How is the care of children different in Jonas's world of The Giver than in your world?

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aoibhinn's profile pic

aoibhinn | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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In The Giver, the upbringing of children is much different from our own.  Babies are places in a type of nursery where they are kept until they are placed in a specific family.  There is no genetic bond between parents and children.  The children who do not meet the expectations of the community cannot be placed with a family, and are therefore “released”, or killed.  After placement, the children are then taught strict rules for behavior.  No rash emotions are allowed.  The final major difference is that the children are not at liberty to choose their own fates: at a certain age, their careers are chosen for them.

favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In Jonas's world, as other commenters have noted, children do not live with their biological parents: all children (who are not "released" through death) are adopted.  While many children in our world are adopted, myself included, it is certainly not the norm.  We tend to highly privilege the connection between parents, most especially the mother (somewhat unfairly, I think), and their biological children.  Even among families in our world where adoption is the norm, it is still expected that the parents develop strong emotional bonds with the children they adopt.  In either case, intense emotion is prized; not so in Jonas's world.  A more rational, reasonable love seems the norm for them. 

Further, we place a high premium on our children's happiness; parents in Jonas's world place a high premium on a child's usefulness.  If a child doesn't meet the requirements, he or she is released (i.e. killed).  Then, once a child achieves adolescence, they are assigned their role in society, and each is expected to perform that role whether it makes them happy or not.  Parents in our world place an extreme love and desire for the child's happiness at the center of their homes, but this is not the case in Jonas's world.  Consider, Americans believe in "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" above all things while Jonas's contemporaries are willing to kill children who do not measure up, deny them liberty by taking away their choices, and disallow them to pursue what makes them happy and prioritizing the needs of the state above the happiness of the child.  Very different indeed.

sciftw's profile pic

sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The early life of children in The Giver is probably the biggest difference from the raising of children in modern-day American society. In Jonas's society, babies are raised in a communal nursery. They are not even named right away. Families request to be assigned a child, and the child is then assigned a particular family to be a part of. That's not how it happened with my wife and I. We went to the hospital and came home with the kids that she gave birth to. Whether that child was "perfect" or not didn't matter. The baby came home. In Jonas's society, babies that do not live up to expectations are not assigned to a family. If the expectations continue to not be met, that child is "released." In other words, the baby is killed.

Once placed in a family, a child's life is very controlled in The Giver. Every child is granted certain permissions and privileges at certain ages. That is mostly true in today's society, too, except that each individual family decides on which privileges happen and at what time. In The Giver, all of that is government-mandated.

Lastly, children in The Giver have zero control over their future. A job or career is assigned to a child when s/he turns twelve. The child gets zero say in the matter.


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