From Lois Lowry's The Giver, make a list of words the author use to describe the setting. Do these words help you to visualize it? Explain.

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lois Lowry's The Giver presents a story set in a futuristic community that is not unlike today's world, except for the fact that the people do not use as much technology or cars. There is no section of the book that explicitly describes the setting. One must infer and visualize the setting based on what people say, where Jonas goes each day, and what he learns about from the memories he receives. A list of words that can be identified with the setting are also those that describe what Jonas and his community do not have. For example, Jonas learns about snow and hills from the first memory he receives about sledding down a snowy hill. Therefore, if a list included the words "snow" or "hill," they would not describe the setting in which Jonas lives. Separating the list into two sections might best clarify what does and doesn't exist as part of the setting.

What does exist in the community: dwellings, school, House of the Old, Climate Control, annex, recreation area, bicycles, Childcare Center, Nurturing Center, Central Plaza, Auditorium, Food Deliveries, Rehabilitation Center, classroom, Hall of Open Records. 

Most of these words describe buildings that seem to be located in close proximity to each other because bicycles are the only mode of transportation needed. 

What does not exist in the community: snow, weather, sun, hills, Elsewhere, ice, "a brisk sail on a blue-green lake; a meadow dotted with yellow wildflowers; an orange sunset behind mountains" (110).

Only Jonas and the Giver know about what is not in the community. Everyone else is ignorant to what beauty the world has to offer them. In chapter 13, Jonas recognizes how bland and flat his world is in the following passage:

"He stood at the foot of the bridge that spanned the river, the bridge that citizens were allowed to cross only on official business. Jonas had crossed it on school trips, visiting the outlying communities, and he knew that the land beyond the bridge was much the same, flat and well ordered, with fields for agriculture. The other communities he had seen on visits were essentially the same as his own" (106).

The words and descriptions of the setting for The Giver are spread throughout the story. The reader discovers a little bit more about it from each chapter. With each memory that Jonas receives, there are more examples of what is absent in the community as well.