"The Giver" essay questions
1. Early in the book, Jonas had certain beliefs about the world he lived in. Once he became the Receiver of Memory, he began to experience memories of many things. He also learned a lot of things about his society, some of which were not so good. How did these new memories and experiences make Jonas feel? How did they change his understanding of the society he lives in? Provide examples.
2. Members of Jonas's community are supposed to use "precise language," and most of the time, it is used. (In fact, people got corrected for using the wrong word a few times in the book.) But there are times when it isn't. Some people are required to kill others (weak babies and old people who have lived long enough). In Jonas’s community, they say that they “release” those people. Give examples of characters in the book who were corrected when they used the wrong word (give the word and the correction) AND discuss the use of the verb “release” instead of “kill.” What about “elsewhere”? Is that precise? Why is precise language required sometimes, but not all the time, in Jonas’s community?
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In order to tackle the first question, look at how both positive and negative memories influenced Jonas' view of the community. When Jonas experiences love in the memories, he realizes that the community has no capacity for love because it is considered an obsolete feeling. When Jonas experiences war, he realizes that the games that his friends play were once real and horrific experiences, and he cannot play at something that is based on something so painful. These memories as well as many others open his eyes to the pitfalls of the community.
To answer the second question, think about examples such as when Jonas asks his family, "Do you love me?" (Chapter 16) They respond by telling him that he is not being precise with language, that "love" is a meaningless term. They instead volunteer other questions he should have asked, like "Do you enjoy me?" and "Do you take pride in my accomplishments?" Think as well about the scene where Jonas watches the release with the Giver and the emotions and realization he comes to (Chapter 19).
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