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The Giver by Lois Lowry
Transcript of The Giver by Lois Lowry
by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1937. Her father was in the military, so the family moved around a lot. She began writing in the 1970's, and she described it as a dream come true. She has tackled a number of topics including adoption, mental illness, cancer, the Holocaust, and futuristic societies. Whatever the theme, Lowry tries to portray realistic life experiences to her readers.
She told authors that she measures the success of an author by their ability to "help adolescents answer their own questions about life, identify, and human relationships."
Lowry found some of her inspiration for "The Giver" while visiting her father in a nursing home. Her father was suffering from long-term memory loss.
She realized one day that without memory, there is no pain; she began to imagine a society where all painless memories were deliberately forgotten.
However, some argue that with the past, we learn and we can prevent societies from repeating their painful pasts. For example, German schools learn about the Holocaust to try and learn why it happened.
"The Giver" and many other novels about futuristic societies, criticize reality by creating a
As we read though, we soon discover that the act of controlling a society is often worse than the things it tries to eliminate.
We will quickly realize that this society is not utopian, but
the setting of the novel
perfect place where people can lead perfect lives
no violence, poverty, or misery
very few laws or money are necessary
people only do work that they enjoy or that are for the common good
opposite of utopia
people live fearful lives
worst-case scenario for society
glorified and justified violence
technology replaces humanity
Think while reading: Is the setting in the novel really utopian or dystopian?
The Setting of "The Giver"
set in an imaginary world in an unspecified time in the future
the community is isolated in nature, with no pain, illness, or color (utopian)
Each individual has a designated place in society
Any unique traits or rituals that set people apart have been eliminated
All of this has been done by converting the community to "Sameness"
What would it take to make your world perfect?
What would you be willing to give up to have your world perfect?
All of these issues have to do somewhat with the novel. As you read, see if any of your choices change.
Students will stand if they agree with the statement. Think carefully.
An ideal community wouldn't have hunger or starvation.
An ideal community wouldn't have jealousy or competition.
An ideal community wouldn't have unemployment.
All children should have equal possessions and privileges at a certain age, regardless of the status of their families.
Families are much closer when they share their feelings.
Life would be easier and better if we didn't carry bad memories in our heads.
Overpopulation is such a problem that families shouldn't be allowed to have more than 2 children.
There is no real need to learn about world history.
There is no real need to learn about family history.
One's job or occupation in life should be a careful match to one's interests, talents, and skills.
Rules in the Novel's Society
Jonas' community is forced to live by strict rules in order for their society to avoid negative emotions like fear, anger, hurt, jealous and maintain the "utopia."
However, there are so many rules that the citizens are not free to make their own decisions.
The novel does not explain where these rules come from. We assume the founders of the society invented them to create what they considered to be a utopia.
Is it worth sacrificing choice and individuality to never feel "bad" emotions?
Watch your words...
Early in the novel, we learn that the citizens of Jonas' community are taught to use precise language.
They believe that by being accurate, they will avoid any misconceptions that can cause pain or hurt feelings.
Not only are rules and apologies are recited in unison at school, but students carefully choose the right adjectives to describe certain situations or what they are thinking or feeling.
This makes the use of
an important tool in Jonas' world.
A euphemism is a word or term that has mild or vague
and that serves to mask the actual harshness of the word.
Example: A used car being called "certified pre-owned"
What other euphemisms are used in our society?
definition found in the dictionary
what the word suggests or implies
can be culturally constructed
The idea that the human race can be improved by controlling who can produce
During the Holocaust, Hitler wanted Nazi scientists to explore his idea so he could create a "perfect" society
People with "favorable" traits are allowed and encouraged to reproduce.
People with "unfavorable" traits are discouraged or even prohibited from reproducing.
which leads to the question, who should get to decide?
main idea of a work
Two important themes in the novel:
At some point in the past, the community decided to eliminate all pain from their lives. To do so, they had to give up the memories of their society's experiences. Not only did this allow them to forget all pain that had been suffered throughout human history, it also prevented members of the society from wanting to engage in activities and relationships that could result in conflict and suffering. It eliminated any nostalgia for the things the community gave up in order to live in total peace and harmony.
Twelve-year-old Jonas starts to learn more about his society where everyone is the same. He considers rejecting it so he could follow his own path. The novel encourages readers to celebrate differences instead of setting them aside or pretending they do not exist.
"Often when people are given the choice, they choose wrong."
- The Giver