According to Jonas, what are the benefits of becoming a Seven in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The benefit of turning Seven is becoming more independent because you get a front-buttoned jacket.

In Jonas’s community, the children are raised collectively until the age of One. This means everyone turns the same age at the same time in December. Jonas’s little sister Lily is about to become an Eight when the book begins. Since Lily is still a Seven, Jonas reminds her of the benefits of turning that particular age.

"There are good things each year," Jonas reminded her. "This year you get to start your volunteer hours. And remember last year, when you became a Seven, you were so happy to get your frontbuttoned jacket?" (Ch. 6) 

Clothing is used to designate children by age and adults by occupation. Lily’s new jacket had a “row of large buttons that designated her as a Seven,” while younger children wear jackets with buttons on the back so they have to help each other get dressed. This is designed to teach them interdependence. Relying on others is a foundation of the community.  It is part of Sameness, like everyone dressing alike.  

Jonas explains the significance of Lily’s jacket. 

The front-buttoned jacket was the first sign of independence, the first very visible symbol of growing up. The bicycle, at Nine, would be the powerful emblem of moving gradually out into the community, away from the protective family unit (Chapter 6). 

In Jonas’s community, where everything is carefully designed to manipulate the populace, even clothing has a message. The bicycle is important because there are no cars to speak of. The community has few motorized vehicles and all adults use bicycles to get around. Children are slowly given little tastes of independence as they get older, after it has been demonstrated to them that they have to be dependent on the community for everything.

It is interesting Jonas is already pointing out the significance of independence.  To most people, a new jacket might not be a big deal.  However, the symbolic nature of not having to rely on others is what is at stake here, and Jonas knows that. In his analysis of the importance of the jacket and the bicycle, he is demonstrating an awareness of his community that explains why he was chosen to be trained as the next Receiver of Memory.

Read the study guide:
The Giver

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