The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

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What is a possible theme and theme statement, along with supporting examples from The Giver?

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A theme from the book is that emotions are necessary for the human experience.  This is supported by the fact that community has no emotions and commits atrocities without questioning them. 

The main lesson from The Giver is that you cannot create a perfect world where there are no emotions and everyone is the same.  While emotions may cause us pain sometimes, life just is not worth living without them.  In human nature, you have to take the good with the bad. 

In trying to create a utopia where everyone is always happy, and there is no poverty, war, or hunger, Jonas’s community commits many atrocities.  They regularly kill people who do not conform.  We would consider many of the moral choices made by Jonas’s community questionable, including killing people for minor infractions, killing the elderly, and killing babies. 

Jonas’s community enforces conformity very harshly. From a young age citizens are raised to follow the community’s expectations, and there is very little room for individuality.  There are no relationships like we have in our world.  Everything is very artificial, and there is no attachment.  Babies are born to anonymous birthmothers, raised in an institutional setting for the first year, and then assigned to “family units” that consist of pre-matched mother and father figures. 

The community keeps people in a chemically-induced pre-adolescent state.  All adults take pills for Stirrings, which is a euphuism for sexual feelings.  The community uses the Stirrings to determine when people are maturing so they can stop it.  Jonas begins taking the pills at first, but since he has experienced the memories he knows that this feeling-free existence is not right. 

And his new, heightened feelings permeated a greater realm than simply his sleep. Though he knew that his failure to take the pills accounted for some of it, he thought that the feelings came also from the memories. Now he could see all of the colors; and he could keep them, too, so that the trees and grass and bushes stayed green in his vision. (Ch. 17) 

Jonas finds out that his community has done more than make sure everyone looks the same and acts the same.  In addition to eliminating colors and feelings, the community also controls climate and landscape.  People are kept in line with release.  It controls the population because the elderly are released regularly and the only children born are planned.  People who do not conform are also released.  This even includes babies. 

Jonas is horrified when he learns what release means. He watches his father kill a newborn baby just because it has an identical twin.  When you have eliminated feelings from your society, this kind of thing can happen.  The Giver tells Jonas that they know nothing.  They do not even realize that what they are doing could be considered wrong, because having Sameness is their first priority.

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