What examples of euphemism are in the book "The Giver"?
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The Guide to Literary Terms defines "euphemism" as
the use of an indirect, mild, delicate, inoffensive, or vague word or expression for one thought to be coarse, sordid, or otherwise unpleasant, offensive, or blunt.
A few of the euphemisms used in The Giver are
- release--a euphemism for "mercy" killing, or euthanasia. Babies that are deemed inadequate and elderly people are "released"
- stirrings--a euphemism for puberty, when young people begin to have sexual desires; these are suppressed with drugs
- Elsewhere--a euphemism for where people go when they are released; death
- capacity to see beyond--the ability to see colors
Euphemisms are often used to soften the cold truth. In The Giver, the people use euphemisms to hide reality. I don't think that reality is actually altered, but the perception of it certainly is. Probably the most obvious euphemism in the book is the use of the word "release."
Different people are released in the book: The pilot who flew in the wrong place near the beginning of the story was most likely released. Often, one of twin siblings is released to prevent the possibility of two individuals being alike (which is really ironic considering the emphasis on people's sameness in the community). Elderly people are released, and infants like Gabe who seem to develop too slowly are as well.
What Jonas learns as the receiver is that to "release" someone actually means to euthanize them, or KILL them. Calling this killing by another name doesn't really change the reality of the situation, but it does alter people's perceptions.
The community also values "precise language." This is ironic, since many of the things people say there are anything but precise. For example, Jonas' father is a "nurturer," but part of his job is to euthanize undesirable babies.
The Giver is a great book. For more information on it check out the links below:
Some other examples of the use of euphemism in The Giver are:
stirrings--used to talk about sexual desires; each
capacity to see beyond--meaning the ability to see colors
Elsewhere--death; the people are told that when someone is "released," he or she has gone Elsewhere
release, feelings, animals, nurturer, stirrings, replacement child, elsewhere.
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