What are some examples of control within the community in The Giver?

Examples of control within the community in The Giver are that when people enter the workforce, they are not free to choose their paths, which are determined for them by the community Elders, nor are people free to have children or use language that violates strict rules. The weather is also controlled, so the climate is always temperate, and colors have been eliminated.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Jonas's highly structured, oppressive society is founded on the principles of Sameness, which dramatically alter the environment, restrict citizens' personal freedoms, and completely eliminate individuality in favor of conformity. The ruling Committee of Elders controls virtually every aspect of society and prevents citizens from exercising their independence. The committee controls society by determining the birth rate, selecting what citizens will be released, matching spouses, organizing family units, and determining each citizen's occupation. Essentially, citizens are prohibited from making significant life choices and must obey the committee's decisions. They lack all personal agency and must follow their selected path in life in order to avoid being released.
The committee also controls the citizens by regulating language. In Jonas's community, precise language is mandatory and citizens are punished for using incorrect grammar or exaggerating. By limiting language, the committee is able to narrow the scope of thought and manipulate the population's outlook on life. The committee also controls the population by censoring knowledge. Citizens only have access to government-approved books, and much of the classified information is housed in the Hall of Closed Records, which is off-limits to the majority of the public. Only Jonas and the Giver have unlimited access to knowledge and can read books. The ruling government also controls the citizens' emotions by requiring each citizen of age to take pills to suppress the Stirrings. Overall, Jonas lives in an oppressive, dystopian community where citizens' lives are completely controlled by the Committee of Elders and the principles of Sameness.
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Three clear examples of control within the community in The Giver come to mind immediately. First, when children reach the age where they are about to finish their schooling and enter the workforce, they do not have the freedom to choose their paths themselves. Their futures are determined for them by the Elders of the community, who speak to their teachers and others in order to make a binding decision about the path the young adults will pursue.

Second, people are not free to love one another as they are in our society. In The Giver, when people reach the age of puberty, they begin to take daily pills to suppress their hormones and sexual desires. It would seem that there are no physically intimate relationships in the society, as children are bred by breeders that are inseminated and married couples are not responsible for reproduction or able to reproduce on their own.

Third, language is controlled in a very strict manner. Stringent adherence to language norms and rules are required, and any deviation is considered a violation of the rules. Even the slightest exaggeration is considered a violation, as language usage is controlled by established rules.

These are controls that govern how people behave. There are also controls beyond human behavior and interpersonal interaction. For example, in the society of The Giver, the weather is controlled to eliminate any variations. The climate is always temperate. In addition, colors are controlled or, more precisely, have been eliminated.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Committee of Elders in The Giver has almost complete control over all aspects of community life. And they don't just control people's lives; they also control their deaths, for the Elders use euthanasia as a means of controlling the population.

In this dystopian society, old people can be put to death by the state once they're no longer deemed capable of contributing to the community. At the other end of life, babies can be euthanized for not fitting into the community's ideal; they can be killed simply because they cry too much or because they're the smaller of twins. The ruling elders believe that they have the moral right and responsibility to shape society for the common good. And if this means killing people they deem surplus to requirements, then so be it.

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

In the attempt to create a society based on Sameness, controls were placed upon most aspects of life within the community.

Family units were carefully controlled. A man and a woman had to obtain approval from the Committee of Elders before they were allowed to have a separate living quarters assignment, and they had no control over the family they created. "Two children – one male, one female – to each family unit. It was written very clearly in the rules."

Raising of children was controlled. As a group of children became older, new expectations and rules were introduced into their lives, and new privileges were extended. The clothing worn by very young children was designed to force them to learn cooperation, as they needed to help each other fasten buttons on the back of their jackets.

The children all received their bicycles at Nine; they were not allowed to ride bicycles before then. But almost always, the older brothers and sisters had secretly taught the younger ones. Jonas had been thinking already about teaching Lily.

Lifetime work activities were controlled, based on the assignments handed out in the Ceremony of Twelve each year. Citizens of the community did as they were told, when they were told - breaks from the routine came in the form of announcements at the beginning of sporadic days that a holiday had been declared for that day.

Many more aspects of the society were controlled, supposedly for the benefit of all by allowing everyone and everything to be the same.

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

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