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The rules and their purposes in Lois Lowry's The Giver


In Lois Lowry's The Giver, the rules are designed to maintain order, control, and sameness within the community. They regulate behavior, suppress emotions, and eliminate individuality to create a predictable and stable society. These rules are enforced to prevent chaos and ensure conformity, but they also strip citizens of their freedom and the richness of human experience.

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What are 15 rules in The Giver?

When Jonas becomes the Receiver of Memory, he receives eight rules that either free him from other community rules or confine him to following different ones that are specific to his calling. Jonas's rules are found in chapter nine and are paraphrased as follows:

1. Jonas is the only other person in the community allowed to go into the Annex except for the Giver himself and a receptionist.

2. Jonas must go home immediately after his training each day. This means he should not fraternize with friends after training—probably so he does not feel tempted to reveal what he has learned from the Giver.

3. Jonas is allowed to ask any question and receive any answer he wishes. This is different from the average citizen, who is not allowed to ask any question or demand an answer. 

3a. The second part to number 3 is that Jonas is exempt from rudeness. This corresponds with asking difficult questions, but it also relieves him from the strict rule of not being rude, as illustrated in his elementary school examples early on in the book.

4. While Jonas's friends can socialize after training each day and discuss their menial jobs, Jonas is not allowed to do so, because his work is classified.

5. This rule "prohibits" Jonas from telling his dreams to his parents, whereas others in the community are required to reveal their dreams in their family units as a way of controlling them. Jonas, however, is relieved from obeying this rule because as he gains more memories his dreams are more likely to reveal concepts and ideas that his parents and sibling will not understand. This could cause more confusion and chaos within the community.

6. Jonas cannot apply for medicine anymore because his new job requires him to feel pain for the community's sake. This is a great sacrifice for him and a difficult rule to follow after he experiences a broken bone from one of the memories.

7. This rule demands that Jonas cannot apply for release, which is basically suicide or death.

8. "You may lie" gives Jonas freedom to keep secrets and pain from others in the community, whereas everyone else must never lie. 

As shown above, there are at least eight rules that are used in order to maintain order within the community. This is different for Jonas once he becomes the Receiver. Other rules are detailed below:

1. Take your pills each day, so you will not fall in love with anyone in particular.

2. Do your job without question. For example, Jonas's father kills the smaller of twins without flinching because that is his job, and he is not allowed to ask questions.

3. Children are required to wear certain clothing during certain years of their early life.

4. Everyone must accept the job they are given at age twelve without question.

5. No one must leave the community's boundaries.

6. Everyone must use the proper word choice when communicating.

7. Everyone must appear at community events, which basically means everyone must conform to the rules and act like everyone else in the community.

Some rules are not stated, though, they just exist. For instance, when Jonas first goes to the Annex, he discovers that the Giver has locks on his door. No one else has locks on their doors; as a result, Jonas realizes that there are also unspoken rules that he has not noticed before. 

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What are 15 rules in The Giver?

There are many rules to be found in this novel, all intended for the good of the community and to keep order. For example,

1. Pilots must not fly over the community. 

2. If interruptions to the usual schedule are caused, a public apology must be made.  

3. Family units must share their feelings at night and their dreams in the morning. 

4. Each family unit may have two children, one female and one male. 

5. Children's names must remain secret until their naming ceremonies have happened. 

6. Children may not ride bikes until they are 9s.

7. Comfort objects are taken away at the ceremony of 8s.

8. Objects may not be removed from the recreation area.

9. Snacks may not be hoarded. 

10. Bragging and rudeness are not tolerated. 

11. Stirrings must be reported, so the treatment can take place.  

12. Members must not view each other naked. 

13. Doors may not be locked. 

14. Language must be precise.

15. Nobody may leave the community unless permitted expressly to do so. 

There are still more rules to be found here and there in the novel, but clearly, the purpose of these rules is to maintain order. 

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What are 15 rules in The Giver?

The community that Jonas lives in with his family has many rules.  The purpose of these rules is to maintain order and particular standards.  The people in the community are controlled by the many rules.  The following are some of those rules:

-  "Two children--one male, one female--to each family unit.  It was written very clearly in the rules" (The Giver, Chapter 1).

-  Children are not permitted to ride on bicycles until they become Nines (though this rule is usually broken).

-  Comfort objects must be surrendered when a child becomes an Eight.

-  Food is supposed to be consumed daily and not hoarded for future use.

-  Things cannot be removed from certain areas.  For example, nothing must be removed from areas of recreation.

-  One should not look at a child or adult while they are naked.

-  Medication must be taken to prevent the Stirrings.

-  Planes are not permitted to fly above the community.

-  No lying is permitted.

-  Bragging is not permitted.

-  No one may leave the community without permission.

-  Precision of language is a required skill.

-  Doors are not allowed to be locked.

-  Elevens are required to complete volunteer hours.

-  People who repeatedly break the rules in the community must be released.

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What are the main government rules in The Giver?

The main rule is that you never do anything to make anyone uncomfortable.

The community has many rules.  There is a rule governing almost all aspects of behavior.  All of the major rules have to do with making people conform.  This is known as Sameness.  Jonas describes the administration  of rules when his mother talks about her job in the Department of Justice.

Today a repeat offender had been brought before her, someone who had broken the rules before. Someone who she hoped had been adequately and fairly punished, and who had been restored to his place: to his job, his home, his family unit. (Ch. 1)

While it does not say what rules the man broke, he is in danger of being released if he breaks a third.  That means death by lethal injection.  Jonas and his mother do not know this, because no one in the community knows what release really means.

The community also has strict rules about how many children a family can have.  They can only have one boy and one girl.  The children are given to them by the community.  Teens are not allowed to go through puberty.  All teens and adults take pills for Stirrings, or hormones.

Stirrings. He had heard the word before. He remembered that there was a reference to the Stirrings in the Book of Rules, though he didn't remember what it said. And now and then the Speaker mentioned it. (Ch. 5)

The Stirrings pills rule is probably one of the most important ones in the community, because it prevents people from developing strong feelings.  The pills keep everyone under control.  They help keep the community free of emotions. 

The community's goal with Sameness is to make sure that everyone is completely calm.  Anything that might upset someone, whether language or actions, is not allowed.  This is why they kill one of the twins when identical twins are born.  Sameness is preferred, but identical is confusing and uncomfortable.

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What are the reasons for the rules in The Giver?

The answer to this question could go two ways, so I'll attempt to answer both.

In general, the reasons behind each rule are the same. Rules are a very important part of the society in The Giver. To the members of the society, rules are good because they make life manageable. Everything is neat and orderly. The rules make life predictable and simple, which is what the people wanted when they adopted the Sameness. Of course The Giver is a dystopian story. The society might like the rules, but readers come to see the rules as devices that take away any individuality and freedom of choice. No matter what the rule is, it still functions to limit a person, a family, and/or the society in some way.

The question might be asking for a brief explanation of each rule in the book. There are a lot of rules in Jonas's society, so here are a few rules with some possible explanations for why that particular rule exists.

  • Families are limited to four people: a mother, father, son, and daughter. This rule serves two functions. First, it serves as population control. Two parents that eventually die are replaced by two children. The population size neither grows nor shrinks. Second, the rule ensures a gender-equal society. There should be the same number of men and women in the society.
  • Fighting and lying are prohibited. This rule helps maintain peace and order.
  • Strong feelings are not to be experienced. This helps maintain the Sameness.
  • Modesty is to be maintained at all times. Nakedness is forbidden for everybody except the very young and very old. This rule is likely there to help control the Stirrings.
  • Adolescents are required to report when the Stirrings begin and then take medication for it. This rule is tied to the rule about not being allowed to have strong feelings.
  • Each family member must share his/her dreams in the morning and share their feelings in the evening. This rule sounds like it exists to encourage family bonding; however, it is more likely that the rule is there so each family can monitor whether or not any of its members are becoming abnormally emotional.
  • Children's comfort objects are taken away at age 8. This is probably to help the child realize that they are getting closer to being a contributing member of society. This rule can be seen as a form of oppression: what the child wants or feels is irrelevant.
  • Objects cannot be removed from designated areas. This rule sounds like it helps people not misplace or lose objects. On the surface, it seems like a simple, non-invasive rule. However, this rule also sounds like a rule that helps keep everything in its place. That's what all of these rules are geared to do: keep people in their place.
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What are Jonas's rules in The Giver?

The answer to your question can be found in chapter nine of The Giver. The rules which Jonas is given adds to his feeling that he is now on his own, separated from his peers by the job that he has been given. The rules that Jonas is given are printed on a single sheet of paper. There are eight rules.

As the incumbent Receiver of Memory, he is required to present himself to the attendant behind the House of the Old after school hours every day. His whereabouts are further governed by the second rule, which states that he must go home at the end of training hours each day.

The third rule relates to social protocols, and grants Jonas permission to ask any citizen any question that he likes and be sure of receiving an answer. He is instructed that he may not talk about his training with any community member, including his family. In addition, he will no longer participate in the tradition of dream-telling.

Jonas is also forbidden from applying for any medication to help with the pain that will be part and parcel of his training. Finally, and most surprisingly to Jonas, the new rules applicable to him allow him to lie.

After reading these rules, Jonas is faced with the realization that his childhood is gone, and with it, his freedom.

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What are Jonas's rules in The Giver?

After Jonas is selected to be the community's next Receiver of Memory, he experiences a feeling of separateness from his peers and family, which he finds uncomfortable and awkward. Later that night, Jonas opens his folder and begins reading his rules. The first rule requires Jonas to go immediately to the Annex after school and present himself to the attendant. Jonas is also required to go immediately to his dwelling following his training sessions. Jonas is also exempt from every rule governing rudeness and is given the special privilege of asking any questions to anyone in the community. This rule startles Jonas but in no way compels him to act rudely towards others.

Jonas is also prohibited from discussing his training with anyone in the community or participating in the routine dream-telling ritual. These rules enhance Jonas's feelings of isolation, but he is not concerned about dream-telling because he barely dreams on a regular basis. The sixth rule prohibits Jonas from taking any medication related to pain or injuries he suffers during his training sessions. This rule is particularly unsettling considering the fact that Jonas will endure unimaginable pain during his training. Jonas is also prohibited from applying for release, and the final rule gives him permission to lie. Jonas finds the final rule perplexing and questions if every adult in the community has been given permission to lie.

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What are Jonas's rules in The Giver?

At the beginning of Chapter 9, Jonas reads the instructions for his given Assignment. When Jonas opens his Assignment folder, he reads the following rules listed for the position of Receiver of Memory.

  1. Jonas must go immediately to the Annex after school, which is located behind the House of the Old.
  2. Jonas must go immediately to his dwelling each day after completing the required Training Hours.
  3. Jonas is exempt from the rules regarding rudeness. He is also given the authority to question any citizens.
  4. Jonas is not allowed to discuss his training with anyone in the community, including his parents and Elders.
  5. Jonas is not allowed to tell any of his dreams.
  6. Jonas is not allowed to take any medication for pain or injuries associated with his training. He is only allowed to take medication for injuries or pain unrelated to his training.
  7. Jonas is not permitted to apply for release.
  8. Jonas is given permission to lie.

Jonas is shocked and disturbed after reading the rules for his Assignment. Jonas has a difficult time grasping the reality that he cannot take medication to ease the pain related to his training, as well as the fact that he is allowed to lie.

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What are Jonas's rules in The Giver?

Jonas's rules are found in Chapter 9. His first rule tells him to report to the Annex entrance behind the house of the old each day.

His second rule tells him to go home after training each day.

His third tells him that he is exempt from rudeness and that he may ask questions and get answers from anyone. This rule is shocking because no one in the community is free to ask rude questions.

His fourth rule instructs him not to discuss his training.

His fifth rule prohibits him from dream-telling, which is also a surprise, because telling and analyzing dreams is a routine that every family in the community does together.

The sixth rule tells him not to ever apply for medication unless it is unrelated to his job. This is a heads-up that his job might be painful, and he will not be allowed to take medicine for it.

The seventh rule says that he is not allowed to apply for release. This does not bother Jonas, as he cannot fathom ever wanting to apply for release anyway.

The last rule is the most unnerving, though: "You may lie." No one in the community was EVER allowed to lie. This makes Jonas wonder, however, how many other people received this same rule, and how many people did actually lie.

Many of these rules shatter some illusions Jonas has about the community, and it is clear that his job will not be anything he might expect.

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What was Jonas' 8th rule on his list of rules in The Giver?

Jonas receives a set of rules along with his new job appointment. Jonas' 8th rule is "You may lie." This is an earth-shattering rule to him, as no one in the community is supposed to be allowed to lie. The community if very clear on communication and people even report their dreams to each other. This rule also serves as a catalyst to his questioning of the community, because if he is allowed to lie, he wonders how many other people received that same rule, that they were allowed to lie, "What if others -- adults --had, upon becoming Twelves, received in their instructions the same terrifying sentence?" (Chapter 9). Jonas realizes he would never have any way of knowing if anyone else in the community is allowed to lie.

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What are Jonas's rules in The Giver?

In chapter 9, Jonas reads the rules for his Assignment, which exempt him asking rude questions, prohibit him from taking medications related to pain experienced during training sessions, and prohibit him from dream-telling. While Jonas is startled by the rule regarding pain medication, he is particularly astonished and perplexed by the eighth rule, which gives him permission to lie. Ever since Jonas was a child, lying was strictly forbidden. Jonas even remembers being chastised as a child for saying that he was starving prior to a midday meal. After reading the eighth rule, Jonas becomes unnerved as he wonders if all adults were given permission to lie at the age of twelve. If this is the case, Jonas realizes that every adult, including his parents, could be lying to him on a daily basis. Jonas struggles to understand whether or not adults have been lying to him his entire life and contemplates asking them if they have lied. Overall, Jonas is frightened, unnerved, and perplexed after reading the eighth rule of his Assignment.

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What rules does the community have in Lois Lowry's The Giver?

The Giver by Lois Lowry is about a dystopian future society that is governed by an extensive and strict set of rules. For instance, “it was against the rules for Pilots to fly over the community.” There are also rules against nudity: “And the nakedness, too. It was against the rules for children or adults to look at another’s nakedness; but the rule did not apply to newchildren or the Old.” There are even “rules governing rudeness.”

The rules dictate how one person interacts with others, both in public and within the family unit, and even how families are formed. For instance, within this society, couples no longer marry and bear children together. Children are essentially bred by a group of underclass women whose job is solely to reproduce. The protagonist of the book, Jonas, thinks about the rules and the punishment of release. Lowry writes,

One night at the dinner table, Jonas’ sister Lily recounts her dream, “in which she had, against the rules, been riding her mother’s bicycle and been caught by the Security Guards.”

The family is concerned for Lily. Their mother is intimately involved with the punishments for people who break the rules. Lowry writes,

Next, Mother, who held a prominent position at the Department of Justice, talked about her feelings. Today a repeat offender had been brought before her, someone who had broken the rules before. Someone who she hoped had been adequately and fairly punished, and who had been restored to his place: to his job, his home, his family unit. To see him brought before her a second time caused her overwhelming feelings of frustration and anger. And even guilt, that she hadn’t made a difference in his life.

“I feel frightened, too, for him,” she confessed. “You know that there’s no third chance. The rules say that if there’s a third transgression, he simply has to be released.” Jonas shivered. He knew it happened. There was even a boy in his group of Elevens whose father had been released years before. No one ever mentioned it; the disgrace was unspeakable. It was hard to imagine.“

There were only two occasions of release which were not punishment. Release of the elderly, which was a time of celebration for a life well and fully lived; and release of a newchild, which always brought a sense of what-could-we- have-done. This was especially troubling for the Nurturers, like Father, who felt they had failed somehow. But it happened very rarely.

Moreover, it is difficult to change the rules. As Jonas notes,

Rules were very hard to change. Sometimes, if it was a very important rule — unlike the one governing the age for bicycles — it would have to go, eventually, to The Receiver for a decision. The Receiver was the most important Elder.

People also do not really recognize what it means to face the consequence of "release." Over the course of the novel, Jonas begins to recognize how harsh the rules are. He realizes how constraining the society is and how it essentially eliminates human individuality.

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What rules does the community have in Lois Lowry's The Giver?

There are quite a few rules that govern Jonas's society. Those rules have been created by the elders. The rules have been placed on the people to ensure that society runs smoothly and that everybody behaves in a way that is both respectful and beneficial to the community. Any people that break the rules are punished, and repeat rule breakers are eventually "released" from the community:

"The rules say that if there's a third transgression, he simply has to be released." Jonas shivered. He knew it happened. There was even a boy in his group of Elevens whose father had been released years before. No one ever mentioned it; the disgrace was unspeakable.

Most of the rules are either about how a person should act or speak. The following are some examples.  

  1. A person is not allowed to see another person naked. If you do, you have to apologize.  
  2. People must speak to each other kindly and with respect. You are not allowed to offend anybody.
  3. There can only be four members in a family. A mother, father, son, and daughter is the rule.
  4. Children are allowed to ride bicycles after turning age nine.
  5. You must eat your snack at the assigned time and not take it home for later.
  6. Each person must complete a certain number of volunteer hours before age 12.
  7. Objects/toys cannot be removed from their designated area.
  8. Once a person begins feeling the "stirrings," he or she must begin taking medication to reduce sexual urges.
  9. Spouses are chosen for people.
  10. Certain clothing is required to be worn at certain ages.
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What rules does the community have in Lois Lowry's The Giver?

The community of The Giver, like other communities that attempt utopia, has many rules in its efforts to attain peace and harmony. Indeed, there is much regimentation of behavior and subjugation of thoughts and emotions. Here is a list of the regulations of the community:

  1. "Pilots cannot fly over the community," Jonas hears announced in Chapter 1. When they do, they are "released."
  2. Members of the community must adhere to the rules of his/her age group or job.
  3. Each person in a family must share his/her dreams in the morning, and in the evening, his/her feelings of the day. "It was one of the rituals, the evening telling of feelings." Lily tells of being "angry," but her father mollifies her feelings since no strong emotions are permitted.
  4. There can only be four members to a family: father, mother, son, daughter.
  5. No one is supposed to have strong feelings.
  6. In December, the Ceremony is held and the different age groups then advance a year. Also, there are changes made; for example, the Nines get bicycles and the girls no longer have to wear braids. The Elevens receive their life Assignments.
  7. There is no fighting or lying.
  8. Objects cannot be removed from designated areas. One day Jonas takes an apple out of the recreation area and an announcement is made; therefore, he must throw away the apple and apologize to the Recreation Director.
  9. There must be respect for elders.
  10. People must remain in their assigned positions.
  11. People must remain with their assigned partners.
  12. People who are in puberty or older must ingest pills for "stirrings."
  13. No one must look at anyone in the nude except old people or babies, for whom they are caring
  14. Members of the community are also not allowed to leave the community.
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What are the rules in "The Giver"?

There are a plethora of rules that Jonas and the other citizens must follow. Again, page numbers will vary given the edition of the book that you're looking at so the rules will be listed by chapter:

Chapter One

  1. Pilots cannot fly over the community.
  2. A public apology must be issued if a disruption is caused to the normal, everyday schedule.
  3. Family must have two "tellings": Telling of feelings at night and sharing of dreams in the morning.
  4. Precision of language must be used at all times
  5. Each family unit may only have two children, one boy and one girl.
  6. The third time someone breaks a rule, they will be released to Elsewhere.
  7. You cannot have strong feelings; you must rationalize your feelings.
  8. Those who cannot perform as they should are released.
  9. Children are grouped according to their age.

Chapter Two

  1. The names of new children must be kept secret until the Naming ceremony.
  2. Children are not allowed to ride bikes before they become nines.
  3. Children cannot have comfort objects once they become eights.
  4. All ceremonies take place in December.
  5. The rules are decided by the Elders.
  6. The Ceremony of twelve is when everyone learns of their profession.

Chapter Three

  1. Objects cannot be removed from the recreation area.
  2. Snacks cannot be hoarded.
  3. Girls under nine must keep their hair tied in ribbons at all times.

Chapter Four

  1. You cannot brag.
  2. You cannot be rude.
  3. Community members cannot look upon one another's nakedness.
  4. To receive assignment as a twelve, one must complete all volunteer hours.
  5. Eights have the freedom of choice and begin their volunteer hours.
  6. Birthmothers must bear children for three years. They can't see the children they give birth to. After the three years, they have to work in physical labor until they're released.
  7. Children cannot attend ceremonies of release.

Chapter Five

  1. Stirrings must be reported so treatment can be given.

Chapter Six

  1. Children must wear coats with buttons on the back before they are sevens.
  2. If you aren't healthy or grown enough as an infant, you're released from the community.
  3. You cannot get emotionally attached to a child
  4. Tens get haircuts.
  5. Elevens get new clothes.
  6. If you don't like your assigned job you can apply to go to Elsewhere.

Chapter Seven

  1. During the ceremony of twelves, everyone must line up in the order of the numbers they were given at birth.

Chapter Eight

  1. The community only has one Receiver at a time.
  2. The current Receiver trains his replacement.

Chapter Nine

  1. The failed Receiver's name can never be spoken in the community or used for a baby.
  2. Only the Receiver and Receiver in trainer are exempt from the rule of Rudeness and can ask anyone any questions they want.
  3. Jonas cannot share his training with anyone or share his dreams anymore.
  4. Jonas can't apply for medication if he is injured while training.
  5. Jonas can't asked to be released.
  6. Jonas is allowed to lie.

Chapter Ten

  1. All doors in the community cannot have locks except for The Giver's home.

Chapter Thirteen

  1. Jonas may apply for a spouse but he must hide things like books from his family.
  2. You cannot touch another community member.

Chapter Fourteen

  1. Jonas cannot share or transmit his memories with anyone but the Giver.

Chapter Eighteen

  1. Jonas cannot asked to be released as the Receiver.

Chapter Nineteen

  1. All ceremonies are recorded in the Hall of Records.
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What are the rules in "The Giver"?

The page numbers that the rules are located on are going to vary depending upon the copy/edition of the book which you own. Thus, to make this answer as consistent as possible, I will provide an outline of the rules according to the chapter that they take place in:

Chapter 1:

  • Planes may not fly over the Community. 
  • Precision of language must be used to prevent any sort of confusion. It is necessary to say exactly what one means.
  • Every family unit must have two children (one male, one female).
  • The third time someone violates a rule, he or she will be brought before the Department of Justice and released from the Community.

Chapter 2:

  • The Naming List, which lists out the names of the new children in the Community, is to be kept secret. 
  • Bicycle riding is not permitted until one becomes a Nine. 
  • Comfort objects are to be confiscated when one become an Eight.

Chapter 3:

  • Objects are not to be removed or taken home from the Recreational Center.

Chapter 4:

  • One should not brag about one's own accomplishments.
  • Volunteer hours must be completed in order to receive one's assignment as a Twelve.
  • Eights are given the freedom of choice. 
  • Members of the Community may not look at each other naked, with the exception being the elderly and new children.

Chapter 5:

  • Stirrings are to be treated with the consumption of morning medicine, and Stirrings are to be reported so that treatment may take place.

Chapter 6:

  • Fours, Fives, and Sixes are to wear jackets that button in the back.
  • Sevens are to wear jackets that button in the front.
  • Elevens are to transition into clothing appropriate for their adolescent bodies.
  • One may, technically speaking, request to be released to go Elsewhere.

Chapter 10:

  • Doors must not be locked within the Community (with the exception of The Giver's door).
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What are the rules in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

In Jonas's highly-structured and organized society, citizens must follow the strict rules and regulations in order to avoid being released after three transgressions. Some of the rules and regulations of Jonas's community are as follows:

  • Citizens must use specific, accurate language whenever they speak.
  • Citizens are not allowed to tell lies or exaggerate.
  • Citizens are not allowed to hoard food by taking edible items from the recreation area.
  • Citizens are not allowed to leave the community without permission.
  • Citizens must park their bikes in the proper locations and cannot leave them lying in the yard.
  • Citizens are required to take pills to repress their sexual desire whenever they hit puberty.
  • Citizens are required to excel in their occupations, which are specifically chosen for them by the Committee of Elders.
  • Citizens must honor the Committee of Elders' decisions regarding their spouses and occupations.
  • Citizens must wear certain attire at specific ages before they turn twelve years old.
  • Citizens are forbidden from entering the Annex, which is where the Giver resides. The one exception is Jonas, who is the community's Receiver of Memory.
  • Jet pilots must avoid flying over the community.
  • Citizens are required to obey any directive given by the Speaker.
  • Citizens are required to attend the annual ceremonies.
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What are the rules in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

In an attempt to maintain peace and tranquility, the society portrayed in The Giver acknowledges that there is a necessity for pain and suffering, but all of this is placed in the memory of one chosen member of the community so all the others can live in optimum conditions. The rules of the society are constructed to ensure that everyone remains content.

  • People must be careful with words, selecting innocuous ones that will not offend or hurt anyone's feelings.
  • People must accept the spouse that is chosen for them.
  • People must accept the positions/roles in life that are given to them.
  • Each age group must wear their hair a certain way.
  • Each age group has a birthday that is recognized at the same time.
  • Each age group must do activities that are selected for their group.
  • Each person is assigned a role in the Community.
  • The authority of the Elders must not be questioned.
  • The individuals will be released when they age and become incapacitated or become infected.
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What are some structural guidelines in the society depicted in The Giver?

The society has many structural guidelines because it is an attempt to build a utopia - that is, a perfect society - by controlling all natural human tendencies.  The result is a soulless, totalitarian society. 

Three major areas that totalitarian/utopian governments usually attempt to control are sex, family, and individual liberty.  These three areas cause a lot of trouble in ordinary human society, so they are a natural target for anyone trying to build a utopia.  

In The Giver, the instinct for sex/romantic love is suppressed with the use of pills.  As soon as preteens or teens feel "the stirrings," as they are called (the beginning of interest in the opposite sex), they are to report them, and then they are given pills that suppress the stirrings. 

Families are chosen by the leaders.  Each family has a father, a mother, and children, but they are not biologically related to one another.  Children are borne by birth mothers (also specially selected for that role), then assigned to families.  "The Old" live not with their grown children (who would not really be theirs anyway), but in a special home for old people. 

The idea that suppressing natural family bonds will lead to harmony in society is a very old one.  Plato floated it in his Republic.  In The Giver, putting this idea into practice leads to dull, grey, loveless "families."  These families are not completely without affection, but the father and mother are not sexual partners, and the mothers did not actually give birth to the children they raise.  Even asking about "love" is viewed as using "imprecise language."  

Individual liberty is also basically nonexistent in the society of The Giver.  Children are assigned a vocation - a lifetime career - when they turn 12, based on the leaders' observations of their gifts.  They are assigned their family, their clothes, and so on.  At the beginning of Chapter 13, Jonas expresses to The Giver the reason for this:

"We don't dare let people make choices of their own."

"Not safe?" The Giver suggested.

"Definitely not safe," said Jonas with certainty.  What if they were allowed to choose their own mate?  And chose wrong? Or what if," he went on, almost laughing at the absurdity, they chose their own jobs?

"Frightening, isn't it?" The Giver said.

Jonas chuckled.  "Very frightening.  I can't even imagine it.  We really have to protect people from wrong choices."

In the end, even life and death are controlled in the society of The Giver.  Babies are euthanized if they don't gain weight fast enough (or are the smaller of a set of twins).  It turns out that the quest to make things perfect for people often leads to killing quite a few of them. 

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What are the community rules in The Giver and how do they structure life?

The society of The Giver is one that values sameness above individuality, emotions are controlled, and memories of the past are eliminated. There are rigid parameters for this community and rules for behavior.

1. Every December all the children born in the previous year are given their first birthday and made One. There are fifty in the group, if none have been released. Children who do not sleep through the night by age 2 are released.
2. Husbands and wives are assigned their children.
3. Parents are allowed two children; these children are not born of them, but are "acquired." The names of these children are also assigned from a list compiled for the Ceremony of Ones.
4. At the age of Three, children begin to describe their dreams to their families, and they begin the acquisition of the appropriate language of the community.
5. At the ages of Four to Six, children wear jackets that are buttoned in the back so that they learn the interdependence of the community.
6. At the age of Seven, children wear front buttoned jackets as symbolic of growing independence.
7.  At the age of Eight, all the children are no longer allowed a Comfort Object. If they have one that they take to bed; it is taken from them. They also begin their volunteer work.
8. At the age of Nine, girls may no longer wear hair ribbons.
9. At the age of Ten, girls no longer wear their hair in braids; boys have their hair cut shorter.
10. At the age of Twelve, children are assigned their life's vocation to which they must not object.
11. Girls who are selected as Birthmothers have three births, then they are made Laborers for the rest of their lives. 
12. No strong emotion must be expressed. Euphemistic language must be used
13. If someone does something that is against the rules, such as hurting another's feelings, he/she must apologize.
14. Rules must always be followed
15. If people disobey the rules of their society for three times, they are released.
16. Natural sexual urges are forbidden. At puberty children are given pills that control their hormonal urges.
17. It is forbidden to look upon another person's nakedness.
18. There are boundaries to the community that must not be crossed.
19. If anyone sees a jet flying overhead, he/she must run for cover and hide.
20. A person called the Giver holds the memories of the history of the community and of the feelings and conditions that have been eliminated in the society.

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