The Giver Essay
The Community that Lois Lowry creates in The Giver appears to be a utopia, but is in fact a dystopia. To get rid of the extremes, such as pain and hunger, you have to get rid of things like true friendship and happiness. Jonas is constructed to convey ideas about society by his speech, thoughts, actions, appearance, interaction with others and his name. We first see this when his sister, Lily says to him, “He has funny eyes just like you Jonas! ” Most people in the community have dark eyes but a few have pale eyes. This is because The Community is trying to get sameness, by making everyone have the same eye colour.
The next thing we read is that when he is playing a simple game of catch with his best friend Asher, the apple they are playing with changes for a second it seems to Jonas. When he asks Asher about it Asher doesn’t see anything strange. This is when Jonas is first seeing colour. Colour has been taken out of The Community because it creates individualism and creativity, which could create envy or jealousy, and jeopardise equality. Another idea is precision of language, which in fact is very imprecise. We see this when Jonas asks his parents “Do you love me? he is then laughed at and chastised for using such “imprecise” language, and is recommended to say “Do you enjoy me? ” instead. This is because The Community wants the people to be non confrontational and does not condone the expression of real feelings, it is almost vague. We also see that his name, Jonas in the bible means “To bring misfortune and a great tempest on his companions” Lily and Asher are constructed to portray ideas about the society that they live in, by their speech, actions, appearance, interaction with others and Lily’s name.
One example is when Lily tells her family “ I felt angry because someone broke the play area rules” while Lily did not feel anger, but shallow impatience and exasperation. This is a perfect example of how imprecise the language actually was, because the people of The Community don’t really have strong feelings, they can’t feel things such as true anger or happiness. The Community took away these feelings because they did not want people to be strong willed, instead rather sheep- like. Lily’s name is a symbol of purity and innocence, such as someone who does not understand.
We see that to get perfect precision of language, you have to have a punishment if the young get it wrong, like with Asher. Asher kept getting the words “snack” and “smack” wrong, so every time Asher said “Can I have a smack? ” instead of snack, he would receive a smack until he got it right. This shows that to perfect language, you have to have a bit of violence. Rosemary and Fiona are constructed to convey ideas about society through there speech, actions, appearance, interaction with others and name. An example of this is that Fiona has red hair colour, which is different from most people in The Community.
The Community doesn’t like this, because they are trying to create sameness, so no one is jealous of anothers hair colour. We also see another example of them not having true feelings, because we discover that Fiona “releases” people and thinks nothing is wrong with it. To release is to actually kill, to administer euthanasia which is horrible and wrong. This is done to try and create the perfect society, so there is no one with disabilities or too old to fit into this pseudo-perfect society. The name Rosemary also means love and remembrance which are both sentiments forbidden in the community.
Madeline is an example of the average person, the prototype of the community, who is constructed to convey ideas about society. She is given the same food in the same quantity as everyone else, the same clothes as everyone else, the same house and furniture as everyone else, the same transport as everyone else and the same opportunities as everyone else. They live under this equality in the hope of ridding their society of things like hunger, envy and jealousy, but they must also sacrifice individuality, originality, freedom of choice and difference in order to achieve this sameness and equality.
All the choices of the community aren’t made by people like Madeline, but a council of elders, who make all the hard decisions. If Madeline wanted to get a spouse or children, she would have to apply for one, because the decision isn’t made by her, but the council of elders to stop bad decisions. This helps the elders maintain control and takes away independence and freedom of choice. It is also the same for your job, you don’t choose it the council of elders does, to stop bad decisions and everyone wanting the same job.
People like Madeline have also no individual voice, they just follow the system, never questioning it. If they do question it, it goes to the council of elders who never decides everything. This gives the appearance that they can change things if they like, but it is nothing more then appearance. All the characters serve the purpose of showing the flaws in this so called idyllic world, The society that they are living in are so politically correct that it is almost farcical. The imperfections in Jonas show that it is impossible to conform to these rigid and unnatural guidelines.