The Giver: Utopia and Dystopia

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Antarctica – March 10, 2010
The Giver Essay

Lois Lowry’s The Giver is set in a futuristic, dichotomous society, one that is both utopian and dystopian. In response to the overwhelming destruction and chaos in the world, the Elders have attempted to create and maintain a peaceful and orderly utopia, but this security comes at a price. The citizens of the community have sacrificed their individuality and freedom. Although most adult members have some knowledge of the hypocrisies involved, they choose to perpetuate the deception, allowing the community, as a whole, to continue on blissful ignorance. When young Jonas is confronted with all the truths of the present and all the memories of the past, he must choose for himself whether the sacrifice is worth it. Lowry uses this fictitious community to remind her readers of the value of independent thinking. We all crave stability and security, but at what cost?

The utopian setting of the community allows the citizens live in an arranged and calm paradise. The community has climate control, meaning they keep it at the same temperature the same and have no seasons or different kinds of weather. This is very normal to the citizens, but to The Receiver and The Giver, it is very abnormal. They aren’t able to enjoy the sensation of snow, the feeling of sunlight, the warmth or coolness of a simple breeze; it is the same every day. As Jonas receives his first memory, he feels the chill of snow and the joy of a hill. He exclaims that he is surprised because he didn’t know that there was such a thing as snow, or a sled, or a hill. He wonders and questions why his own community had no such things, but climate control made snow go obsolete and hills became flat ground. As Jonas experiences more memories and sees beyond his community he begins to realize that Sameness wasn’t very good, that it made everything alike, there was no such thing as individuality. The community experiences no real, sufficient pain, just...
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