Society in Lois Lowry’s The Giveris both enhanced and victimized by technology. While the community seems to be smoothly run so everyone achieves Sameness, it also is prevented from quality of life and the benefit of learning from the past.
Instead of progressing, this dystopian society utilizes science...
Society in Lois Lowry’s The Giver is both enhanced and victimized by technology. While the community seems to be smoothly run so everyone achieves Sameness, it also is prevented from quality of life and the benefit of learning from the past.
Instead of progressing, this dystopian society utilizes science and technology to keep humans at the same level by genetically engineering humans in an attempt to achieve perfection. For instance, newborns are expected to reach a certain weight and to sleep through the night at a certain point; those who do not are “labeled Inadequate and released from the community.” If twins are born, the smaller one is released. Jonas is horrified to learn that “released” means killed. The government cannot afford to have anyone in the community who is deemed inferior; it has used science and technology to create this image of perfection, and it will not accept anything less than what is deemed perfect.
The government controls all aspects of human life via science and technology. Meals are delivered to residents, and remains are picked up. Speakers are installed everywhere so that the government can stay inside people’s minds. Constant reminders of proper behavior are broadcast over the speakers. Technology allows the government to see everything people do. When Lily’s hair ribbons slip and she does not properly fix her hair, a general message is broadcast about the importance of females keeping their hair ribbons neatly tied. People do not need to think in this society. When an unidentified plane flies over the community, a message is broadcast that everyone must drop their bicycles and enter the nearest building for safety. The pilot had been a trainee and had made a wrong turn; the government uses the speakers to tell people that the pilot would be released. Thus, technology is used as a means of control and as a weapon of fear to keep everyone following the rules.
As the government has deemed emotions a danger, it has used science and technology to suppress feelings and memories in order to keep everyone the same and to spare people from pain and suffering. When Jonas begins to have feelings for Fiona, he is told to take a daily pill to suppress the “Stirrings.” Love is a dangerous emotion, as it might cause people to act against the rules. For instance, the Giver’s previous attempt to train a new Receiver is referred to as a failure which greatly impacted society. The Giver states that when Rosemary was “released,” her memories were spread through the community, and the people were unable to handle the emotions that came with those memories. The Giver says, “I was so devastated by my own grief at her loss, and my own feeling of failure, that I didn’t even try to help them through it. I was angry, too.”
In the interest of Sameness, technology is also used to suppress color. No one except the Giver, and eventually the Receiver, can perceive color. The Giver explains that people chose to give up many things, including color, in order to control life. Indeed, life is strictly coordinated, and there is no difference among people. They are used to seeing everything as one muted shade. Since no one is aware that color even exists, no one misses it. Jonas happens upon it as he is able to see beyond; he witnesses a shifting occur while looking at the apple and at Fiona’s hair. The Giver explains that “I suppose the genetic scientists are still hard at work trying to work the kinks out.” No matter how much the government tries to suppress the truth, they cannot cover everything. Fiona’s red hair is something the Elders cannot control.
When Jonas flees the community to save Gabriel, he worries that the government will pursue them. To protect them, he travels by night to make it harder for the searchers in planes to detect them. However, he notes that while the searchers cannot see the color of their skin or Gabriel’s golden hair, they have science and technology on their side. The planes are equipped with “heat-seeking devices which identify body warmth and would hone in on two humans huddled in shrubbery.” Technology is utilized to hunt people who are trying to escape.
Overall, Lowry depicts the dangers of pitting technology against humanity.