The Giver


Plot Summary

Lowry writes The Giver extensively from the point of view of Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy living in a seemingly utopian community. The community has no concept of fear, evil, hunger, war, or pain. The idea of Sameness reigns throughout the novel; because all of the community’s residents are basically alike, they seemingly have nothing to envy. The residents of the community strive for ultimate politeness, and it seems that they have achieved this goal. The community does not allow for individuals to choose anything; instead, the community members receive Assignments when they turn twelve. Though the Assignments are based on the residents’ talents and abilities, they cannot express what Assignment they would like to receive. In addition to Assignments, members of the community can be given spouses if they wish. However, they must apply for spouses and be assigned them as well. Married citizens receive two children; Birthmothers have the children, but then they don’t see them. The children spend the first year of their lives in the Nurturing Center with the other “newchildren” who are born to the Birthmothers. Once the children become adults, the family dissolves. Adults go to live with other Childless Adults. In their final years, the Childless Adults live in the House of Old, where an Assigned community member cares for them until they are Released. Being Released is a euphemism for death; however, the members of the community see being Released as an honor. They believe that the Released community member travels to Elsewhere, where he or she is welcomed and accepted. Release also happens to community members who do not follow the strict codes of behavior. However, these citizens are Released with shame and disappointment.

At the beginning of the novel, readers discover that Jonas lives with his father, who is a Nurturer for newchildren, his mother, who serves at the Department of Justice, and a seven-year-old sister named Lily. The novel opens with Jonas’ thoughts about the Ceremony of Twelve, where he will receive his...

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