What does eye color reveal about the society in "The Giver"?  

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most people in Jonas' society have dark eyes. There are only a few exceptions to this. Jonas, Gabe, a female Six (Katherine), Rosemary, and the Giver all have pale eyes.

To Jonas, pale eyes aren't just an anomaly, they fascinate him. When he looks into Gabe's clear eyes, he feels that they look like mirrors and that there is a certain depth to them that he can't explain. All he knows is that, when he looks into Gabe's pale eyes, he seems to be "looking into the clear water of the river, down to the bottom, where things might lurk which hadn’t been discovered yet." Gabe's eyes are "pale, solemn, knowing," as if his eyes indicate an intrinsic intelligence and insight that most people in the community do not have.

Interestingly, both Jonas and the Giver share the same type of pale eyes. The Giver is responsible for holding memories of every known human experience and then using them to solve the problems of the community when needed. As the Receiver of Memories, Jonas is the next Giver. Each Giver is also tasked with experiencing pain of a magnitude that is beyond the comprehension of others.

In Jonas' community, most people have dark eyes, and this perpetuates the idea of sameness that is deemed so essential to peace and stability. On the other hand, those who have pale eyes are set apart and thought to be different. Jonas' eyes seem to indicate his superhuman ability to see beyond (what is called "The Capacity To See Beyond"). Jonas can see changes in things and people that others cannot see. As a Receiver-in-training, Jonas also has to train "alone and apart" from everyone else. So, dark eyes represent sameness in Jonas' community, while pale eyes indicate otherness. This emphasis on eye color reveals a society that is focused on perpetuating sameness to sustain a fragile vision of stability.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The community was filled with people who could not see color, so they had no way of recognizing the color of anyone else's eyes. Since the community was based on the necessity of sameness, this was to be expected and was not considered odd or unusual.

Jonas, however, does have eyes that are obviously of a different color than everyone else. The group of elders can not explain how they recognize this distinction, but they call it the "Capacity to See Beyond" and consider it as an ability that will be essential for the new Receiver of Memory. As the one who is responsible for providing advice to the elders when decisions must be made using information from the past, the Receiver needs to be able to see in a different way than any of the other residents of the community. Variation in eye color is unimportant, if not undesirable, for anyone else.

ddlll111 | Student

The only people in the community who are said to have "light" eyes are the Giver, Jonas, Gabe, and a little girl. all (probably the girl too) are able to receive memories. People with normal dark eyes can not (Jonas tries with Asher and Lilly.)


Jonas also feels uncomfortable being different- having a distingwishing feature. It is rude to call atention to it.

It also tells you a lot about sameness. Out of all the people in the community- 4 have different eyes.