The Giver

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1. The ending of the giver has been interpreted in a few different ways. Choose one possible interpretation of the ending and argue its validity, using clues from the text to explain your conclusions.

Answer for Study Question 1 >>
The two major interpretations of The Giver’s ending are that (1) Jonas and Gabriel have truly escaped the physical boundaries of their society and discovered a real village in Elsewhere, and (2) Jonas’s vision of the village is only a hallucination that he experiences as he and Gabriel freeze to death in the snow in the middle of nowhere. Both arguments can be solidly supported by references in the text. In order to argue that the two children freeze to death in the snow and that their vision of the village is only an illusion, we can rely on the uncanny similarity between the landscape Jonas sees—or thinks he sees—and the memories the Giver has transmitted to him in the past. It is extremely unlikely that Jonas would come upon a hill that looks just like the hill from his memory of the ride on the sled, and then come upon an identical sled waiting to take him to the bottom of the hill. Given that for the last leg of their journey, Jonas has been relying on memories of sunshine to keep himself and Gabriel alive and happy, it would make sense that Jonas relies on the most pleasant memories he has when the cold and exhaustion grow too much for them. When Jonas admits that the music he thinks he hears behind him might be “only an echo,” he could be implying that the vision before him is an echo too—of his own memory. Another point to consider is that it seems unlikely that Jonas could travel on a bicycle further than search planes could fly and that communities that have not gone over to Sameness could be found so (relatively) close to Jonas’s own community. To argue that Jonas and Gabriel do survive and reach the village safely to begin a new life, we can explain that although the events of the last pages mirror events from Jonas’s memories, we learn toward the end of the book that Jonas is losing all of the memories that were transmitted to him by the Giver. The last memory that brings him joy is not a memory of sunshine, but a “real” memory of people Jonas has met in his life—his friends and family. This suggests that the things Jonas sees in the world around him are really there, since he has lost the memories. The music that he hears is real, because music was never a part of his memory. The serendipitous appearance of the sled is strange, but not inconsistent with the atmosphere of magic and mysticism that pervades Jonas’s new life and his relationship with the Giver.

2. Among other things, the community in the giver eliminates most traditional distinctions between men and women, but occasionally stereotypes and customs still exist to distinguish male children from female children and men from women. What rules remain in place in the community that differentiate men from women? Why do you think these specific rules were retained while others were not?

Answer for Study Question 2 >>
Even though Lowry seems to take pains to eliminate gender stereotypes in the society in The Giver, supporting the idea that everyone in the society is as similar to one another as possible, ideas about the differences between men and women still linger. Of course, it makes sense that girls are given “special undergarments” at age eleven, but it makes less sense that girls wear braids with hair ribbons until age nine. The hair ribbons are the only decorative element mentioned in the entire novel. Perhaps they are just used to distinguish girls from boys, ignoring the original, aesthetic purpose of hair ribbons. Another vestige of gender roles is the structure of the family units: though the roles of “mother” and “father” are not clearly defined, each family consists of a father, mother, sister, and brother. Since no one has sex, and the parents do not produce children together, the...
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