What does the nondescript shade of the tunics and the apple tell you about the people and society in Lois Lowry's The Giver?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Jonas first experiences color before he is assigned to be the Receiver. After lunch one day, Jonas tosses an apple to Asher and they start to play a game of catch. As it's flying through the air, Jonas sees it change--but he can't describe it. As he is searching for a way to describe the change, he makes the connection that his tunic also had the same shade as the apple. Jonas takes the apple home with the hopes to analyze it and maybe discover what happened, as follows: 

"He had  held a magnifying glass to it. He had tossed it several times across the room, watching, and then rolled it around and around on his desktop, waiting for the thing to happen again. But it hadn't" (25).

It isn't until Jonas becomes the Receiver and asks the Giver about it that he finally gains the vocabulary to describe what happened--color. The Giver explains to Jonas that when the community went to Sameness, they gave up memories that held colors. In their climate-controlled world of Sameness, the people lost the ability to see and experience colors. Colors also represent differences, which the community rejected in order to subdue feelings of preference. The Giver explains it as follows:

"Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences. . . We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others" (95).

Hence, Jonas discovers that everyone he knows cannot see and enjoy colors. They don't have sunrises, sunsets, paintings, or anything of the like. They live as if they are in a black-and-whitemovie from the early twentieth century. Jonas feels sorry that they gave up colors because they also bring joy; hence, the people cannot ever experience this.

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