How does the setting in Lois Lowry's The Giver cause conflict?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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When one thinks about the setting in a novel, one might think about the geography that surrounds the characters. In Lowry's The Giver, the geographical area is flat without obstacles, sunny without snow, and always comfortable. The setting that causes conflict and influences the main character's thoughts, feelings and actions is more of an abstract one. The setting for Jonas is his age and standing in a dystopian society in this coming-of-age story.

The society in which Jonas lives is one where every aspect of a child's life is controlled by their designated parents and by the elders of the community. Children are placed into training for furture careers by the age of twelve, so this causes conflict through anxiety for Jonas. In addition to that, Jonas discovers that other aspects of his growth and maturity are controlled as well by drugs! But the real disconcerting element of the setting is discovered when Jonas is chosen to bear all of the burdens of the community upon his own shoulders as the Receiver. The notions of fairness and equality are called into question by the Giver and Jonas to the point of deciding to upset the current setting (or way of life) for the community.

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