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Last Updated on September 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 561

So you’re going to teach Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, The Giver has been a mainstay of English classrooms for a generation. While it has its challenges—an unsettling atmosphere, depictions of death, sources of ambiguity—teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. Studying The Giver will give them unique insight into familial love and personal freedom, as well as themes exploring the nature of empathy, the discovery of self, and the compromises individuals make to be part of society. This guide highlights some of the most salient aspects of the text before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 1993 
  • Recommended Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Approximate Word Count: 60,000
  • Author: Lois Lowry
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction 
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Conflict: Person vs. Person, Person vs. Society, Person vs. Self
  • Narration: Third-Person Limited
  • Setting: Unnamed Authoritarian Society in the Future.
  • Structure: Prose Novel
  • Dominant Literary Devices: Situational Irony
  • Tone: Simple, Direct, Reflective

Texts That Go Well With The Giver

1984, by George Orwell, explores a dystopian post-World War II world in which the citizenry is constantly surveilled and controlled by an authoritarian government. Protagonist Winston Smith takes part in resisting the government, falling in love with a woman at work who comes to share his views. The two are betrayed by an informant, turned into the government, tortured, and converted into loyal citizens of the status quo. 

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, is a dystopian novel set in an advanced society in the future known as the World State, where humans are indoctrinated, anesthetized, and even bred by the central government. When protagonist Bernard travels to a reservation that lies outside of the World State, he experiments with bringing its inhabitants to the tightly controlled world he knows. Many find this novel particularly relevant in the modern era, when prescription drug use is on the rise and technology plays an increasing role in daily life and governance. 

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is set in a dystopian nation where the government mandates a yearly, winner-take-all, competition to the death among representatives from each district. When her young sister is selected as the female representative from her district, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to fight. Similar to Jonas in The Giver, Katniss risks her own survival for the good of her family and community. 

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, is a work of historical fiction set in Copenhagen, Denmark, during World War II. The protagonist is a ten-year-old girl whose family hides and helps her best friend resist and survive the Holocaust. Number the Stars was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1990. 

“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, is an exploration of social structures in a dystopian setting. Though Le Guin initially describes a peaceful community in the midst of celebration, she goes on to reveal the individual on the lowest rung of society: an isolated, innocent, enfeebled child, whose individual happiness has been sacrificed for the good of the society at large. A work of social philosophy, the story asks readers to question the moral compromises they are willing to make in order to enjoy the benefits of the social order.

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Key Plot Points