The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

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At what age do children get freedom in Lois Lowry's The Giver?  

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Each December in Jonas's community marks a transitional period for children up to age twelve. Two days in December are celebrated as holidays and the whole community turns out to witness each year's coming-of-age ceremony. There are defining clothing, hairstyles and opportunities that signify each growing year. For example, at age Eight kids receive volunteer hours, lose their comfort objects and get pockets in their jackets to signify that they are responsible enough to keep track of small personal items. Lily, Jonas's sister is turning eight, and he encourages her as follows:

"'There are good things each year. . . This year you get to start your volunteer hours. And remember last year, when you became a Seven, you were happy to get your front-buttoned jacket?'

The front-buttoned jacket was the first sign of independence, the first very visible symbol of growing up. The bicycle, at Nine, would be the powerful emblem of moving gradually out into the community, away from the protective family unit" (40-41).

Therefore, as stated above, Sevens get a jacket they can unbutton themselves, rather than needing someone else to unbutton them from the back during ages four through six; so, it is at age seven that kids receive their first stage of independence, or freedom. Each year thereafter receives a level of responsibility along with more freedom. Eights get the freedom to choose where they will volunteer their service time as well. The freedom to choose is very valuable under such a strict society.Then by age nine, the bicycles give the children even more freedom to travel where they want to go and more quickly; but with the bicycles also comes the responsibility to take care of them properly. 

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