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The Giver
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The Giver

 

Lowry, Lois.  1993.  The Giver.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.  ISBN: 0395645662. 

 

 

 

A perfect world has been created by Lois Lowry in The Giver.  A world where there is no conflict, poverty, divorce, war or pain.   At the beginning, Jonas, the eleven-year-old protagonist of the story, is awaiting for his life assignment from the Ceremony of Twelve.  Jonas learns that he was chosen, by the Elders, to fill the important job of the “Receiver of Memory, because he posses “all of the qualities that a Receiver must have: Intelligence, integrity, courage, wisdom, and the Capacity to See Beyond.”   This life assignment requires Jonas to receive all the bad, unkind, angry, greed, pain, and hunger memories of the world from a man whom he calls “The Giver.”

 

Through the training process that Jonas encounters, he learns that his world of no colors, no choices, no love, no real families, and no memories is not for him.  He wishes that everyone in the community had the right to make decisions about their freedom and choices in life.  Jonas along with the Giver comes up with a plan to give back to the community some of the things that they have been missing for a long time.  His plan falls apart when Jonas learns that Gabriel, the infant that his father has been nurturing at home, will be “released”.  Jonas decides to escape taking Gabriel with him in search for a better life.

 

 

Lois Lowry won the Newbery Medal Award for The Giver in 1994.  One of the remarkable things about this book is the changes that Jonas, the protagonist character, goes through.  He begins the story believing that he will do the best he can with his new life assignment. During the ceremony, his name is skipped and he begins to wonder, “What did he do wrong?”   He is troubled by Rule number 8, “You may lie.”  He begins to see that his world is not exactly what he thought is was.  He makes plans to escape and starts to think on his own.

 

Lowry has created a thought-provoking science fiction story that pulls the reader into the themes of freedom and courage.  Jonas wants everyone is his community to have the memories that were meant for him. “They have never known pain. The realization made him fell desperately lonely.”  It was also courageous of Jonas to give away a memory to Gabriel.  “He was not yet qualified to be a Give himself; nor had Gabriel been selected to be a Receiver.” It takes a strong-willed and courageous person to leave a community, with an infant, at the age of twelve, in order to protect him for being released.  Though Jonas is courageous he is also lonely.  “The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

 

 

Through twists and turns, Jonas is able to escape to Elsewhere, to a world where things are not hiding from people, but where they have a say in their lives and make their own choices.     Jonas wants to see more color and he learns that if people were able to see things in color it would not be safe.  He is also frightened by what he sees his father do on a monitor: inject something into an infant’s skull that within mere minutes kills it.  He does not like living with pain.

 

 

 

Lowry has amazed me again.  Just like her other Newbery Medal winner, Number the Stars, I could not put The Giver down until I was finished reading it.  Lowry does exactly what she said in her acceptance speech for The Giver:  “The man that I named the Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth.  Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing. It is very risky. But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom. Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things” (Lois Lowry, Newbery Acceptance Speech, June 1994.)  It is true. Every time a person sets out to read a book they have to make choices: What type of book to read?  Fiction?  Nonfiction?  Fantasy?  It really does not matter. You are going to learn new knowledge, maybe laugh or cry, and escape the realities of your world at the time. 

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