“The Giver” Summary Essay
In “The Giver” Lois Lowry tries to create a new Community free from all the tensions and other competitive aspects of our current society. The members of this community have no other role to play, except the one that is specifically assigned to them. “Sameness” so to say, is their ‘constitutional right.’ They have no other personal life except what is assigned to them. They are part of the separate community cut away from the existing community in this secular world. Memory is an important power of the human being and in the absence of memory, there can be no discomfort or comfort and the life is barren like a desert covered with endless stretches of sand, sand and sand again. Memory is articulated as the precious asset of individual heritage and one is an inseparable part of the heritage of the Community envisaged by the author. When it is said that the people who live in the community are guaranteed success, the nature of that success needs to be examined. The society to which Jonas is admitted is a closed society, where everything for everyone is pre-decided by the leaders of the Community. The power to desire is taken away from them and as such they all ‘think’ and ‘act’ in an identical manner and there is absolutely no competition in the society in any area. Everyone is polite (rather naïve and docile) as they are denied the emotions that are integral part of the human system.
Choose one of the main characters of the book and write about that person as he/she is presented in the work
Jonas is one of the main characters in the book. When he is designated as the “Receiver of Memories” by the Community, he has the limited access only to the information provided to him by the “Giver” who knows the truth of the past and he is just passing them on to Jonas. In the system envisaged, age has no relevance, as such 12 year-olds can rule the world. When everything is perfect and works to a pre-programmed discipline what is there to rule? People are free from worries and anxieties and there is nothing to take care of. Perfect equality prevails as the community is governed by the principle of “sameness” and each member is stationed as per the arrangement chalked-out. This Community remains segregated from the rest of the world. Jonas has some doubts relating to snow but the Giver guides him through proper explanations. Several further developments take place in relation to snow, but the new community remains free from the effects of all such innovations, good or bad. All aspects of advancing knowledge are denied to them and they remain stationary at the designated place like the pole star that does not move from its place. Thus in the Community described in the book the responsibilities assigned to Jonas, in reality, are meaningless. He cannot take responsibility for his own actions, the members of the Community are guided as per the prescribed guidelines, and they too do not know what the meaning of words like responsibility and irresponsibility are. Thus Jonas is mere the designated figurehead.
Recommendation: Why or why not
Many practices in the Community are inhuman. For example, Giver informing Jonas about the role of Birthmothers appears ridiculous. “Some years ago, before your birth, a lot of citizens petitioned the Committee of Elders. They wanted to increase the rate of births. They wanted each Birthmother to be assigned four births instead of three, so that the population would increase and there would be more laborers available.”(p.110)The children are born to unseen Birthmothers. Releasing the citizens who break rules or do not follow the society’s code of behavior is an atrocious act. The persons who formed the Community too have disagreed and as such they have formed a new Community. The Giver in this Community is not a perfect individual and what he does as such cannot be termed as a perfect act. He has been conditioned to be a “Giver” by the one through whom he has “received” and his acts are not the outcome of his own volition and he is as ignorant as “The Receiver.” People are denied the freedom of choice, they cannot decide about their careers and they cannot choose their spouses. The efforts to achieve “sameness” are, therefore, highly retrograde moves. If you agree that the literary works should hold the mirror of the society before the readers, this is not the book for one to follow. Any system of Community that affronts the essential dignity of human beings and freedom is condemnable. There are many unanswered questions in the book, and the Community leaders will never be able to answer them, bound by the rules and regulations governing the Community. The book, however, makes an interesting reading and is ‘unputdownable’ not for the merits of the contents, but for its silly perspectives.
Lowry, Lois. The Giver: Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, Print.