What can be an opening statement for the importance of memory with regard to a debate on The Giver?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A debate speech is not dissimilar to a persuasive essay once the student has defined the topic and provided the position on this topic that he/she will take.

Taking the position that memory is, indeed, important, the introduction can begin with a rhetorical question such as 

  • Are our lives not bound in memory as so often we return in our thoughts to pleasurable--even sometimes painful--experiences, joyful hours with family, conversations with friends, enjoyable meals, and places we have been?

Now, let us take the premise that the student is taking the stance that the characters in The Giver, protected from disturbing emotions and experiences by their not having memories of the past, are missing much of what makes one human, as well as enriched from experiences. This student, then, can point to the fact that a person cannot truly know happiness and contentment without having had some troubling moments in his/her life. For, so often joy is in direct proportion to the sorrow one has experienced.

An example of this premise that without hardships, no one can feel pleasurable emotions, either, is the fact that Jonas's father, who purportedly feels tenderly for the infants under his care, has no problem "releasing" babies. In Chapter 19, Jonas witnesses a release. His father has no troubling emotion in killing the baby for whom he has cared, unlike Jonas who, as he watches,

...felt a ripping sensation inside himself, the feeling of terrible pain clawing its way forward to emerge in a cry. 

Likewise, the father does not feel love for the living babies; he merely "enjoys" his work. In addition, since people are limited by permissible vocabulary, too, it is almost impossible for them to express true emotion, even if they should actually feel it, and it is emotion that makes people human.