The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

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At what age do the children in The Giver get their comfort object taken away?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Short Answer: Children in Jonas's community have their comfort objects taken away at age eight.

Towards the end of chapter two, Lily waits to receive her comfort object from her parents before bedtime. When Lily impatiently mentions that she is ready for her comfort object, her mother responds by saying that she is almost eight years old, which is when children in Jonas's community are no longer allowed to have a comfort object. In Jonas's highly-structured community, everything is regulated and controlled by the Committee of Elders, who make all the decisions for the citizens. The age that the children have their comfort objects taken away is significant because the Committee of Elders wants to start nurturing the children's independence by age eight. Once the children turn eight years old and have their comfort objects taken away, they are expected to sleep by themselves. The children's comfort objects are then recycled and given to younger children. Jonas's comfort object was a stuffed bear while Lily's is a stuffed elephant.

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lily's mother tells her that she will have to give up her comfort object at the age of eight.  She is trying to wean her from it already, saying,"You should be starting to go off to sleep without it" (18).  The comfort object will be taken away, to be given to a younger child.  Whether Lily or any other eight-year-old is emotionally ready for this is not a consideration in the community. It is a firm rule, not taking into account that children all develop at very different rates, just as none of the rules takes into account that young people may not all be ready at the same age to be channeled into one particular career path.  None of the Community's arrangements takes into account anyone's developmental differences, needs, or preferences. This is a sad little detail in the story, and it is easy to picture eight-year-old Lily crying herself to sleep without her teddy bear. 

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