How can the conflict of individual vs society be expressed as a theme in Lois Lowry's The Giver?

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litgeek2015 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Giver, the community in which Jonas lives does not value individualism. In fact, it is seen as dangerous and punishable. The community values uniformity instead, so everyone and everything is as similar as possible. Therefore, we can see the conflict of individual vs society expressed in several areas, including:

  • The rules set up by the community to control its citizens (the curfew, for example). In our own society, we generally have the freedom to come and go as we please.
  • The fact that no one has an individual age, even the children. Although the children are categorized by years, in our own society we often look at very young children in terms of months. In this community a "one" could be a day old or 12 months old. After age 12, age is not even considered or labeled. Individual birthdays are not celebrated in this society, while in our society it is very much a mark of our individuality.
  • One hallmark of the community Jonas lives in is that no one is supposed to question anything, especially the decisions made by the Elders. In our society we are encouraged to question authority; it is built into our constitution as a cornerstone of our Democracy. 
  • In their community, sexuality is repressed so that individuals do not engage in sexual acts, even married couples. In our society, we generally consider sex and sexuality to be a normal part of a healthy lifestyle.

These are just a few of the ways in which the theme of individual vs society can be seen in The Giver. 

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The Giver

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