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In The Giver, Lois Lowry highlights the sacrifices that become necessary in any society, suggesting that perfection is a purely subjective state of being. The perfect world that exists in The Giver means huge compromises where personal choices are not possible and where control is essential in maintaining the illusion. Figurative language is used to reveal seemingly harmless and innocuous events and circumstances which are far more sinister than their names and descriptions suggest. Taken at face value, the language does not cause any offense and using words such as "The Ceremony," "The Nurturers" and "The Naming" is intentionally misleading as perfection comes at a high price.
As the families attend the "Ceremony" where life-changing decisions are made collectively, there is much excitement surrounding the allocation of "newchildren"; children are assigned to families when they are considered ready. Gabe, allocated to Jonas's family, failed to reach his milestones appropriately and would have been labelled "inadequate, released" and transferred "Elsewhere" had Jonas's father not made an appeal. It is clear that being inadequate is quite an understatement as it not something from which a child can recover. He is "released Elsewhere," clearly a euphemism for a less than ideal place where children and people go (elsewhere) to die (be released).
Euphemism is extensively used and another example is when Caleb is described as a "replacement" child. The reader is told that "the first Caleb" was "lost"; in other words, he died. There is a morbid feeling as Caleb is clearly not a child in his own right; he is even assigned the same name designated during the "Murmur-of-Replacement." It has the capacity to send shivers down the reader's spine.
The exaggeration (hyperbole) is apparent when "newchildren," babies, are given their names and applause is accompanied by "an exuberant swell" and parents "glowing" with pride. These metaphors belie the reality of the situation, especially when these exaggerations are used to describe reactions to "replacement children," such as Caleb.
Fiona makes a face when she learns of her brother's name, "Bruno." Families do not choose their own names and this reveals how impersonal and insincere such choices are. Jonas considers his parents who, according to the committee, had "balanced each other" because their differences complimented their respective personalities. This is particularly ironic because the balance referred to exists in the minds of the decision makers and is a subjective belief, whereas this community is supposed to exist in a state of objective perfection.
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