Why do people take pills for the Stirrings in Jonas' community in The Giver?

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gmuss25 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Jonas explains his odd dream to his parents in Chapter 5. Jonas tells his parents that in his dream, he was in the bathing room at the House of the Old with Fiona and he became angry when she refused to get into the bathtub with him. Jonas has a hard time understanding why he felt angry when Fiona did not take him seriously during the dream and admits to his father that he had strong feelings of "wanting." After Jonas' father leaves with Lily, his mother explains to him that he is beginning to experience "Stirrings." She tells Jonas that it is perfectly natural to have Stirrings and Jonas remembers when the Speaker said, "ATTENTION. A REMINDER THAT STIRRINGS MUST BE REPORTED IN ORDER FOR TREATMENT TO TAKE PLACE." Jonas' mother then gives Jonas a pill which happens to be the same pill that she and her husband take each morning. The pills suppress sexual desires and censor the citizens' emotions. Jonas' society values conformity, equality, censorship, and compliance. Natural sexual emotions threaten to undermine the society's social structure, particularly the Matching of Spouses.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter Five of The Giver, the family discusses their dreams; normally, Jonas has none to tell about, but this day he relates a dream he has had in which he is at the House of the Old in the bathing room. In his dream, there is a tub and Jonas tries to convince Fiona to get into the tub.

...."She was laughing. But I wasn't. I was almost a little angry at her, in the dream, because she wasn't taking me seriously.....I was almost a little angry at her, in the dream, because she wasn't taking me seriously."

Further, Jonas tells his parents his strongest feeling; however, not understanding why his Mother responds that he must take a pill. Jonas does recalls that in the Book of Rules there is a reference to them. And, then, Jonas recalss that a voice over the loudspeaker saying that stirrings must be reported so that treatment can begin.  His mother tells Jonas that he must begin taking the pills for the Stirrings just as she and his father do. But, vaguely Jonas remembers that he enjoyed and the stirrings and wanted to feel the Stirrings again.

Of course, the "Stirrings" are sexual feelings that the Community wishes to control so that there is no trouble such as fighting among the males or jealousy among the girls. The society in which Jonas lives censors the thoughts and feelings of its inhabitants.

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