What is the main idea of The Giver?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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All dystopian fiction shares one basic idea: a perfect world is usually far from perfect.  A "utopia" is a perfect world.  A dystopia is a world that first appears perfect, but turns out to be terribly wrong under the surface.

This book is clever because it makes the dystopia point so simply.  The main idea of The Giver specifically is that sameness is not the same thing as perfection--difference should be celebrated and not feared.  The community works so hard to keep everything the same, and prevent discomfort, that they do things like beat toddlers for using the wrong word and kill newborn infants because they have a twin.  Mistakes are not tolerated, and anyone who breaks a rule three times is killed.  There is no love, and no real emotion at all. 

While it is true that all of the things that make us human are painful (love, passion, disagreement, choice), they are also what makes life worth living.  Life without love, without memory, is horrifying.

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