Lois Lowry’s The Giver is the quintessential dystopian novel, followed by its remarkable companions, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
About the Author
Lois Lowry is a multi-award-winning author who has written many popular books. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of the popular Anastasia Krupnik books and was the recipient of the Newbery Medal for Number the Stars and for The Giver.
Read an Excerpt
It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen. Frightened was the way he had felt a year ago when an unidentified aircraft had overflown the community twice. He had seen it both times. Squinting toward the sky, he had seen the sleek jet, almost a blur at its high speed, go past, and a second later heard the blast of sound that followed. Then one more time, a moment later, from the opposite direction, the same plane.
At first, he had been only fascinated. He had never seen aircraft so close, for it was against the rules for Pilots to fly over the community. Occasionally, when supplies were delivered by cargo planes to the landing field across the river, the children rode their bicycles to the river bank and watched, intrigued, the unloading and then the takeoff directed to the west, always away from the community.
But the aircraft a year ago had been different. It was not a squat, fat-bellied cargo plane but a needle-nosed single-pilot jet. Jonas, looking around anxiously, had seen others — adults as well as children — stop what they were doing and wait, confused, for an explanation of the frightening event.
Then all of the citizens had been ordered to go into the nearest building and stay there. IMMEDIATELY, the rasping voice through the speakers had said. LEAVE YOUR BICYCLES WHERE THEY ARE.
Instantly, obediently, Jonas had dropped his bike on its side on the path behind his family’s dwelling. He had run indoors and stayed there, alone. His parents were both at work, and his little sister, Lily, was at the Childcare Center where she spent her after-school hours.
Looking through the front window, he had seen no people: none of the busy afternoon crew of Street Cleaners, Landscape Workers, and Food Delivery people who usually populate the community at that time of day. He saw only the abandoned bikes here and there on their sides; an upturned wheel on one was still revolving slowly.
He had been frightened then. The sense of his own community silent, waiting, had made his stomach churn. He had trembled.
But it had been nothing. Within minutes the speakers had crackled again, and the voice, reassuring now and less urgent, had explained that a Pilot-in-Training had misread his navigational instructions and made a wrong turn. Desperately the Pilot had been trying to make his way back before his error was notice.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, HE WILL BE RELEASED, the voice had said, followed by silence. There was an ironic tone to that finally message, as if the Speaker found it amusing; and Jonas had smiled a little, though he knew what a grim statement it had been. For a contributing citizen to be released from the community was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming statement of failure.
Even the children were scolded if they used the term lightly at play, jeering at a teammate who missed a catch or stumbled in a race. Jonas had done it once, had shouted at his best friend, “That’s it, Asher! You’re released!” when Asher’s clumsy error had lost a match for his team. He had been taken aside for a brief and serious talk by the coach, had hung his head with guilt and embarrassment, and apologized to Asher after the game.
Now, thinking about the feeling of fear as he pedaled home along the river path, he remembered that moment of palpable, stomach-sinking terror when the aircraft had streaked above. It was not what he was feeling now with December approaching. He searched for the right word to describe his own feeling.
Jonas was careful about language. Not like his friend, Asher, who talked too fast and mixed things up, scrambling words and phrases until they were barely recognizable and often very funny.
Jonas grinned, remembering the morning that Asher had dashed into the classroom, late as usual, arriving breathlessly in the middle of the chanting of the morning anthem. When the class took their seats at the conclusion of the patriotic hymn, Asher remained standing to make his public apology as was required.
“I apologize for inconveniencing my learning community.” Asher ran through the standard apology phrase rapidly, still caching his breath. The Instructor and class waited patiently for his explanation. The students had all been grinning, because they had listened to Asher’s explanations so many times before.
“I left home at the correct time but when I was riding along near the hatchery, the crew was separating some salmon. I guess I just got distraught, watching them.
“I apologize to my classmates,” Asher concluded. He smoothed his rumpled tunic and sat down.
“We accept your apology, Asher.” The class recited the standard response in unison. Many of the students were biting their lips to keep from laughing.
“I accept your apology, Asher,” the Instructor said. He was smiling. “And I thank you, because once again you have provided an opportunity for a lesson in language. ‘Distraught’ is too strong an adjective to describe salmon-viewing.” He turned and wrote “distraught” on the instructional board. Beside it he wrote “distracted.”
Jonas, nearing his home now, smiled at the recollection. Thinking, still, as he wheeled his bike into its narrow port beside the door, he realized that frightened was the wrong word to describe his feeling, now that December was almost here. It was too strong an adjective.
He had waited a long time for this special December. Now that it was almost upon him, he wasn’t frightened, but he was…eager, he decided. He was eager for it to come. And he was excited, certainly. All of the Elevens were excited about the event that would be coming so soon.
But there was a little shudder of nervousness when he thought about it, about what might happen.
Apprehensive, Jonas decided. That’s what I am.
“Who wants to be the first tonight, for feelings?” Jonas’s father asked, at the conclusion of their evening meal.
It was one of the rituals, the evening telling of feelings. Sometimes Jonas and his sister, Lily, argued over turns, over who would get to go first. Their parents, of course, were part of the ritual; they, too, told their feelings each evening. But like all parents — all adults — they didn’t fight and wheedle for their turn.
Nor did Jonas, tonight. His feelings were too complicated this evening. He wanted to share them, but he wasn’t eager to begin the process of sifting through his own complicated emotions, even with the help that he knew his parents could give.
“You go, Lily,” he said, seeing his sister, who was much younger — only a Seven — wiggling with impatience in her chair.
“I felt very angry this afternoon, “ Lily announced. “My Childcare group was at the play area, and we had a visiting group of Sevens, and they didn’t obey the rules at all. One of them — a male; I don’t know his name — kept going right to the front of the line for the slide, even though the rest of us were all waiting. I felt so angry at him. I made my hand into a fist, like this.” She held up a clenched fist and the rest of the family smiled at her small defiant gesture.
“Why do you think the visitors didn’t obey the rules?” mother asked.
Lily considered, and shook her head. “I don’t know. They acted like…like…”
“Animals?” Jonas suggested. He laughed.
“That’s right, “ Lily said, laughing too. “Like animals.” Neither child knew what the word meant, exactly, but it was often used to describe someone uneducated or clumsy, someone who didn’t fit in. “Where were the visitors from?” Father asked.
Lily frowned, trying to remember. “Our leader told us, when he make the welcome speech, but I can’t remember. I guess I wasn’t paying attention. It was from another community. They had to leave very early, and they had their midday meal on the bus.”
Mother nodded. “Do you think it’s possible that their rules may be different? And so they simply didn’t know what your play area rules were?”
Lily shrugged, and nodded. “I suppose.”
“You’ve visited other communities, haven’t you?” Jonas asked. “My group has, often.”
Lily nodded again. “When we were Sixes, we went and shared a whole school day with a group of Sixes in their community.”
“How did you feel when you were there?”
Lily frowned. “I felt strange. Because their methods were different. They were learning usages that my group hadn’t learned yet, so we felt stupid.”
Father was listening with interest. “I’m thinking, Lily,” he said, “about the boy who didn’t obey the rules today. Do you think it’s possible that he felt strange and stupid, being in a new place with rules that he didn’t know about?”
Lily pondered that. “Yes,” she said, finally.
“I feel a little sorry for him,” Jonas said, “even though I don’t even know him. I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.”
“How do you feel now, Lily?” Father asked. “Still angry?”
“I guess not,” Lily decided. “I guess I feel a little sorry for him. And sorry I made a fist.” She grinned.
Jonas smiled back at his sister. Lily’s feelings were always straightforward, fairly simple, usually easy to resolve. He guessed that his own had been, too, when he was a Seven.
He listened politely, though not very attentively, while his father took his turn, describing a feeling of worry that he’d had that day at work: a concern about one of the new children who wasn’t doing well. Jonas’s father’s title was Nurturer. He and the other Nurturers were responsible for all the physical and emotional needs of every new child during its earliest life. It was a very important job, Jonas knew, but it wasn’t one that interested him much.
“What gender is it?” Lily asked.
“Male,” Father said. “He’s a sweet little male with a lovely disposition. But he isn’t growing as fast as he should, and he doesn’t sleep soundly. We have him in the extra care section for supplementary nurturing, but the committee’s beginning to talk about releasing him.”
“Oh, no,” Mother murmured sympathetically. “I know how sad that must make you feel.”
Jonas and Lily both nodded sympathetically as well. Release of newchilden was always sad, because they hadn’t had a chance to enjoy life within the community yet. And they hadn’t done anything wrong.
There were only two occasions of release which were not punishment. Release of the elderly, which was a time of celebration for a life well and fully lived; and release of a newchild, which always brought a sense of what-could-we-have-done. This was especially troubling for the Nurturers, likeFather, who felt they had failed somehow. But it happened very rarely.
“Well,” Father said, “I’m going to keep trying. I may ask the committee for permission to bring him here at night, if you don’t mind. You know what the night-crew Nurturers are like. I think this little guy needs something extra.”
“Of course,” Mother said, and Jonas and Lily nodded. They had heard Father complain about the night crew before. It was a lesser job, night-crew nurturing, assigned to those who lacked the interest or skills or insight for the more vital jobs of the daytime hours. Most of the people on the night crew had not even been given spouses because they lacked, somehow, the essential capacity to connect to others, which was required for the creation of a family unit.
“Maybe be could even keep him,” Lily suggested sweetly, trying to look innocent. The look was fake, Jonas knew; they all knew.
“Lily,” Mother reminded her, smiling, “you know the rules.”
Two children — one male, one female — to each family unit. It was written very clearly in the rules.
Lily giggled. “Well,” she said, “I thought maybe just this once.”
Next, Mother, who held a prominent position at the Department of Justice, talked about her feelings. Today a repeat offender had been brought before her, someone who had broken the rules before. Someone who she hoped had been adequately and fairly punished, and who had been restored to his place: to his job, his home, his family unit. To see him brought before her a second time caused her overwhelming feeling of frustration and anger. And even guilt, that she hadn’t made a difference in his life.
“I feel frightened, too, for him,” she confessed. “You know that there’s no third chance. The rules say that if there’s a third transgression, he simply has to be released.” Jonas shivered. He knew it happened. There was even a boy in has group of Elevens whose father had been released years before. No one ever mentioned it; the disgrace was unspeakable. It was hard to imagine.
Lily stood up and went to her mother. She stroked her mother’s hair.
From his place at the table, Father reached over and took her hand. Jonas reached for the other.
One by one, they comforted her. Soon she smiled, thanked them, and murmured that she felt soothed.
The ritual continued. “Jonas?” Father asked. “You’re last, tonight.”
Jonas sighed. This evening he almost would have preferred to keep his feelings hidden. But it was, of course, against the rules.
“I’m feeling apprehensive,” he confessed, glad the appropriate descriptive word had finally come to him.
“Why is that, son?” His father looked concerned.
“I know there’s really nothing to worry about,” Jonas explained, “and that every adult has been through it. I know you have, Father, and you too, Mother. But it’s the Ceremony that I’m apprehensive about. It’s almost December.”
Lily looked up, her eyes wide. “The Ceremony of Twelve,” she whispered in an awed voice. Even the smallest children Lily’s age and younger -knew that it lay in the future for each of them.
“I’m glad you told us of your feelings,” Father said.
“Lily,” Mother said, beckoning to the little girl, “go on now and get into your nightclothes. Father and I are going to stay here and talk to Jonas for a while.”
Lily sighed, but obediently she got down from her chair. “Privately?” she asked.
Mother nodded. “Yes,” she said, “this talk will be a private one with Jonas.”
Table of Contents
|The Life and Works of Lois Lowry||v|
|Time Line of Lois Lowry's Life||viii|
|Context for The Giver||x|
|Characters in The Giver||xii|
|Respond to the Selection, Chapter 1-4||31|
|Respond to the Selection, Chapters 5-8||61|
|Respond to the Selection, Chapters 9-11||84|
|Respond to the Selection, Chapters 12-15||114|
|Respond to the Selection, Chapters 16-18||137|
|Respond to the Selection, Chapters 19-23||168|
|Plot Analysis of The Giver||170|
|"Secret of Life," Diana Der-Hovanessian||172|
|"The Past," Billy Collins||174|
|Newbery Acceptance Speech, Lois Lowry||176|
|Creative Writing Activities||186|
|Critical Writing Activities||187|
|Glossary of Words for Everyday Use||191|
|Handbook of Literary Terms||200|
What People are Saying About This
“A powerful and provocative novel”—The New York Times
“Wrought with admirable skillthe emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel.”—Kirkus, starred review
“Lowry is once again in top form raising many questions while answering few, and unwinding a tale fit for the most adventurous readers.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The simplicity and directness of Lowry's writing force readers to grapple with their own thoughts.”— Booklist, starred review
“The theme of balancing the values of freedom and security is beautifully presented.”— The Horn Book Magazine, starred review
Reading Group Guide
1. In The Giver, each family has two parents, a son, and a daughter. The relationships are not biological but are developed through observation and a careful handling of personality. In our own society, the makeup of family is under discussion. How are families defined? Are families the foundations of a society, or are they continually open for new definitions?
2. In Jonas’s community, every person and his or her experience are precisely the same. The climate is controlled, and competition has been eliminated in favor of a community in which everyone works only for the common good. What advantages might “Sameness” yield for contemporary communities? Is the loss of diversity worthwhile?
3. Underneath the placid calm of Jonas’s society lies a very orderly and inexorable system of euthanasia, practiced on the very young who do not conform, the elderly, and those whose errors threaten the stability of the community. What are the disadvantages and benefits of a community that accepts such a vision of euthanasia?
4. Why is the relationship between Jonas and The Giver dangerous, and what does this danger suggest about the nature of love?
5. The ending of The Giver may be interpreted in two very different ways. Perhaps Jonas is remembering his Christmas memory–one of the most beautiful that The Giver transmitted to him–as he and Gabriel are freezing to death, falling into a dreamlike coma in the snow. Or perhaps Jonas does hear music and, with his special vision, is able to perceive the warm house where people are waiting to greet him. In her acceptance speech for the Newbery Medal, Lois Lowry mentioned both possibilities but would not choose one as correct. What evidence supports each interpretation?
6. There are groups in the United States today that actively seek to maintain an identity outside the mainstream culture: the Amish, the Mennonites, Native American tribes, and the Hasidic Jewish community. What benefits do these groups expect from defining themselves as “other”? What are the disadvantages? How does the mainstream culture put pressure on such groups?
7. Lois Lowry helps create an alternate world by having the community use words in a special way. Though that world stresses what it calls “precision of language,” in fact it is built upon language that is not precise but deliberately clouds meaning. What is the danger of such misleading language?
8. Examine the ways in which Jonas’s community uses euphemism to distance itself from the reality of “Release.” How does our own society use euphemism to distance us from such realities as aging and death, bodily functions, and political activities? What are the benefits and disadvantages of such uses of language?
Prepared by Gary D. Schmidt, Department of English, Calvin College
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read this book the first time in high school and have reread it a hundred times since. After losing my copy during a move, i decided I had to replace it. After reading it again, I remember why it's such an incredible story. it makes you question yourself, your career, society and think of things in a different perspective. the writing is superb and you get sucked in from the very beginning. it's a page turner, even after having read it many times before. as i mentioned in the title, it's one of my favorite books of all time. i highly recommend it to anyone who likes to read something that makes them think. A must read for everyone!
The Giver is a fantastic novel well deserving of the Newberry Award. It is the story of a post apocalyptic world that on the surface is perfect. Everyone has a job and a meaningful purpose, there is no crime, no poverty, no hunger. All of the problems of our current world are no more. But things aren't as perfect they seem. In this world you are given your job assigned to you by the Elders during the ceremony of twelves. It is during this ceremony that Jonas is given the job of the Receiver, the most honored job in the community. Being given memories of a much different world by the Giver, Jonas begins to question the perfection of the community and it is here that the story begins to unfold. Angered and confused by his imperfect and very intriguing past, Jonas must save himself and his community from the fantasy life that has been thrust upon them. I love this book for the simple fact that it poses questions that we never think about. What freedoms would give up if to have a perfect society? How important is individualism? What is the most valuable gift in life? Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. I kept reading to find out what Jonas was going to do but I won't spoil the ending for you. You'll just have to read to find out. If you're into wizards or galactic star fights this isn't the book for you. But if you enjoy a thought provoking book full of profound questions then this is the novel for you.
The Giver was an interesting novel that gave off many emotions. Joy, anger, horror, anguish, love, and desire were just a few of the many emotions the reader will dig up during their read. I did not understand the book at first. However, in the end, everything came together like a puzzle, and I could comprehend it.
I do not recommend this book for anyone below thirteen. It has very disturbing points that the main character, Jonas, must go through. He must test his courage, strength, and heart in this story. These events cause unbelievable tension and terror, but, to a teenager or adult, this book would be a very good read.
I believe The Giver shows us what we could do to ourselves in the future. We want to fit in so badly, that ¿Sameness¿ could become a real thing. It teaches us that our individuality is dangerous, but, at the same time, it allows us who we are. In the end, I did enjoy the novel and recommend it to my fellow readers. It was well written and was written to provide shocking moments for the reader.
I absolutely love dystopian literature and this book didn't disappoint! And although many don't like the ending, I thought it was really good. You should buy it because it's one of those books you can just read over and over again.
When I first heard of this book I thought that it wasn't going to be good, but I was wrong. This was a really great book and Lois Lowry has outdone herself and i thank her for writing this good book. Jonas, as a 12 year old has had a great responsibility put on him. At first he thinks it is too much to bare but as he goes on and gets more educated he realizes that it's an honor not a privilage. If you want to have one of the best reads of your life you should get this book, it can be found in any god bookstore.
This book is one of the best i have every read. From the very beginning it pulls you in and kepps you there. Its never boring and uses great detail. The compasson that this story shows is intence and surreal. I have read this book over and over again since middle school, it never gets old though. An amazin read for anybody who wants a good book.
The Giver is a fascinating book,it always brought up discussion. It was pretty challenging to put all the pieces of the book together,but once I got them together it was awesome.Jonas was a perfect character for the book.It was pretty sad,once you understood what released meant. It was kind of a confusing book,and you have to use your imagination to comprehend most of it.
The world in this book was completely different from what the world actually is. There was a few stuff I did not want to know that went on in that world because it was too sad. Especially this part about the twin babies, I had tear during that part, it was unbelievable. This book made me keep thinking about the modern world..
When I was in fifth grade my teacher recomend I read this book over the weekend since I was such a bookworm. I refused. Instead I took a H.P. book. But later that year we had reading groups. And I picked the group that was reading The Giver. I was put into that group and when we finished reading The Giver I was in love with it. I soon found myself in the library checking the sequals out. I was also recomending it to everyone in the library looking for a good book. I just LOVE this book and the books following it. A must read!
I read this book in 7th grade with my class.It's a really good book!
School required reading. The book was eye opening and interesting. Not quite sure i like the ending.
BEST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE YOU HAVE TO READ
I first read this book in the third grade of elementry school. It was a more advanced book but that only made it more exiting. I loved it; how it was put together, the society created by the author, it is an amazing book. I especially loved the ending. Anyone who has read it knows why.
Jonas lives in a world without choice. As he becomes a twelve, he gets selected as retriever of memory. He then learns about choice, color, grandparents, etc, because the giver gives him the memories. He then finds out that a baby, gabriel, who' s living with them temporarily living with them is going to be released, killed. He then steals his fathers bicycle, and takes gabriel with him. They ride for days until jonas reaches a sled on a hill, which he remembers in a memory the giver gave him. He then rides down the hill into a world of color and joy. This is my favorite book. Read it.
This deserved the newberry stuff. It kept me reading unil the last page a clif hanger. Bring on the new forth book to nook
This is an AWESOME book!! Anyone who hasn't read it, READ IT!! You will not regret it!
Obviously a text recommended, required, and/or read by students all over the world, I managed to avoid reading this book for almost 28 years! It was a great read! I get it. I totally understand why so many people push students especially to read this book. I just hated the ending. The conscious decision Lowry made to avoid establishing a clear, finite ending to the story slightly frustrates me more than it intrigues meLois Lowry's The Giver has collected a variety of awards since its 1993 publication; in fact, The Newberry Medal is prominently displayed on Gift Editions of the title. However, as is often the case with award winning books, this one garners much controversy, falling, too, on the American Library Associations's most challenged list. Aimed at an approximately sixth-grade demographic, The Giver opens as a Utopia but soon reveals itself to be a dystopia instead. Well crafted enough to hold an adult's attention, Lowry's premise of sameness is shocking when inevitable conclusions are reached within the safe, rule-ridden society. Though the community has little variation, the text is vividly descriptive, and readers soon know that this is a colorless world. Life is simple here. So simple that there are no choices to be made by individuals, for it is the community, not the person that holds importance. In this culture, to be too different is to be released into, well, nobody knows into what! Most don't even understand what the term means. When Jonas discovers that choices could be made if things were different and the true meaning of "release," he must take action. .
I loved this story but the next book in tthe series (the messenger) didnt answer any of the questions the giver left me with at the end
The story is very captivating. The ending leaves some questions and has me looking at the next book in the series.
I am reading it during school and it is the best book ever. We are going to do a big project on it too. The book will help you understand the meaning of life. As you read this, you will discover what is really important to you. Not only that, it gives you so much love and you will be anxious for more. There is the movie coming out in the summer! The author is amazing and no matter how old or young you are, I promise that you will finish this book faster than anybook you ever read.
I started reading the fiver becaus of school but khow this is my favorite book of all time , i EXTREMLY recommend it
This is the most suspensful book I've ever read. It is great for younge adults. I hate reading but I fould this book interesting and enjoyable!
I read this book for class. At first, the old man on the cover convinced me that this was a boring and old book. After the first chapter, I immediatly wanted to read on and continued reading until I finished the book. Very good!
The Giver Is a book about a boy named Jonas that lives in a fixed society. Where things like emotion, war, and racism do not exist. Everything in this society is already planned out. The people living in the community are not given a choice. They are not even allowed to choose their own spouse or job. I recommend this novel simply because it is an interesting book that makes you think about your own lifestyle and choices. Lois Lowry did an outstanding job writing this book.
I appologis preahead of time for spelling errors and improper grammer. This book is interesting on many levels. It is a dystopian society themed novel. I personally enjoyed the book even though many individuals had to read it for school and ended up disliking the book. The novel touches on many of the flaws of the "community" which is the setting and the flaws of the modern world. I found that many people would find the book boring or even uneventful, but I thought that for such a short novel it made me think more than I ever have in my life about the worlds future societies and past ones and how a perfect utopian soceity is an impossible without sacrifices that would affect everyone. The simplicity of the novel ignites the mind to imagine and reach a better understanding of the world and the effect that humans will and have had on this planet. The main characters age was a wise choice on the authors part because it reveals the injustice of the world and in a strange way lightens the very dark plot. I understand that many others who have read the book disliked it or even hated it, afterall the book is difficult to grasp and the concepts overwelming. Many of the events of the book are disterbing and unsettling and I do not recomend the book to children or the emotionaly immature, but i do reccomend that the people who disliked and especially loath or hate the novel to reread it with a open mind and accept it for what it is. The book in my oppinion is a lesson to the people the modern and future world almost like a history lecture but for what to avoid in the future and to understand that individuality is important but is also preventing the utopian society that many crave. The crave for a utopia is dipicted in the real world with conuismthat everything is equal. That would end in disaster due to the fact that certian people require and need more than other leading to inequality and possibly warfare. Once a again i prompt that the readers who disliked the book for what ever reasons negitive or out right trivial to reread it when they feel its right and immersthemselves into the world of The Giver and learn that this book should be read by everyone multiple times if nessisary. The siplicity of the plot and setting reveals a darker plot that i think that people tend to miss and an even darker message to us the reader from the author that something is seriously wrong with the world that we live in and the possible future she has depicted to us in this short novel. It is a wonderful read bound to leave you with questions and an urge for change in our world