Week 4 Trade Book Review – The Giver
Concordia University of Portland
The Giver by Louis Lowry offers teachers many avenues for exploring virtues in a dystopian society. The setting of the novel offers just enough difference that does not critique present day society, but there are enough similarities that morals in our own society are mirrored back to the reader. The main character is Jonas a boy who is getting ready to become a “Twelve” like all the children who were assigned parents that year. Upon becoming a Twelve, Jonas and his peers are no longer considered children, and the “Committee of Elders” now will choose their adult jobs. Jonas thinks everything is perfect before he becomes a Twelve, but after, he realizes this perfection has been created at the expense of choice. Tension exists because color, music, and even emotions have been eliminated in lieu of “Sameness.” This seemingly cohesive society assigns not only jobs but also spouses and children. If any citizens are not controlled, they are “released” from the community “which was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming statement of failure” (Lowry, 1993, p. 2). The only way to be released “Elsewhere” happily is to reside in the “House of Old.” Jonas is selected to become the society’s next “Receiver of Memories.” He will be the only person in community that will hold on to memories past one generation, and he will hold the collective memories, emotions, and knowledge of the past.
Jonas possessed a superficial level of moral feeling before he was the Receiver, he knew it was wrong to steal, to hurt others, and lose self-control, but these were as a result of rote memorization and not because his personal view of right and wrong. As the former receiver, “The Giver” revealed past memories Jonas begins to question the Elders’ decision to not allow people to make their own decisions. He becomes unable to associate with other people because they are not...