From Lois Lowry's The Giver, what are some examples of man vs. society?
The conflict of man vs. society can also mean the difference between an individual's preferences or choices pitted against the values or traditions of a community or government. A dystopian society usually suppresses the individual's desire to express one's self through passion, choice, or preference--which is is exactly how Jonas's world is run.
From the very beginning, children are deposited with parental units who are not their birth parents. This limits personal bonding to allow caregivers to make objective choices in favor of society's goals rather than the family's. If there is ever a question of loyalty between family and society, for example, it would be easy to tell a child that community is even more important from family simply from the objective structure of the family.
Additionally, children are brought up to comply to strict rules of social behavior, such as being articulate and accurate with one's wording. Joking around or using sarcasm is frowned upon, as Jonas discovers in the following passage when he jokes around with the community's word for punishment which is "released":
"Even the children were scolded if they used the term lightly at play, jeering at a teammate who missed a catch or stumbled in a race. Jonas had done it once, had shouted at his best friend, 'That's it, Asher! You're released!' when Asher's clumsy error had lost a match for his team. He had been taken aside for a brief and serious talk by the coach, had hung his head with guilt and embarrassment, and apologized to Asher after the game" (3).
Finally, a group of elders decides what type of life a child will lead by the time he or she turns twelve. This practice denies people the satisfaction of making and fulfilling personal goals. Of course the job each person gets is based on each person's aptitude and talents, so there is a chance one might like the job; but, the fact remains that the freedom of choice in this area is ultimately taken away from the individual. The Giver explains to Jonas that the community decided to give up differences in order to be happy. He explains it as follows:
"Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences. . . We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of other"(95).
The main conflict arises as Jonas's individuality emerges along with his social awareness in a very community-driven society. He has to make a choice whether to go along with a society that tells everyone to take pills to suppress passionate feelings, how much food to eat each day, and what type of life each person should live.