What is the importance of memory in The Giver by Lois Lowry? 

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the utopian society created in The Giver, memory, or lack thereof, is an important part of the people's quest to eliminate conflict and pain from their lives.  The idea is that without memory, one will not experience painful feelings such as grief, regret, or other feelings that could create conflict with others.  Memory is considered important from a practical standpoint, however, as found in the oft-quoted proverb, "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it."  As such, a designated "Receiver" is appointed to house all of society's memories, good and bad.  What becomes apparent to Jonas once he is appointed Receiver is that there are plenty of bad memories to house, but there are also many happy ones which provide feelings of comfort and love--feelings that are absent from his society.  At its core, The Giver is about this peculiar institution we experience called life; to be meaningful, one must experience it in its entirety--the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Without pain, there is no pleasure, without death, there is no life, without conflict, there is  no love.  Although some school districts have banned The Giver due to the controversial presence of euthanasia, this reader would contend that overall themes--lack of love between parent and child, lack of memories, are possibly even more disturbing.  However, if to be disturbed is to be forced to think, then The Giver certainly does that and more.

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The Giver

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