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Themes in The Giver

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Rebecca Dubs

on 2 February 2016

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Transcript of Themes in The Giver

Themes and Symbolism in
The Giver

Theme 1:
Those who do not know sorrow,
cannot know joy.
Symbolism 1:
Gabriel
Symbolism 2: The Sled
The sled symbolizes the journey Jonas takes during his training and the discoveries he makes.

It is red, a color that symbolizes the new, vital world of feelings and ideas that Jonas discovers.

The novelty and delight of the downhill ride are exhilarating, and Jonas enjoys the ride in the same way that he enjoys accumulating new memories. But the sled can be treacherous, too: the first memory of extreme pain that he experiences involves the sled.

Pleasure and pain are inevitably related on the sled, just as they are in the memories. When, at the end of the novel, Jonas finds a real sled, it symbolizes his entry into a world where color, sensation, and emotion exist in reality, not just in memory.
Lowry's Central Messages
Sorrow
(n) -
a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.

Jonas realizes that the community has chosen safety and security over individual freedom and feelings. However, this also means that the people don't have the capability of knowing what true love/joy means.
No matter how delightful an experience is, you cannot value the pleasure it gives you unless you have some memory of a time when you suffered.

In other words, how do you know that you are happy, if you don't know what it's like to be sad?

Jonas receives memories from the Giver, which opens up the realization of true pain, and therefore, true love.
Theme 2:
The importanc
e
of
Individualism
At the Ceremony of Twelve, the community celebrates the differences between the Twelves for the first time in their lives.

People in Jonas' society ignore his unusual eyes and strange abilities out of "politeness," but those unusual qualities end up bring lasting, positive change to the community.

The novel encourages readers to celebrate differences instead of judging people due to them.
Theme 3:
The Importance of Memory
Lowry was inspired to write
The Giver
after a visit to her aging father, who had severe, long-term memory loss.

The Committee of Elders does recognize the importance of memory (if you don't remember a mistake, you are more likely to repeat it). This is why they have created the position of the Receiver.

Jonas soon realizes, as stated before, the lack of memory does eliminate pain. However, no memory also eradicates happiness.
For Jonas, the newchild Gabriel is a symbol of hope and of starting over. Babies frequently figure as symbols of hope and regeneration in literature.

Gabriel is too young to have assimilated into the customs and rules of the community, so he is still receptive to the powerful memories that Jonas transmits to him.
Symbolism 3: The River
The river, which runs into the community and out to Elsewhere, symbolizes the lack of control the community has, despite their attempts

When Caleb (the Four) drowns in the river, it is one of few events that the community cannot predict or control.

Also, Jonas and the Giver are inspired to change the community by the idea of the river's unpredictable behavior.
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