How are the family units created in the community?

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In Jonas's community, young adults are first given their job assignments and must successfully contribute to the community for a few years. After a while, they can apply for a spouse, and every characteristic of each individual is carefully considered as a "perfect" match is created that will balance out weaknesses that might present as they move forward as a couple:

Even the Matching of Spouses was given such weighty consideration that sometimes an adult who applied to receive a spouse waited months or even years before a Match was approved and announced. All of the factors — disposition, energy level, intelligence, and interests — had to correspond and to interact perfectly. Jonas's mother, for example, had higher intelligence than his father; but his father had a calmer disposition. They balanced each other. Their Match, which like all Matches had been monitored by the Committee of Elders for three years before they could apply for children, had always been a successful one.


After a successful union, the couple can later apply for children and must be approved. If they have proven themselves capable parents, they are eligible to receive one male and one female child through the assistance of Birthmothers, who are allowed three pregnancies before becoming laborers. In the rare circumstance that a child dies, a parent is given a "replacement" child with the same name.

In a memory, Jonas learns of the concept of grandparents, and he enjoys the idea of "parents-of-the-parents." He's never considered the concept before because the elderly in his community live in the House of the Old and are not a part of his life. The Giver tells him that he could look this up in the Hall of Open Records, but a feeling lingers with Jonas. The Giver tells Jonas that this feeling is love, and it becomes clear that in family units in Jonas's community, there is no love—only arrangements of convenience.

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In The Giver, the lives of the citizens are very controlled and cleansed of anything that might be disturbing. 

The Government controls the lives of those who live in the "community." Couples do not meet and date, fall in love, and marry. Since the "stirrings" in people have been diluted by drugs, it is the government that chooses the spouse for a citizen. After the marriage, the government monitors the couple for three years to be sure they are compatible. Because there are no sexual urges in the adults, the marriages do not have some of the complications brought on by emotional feelings. On the other hand, there is no emotional expression and no real passion.

Only Birthmothers have children. They are mere breeders and do not even see their children who are nurtured for a year by Nurturers, such as Jonas's father. A couple can only have two children assigned to them. When the children are grown, the marriage dissolves and the parents live with Childless Adults until they are too old to function. Then they go to The House of the Old until they are released.

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The first step in forming a family unit happens when an adult applies to receive a spouse.  An applicant might wait for months or even years before a Match is found and approved.  Factors such as disposition, energy level, intelligence, and interests must correspond perfectly for a Match to be sanctioned by the Committee of Elders.  After the spouses are joined at the yearly Matching of Spouses ceremony, the Match is monitored for 3 years by the Committee before the couple can apply to receive a child.

Children are born to Birth Mothers, women who serve in that capacity for three years and then are assigned to be laborers for the rest of their lives.  The children are raised collectively by Nurturers until they are a year old, at which time they are distributed by assignment at the yearly Naming and Placement ceremony among those Matches who have applied for children and been approved.

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Families in The Giver are chosen or matched by the community's Committee of Elders.  They match parents because they have compatible characteristics and the children they are given are never their own biological children. There are specific members of the community who are chosen to be birth mothers.  Children are not given to parents until they are one year old, so they are given to families with suitable temperments for their developing personalities.  Everything is designed so there is little or no chance for conflict within the family unit. 

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