How does Lowry portray the themes of the individual versus society, freedom, and the value of emotions in chapters 1–5 in The Giver?

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In chapters 1–5, Lowry portrays these themes through the community's strict rules, the lack of personal freedoms afforded to community members, and the absence of real emotions among the characters.

The theme of the individual versus society is primarily depicted through the rules governing uniform behavior in these chapters. There are no moments of personal recognition; instead, entire groups are collectively recognized for achieving similar milestones. No child receives a bike before anyone else, and food is distributed equally to all community members by the Food Delivery workers. Jonas recognizes that bragging is viewed as distasteful, and he tries to avoid any semblance of making himself appear greater than his classmates. In these ways and others, it is clear that Jonas's community values the collective community much more than any particular individual. There is no place for those who don't follow the rules; Jonas's mother mentions a rule-breaker who will be released if he incurs one more infraction. The community must function with utmost organization and proficiency, and in order for that to happen, individual goals are sacrificed. This means that individuals don't even have a say in their career choices; instead, their talents are studied, and a career is assigned to them. Jonas's society therefore establishes the importance of the community's success over individual desires.

This type of society is only possible by restricting personal freedoms. Jonas finds himself in trouble because he accidentally takes food from the recreational area; food "hoarding" is prohibited. Only certain women are allowed to birth children for the community, and those Birthmothers are expected to produce exactly three pregnancies. Everyone who has reached adolescence, including the adults of the community, is required to take pills to prevent sexual feelings; families apply for children, and if they are selected, they receive the children of the Birthmothers at the Ceremony of Ones. The days of community members are tightly structured, with scheduled times for work, school, recreation, volunteering, and family. The community accepts that following the rules keeps everyone safe, and no one seems to mind sacrificing personal freedoms. Yet even in these early chapters, it is clear that many citizens are unable to recognize the deep loss of personal freedoms. Parents, for example, live together to preserve an organized family structure—not because they are attracted to each other. They simply don't recognize that there is an innate sense of loss in this dynamic. The novel therefore demonstrates that people sometimes sacrifice their personal freedoms without fully realizing all that they are relinquishing for the "greater good."

There is a hollow sense of connection in these early chapters, evidenced most clearly in Jonas's family structure. Though they do spend time together, the family's conversation topics are greatly predetermined by their society's rules and follow a fairly forced pattern. Jonas and his mother have a particularly important conversation about the "Stirrings," yet there is no particular sense of maternal affection in that conversation. Instead, after delivering the required information, she looks down at her watch and tells Jonas that he needs to get to school. There is no embrace, no hair ruffling, no friendly banter. This lack of emotion within Jonas's family creates a cold and detached tone.

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