I think that the essence of Lowry's work might not be about the society in which Jonas lives, but how our society might feature elements which are similar. I agree with the previous post's assertion as to why these books are written to a certain extent. I think that some of these work's value lies in their vigilance that our setting does not even remotely resemble aspects of these worlds or social setting. The idea of social control, the eradication of individual distinction, and a totalizing influence over memory and reflection might be elements that we can fortunately say do not exist in our setting. Yet, the presence of these forces are so frightening that they must be avoided at all costs. Perhaps, this is the value of works like Lowry's. Maybe it does not indicate what our society is, but it renders such a portrait that we are completely convinced that all measures should be taken to ensure that it never could be similar to such a rendering.
It certainly helps us, as Americans, to appreciate our way of life. In a world like that of The Giver, there are no basic freedoms, no free will, no opportunity, no chance to excel, and no possibility to bring out the best of you. You are one of many more, and that is all that matters. In the Giver, you are a breathing and obeying mechanism.
As much as people may want to criticize the American way of life, you have to admit that if we changed anything about it, we would lose ourselves and end up in a radically extreme and controlling world such as the fictional world of the story.
In summary, the story certainly allowed me to look around and realize that there is nothing more valuable than freedom.
For me, the main thing I wonder about when I read this book or a book like it is this -- why do the authors come up with books like this?
This is not just a smart-aleck question. There are so many books that have similar themes -- Among the Hidden, 1984, Brave New World. These authors clearly feel compelled to write books that have this kind of soulless society.
I wonder why they write about these. It does not seem to me that our society today is anything like this. I don't see us moving towards a soulless, loveless society. But do they think we are? If so, why?
What do you think? Are we moving in this direction?
"The Giver" is one of my favorite books. I did not read it until I was an adult, but I found it interesting to think of a society in which no one questioned the decisions someone else was making for them. When Jonas begins to receive the memories and all the emotions, he is but a boy of 12 years. Yet, he is able to look at what is going on around him and recognizes that a person like Gabriel has value and that his release would be unfair. He makes a very grown up decision to protect the child.
I could see that some people would like the idea of never feeling emotional or physical pain. Even in our own society people try to numb those things by using drugs or alcohol. However, to take one set of pain away one also takes away joy and love.
I remember when I was a child and the fear of communism seemed eminent. I was always under the impression that if they took over our country all of our choices would be taken away. From my child's concept of communism I thought it would be like the society in the book. Of course the book had not been written when I was a child, but the concepts were the same.