Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review of The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry, is a story about a boy named Jonas who lives in a community where children who turn 12 are considered to be adults and are assigned jobs that they will do for the rest of their lives. However, Jonas was assigned the job of the Receiver which is a job of great honor and only given to one person. He is now tasked with learning the duties associated with the job and why it is important that there is a Receiver of the community.
            Lois Lowry takes a very different approach in creating her dystopian society where there is no large government figures that control every aspects of their citizens. Rather, it is a group of elders that determine what is best for the community. She was able to create a society where there is a collectivist aspect but there is no loss of individuality which is found in many dystopian works. Instead, there is a lack of human emotions and expression by the members of the community. At the conception of the community, everyone agreed to give up the memories of the past and place the burden on one person, the Receiver. Since the Receiver holds all the memories of the past, no one in the community has to suffer painful memories nor experience joyful ones and live in an illusion that the community is a true utopia.
            I believe that Lois Lowry set the community up this way because there are many dystopian works that focused heavily on humans being conditioned and forced to live under the rule of an oppressive government. However, it seems that she wanted to show that a dystopian society does not require these qualities and there are other alternatives. I also believe that the reason for her story is to show how important memories are to the human nature. A memory that was erased from the community was the memory of snow and the joy of sledding down a hill. A simple memory such as this one is important to the human experience and allows us to experience the world as it should be. For many people something such as this is rare to experience and to miss out on this is a life that is not fully lived. The driving point is that we as humans can easily be distracted by many things in life and forget to live once in a while by creating memories that last and when we realize its too late we regret not creating more memories.

            The ending of the story is left on a cliffhanger where the author leaves it up to the reader whether or not Jonas is able to escape the illusion of reality in his community or he perishes in the wild but ultimately return the memories that were given up back to the community. I believe that Lois Lowry and many other dystopian authors use this type of ending because it allows the reader to decide whether or not they agree or disagree with the message of the book. By having the memories returned to the community it once again places the burden on humanity to live life through all the hardships and pleasure that it brings. For me, I see the ending as a second chance that was given to the people in the community so that they can learn from the past rather than forget it. This relates to the world that we live in today where we must embrace the past and move forward rather than just try to rewrite it. Ultimately, the message this book tries to convey is that memories are essential in shaping a human being and it should not be taken for granted. 

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