The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

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Why was the term "stirrings" chosen by the committee used to describe the wanting and sexual desires that Jonas felt in the dream, this state of growth?

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In The Giver (Lowry), the Elders use euphemisms to deal with the aspects of life that they seek to control.  Death becomes "release," for instance, and sexual desire becomes "stirrings." The Elders do not want the people in the community to have sex, and so they rename it and repress desire with drugs.  We think that if we do not call something by its proper name, we can somehow make it go away or at least ignore its implications. This is the reason we refer to white meat and dark meat on a turkey, because people did not want to refer to a breast or a thigh.  This is the reason some people think that sex education for young people is a bad idea.  To call a healthy and natural part of human life "stirrings" is to disguise it, to trivialize its power, and to control it better.  This effort on the part of the Elders is quite successful. There is no indication in the story that anyone ever has sex, and babies are produced in some way that avoids this, perhaps with Birthmothers' eggs fertilized and implanted back in them. This is speculation, though, since the book is never clear on how those babies do get produced. 

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