What does the Giver mean when he says that the society "went to sameness" in The Giver? Is "sameness" the absence of difference?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When the Giver says that the community "went to Sameness," he means that society chose to make everything seem the same because people's perceived differences are what caused conflict. For example, he talks about a time "when flesh was many different colors," but now it all looks the same. Society gave up color because it was something they could not control. However, the Giver says that "We've never completely mastered Sameness." Jonas gets upset when he cannot see colors all the time. He feels that it is not fair that things lack color, saying, "If everything's the same, then there aren't any choices! I want to wake up in the morning and decide things! [. . .] But it's all the same, always."

However, Jonas can see color—as can the Giver—and so this means that differences still do exist, it is just that people are manipulated so that they no longer perceive those differences. Generally speaking, sameness is the absence of difference, yes; if things are the same, then they are identical and have no differences. However, sameness here really refers to the communal inability to perceive difference rather than a complete lack of difference itself.

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

The community in which the story of The Giver is set made a conscious decision many years in the past to eliminate differences in its living conditions and society. This came to be known as "Sameness."

Sameness means that conditions that can be controlled are kept uniform. The weather in the community doesn't vary from day to day and there are no seasons, for example. Clothing is provided by the community, and all citizens wear the same type of clothes. As the Giver explained to Jonas, "We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with difference. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others."

Differences that could not be eliminated are not acknowledged. The standardized responses to every situation and the expectations of how residents of the community were to act supported the goal of treating everyone the same. "it was not a rule, but was considered rude to call attention to things that were unsettling or different about individuals."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

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