What is the tone of the book The Giver?

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

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The tone of The Giver is direct, reflective without being overly preachy, and often ironic.

Tone is the author’s attitude toward the subject.  This book is actually often considered inappropriate for children because it seems to support rebellion.  However, by cleverly using the mode of dystopia, Lowry draws us in to Jonas’s world and we don’t find out until later that we find out that this is a world with major problems.

The tone of something not quite right it established in the first paragraph, when Jonas says he is “frightened” about the Ceremony of Twelve.

No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen. (p. 1)

Jonas decides he is not frightened, he is apprehensive, but the tone stands.  Frightened is what he is, whether he knows why or not, and frightened is what he should be.  Throughout the story, Lowry continues to tell the story without judgment, using Jonas’s reflective voice to tell the story.  At the same time, there is enough irony in the simple language to catch the reader’s attention.

Many of the comfort objects, like Lily's, were soft, stuffed, imaginary creatures. Jonas's had been called a bear. (pp. 18-19)

We know that bears and elephants are real, so we being to wonder about a world where they exist, but not as real animals.  This is a direct and simple way to catch the reader unaware, and begin to make us wonder what is going on.

Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book) (p. 1). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

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