What are the reasons behind each rule in The Giver?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to this question could go two ways, so I'll attempt to answer both.

In general, the reasons behind each rule are the same. Rules are a very important part of the society in The Giver. To the members of the society, rules are good because they make life manageable. Everything is neat and orderly. The rules make life predictable and simple, which is what the people wanted when they adopted the Sameness. Of course The Giver is a dystopian story. The society might like the rules, but readers come to see the rules as devices that take away any individuality and freedom of choice. No matter what the rule is, it still functions to limit a person, a family, and/or the society in some way.

The question might be asking for a brief explanation of each rule in the book. There are a lot of rules in Jonas's society, so here are a few rules with some possible explanations for why that particular rule exists.

  • Families are limited to four people: a mother, father, son, and daughter. This rule serves two functions. First, it serves as population control. Two parents that eventually die are replaced by two children. The population size neither grows nor shrinks. Second, the rule ensures a gender-equal society. There should be the same number of men and women in the society.
  • Fighting and lying are prohibited. This rule helps maintain peace and order.
  • Strong feelings are not to be experienced. This helps maintain the Sameness.
  • Modesty is to be maintained at all times. Nakedness is forbidden for everybody except the very young and very old. This rule is likely there to help control the Stirrings.
  • Adolescents are required to report when the Stirrings begin and then take medication for it. This rule is tied to the rule about not being allowed to have strong feelings.
  • Each family member must share his/her dreams in the morning and share their feelings in the evening. This rule sounds like it exists to encourage family bonding; however, it is more likely that the rule is there so each family can monitor whether or not any of its members are becoming abnormally emotional.
  • Children's comfort objects are taken away at age 8. This is probably to help the child realize that they are getting closer to being a contributing member of society. This rule can be seen as a form of oppression: what the child wants or feels is irrelevant.
  • Objects cannot be removed from designated areas. This rule sounds like it helps people not misplace or lose objects. On the surface, it seems like a simple, non-invasive rule. However, this rule also sounds like a rule that helps keep everything in its place. That's what all of these rules are geared to do: keep people in their place.