What is Lois Lowry's purpose in the book The Giver?  

What is Lois Lowry's purpose in the book The Giver


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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author of The Giver, Lois Lowry, has said that the idea for the book was triggered by her visits to her father, who was losing his memory.  Her book started as a kind of exploration of what would happen if a society had no memory for anything that went before and evolved into a story in which people traded memory for what they thought would be happier and safer lives.  As she wrote, she said, the book rapidly turned into a dystopian story, with it becoming increasingly clear that people who gave up memory and other qualities of life, such as emotion, variety, and color, were making a very bad bargain, missing out on some negative aspects of life, to be sure, but also missing out on most of what is good about being alive.  I think that usually, as a writer begins writing, he or she does not say, "I am writing with the purpose of teaching my readers this one particular lesson." As one of my favorite professors taught me, "Writing is a means of coming to know" (McMahon). Lowry, I would imagine, wrote herself into an understanding that a society set up as she set up hers in the story would be a horrible one, and she used Jonas, with his slowly dawning understanding, to help the reader see this. So, while her initial "purpose" was an exploration of memory and its loss, she wrote herself into a book that is teeming with much richer purpose, a story that shows us that the loss of memory, emotion, variety, and control renders us something less than fully human. 

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The Giver

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