In the book The Giver by Lois Lowry, what rules does the community have?

In Lois Lowry's The Giver, the society dictates rules that prohibit nudity, violence, and lying; limit the number of children a family can have; and prescribe the administration of drugs to quell sexual impulses—among other commandments.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry is about a dystopian future society that is governed by an extensive and strict set of rules. For instance, “it was against the rules for Pilots to fly over the community.” There are also rules against nudity: “And the nakedness, too. It was against the rules for children or adults to look at another’s nakedness; but the rule did not apply to newchildren or the Old.” There are even “rules governing rudeness.”

The rules dictate how one person interacts with others, both in public and within the family unit, and even how families are formed. For instance, within this society, couples no longer marry and bear children together. Children are essentially bred by a group of underclass women whose job is solely to reproduce. The protagonist of the book, Jonas, thinks about the rules and the punishment of release. Lowry writes,

One night at the dinner table, Jonas’ sister Lily recounts her dream, “in which she had, against the rules, been riding her mother’s bicycle and been caught by the Security Guards.”

The family is concerned for Lily. Their mother is intimately involved with the punishments for people who break the rules. Lowry writes,

Next, Mother, who held a prominent position at the Department of Justice, talked about her feelings. Today a repeat offender had been brought before her, someone who had broken the rules before. Someone who she hoped had been adequately and fairly punished, and who had been restored to his place: to his job, his home, his family unit. To see him brought before her a second time caused her overwhelming feelings of frustration and anger. And even guilt, that she hadn’t made a difference in his life.

“I feel frightened, too, for him,” she confessed. “You know that there’s no third chance. The rules say that if there’s a third transgression, he simply has to be released.” Jonas shivered. He knew it happened. There was even a boy in his group of Elevens whose father had been released years before. No one ever mentioned it; the disgrace was unspeakable. It was hard to imagine.“

There were only two occasions of release which were not punishment. Release of the elderly, which was a time of celebration for a life well and fully lived; and release of a newchild, which always brought a sense of what-could-we- have-done. This was especially troubling for the Nurturers, like Father, who felt they had failed somehow. But it happened very rarely.

Moreover, it is difficult to change the rules. As Jonas notes,

Rules were very hard to change. Sometimes, if it was a very important rule — unlike the one governing the age for bicycles — it would have to go, eventually, to The Receiver for a decision. The Receiver was the most important Elder.

People also do not really recognize what it means to face the consequence of "release." Over the course of the novel, Jonas begins to recognize how harsh the rules are. He realizes how constraining the society is and how it essentially eliminates human individuality.

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There are quite a few rules that govern Jonas's society. Those rules have been created by the elders. The rules have been placed on the people to ensure that society runs smoothly and that everybody behaves in a way that is both respectful and beneficial to the community. Any people that break the rules are punished, and repeat rule breakers are eventually "released" from the community:

"The rules say that if there's a third transgression, he simply has to be released." Jonas shivered. He knew it happened. There was even a boy in his group of Elevens whose father had been released years before. No one ever mentioned it; the disgrace was unspeakable.

Most of the rules are either about how a person should act or speak. The following are some examples.  

  1. A person is not allowed to see another person naked. If you do, you have to apologize.  
  2. People must speak to each other kindly and with respect. You are not allowed to offend anybody.
  3. There can only be four members in a family. A mother, father, son, and daughter is the rule.
  4. Children are allowed to ride bicycles after turning age nine.
  5. You must eat your snack at the assigned time and not take it home for later.
  6. Each person must complete a certain number of volunteer hours before age 12.
  7. Objects/toys cannot be removed from their designated area.
  8. Once a person begins feeling the "stirrings," he or she must begin taking medication to reduce sexual urges.
  9. Spouses are chosen for people.
  10. Certain clothing is required to be worn at certain ages.
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The community of The Giver, like other communities that attempt utopia, has many rules in its efforts to attain peace and harmony. Indeed, there is much regimentation of behavior and subjugation of thoughts and emotions. Here is a list of the regulations of the community:

  1. "Pilots cannot fly over the community," Jonas hears announced in Chapter 1. When they do, they are "released."
  2. Members of the community must adhere to the rules of his/her age group or job.
  3. Each person in a family must share his/her dreams in the morning, and in the evening, his/her feelings of the day. "It was one of the rituals, the evening telling of feelings." Lily tells of being "angry," but her father mollifies her feelings since no strong emotions are permitted.
  4. There can only be four members to a family: father, mother, son, daughter.
  5. No one is supposed to have strong feelings.
  6. In December, the Ceremony is held and the different age groups then advance a year. Also, there are changes made; for example, the Nines get bicycles and the girls no longer have to wear braids. The Elevens receive their life Assignments.
  7. There is no fighting or lying.
  8. Objects cannot be removed from designated areas. One day Jonas takes an apple out of the recreation area and an announcement is made; therefore, he must throw away the apple and apologize to the Recreation Director.
  9. There must be respect for elders.
  10. People must remain in their assigned positions.
  11. People must remain with their assigned partners.
  12. People who are in puberty or older must ingest pills for "stirrings."
  13. No one must look at anyone in the nude except old people or babies, for whom they are caring
  14. Members of the community are also not allowed to leave the community.
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