What are punishments in The Giver?

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Jonas lives in an austere, highly organized community founded on the principles of Sameness, which require complete uniformity and obedience at all times. There are several scenes that depict the various ways citizens are punished for different transgressions. For instance, at the beginning of the story, a pilot misreads his...

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Jonas lives in an austere, highly organized community founded on the principles of Sameness, which require complete uniformity and obedience at all times. There are several scenes that depict the various ways citizens are punished for different transgressions. For instance, at the beginning of the story, a pilot misreads his navigational directions and accidentally flies over the community. Following the incident, the Speaker announces to the community that the pilot will be released. "Release" is a euphemism for murder; citizens are executed for committing serious crimes or mistakes. Essentially, the community practices capital punishment, and if a citizen commits three transgressions, they are automatically released.

Public chastisement and shame is another form of punishment. For example, when Jonas takes an apple home from the recreation area, the Speaker chastises him over the announcements without directly stating his name.

Instructors in Jonas's community also practice corporal punishment. When Asher was a child, he incorrectly pronounced the word "snack" and was struck multiple times with a discipline wand each time he mispronounced the word. Children are given quick smacks across the hand for minor misbehavior and three sharper smacks across their bare legs for a second offense.

The community also uses shame and guilt as forms of punishment. Jonas tells the story of a child who did not complete his necessary volunteer hours and was given his Assignment in private. Jonas mentions that the "disgrace" clouded his entire future, and he was viewed with contempt by the other community members as a form of punishment.

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