Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Sameness in The Giver.

Some of the advantages of Sameness in The Giver include stability, safety, and economic productivity. The ruling Committee of Elders requires each citizen to conform to society's standards and creates a completely safe, comfortable environment where everyone plays a specific role. The disadvantages include the lack of personal freedoms and the opportunity to experience life as originally intended. Sameness eliminates color, music, and strong emotions from Jonas's community, which results in a mundane, predictable existence.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The primary advantage of Sameness concerns the stability and safety of the community. In Jonas's community, Sameness ensures that each citizen will conform to society's standards and occupy a designated role that is specifically chosen for them based on their abilities by the Committee of Elders. The lack of independent choice creates structure and contributes to the community's stability. Individuals who do not conform to society's standards or expectations are released upon their third transgression.

Sameness also enhances economic productivity and efficiency by dramatically changing the natural environment to improve transportation and developing various sectors of the economy. Jonas's community is also a very safe place because citizens do not have the opportunity to participate in risk-taking behaviors.

The primary disadvantage of Sameness concerns the lack of independence and individual choice. Citizens' lives are completely controlled and determined by the Committee of Elders. People do not have the freedom to choose their occupations, spouses, or children. Knowledge is also censored, and people are under constant supervision, which is reflected by the Speaker's indirect chastisement of Jonas when he breaks a minor rule. In addition to the lack of personal freedoms, Sameness also eliminates color, music, and strong emotions from society. Feelings like love do not exist in Jonas's community, and only he and the Giver have the Capacity to See Beyond.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jump start your response by writing a list of things that sameness, or equality, would affect even in our society: free health care, housing, and all the things mentioned by ladyvols1, and be sure to emphasize why these things would be positive.  Then write another list of examples from "The Giver" that show the benefits to their society, including things you agree would be an advantage (benefit), and that other characters felt lucky for. Go crazy brainstorming but remember to keep the details only relating to the benefits.

Depending on the length of response required (essay versus short answer), organize your information (lists) and pick three of the best examples of the benefits of sameness to a society, and try to use at least two examples directly from the book that support your claim.  You can do it!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The advantages of living in a society of sameness would be that there would be less stress.  Ideally there would be no poverty, no unemployment, no upper, middle, or lower class.  Everyone would have health-care, a home, enough to eat, and the same education.  There would be no competition, no struggle for jobs, and no personal choices.  Everything would be decided for each and every individual within the Utopian society.  We have the Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, and other religious groups that still strive for this utopia.

In the Giver, Jonas decided this was not as great as it sounds.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Giver, Lowry presents the reader with the idea of Sameness, which is just as the name suggests, the same for everyone.  The residents of Sameness are told who to marry, what to wear, how many children they can have, where to live, what to feel, and what job they will have; no matter how tempting it may sound to have all of these decisions made for you, and believe me, as an adult, it would sometimes be easier to have them made for you, I can not begin to imagine a society where I had no choice in any part of my life.  Think about it in terms of your own life; how would you feel in this situation.  As a teenager, life would be devastating to be controlled by others.  No video games, no color, no choice!  Surely the disadvantages are evident; the advantages are not as readily evident, other than the fact that you don't have to worry about the judgements of others about your clothes, shoes, etc.  Sameness would take many of the stressors out of everyday life.  It could reduce anxiety due to social differences and probably reduce prejudices, as well as certain social stigma. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At one point in the novel, Jonas and the Giver are discussing Sameness.  Jonas says that he would like to have a choice in some thing for example he would like to choose the color of the tunic he wears (remember he can see color and others can't).  They discuss a few other fairly trivial things.  But then the scoff at the idea (and the chaos it would cause) of people being able to choose their mates or their jobs!

The community chooses Sameness because they believe that if everything is the same and people don't have any choices that bad things won't happen.  Now obviously the whole point of the book is to question this and as Jonas learns more and more, he comes to realize that his community is a disaster. 

The advantages would be that if everyone is the same, there won't be prejudice, etc.  But of course on the flip side of that is that there is no diversity. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial