In Lois Lowry's The Giver, how do family units get a second child?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lois Lowry's The Giver, a family unit may receive a second child by going through an application process for one. Unlike our world, in which biological mothers often raise their own children, the Community within the novel has assigned "birth mothers" who are responsible for producing up to three children. However, these women are not tasked with the lifelong duty of taking care of their own progeny, and the infants are instead cared for in a facility by Nurturers who ensure that they are of the appropriate age and health level before they are passed along to their family unit. 

Additionally, it is important to note that each family unit can not contain more than two children; caps are placed on these numbers in order to regulate and keep uniform the Community.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Each family unit is made up of a mother and father who do not repopulate together. Young women are assigned to be birth mothers and they are allowed to have three children each. They are fed well and taken care of, but after having a child, the mothers go into hard labor, such as working in the agricultural fields. Meanwhile, the new children go to stay in a building together for their first year as they are weighed and monitored by Nurturers like Jonas's father. Parental units must apply for new children before they receive one. Jonas mentions that his friend's parents waited a long time before they applied for a second child because Asher was such a handful when he was young.

"Asher poked Jonas's arm. 'Remember when we got Phillipa?' he asked in a loud whisper. Jonas nodded. It had only been last year. Asher's parents had waited quite a long time before applying for a second child. Maybe Jonas suspected, they had been so exhausted by Asher's lively foolishness that they had needed a little time" (43).

Family units do not apply to have more than two children, though. Everything is standardized, measured, and strictly regulated in the society. As a result, families are kept small in order to keep each other in check and following the rules of the community.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial