How is Jonas's family in The Giver similar to/different from your family?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonas’s family life is going to be different from your family life because his father and mother are appointed by a committee, as is his sister, and none of them are biologically related.

Although I do not know anything about your family, I am pretty sure that they were not appointed by a committee of Elders.  In Jonas’s world, the community lives by the principle of Sameness.  This means that everything is tightly controlled, and rules are extremely strict.  One of these rules is that all family units are created for the sole purpose of raising children.  There is no love.  No one gets married and has a child the old fashioned way.  The adults all take drugs to prevent urges that might lead to children, which they call Stirrings.

Instead, children are created by some genetic engineering process that is not clearly described or defined.  We do know that babies are born to Birthmothers, raised by Nurturers in the Nurturing Centers until they reach the community age of one, and then appointed to a family that has applied for them.  Family units are made of one man and one woman, formed by the committee of elders based on their capability for the sole purpose of raising children.  Once the children are gone from the home, the family unit disbands and the members have basically no relationship with one another.  Jonas explains this.

"As long as they're still working and contributing to the community, they'll go and live with the other Childless Adults. And they won't be part of my life anymore.  … And after that, when the time comes, they'll go to the House of the Old" … (Ch. 16)

On the other hand, there are some ways that Jonas’s relationship with his parents is very similar to yours.  He does still have a mother and a father.  They do provide him with guidance when he has a problem, discipline him when he needs it, and celebrate his victories.  They care about him, even though they do not love him.  They do not have love in their world.  It’s not one of their concepts.  In their own way, they are parents.  They treat him more in the way a teacher or foster parent would.  Loving him would be inappropriate.  They do raise him, in their house, from the time he is a baby until the time he leaves home.

rachellopez | Student

Some similarities that Jonas' family and mine would have is that we both spend time together as a family. If something great happens to me, at school or outside of school, the family will celebrate. Jonas' family does spend time together and celebrate the children's successes.

Some differences would be that his family has a mother, father, son, and daughter. Their family was created and isn't based on love at all. My family is only made up of my parents and I (I'm an only child) and a lot of families have one child or more than two children. Also my family, and hopefully a lot of other families, were created by love and the hope to be together forever, not for the purpose of only raising the children and then never seeing each other again.

parama9000 | Student

I believe that Jonas feels he has a responsibility to bring about greater good to the society he lives in. That is something I aspire to be.

Families are loving, just as in the Giver.

We celebrate our successes together, and we find time to talk about our daily lives, just as the characters do.