a comfortable amount of control over life, much of its best parts have to be given up. If one is unable to feel attraction for another human being, see colour, listen to music, or decide their own profession, are they really alive at all? This is precisely why Rosemary, the previous Receiver before Jonas, was one of the only people in the community to commit suicide. After becoming privy to the joys and pains of the world, there was no way she could go back to a meaningless life in the community.

The Giver Ralph’s Wrap Up

It is often said that there is a dystopia in every utopia, and this is extremely true for the society in The Giver. The simple fact of the matter is that a life of pure happiness comes at a cost, and in the case of The Giver, the cost is life itself. The moment that one ceases to love, see, and feel even the worst of pains, is the moment that they stop being human. This question will easily answer itself, but would that be worth it?

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