“The Giver” is a novel by Lois Lowry in which Jonas, a twelve year old boy dwells in a futuristic society in which pain, sorrow or conflict is non-existence. Up until the age of twelve, Jonas apparently led a quiet and ordinary life, even though regulated. Jonas is fortunate to be living with both parents, a mother employed at the Department of Justice as well as a father, employed as a Nurturer (Lowly 1993, p.8).
Apart from sporadic squabbles with his younger sister, Jonas seems to be living in a perfect world. His life however takes a new turn the moment the community’s rulers select him to be the Receiver of Memory, which gives him the task of storing all the past memories before Sameness, incase they are ever required to assist in making critical decisions that others are deficient in experience to make (Lowly 1993, p. 14-15).
After being selected by the community’s rulers as the Receiver of Memories, the young boy starts to find out how people used to live in the past, where pain, love, hunger, as well as happiness were the order of the day. He then makes a decision that the society is worthless, and decides to sacrifice himself in order to allow the community to familiarize itself with the attainment of a life rich in color, snow and love. Throughout the story, the striking thing that is revealed is that in as much as humanity may try to get rid of the awful things, other good things are also lost even as the bad are eradicated. Consequently, it becomes very difficult to achieve the perfection many strive to accomplish.
At some point, Jonas finds out about snow as a result of a ride which he receives in reminiscence. What he fails to understand, is why such a magnificent incident is held in reserve from the society at large. The Giver tells Jonas that as a result of snow, it was not easy to grow food, with travelling being made very difficult (Lowly 1993, p. 97). During the snowy days, the normal day to day activities were very hard to accomplish. However, when the snowfall was stopped by climate control, the community had to miss the mysterious pieces of snow. This is basically due to the fact that for the society to get anywhere near flawlessness, something exhilarating and extraordinary had to be taken away from them.
The community in which Jonas dwells in is also clueless when it comes to the aspect of color (Lowly 1993, p.97). There are no colors in sight, and it is for this reason that Jonas wants the colors in order to allow all and sundry to have the opportunity of seeing them. For instance, envisage a situation in which the skies are colorless grey instead of being blue. Or even the sunflower being without its jolly yellow petals. In as much as the aspect of color may give the impression of an undamaging satisfaction, humanity has been at loggerheads with itself over colors since time immemorial.
Apparently, these color wars are still happening in some places. So the moment the society decided to do away with color, other challenges were also disposed of. This included the prejudice that comes with color of skin. In many ways, humanity is far from perfect when people clash as a result of differences in skin color. However, the world is still as imperfect when it lacks the splendor of color. Consequently, realizing a world-wide precision is unattainable.
One of the emotions that is completely strange to Jonas is love. No wonder at his first experience of love, he comes to a decision that love is the best sensation all over the world. This is because love makes him get the feeling of completion (Lowly 1993, p.126). In as much as it is definitely great to love somebody, there are issues that come with it. For instance, the aspect of life also comes with death, with death bringing about sorrow.
This implies that whenever people are not able to love, to become sensitively close to other things, then losing them would not be so upsetting. This means that the moment the community did away with love; anguish as well as misery were made to fade away. So, how would the world look like in the absence of love? Of course, this is far from perfection. This basically means that if people are not able to withstand an unpleasant thing, they ought not to do away with something truly attractive and valuable.
Eventually, Jonas comes to discover that even though his community may look like it is perfect at the first glance, there are so many things that it lacks, yet some of these things make life very special. This basically implies that when bad things like war, pain, as well as sorrow are all gotten rid of, they also go away with the precious things like love, snow and color. As a matter of fact, the elimination of negative things results in other wonderful things being sacrificed. Consequently, it becomes almost impractical to attain flawlessness.
In spite of the controversies it faced initially, “The Giver” is in essence one of the most admired books especially for young adults today. The book comes up even in college-level philosophy as well as classes involving political science. By and large, clear answers are given regarding intricate issues like individuality, freedom, life choices and the like. Throughout the pages of the book, a lot is taught about contentment, as well as the aspect of appreciating life, with its imperfections.
- Lowry, L. (1993). The Giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.