The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

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In The Giver, how has the absence of color helped this society? How has it harmed it?

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martina-m eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Colors are considered dangerous in The Giver, just like emotions, feelings, memories and knowledge. This is because colors make people different, and the society we are introduced to previously made the decision of abolishing differences in order to help humanity. "Sameness" is presented as the cure against wars, sadness, and sickness, but it's actually, instead, the removal of free will and choice in order to create a tidy society, a society where no one rebels, because no one feels or thinks differently. The absence of colors is therefore the absence of feelings, of the possibility of making a choice.

Everyone can focus and be as productive as they are required to be, because they are not distracted by useless things such as color. Everyone dresses the same, everyone has the same skin color. In this sense, the absence of color is both positive and negative, making everyone the same and eliminating sadness, but also destroying choice, joy, and all that is beautiful in life.

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In The Giver, the lack of color is meant to promote sameness, to eliminate any variety or envy amongst the denizens of the community.  This, I suppose, could be an advantage for the society in that the people need not concern themselves with having to make choices or worry about whether or not their shirts match their trousers, for example. They can focus on their work and following the rules.  I imagine this does make for a more peaceful society, with no one envying someone who has a beautiful blue dress.  The production of material goods is simplified, too, since the making of clothes, furniture, or even bicycles need not include a variety of colors.  For the Elders, certainly, it is far easier to rule a group of people who have no envy and who can stay focused on whatever it is they are expected to do for the good of the community. 

On the other hand, much of the beauty in life rests on color and other forms of variability.  Eliminating color eliminates a great deal of the beauty and richness in the world and takes away one more kind of choice. Thus, the elimination of color confers a kind of aesthetic impoverishment on the people, as well as rendering them without choice in yet one more way. 

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