Lois Lowry is known for her dystopian novels for young adults. One out of many novels is her work ‘The Giver’. The Giver exposes the story of Jonas, a boy who questions his society’s standard of living. Jonas’ people tend to have false perceptions of their world being supposedly ‘perfect’. On the other hand, ‘Gathering Blue’ – a companion novel to The Giver – reveals the story of orphaned and handicapped Kira who also questions her society and is led to provide evidence to the Council of Guardians that she is worthy of existence in her disdainful society. Both of these texts are known as dystopian fictions and are a form of sci-fi. The inclusion of narrative conventions such as plot, setting, characterisation and theme convey that these novels are a work of dystopian fiction.
‘The Giver’ and ‘Gathering Blue’ are both novels that contain evident features of a dystopian fiction. A dystopia is an imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror. However, a dystopian fiction is set in a dystopia thus comments on our own world and influences readers to fear to live in that society. Examples of a dystopian society could vary from post-apocalyptic; where there has been a past devastating event that changed and manipulated the society to an alternative version of our reality which we see the difference in the standard of living in comparison to ours.
The setting incorporated in The Giver demonstrates that it is clearly a dystopian fiction as it presents an alternative version of our society. Jonas’ world made the choice of living in Sameness – a place where neither warfare, starvation or poverty, emotions, nor freedom exist. Sameness without a doubt restricts one’s diverse individuality, coloured visuals and emotions. This is shown through the extract, “Our people made that choice to go into Sameness… before my time… we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences… but we had to let go of others.” (p.124). It explains that the people of Jonas’ world have limited knowledge of such things as they can not experience pain nor genuine happiness. From this, we can identify this as an element consisted in a dystopian novel.
Similarly, the setting of Gathering Blue also creates an image that it is a dystopian fiction. Although the novels explore similar features, The Giver is supposedly set as a ‘utopian’ society, whereas Gathering Blue is purposely a dystopian. The novel is set in a future state where social dominance is present. Kira’s society is governed by authoritative figures known as the Council of Guardians. The Council of Guardians holds the right to decide whether one should live or be sent to the Field of Leaving. Kira also described her world to be disordered. This is evident through the statement, “Kira continued through the crowds, past the food shops and the noise of bickering, bargaining women. Dogs barked… Nearby, a curly headed tyke eyed both dogs warily then deftly leaped between them, seized the bit of food, and stuffed it into his own mouth. His mother, intent on her business… glanced around, saw the tyke, yanking at his arm… and administering a sharp slap to his head when he was back at her side” (p. 53). Within the novel, it is hinted that Kira’s society is post-apocalyptic. This is shown through the embroidery and imagery on the Singer’s Robe as well as the annual ceremony in which they call the ‘Ruin’.
The characterisations of both Jonas and the Giver are strong examples of a dystopian fiction. The inclusion of the Giver as a disobedient within the novel supports this. Throughout the progression of the novel, the Giver undertakes the role of Jonas’ mentor when Jonas is assigned the Receiver of Memory. Unlike the many others in their society, The Giver is not a prime example of a law-abiding citizen. The Giver, alongside with Jonas, are convinced of the hidden downsides of Sameness. This is shown through the extract, “...
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