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Setting is usually described as the time and place of a novel, movie, play, short story, or other literary work, but to describe the setting of Lowry's The Giver is a little tricky, because the community is never given a name and although the novel is presented as futuristic, a time period or actual calendar year is never articulated. The novel opens in December, conjuring up the idea of the bleak, cold days of winter, which might be interpreted as a metaphor for the bleak, cold, unfeeling lives of the inhabitants of Jonas's community. Jonas's thoughts give the reader immediate insight into the highly regulated nature of his world; he feels apprehensive, he decides, but not frightened, about an upcoming event in his community where he will be assigned the job he will hold for the duration of his time in the community, what one might think of as a career.
When Jonas and Gabriel try to escape the community at the end of the novel, the reader sees them struggling to move quickly through snow-covered, rocky hills and trees, and finally sledding down a hill toward a town of colorful, cheerful, twinkling lights--but leaving the reader to wonder if the boys will make it and ultimately survive.
The setting is slowly pieced together as the story reads on. Details of the community Jonas lives in are thrown to the reader sporadically - this lends the idea that this is the world as we all (they all) know it, there's nothing out of the ordinary because they have no idea what ordinary really is. This can be compared to Plato's cave allegory.
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