A PBS Great American Read Top 100 PickThe Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
About the Author
Lois Lowry is the author of more than forty books for children and young adults, including the New York Times bestselling Giver Quartet and popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader’s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, Number the Stars and The Giver. Her first novel, A Summer to Die, was awarded the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award. Ms. Lowry lives in Maine. www.loislowry.com Twitter @LoisLowryWriter
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 riverbank 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 populated 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 noticed.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, HE WILL BE RELEASED, the voice had said, followed by silence. There was an ironic tone to that final 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 catching 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 feelings, 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 made 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 newchildren 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 newchild 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 newchildren 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, like Father, 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 we 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 feelings 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 his 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 arm.
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 that 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.”
Jonas watched as his father poured a fresh cup of coffee. He waited.
“You know,” his father finally said, “every December was exciting to me when I was young. And it has been for you and Lily, too, I’m sure. Each December brings such changes.”
Jonas nodded. He could remember the Decembers back to when he had become, well, probably a Four. The earlier ones were lost to him. But he observed them each year, and he remembered Lily’s earliest Decembers. He remembered when his family received Lily, the day she was named, the day that she had become a One.
The Ceremony for the Ones was always noisy and fun. Each December, all the newchildren born in the previous year turned One. One at a time—there were always fifty in each year’s group, if none had been released—they had been brought to the stage by the Nurturers who had cared for them since birth. Some were already walking, wobbly on their unsteady legs; others were no more than a few days old, wrapped in blankets, held by their Nurturers.
“I enjoy the Naming,” Jonas said.
His mother agreed, smiling. “The year we got Lily, we knew, of course, that we’d receive our female, because we’d made our application and been approved. But I’d been wondering and wondering what her name would be.”
“I could have sneaked a look at the list prior to the ceremony,” Father confided. “The committee always makes the list in advance, and it’s right there in the office at the Nurturing Center.
“As a matter of fact,” he went on, “I feel a little guilty about this. But I did go in this afternoon and looked to see if this year’s Naming list had been made yet. It was right there in the office, and I looked up number Thirty-six—that’s the little guy I’ve been concerned about—because it occurred to me that it might enhance his nurturing if I could call him by a name. Just privately, of course, when no one else is around.”
“Did you find it?” Jonas asked. He was fascinated. It didn’t seem a terribly important rule, but the fact that his father had broken a rule at all awed him. He glanced at his mother, the one responsible for adherence to the rules, and was relieved that she was smiling.
His father nodded. “His name—if he makes it to the Naming without being released, of course—is to be Gabriel. So I whisper that to him when I feed him every four hours, and during exercise and playtime. If no one can hear me.
“I call him Gabe, actually,” he said, and grinned.
“Gabe.” Jonas tried it out. A good name, he decided.
Though Jonas had only become a Five the year that they acquired Lily and learned her name, he remembered the excitement, the conversations at home, wondering about her: how she would look, who she would be, how she would fit into their established family unit. He remembered climbing the steps to the stage with his parents, his father by his side that year instead of with the Nurturers, since it was the year that he would be given a newchild of his own.
He remembered his mother taking the newchild, his sister, into her arms, while the document was read to the assembled family units. “Newchild Twenty-three,” the Namer had read. “Lily.”
He remembered his father’s look of delight, and that his father had whispered, “She’s one of my favorites. I was hoping for her to be the one.” The crowd had clapped, and Jonas had grinned. He liked his sister’s name. Lily, barely awake, had waved her small fist. Then they had stepped down to make room for the next family unit.
“When I was an Eleven,” his father said now, “as you are, Jonas, I was very impatient, waiting for the Ceremony of Twelve. It’s a long two days. I remember that I enjoyed the Ones, as I always do, but that I didn’t pay much attention to the other ceremonies, except for my sister’s. She became a Nine that year, and got her bicycle. I’d been teaching her to ride mine, even though technically I wasn’t supposed to.”
Jonas laughed. It was one of the few rules that was not taken very seriously and was almost always broken. The children all received their bicycles at Nine; they were not allowed to ride bicycles before then. But almost always, the older brothers and sisters had secretly taught the younger ones. Jonas had been thinking already about teaching Lily.
There was talk about changing the rule and giving the bicycles at an earlier age. A committee was studying the idea. When something went to a committee for study, the people always joked about it. They said that the committee members would become Elders by the time the rule change was made.
Rules were very hard to change. Sometimes, if it was a very important rule—unlike the one governing the age for bicycles—it would have to go, eventually, to The Receiver for a decision. The Receiver was the most important Elder. Jonas had never even seen him, that he knew of; someone in a position of such importance lived and worked alone. But the committee would never bother The Receiver with a question about bicycles; they would simply fret and argue about it themselves for years, until the citizens forgot that it had ever gone to them for study.
His father continued. “So I watched and cheered when my sister, Katya, became a Nine and removed her hair ribbons and got her bicycle,” Father went on. “Then I didn’t pay much attention to the Tens and Elevens. And finally, at the end of the second day, which seemed to go on forever, it was my turn. It was the Ceremony of Twelve.”
Jonas shivered. He pictured his father, who must have been a shy and quiet boy, for he was a shy and quiet man, seated with his group, waiting to be called to the stage. The Ceremony of Twelve was the last of the Ceremonies. The most important.
“I remember how proud my parents looked—and my sister, too; even though she wanted to be out riding the bicycle publicly, she stopped fidgeting and was very still and attentive when my turn came.
“But to be honest, Jonas,” his father said, “for me there was not the element of suspense that there is with your Ceremony. Because I was already fairly certain of what my Assignment was to be.”
Jonas was surprised. There was no way, really, to know in advance. It was a secret selection, made by the leaders of the community, the Committee of Elders, who took the responsibility so seriously that there were never even any jokes made about Assignments.
His mother seemed surprised, too. “How could you have known?” she asked.
His father smiled his gentle smile. “Well, it was clear to me—and my parents later confessed that it had been obvious to them, too—what my aptitude was. I had always loved the newchildren more than anything. When my friends in my age group were holding bicycle races, or building toy vehicles or bridges with their construction sets, or—”
“All the things I do with my friends,” Jonas pointed out, and his mother nodded in agreement.
“I always participated, of course, because as children we must experience all of those things. And I studied hard in school, as you do, Jonas. But again and again, during free time, I found myself drawn to the newchildren. I spent almost all of my volunteer hours helping in the Nurturing Center. Of course the Elders knew that, from their observation.”
Jonas nodded. During the past year he had been aware of the increasing level of observation. In school, at recreation time, and during volunteer hours, he had noticed the Elders watching him and the other Elevens. He had seen them taking notes. He knew, too, that the Elders were meeting for long hours with all of the instructors that he and the other Elevens had had during their years of school.
“So I expected it, and I was pleased, but not at all surprised, when my Assignment was announced as Nurturer,” Father explained.
“Did everyone applaud, even though they weren’t surprised?” Jonas asked.
“Oh, of course. They were happy for me, that my Assignment was what I wanted most. I felt very fortunate.” His father smiled.
“Were any of the Elevens disappointed, your year?” Jonas asked. Unlike his father, he had no idea what his Assignment would be. But he knew that some would disappoint him. Though he respected his father’s work, Nurturer would not be his wish. And he didn’t envy Laborers at all.
His father thought. “No, I don’t think so. Of course the Elders are so careful in their observations and selections.”
“I think it’s probably the most important job in our community,” his mother commented.
“My friend Yoshiko was surprised by her selection as Doctor,” Father said, “but she was thrilled. And let’s see, there was Andrei—I remember that when we were boys he never wanted to do physical things. He spent all the recreation time he could with his construction set, and his volunteer hours were always on building sites. The Elders knew that, of course. Andrei was given the Assignment of Engineer and he was delighted.”
“Andrei later designed the bridge that crosses the river to the west of town,” Jonas’s mother said. “It wasn’t there when we were children.”
“There are very rarely disappointments, Jonas. I don’t think you need to worry about that,” his father reassured him. “And if there are, you know there’s an appeal process.” But they all laughed at that—an appeal went to a committee for study.
“I worry a little about Asher’s Assignment,” Jonas confessed. “Asher’s such fun. But he doesn’t really have any serious interests. He makes a game out of everything.”
His father chuckled. “You know,” he said, “I remember when Asher was a newchild at the Nurturing Center, before he was named. He never cried. He giggled and laughed at everything. All of us on the staff enjoyed nurturing Asher.”
“The Elders know Asher,” his mother said. “They’ll find exactly the right Assignment for him. I don’t think you need to worry about him. But, Jonas, let me warn you about something that may not have occurred to you. I know I didn’t think about it until after my Ceremony of Twelve.”
“Well, it’s the last of the Ceremonies, as you know. After Twelve, age isn’t important. Most of us even lose track of how old we are as time passes, though the information is in the Hall of Open Records, and we could go and look it up if we wanted to. What’s important is the preparation for adult life, and the training you’ll receive in your Assignment.”
“I know that,” Jonas said. “Everyone knows that.”
“But it means,” his mother went on, “that you’ll move into a new group. And each of your friends will. You’ll no longer be spending your time with your group of Elevens. After the Ceremony of Twelve, you’ll be with your Assignment group, with those in training. No more volunteer hours. No more recreation hours. So your friends will no longer be as close.”
Jonas shook his head. “Asher and I will always be friends,” he said firmly. “And there will still be school.”
“That’s true,” his father agreed. “But what your mother said is true as well. There will be changes.”
“Good changes, though,” his mother pointed out. “After my Ceremony of Twelve, I missed my childhood recreation. But when I entered my training for Law and Justice, I found myself with people who shared my interests. I made friends on a new level, friends of all ages.”
“Did you still play at all, after Twelve?” Jonas asked.
“Occasionally,” his mother replied. “But it didn’t seem as important to me.”
“I did,” his father said, laughing. “I still do. Every day, at the Nurturing Center, I play bounce-on-the-knee, and peek-a-boo, and hug-the-teddy.” He reached over and stroked Jonas’s neatly trimmed hair. “Fun doesn’t end when you become Twelve.”
Lily appeared, wearing her nightclothes, in the doorway. She gave an impatient sigh. “This is certainly a very long private conversation,” she said. “And there are certain people waiting for their comfort object.”
“Lily,” her mother said fondly, “you’re very close to being an Eight, and when you’re an Eight, your comfort object will be taken away. It will be recycled to the younger children. You should be starting to go off to sleep without it.”
But her father had already gone to the shelf and taken down the stuffed elephant which was kept there. Many of the comfort objects, like Lily’s, were soft, stuffed, imaginary creatures. Jonas’s had been called a bear.
“Here you are, Lily-billy,” he said. “I’ll come help you remove your hair ribbons.”
Jonas and his mother rolled their eyes, yet they watched affectionately as Lily and her father headed to her sleeping room with the stuffed elephant that had been given to her as her comfort object when she was born. His mother moved to her big desk and opened her briefcase; her work never seemed to end, even when she was at home in the evening. Jonas went to his own desk and began to sort through his school papers for the evening’s assignment. But his mind was still on December and the coming Ceremony.
Though he had been reassured by the talk with his parents, he hadn’t the slightest idea what Assignment the Elders would be selecting for his future, or how he might feel about it when the day came.
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 wouldnot 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.
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
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 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
Ok. My whole english class read this and finished about 2 or 3 months ago. I just haven't forgotten about this book. I absolutely LOVED this book, and tell everybody that asks that this is the best book that i have EVER read! I just appreciate this book so much, that it can't ever be put into words. Also, if you liked this book, i recommend reading the Gone series, by Michael Grant. It is also an amazing dystopian series and has a thrilling, mysterious, and suspenseful plot. It's the kind of book that you read in public and get embarrassed for smiling about.
Lois did an amazing job with presenting her purpose of entertaining the reader. The theme is unraveled as Jonas discovers the values of freedom and security. I enjoyed this novel because of all the surprises that the reader will uncover. I feel that Lowry wrote with lots of feeling to craft this wonderful work of a novel. The Giver is about a young boy who learns the cold, heartbreaking truth about the world he lives in. Jonas, the main character, is selected to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver is the only person with the knowledge of the life and memories from outside the community. Jonas, The Receiver, obtains more memories each day. The memories were blissful at first, but eventually The Giver had to pass on the more painful ones. Jonas had never experienced pain, for whoever was in charge of the community he lived in had created a medicine to banish the feeling. Whenever he finally experiences the ache of reality, he fears for Gabriel, the newchild Jonas’s family was caring for. Lowry generated a very futuristic novel. Jonas lives in a community with advanced technology. The medicine that was produced had to be taken by everyone in the community with the exception of The Giver and The Receiver of memories. It numbed feeling and made everyone emotionless. This created a sense of lifelessness. Yet, it was very appealing to me and made me feel a sort of sympathy towards the characters whom had no way of knowing the actuality. The novel definitely entertained me. Anyone who enjoys futuristic and adventurous would probably adore this fine piece of literature that Lois Lowry came up with. If you like books based in the past, this book is not for you. It’s a very powerful novel. I recommend that you read it so that you can join Jonas and Gabriel on their final fight for survival.
I am not the type to read a science fiction-like book like this. Just because my brother reads a book & says that it is good, doesn't mean that you should read it. But this one I decided to give a try. It was a little confusing at first, (which is why I gave it 4 stars, btw), but once you understood it a little more, I SWEAR, this book is A PIECE OF LITERARY GOLD. If there were a Book Hall of Fame, this book would be in a shiny glass case like the Declaration of Independence. I applaud Lois Lowry for this cleverly written story & I would absolutely read more of her books.
I read this book for the first time about 15 years ago in middle school. I come from a home where everything has to be just so, where you aren't allowed to think for yourself. When i started reading it i was overcome with emotion. I could visualize every page, and still can today. I was exstatic to find out the movie was finally made!! I cannot wait until august 15 to go see it!