What are three disadvantages of sameness in The Giver?

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Sameness is the concept that everyone gives up choices and feelings.  The main disadvantage of Sameness is that the community commits terrible atrocities in the name of sameness.  Anyone who does not fit in is killed.  An example of this is the newchild who is born a twin.  Since two identical people would be too “confusing” for everyone, they kill one of them arbitrarily because it is a bit smaller.

He killed it! My father killed it! Jonas said to himself, stunned at what he was realizing. He continued to stare at the screen numbly. (ch 20, p. 150)

Jonas knows that the infant is dead.  His father must too, since he throws the child down the garbage chute.  Yet in this society, there is nothing wrong with what he did.  He feels no remorse.  The community also “releases” anyone who breaks three rules or makes a mistake, such as the student pilot who flew over the community by accident.  This is no way to live.

Another disadvantage of Sameness is that there is no love. People feel mild affection for one another, but couples are joined solely for child-rearing purposes and do not love one another.  They are paired by committee, apply for children, and have children given to them by committee.  There is no closeness, or concept of family.

When Jonas sees memories of love, he wants that concept for himself.  He asks his parents if they love him, and they tell him they enjoy him but scold him for imprecise language.

"Your father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete," his mother explained carefully. (ch 16, p. 127)

When Jonas’s parents ask him if he understands, he tells them his first lie.  He realizes that they are the ones who don’t understand, and never will.

A third disadvantage of Sameness is that people have no choice.  Choice is what makes life worth living.  Yes, choices can cause pain.  But they can also cause great happiness.  A world without choice is a dull one indeed.  Jobs are chosen for you.  Your spouse is chosen for you.  Your children are chosen for you.  Even when you die is chosen for you.

Jonas chooses to leave, but then he regrets his choice.

Once he had yearned for choice. Then, when he had had a choice, he had made the wrong one: the choice to leave. And now he was starving. (ch 22, p. 174)

In the end, though, he is able to come to terms with his choice and safely make it to elsewhere.


Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

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