How do the rules of the community in The Giver affect the characters in the story?

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There are definitely some benefits to the multitude of rules governing Jonas 's society. Thanks to their highly-organized and regulated world, no one in Jonas's community goes hungry. No one has a need to be afraid. There is no pain and not even a memory of hardship. Everyone in the...

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There are definitely some benefits to the multitude of rules governing Jonas's society. Thanks to their highly-organized and regulated world, no one in Jonas's community goes hungry. No one has a need to be afraid. There is no pain and not even a memory of hardship. Everyone in the community is always treated with dignity and respect. Thanks to the rules, there is always peace, harmony, and positive thinking.

Yet all of this peace comes with a weight that the citizens of the community literally cannot fathom—and that in itself is due to the rule relegating memories to the role of the Receiver. Therefore, the world of the present is the only world the community is aware of. Spouses are chosen not in a loving decision between two people but in a governmental application process which weighs out strengths and weaknesses of the potential husband and wife in each match. Families can never consist of two brothers or of five siblings. At most, spouses can receive exactly one son and one daughter.

Rules dictate that birthmothers will be employed to produce the children for the community, and each one will have exactly three children. The rules create a society which devalues biological connections and even devalues "parents of the parents," or grandparents and other ancestors, which Jonas considers later in the novel.

Jonas's community leaders originally formed a "perfect" society through lots of rules that they thought would allow for optimal happiness, comfort, and organization. But Jonas grows to realize that all of these rules have not created a perfect society; instead, the people are deprived of any meaningful relationships or of any deep emotional connections. They all exist superficially, more concerned with making sure hair ribbons are neatly tied than in supporting an infant who fails to thrive after birth.

When Jonas realizes the ultimate lies the rules enforce, he comes committed to changing them.

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Jonas lives in a strict, highly-organized society which is founded on the concept of Sameness. The Committee of Elders makes every significant decision in the citizens' lives and is responsible for creating family units, regulating the birthrate, matching spouses, and choosing everyone's occupation. In Jonas's society, individuality is nonexistent and conformity is championed. There are numerous rules that citizens are required to obey in Jonas's austere society, where people must follow the Speaker's directives whenever announcements are declared.

Language is highly regulated, children like Jonas are forbidden from lying, and deviating from the norm is a punishable offense. Jonas even recalls Asher suffering corporal punishment as a child for pronouncing a word wrong and the Speaker informs the community that a jet pilot will be "released" after he accidentally flies over the community. Once Jonas becomes the community's next Receiver of Memory, he discovers that release is simply a euphemism for death, and Jonas then flees the community with Gabriel.

As the Receiver of Memory Jonas gains insight into life before Sameness and begins to desire autonomy and independence. He feels that the community's laws and regulations are too restrictive and is shocked when he learns the truth about release ceremonies. Jonas escapes the community with Gabriel after learning that he is going to be released. Overall, the community's oppressive rules and regulations motivate Jonas to escape with Gabriel to save his life while permanently altering the community's culture.

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In this dystopia, the members of society are expected to blindly obey all the rules. Discouraged from taking initiative at all phases of life, they are given a set of predetermined steps along which they are supposed to smoothly move. The boredom and routine are lessened by the frequent rituals that mark almost every different phase of the life course. Parents do not help children plan toward a meaningful future; instead, the leaders select the young people's trajectory based on what is good for society. Every two or three years, another milestone is marked.

Although this type of society provides many comforts to the people who are cocooned within it, it also has the effect of stifling or even destroying creativity and imagination. For some of them, the regulations are fatal: those marked as Uncertain, such as Gabriel, will be systematically "released." By keeping such a small pool of prospective elites, which Jonas learns he will join, the talents and potential contributions of the rest of society are disregarded. These practices have the effect of inhibiting the group's flexibility to cope with unforeseen events, such as natural disasters, and also reduces the breadth of the gene pool.

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There are so many rules and regulation in the society of The Giver that the citizens of the town don't question the rules. For example, Jonas' father is a Nurturer who works with newborn babies. In our society, someone who works with newborn babies would want to do everything they could to save the baby. We later learn that the Nurturer will sometimes have to "release" a baby, which means to kill the baby through a lethal injection. The rules of community state that certain newborn babies need to be released—and this makes it okay in the eyes of the Nurturer. Since the rules dictate that, no one will think they are doing harm.

Everything inside the society is regulated. Citizens' careers, the weather, and even feelings are all regulated to such an extent that one cannot even fathom choosing their own career or alterations in the weather. This affects how people will think and act.

The characters become used to that society and cannot think of anything else. When Jonas starts receiving emotions and memories from The Giver, he is now different than everyone else. Jonas feels alone because he knows true emotion while everyone else does not. 

As The Giver is the only one who has memories and feelings, The Elders must come to The Giver for advice. When a whole society lacks emotions and memories, it is hard to make the best decisions.

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