The Giver by Lois Lowry is a directive novel about how structured lifestyle could lead to absence of being a true human. In a lifestyle of freedom, people are not mainly subjected to how they should feel and also what to have feelings for. For instance, in a country like United States, as a citizen you have the right to freedom which is stated in its Constitution. In such, there is little to no infringement as to what you choose to believe in or have feelings for.
Gustavo Flatter once said the more humanity advances, the more it is degraded’. This novel clearly clarifies the meaning f Flatfeet’s quote. In their habitat called the Community, the people have cultivated the concept of “Sameness”. This refers to their beliefs in everything being of the same nature and life. Everyone looks the same with no differentiation between color and race. The only depictions of differences among people were by age or future assignments. In Chapter 7, the Chief Elder states, “This is the time…… When we acknowledge differences.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
You Elevens have spent all your years till now learning to fit in, to standardize your behavior, to curb any impulse that might set you apart from the group. But today we honor your differences. They have determined your future”. This quote from the book, to me summarizes the main concept of this book pertaining to how the people in the community lived and how their lifestyle is chosen for them. In this Community, everyone has to go through stages of life determined by the Elders in charge. Before conception, your life is controlled.
A birthrate is assigned for you, nurturing parents are chosen for you, what to eat, what to wear, how to think, how to talk, how to relate and what to become in the near future, is regulated for you. For instance, as a female, you are forced to wear ribbons on your dead till the age of nine. Whether the tying of your head causes pain or headaches, you have no choice but to wear it. Personally, I could not tolerate tightness of braids or ribbons as a child, so my mom always had my hair cut till I turned 16 and had a change of my environment.
Growing up with severe headaches, it was a blessing when my parents and I moved from Ghana to the United States for some few months only to find out that there was no occurrence of such arches. We assumed it was due to the environment we were residing in at first, which may have had air pollutant or a reticular food source I Just could not tolerate. If I was to be in Jonas’ Community, I would have been released as soon as such headaches occurred frequently.
In reference to the quote by the Chief Elder stated above, the only time you are subjected to change is when you are given your assignment which means you get to do things for your community which the other people in your age group would probably not be doing. This to them was a change because growing up, they were all the same by what they did or wore but now they are requested to perform different tasks. In Jonas’ case, he was more than asked to change; He was asked to be the change under silent manipulation.
I say this because; he was asked to receive the memory of change and endure the differences but was subjected to not expressing or revealing what he receives to the community. They refer to him and the Giver as their receiver of memory but I acknowledge them as their receiver of pain and all things different. They accept what the community refuses to accept. Since the Receiver is chosen by the Elders, I wonder how they are also chosen and by whom or by what characters they possessed to be acknowledge of such position.
A person having a particular type of eyes or the capability of seeing beyond are the characteristics they choose a Receiver based upon. However, I think if someone could not see beyond but is exposed to all things different to what they consider acceptable, the person based on natural instincts or intuition would have responded the same way Rosemary and Jonas did, by asking for release or fleeing respectively. Although their advances throughout life have brought them the concept of Sameness, in order to avoid pain, suffering and confusion, I think it has degraded their sense of being.
From Flatfeet’s quote above, these people could no longer be considered human beings. Furthermore in Chapter 23, it was written “… L remember this place Gable. And it was true. But it was not a grasping of a thin and burdensome recollection; this was different. This was something that he could keep. It was a memory of his own”. From this quote, it could be understood that even though Jonas has the capability to receive such knowledge, the main point of him losing the memory after transferring was not due to his incapability to hold onto the memory but however it is due to the lack of real life experience of the memory.
Thus, Just as humans, we are more likely to have a long-term memory of an event when we experience it ourselves. In a nutshell, this novel is a clear depiction of how human could be controlled in their living systems. This has been going on for long and it is still going on in our various homes, work places and school, through racial and cultural biases. This novel is very relatable to me and everyone who might have had an eye opening idea to cause a change in their lives or the lives of others but have been forced to forget about due to the inadequate funding, support and encouragement.