In The Giver, why does the community practice release?

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The Community has Release as part of its design to maintain a world that is always under control. 

This dystopian world controls the environment, people's thoughts, words, emotions, urges, and activities. The flaw in such control is that it is maintained partially through elimination. This elimination is given the euphemism "Release." 

Perhaps more than any other facet in the "Community," Release is the most unnatural. Despite the orderliness, the predictability, and the ease of life, there is much that is missing and imperfect in the lives of those who dwell in the world of young Jonas. The "release" of all the negatives in life diminishes the possibilities of a real life. Moreover, Release is actually a cruel method of controlling society. Individuals are killed if they do not meet the requirements of this severely structured society that relinquishes much in order to be stable.

In Chapter 19 Jonas witnesses his father "release" a baby by injecting something into a vein at the top of the newborn's forehead. "He killed it. My father killed it." Release is nothing more than execution.

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The community in which Jonas and the others lives is based upon sameness - all residents conform in all ways of life, thought, activity level, and everything else. The community can not and will not deal with individuals who break the rules or have exceptional needs or in some other way do not conform to the expectations of the group.

"Release" is the name for the process that eliminates nonconformist individuals from the community. In some cases, release is a beautiful thing. Larissa was greatly moved by the dignity and the serenity of Roberto's release celebration.

He just bowed to all of us and then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room. But you should have seen his look. Pure happiness, I’d call it.

Other releases are not for such tranquil reasons. The pilot of the jet that mistakenly flew over the community was released after his navigational error. Gabe was in danger of being released because he wasn't growing and maturing at the expected speed.

Release allowed the community to continue to function as it had chosen to do.

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In The Giver, what does released from the community mean?

In The Giver, the nature of release is something of a mystery for much of the story.  It is clearly something that is central to the community in the book, but we are never quite sure exactly what it is.

When we first hear about release, it is presented as a terrible punishment.  Right at the beginning of the book (I have this on Kindle and cannot give page numbers), a trainee pilot makes a mistake and we are told he will be released. The narrator says that being released

was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming statement of failure.

As the story goes on, we see that release is not always seen in this way.  Instead, we find that old people and newborns are sometimes released.  There is no disgrace in this.  For the old, release is accompanied by a ceremony and is seen as a joyful occasion.  At the very end of Chapter 4, we are told about an old man named Roberto being released.  Larissa, an old woman, does not know what happened to him when he was released, but he

bowed to all of us and then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room.

She continues, saying that he had a look of “pure joy” on his face as he went.

Later, about midway through Chapter 6, we get some new information.  We are told that

Those who were released — even as newchildren — were sent Elsewhere and never returned to the community.

Finally, a little way into Chapter 19, we find out what release really is.  Jonas’s father has to release a newchild.  Jonas is able to watch because he is with the Giver.  He sees that what really happens is that his father kills the baby with an injection.  At that point, we find out that a person who is released is actually killed.

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In The Giver, what does it mean when they say they are going to release someone?

To be released from society means to die or to kill yourself.

The children are corrected and scolded for telling some of their playmates that they should be released.  It was taken badly by the adults.

The adults know what the term "release" means, but the children do not know. The youngsters do not know what it means, but Jonas finds out what it means when he is learning the job of "keeper of memories".  He witnesses his father "releasing" one of two twins.  Jonas of course is mortified.

Later in the novel we learn that the current "keeper of memories" intended to pass the job on to his own son, but that son insisted upon being released before the job training was completed.

"What a world, what a world"

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In The Giver, what does it mean when they say they are going to release someone?

Being "released" means being euthanized, or death.  One way the society in which Jonas lives maintains their utopian status is by releasing anyone who might present a problem or complication.  The elderly are released, thereby preventing the emotional, societal and fiscal problems associated with illness.  Similarly, the weakest of infants are released when it becomes apparent that their health is going to be a continued problem.  Additionally, members who do not conform to the rules and expectations of the community are released, thereby preventing the complications that occur when people have differences of opinion or try to express individuality. 

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In The Giver, what does it mean they say they are going to release someone from the community?

When someone is released, there are two stories:  the community-based lie, and the truth.

The community makes its citizens believe that release means you are being let go.  They allow people to believe that when you are released, you simply leave the community and move to another community where you might fit in better than you have been in their community.  This is believed when someone chooses to be released as well as when someone is forced into it.

In reality, when Jonas becomes the Receiver, he is allowed to watch a video tape of a release.  He sees the release his dad performed on the twin baby.  Jonas's father had told him that the baby would be picked up by a resident of another community and taken to live there.  In reality, Jonas's father gave the infant a lethal injection and incinerated the corpse.  So release, then, is not a relocation; it is euthanasia.

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