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In The Giver, how does the elimination of human emotions negatively affect community...

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kay-thao | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 31, 2010 at 7:00 AM via web

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In The Giver, how does the elimination of human emotions negatively affect community dynamics? 

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 21, 2011 at 9:13 AM (Answer #1)

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The main negative effect of the elimination of human emotions is the emotional distance between individuals.  In Jonas's world there is no love.  Individuality is censored.  Since our emotions define our community, there is a sterility to everything in the community.  People just exist.  They make no choices, and they take no risks.

Perhaps the most striking evidence of the emotional distance resulting from eliminating emotions is the fact that love does not exist in the community.  Families are created for practical purposes only.  Men and Women are paired together and live together only for the purpose of raising children.  Their attachment to their children is minimal, and they have little contact with them after they are adults.  When Jonas asks his parents if they love him, they laugh at him and chide him for using imprecise language (chapter 16, 127).  They tell him that they enjoy him and take pride in his accomplishments.

Another example of the elimination of emotions resulting in emotional distance is the ceremonies related to feelings and dream tellings.  Families report feelings every evening and dreams every morning.  These rituals allow emotions to be briefly acknowledged and then dissipated.  The acknowledgement of emotions in the feelings ceremonies is superficial and trite.  No emotion exists that can’t be discussed and dismissed.

Finally, the removing and storing of memories demonstrates the emotional distance created by eliminating human emotions.  People remember personal experiences, but all significant emotions are carefully categorized and stored in the Receiver of Memory.  This person exists to hold the community’s collective pain, but also their joy.  No strong emotions can be allowed, because strong emotions cause people to be harder to control.

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