Compare "The Giver" by Lois Lowry to "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury Mark the elements which appear in the stories (in each story) and give reasons (in detail) why this is so. 1- Totalitarian...

Compare "The Giver" by Lois Lowry to "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury

Mark the elements which appear in the stories (in each story) and give reasons (in detail) why this is so.

1- Totalitarian government

2- Rigid caste system

3- Society is closely monitored

4- Highly developed technology

5- Violence and pain

6- Environmental disasters

7- Lack of free choice

8- Protagonist feels trapped

9- Protagonist questions existing systems

10- Protagonist tries to change the system or escape

11- Protagonist fails in his intent to change or escape


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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both the societies of The Giver and that of "The Pedestrian" exert great control over their citizens.

1.Totalitarian government 

In the world of The Giver, everything is controlled—the weather, thoughts, speech, and even hormonal urges. There is no war, no fear, no pain, no differences, no color, no sunshine, and Sameness in each age group. No couple has more than two children, and these are assigned to them after "breeders" give birth. There are certain privileges that each age group has. The girls wear their hair a certain way at certain ages. Each household has only a few books:

a dictionary, the Book of Rules, and a thick community volume containing descriptions of every office, factory, building, and committee. (Ch 1)

In the society of "The Pedestrian," it seems as though the residents of the town have made the choice themselves to restrict their lives. We can assume there are probably no books in anyone's house because Leonard Mead has been a writer in the past, but now he has no job because no one reads. 

Mead walks at night, but the deserted streets are patrolled by one automated car that makes arrests, so this is a type of government control. (There is little information that is given about how people feel and think in the society of Mr. Leonard Mead.) The other people are sitting before their television sets with the lights off in the room.

2. Rigid caste system

In The Giver, children are arranged by age groups. At certain ages, the girls wear their hair one way, at another age their hair style changes. When children reach the Ten group, for instance, the females lose their braids and males have their "long childish hair" cut to a manly short style. Other things differ, too, such as the Nines each receiving a bicycle.

When children reach the age of twelve, they are given their life assignments in a special Ceremony. They have no opportunity to select what occupation they would like.

In Bradbury's story there is no indication that people are forced into any kind of caste system. Society seems to be much like American society at the time of the story's writing with the exception that people do not socialize with neighbors or come outdoors and walk on the sidewalks during their free time.

3. Society is closely monitored

Children in The Giver are corrected if they do not use the appropriate language, or if they disobey any of the rules (see also answer to number one). In "The Pedestrian," there is little that is known about control other than a person is not supposed to walk outside as the action is probably considered suspicious.

4. Highly Developed Technology

The society of The Giver has much highly developed technology. For instance, color has been eliminated, and sexual "stirrings" are controlled. The environment is climate controlled.

"The Pedestrian" does not indicate that society is highly developed in technology. The televisions are at the level they were at the time of Bradbury's writing of the story. 

5. Violence and pain

For the most part, the society of The Giver has eliminated violence and much pain. In "The Pedestrian," 

Crime was ebbing; there was no need now for the police, save for this one lone car wandering and wandering the empty streets.

Evidently, nearly all the citizens sit inside their homes and watch the "viewing screens."

6. Environmental Disasters 

Natural disasters have been eliminated in the environment in The Giver. No reference to disasters is made in "The Pedestrian."

7. Lack of free choice

People do not have freedom in Lowry's novel, even with regard to expressing their feelings.

Jonas was careful about language. Not like his friend Asher, who talked too fasts and mixed things up. (Ch 1)

Leonard Mead of "The Pedestrian" does not have the freedom to walk at night.

8. The protagonist feels trapped

Lowry writes, "Jonas knew with certainty that he could change nothing" (Ch 19). After having witnessed a "release," Jonas is appalled with his society. He flees with little Gabriel in order to have freedom and to save Gabriel.

Leonard Mead has to wear sneakers at night and look furtively around so that he can freely walk without being arrested. But, one evening he is arrested.

A metallic voice called to him.
"Stand still. Stay where you are! Don't move!" He halted.
"Put up your hands!" "But—" he said.
"Your hands up! Or we'll shoot!"

9. The protagonist questions existing systems

Many times Jonas asks the Giver about their society. One day he asks the Giver,

So if I have a spouse, and maybe children, I will have to hide the books from them? (Ch 14)

Leonard Mead looks into the homes where only the light of the viewing screen appears, and he questions the residents inside:

Hello, in there . . . . What's up tonight on Channel 4, Channel 7, Channel 9? Where are the cowboys rushing, and do I see the United States Cavalry over the next hill to the rescue?

10. The protagonist tries to change the system or escape.

After Jonas learns all that he has been missing, and when he learns the truth about Release, Jonas makes his escape with Gabriel.

Leonard Mead looks into windows and "whispered to every house on every side as he moved." He cannot do anything to change his society, but he is wishful.