How was the community in "The Giver" by Lois Lowry created?

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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This is an interesting question. As previously stated, the community is an intentional utopian community. It seems that the idea of family is one that is preserved from the past, but the idea of childbearing is one that is frowned upon as somehow lower class.

Everything is segregated into age groups. People wear a type of uniform that is related to their age when they are young or to their job when they are older. They take pills that remove their sex drive as well as their ability to see in color. They have gone to "sameness" meaning that there is a cookie-cutter idea of what people should be and do.

They have a 1:1 ratio of death to birth, and if twins are born, then the "better" one lives, and the "less able" one is "released".  Jonas witnesses his father releasing a twin by injecting a solution into the infant's heart. Jonas is mortified by what he sees, but his father simply accepts this as "normal". The word death is not used, but the word release is substituted for death. People determine when they will die and basically attend their own funeral prior to walking into the releasing room.

This community was created based on avoiding desires and cravings and by making sure that everyone is the same in every way possible. There is no pain, no discomfort, only sameness.  Career and work are valued, but having babies is seen as something that animals do.

lhc's profile pic

lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The community was created at some point prior to the beginning of the narrative as a utopian response to the ills of the world: conflict, hatred, violence, death, suffering, heartache, etc.  By removing emotional and sensory experiences from the lives of the community members, the community was able to do away with the things that cause unhappiness in so much of the world.  The Giver is the one designated to hold the collective memory of the community, so as to prevent past mistakes from being made again.  At one time, The Giver tells Jonas, his own daughter was destined to be the Receiver; however, she was unable to handle the pain of all the memories and painful associations, and asked to be released--which, in this community, means death, but that word is not used. When she died, all the negative emotions and pain were released upon members of the community, who were unable to deal with them.  Jonas experiences a similar reaction to all the memories and collective emotions placed on him, gets increasingly frustrated with his family and community, but unlike the Giver's daughter, Jonas doesn't ask for release, but ultimately leaves the community, taking the sickly child Gabriel with him.

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