In The Giver, why are twins unacceptable in the community?

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Twins are not allowed in The Giver because, apparently, having identical people would be confusing. Because of this, when twins are born, they are weighed, and then the smaller one is “released,” a euphemism for being killed by lethal injection. The stronger twin is allowed to survive in an attempt to ensure the continued strength of the species.

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Twins are not acceptable in the community because having identical people would be confusing.

In The Giver, when identical twins are born, they are weighed and the smaller one is released.  Release is a euphemism for euthanasia, which means that one of the twins is killed by lethal injection.  Release is very common in the community.  There are three reasons for release: punishment, the elderly, and newchildren.

When Jonas comments to The Giver that the newborn twin is going to be released, he does not expect Gandalf’s reaction.

"I wish they wouldn't do that," he said quietly, almost to himself.

"Well, they can't have two identical people around! Think how confusing it would be!" Jonas chuckled. (p. 19)

Jonas explains why, but his explanation does not satisfy The Giver.  He needs to show Jonas the release.  He wants to see one, and it is not at all what he expects.  He thinks that his father will make the twin clean and comfy and then the baby will go to live and grow up in elsewhere.  He has no idea that his father is a murderer.

The murder of the innocent baby is the climax of the book, and it is an emotional event for Jonas.  His world comes crashing down on him.  He falls apart.  He cannot go home.  He cries, and he is angry and frustrated.  He and The Giver make a plan then and there that Jonas should leave, and release the memories to the community.  The Giver explains that his father killed the baby because he doesn’t know better.  The people know nothing.

"I said it because it's true. It's the way they live. It's the life that was created for them. It's the same life that you would have, if you had not been chosen as my successor." (Ch. 20)

The only way to change this is to release the memories back to them.  Jonas is the only one who can do that, by leaving.  This careful plan goes awry though, when Gabe is scheduled to be released, and Jonas has to escape early.

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Why aren't twins acceptable in the community in The Giver?

Twins are not allowed because having two identical people walking around would be confusing.  The babies are weighed as soon as they are born, and the lighter one is euthanized (“released”).

In The Giver, everything is tightly controlled.  The Community is ruled by a concept named Sameness, which basically means that everyone is the same.  Choices are made for people.  The goal is to ensure that no one is uncomfortable.  For a person to be uncomfortable is a terrible thing in the community.

"Well, they can't have two identical people around! Think how confusing it would be!" Jonas chuckled. (ch 19, p. 146).

The smaller twin is released, which means that it is euthanized by lethal injection.

I'll have to select the one to be nurtured, and the one to be released. It's usually not hard, though. Usually it's just a matter of birthweight. We release the smaller of the two." (ch 15, p. 114)

When Jonas finds out what release really means, he is horrified.  He cannot believe his father would kill an innocent newborn.  As a result, he decides to leave the community, returning the memories to the people and ending sameness.

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

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Why are twins not allowed in The Giver?

The dystopian society depicted in The Giver has a disturbing convention whereby certain newborn babies, along with the elderly, are “released.” Release is a euphemism for euthanasia, or killing. It is a fate routinely meted out to those deemed not to fit into the dystopian society in which Jonas has the profound misfortune to live.

As well as elderly people, the weaker child of a set of twins is also targeted for state-sanctioned murder. When Jonas tells the Giver that a newborn twin is going to be “released,” the Giver says that he wishes they wouldn't do that. In an astonishing reply, Jonas says that one cannot have two identical people around, as it would be confusing. He chuckles, an unsettling indication that he doesn't yet understand what “release” truly means. Soon, Jonas will come to realize just how wrong the community’s practices are, but for now, he has little reason to doubt them.

As readers see, not every twin is marked for death. It's only the weaker of the two that is to be released. This is why newborn twins are always weighed before one of them is sentenced to death by lethal injection. Although society may not wish to be confused by the presence of twins, it does at least wish to have a fine stock of healthy specimens—and so the stronger twin must be allowed to survive for the good of the species.

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Why are twins not acceptable in the community of The Giver?

Although everyone in the community is the same, and sameness is a high priority, the people are not EXACTLY the same.  There are no identical twins.  If a set of identifical twins is born, they are weighed and whichever twin weighs less is released.  We first learn about the release of identical twins in chapter 14, when Jonas's father says he has to release one of a set of twin boys once they are born.

When Jonas requests to view the release in chapter 19, he comments on why there can't be identical twins.  The Giver says he wishes they would not release one, and Jonas replies:

"Well, they can't have two identical people around!  Think how confusing it would be!" Jonas chuckled.

Confusion and discomfort are to be avoided at all costs.  Lily’s story in chapter 14 is an example of the community’s reaction to identical twins.

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