The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

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From Lois Lowry's The Giver, how important is Sameness in Jonas's community compared to ours today?

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Sameness is the idea that if everyone is the same, then no one will feel left out or different, and everyone will be happy. Not only that, but it includes many significant sacrifices on the part of individuals for the benefit of the whole community. Jonas's community gave up anything unique, original or challenging in order to create a life of peace and security. Today, we have sacrificed many elements of privacy for the sake of security, such as when we pass through security checkpoints before boarding a flight. Jonas's community, long before he or the Giver were born, though, gave up snow, colors, and many aspects of individuality. The Giver's first explanation of Sameness to Jonas after he asks the following:

"'But what happened to those things? Snow, and the rest of it?'

'Climate Control. Snow made growing food difficult, limited the agricultural periods. And unpredictable weather made transportation almost impossible at times. It wasn't a practical thing, so it became obsolete when we went to Sameness'" (85).

The problem is that true joy and happiness comes when we experience opposition in our life. We don't truly appreciate warmth until we experience freezing cold, for example. We can't appreciate love without knowing hate. But the people in Jonas's community decided that they would rather live without opposition in order to be safe and live in an efficient society. Today, the debate continues as laws are made or eradicated based on how people want to live and what they are willing to live without to live that way.

Sadly, Jonas learns other sacrifices that are made to keep the community running without a hitch. For example, he learns that the weak, the old, and the disabled are killed so that Sameness can be controlled. Some people today are ostracized from our communities for being different because many people still hold prejudices and prefer to be around those with whom they feel equal or the same. Ultimately, though, Jonas's society wouldn't work without Sameness, so it is highly important to it.

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