oice Making Plays
Lois Lowrys The Giver: A Study of the Importance Choice Making Plays
in the Ultimate Happiness of an Individual
Lois Lowrys Newbery Award winning piece, The Giver, takes place in a futuristic society based on the concept of sameness. A life lacking colors, smells, feelings, music or choices, 12-year-old Jonas discovers, is not a desirable way to live.
In the novel he expresses his frustration in the quote if everythings the same then there arent any choices. I want to wake up in the mornings and decide things,(97). Jonas is selected by the community to be the new Receiver of Memory, to hold all feelings and memories that could ultimately destroy sameness and harmony.
Jonas comes to realize that although the community harbors an apparent security and peacefulness, it deprives its people of the joy of individuality. Jonas therefore embarks on a mission with the Giver, the old receiver of memory, to restore all that has been lost to the community. According to Lowry herself, The Giver explores the importance of making courageous moral choices(4). Lois Lowrys powerful words and thought provoking ideas really encourage readers to think about what a privilege it is to make their day to day choices and the wonderful freedoms they possess in their society.
Lowry, in an interview with critic Carol Hurst, explains that the novel was inspired by her father who was, at that time, in a nursing home having lost most of his long term memory. I realized one day while visiting my father that, without memory, there is no pain, and I began to imagine a society in which the past was deliberately forgotten(4).
However, in response to Lowrys portrayal of a secure, painless society, critic Jennifer Semple simply states, although they appear to have everything, they are missing something of great importance(edtech.edu). This something that the citizens are
Bofinger 2 lacking is individuality. In the restricted community of sameness no one is free to be him or herself and the people live redundant, dull lives. Throughout Lois Lowrys The Giver, it is clearly expressed that the effort to ensure the safety of a society by abolishing choice, will eventually lead to the elimination of ones individuality and the destruction of the human spirit.
Initially, the point in the novel where Jonas begins to realize the importance of choice making, is where he and the Giver are in the Givers office conversing.
The Giver asks the question: Its the choosing thats important isnt it?(98), to which Jonas agrees. Then, after much discussion they come to an understanding of the dangers choosing can bring and what the consequences of wrong choices may be. However, when the conversation turned to other things, Jonas was left, still, with a feeling of frustration that he didnt understand. He found that he was often angry now; irrationally angry at his groupmates, that they were satisfied with their lives which had none the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them(99). These thoughts and moral dilemmas Jonas endures are beginning to wear away at him.
He is left with many unpleasant emotions such as anger, frustration, and confusion. His happiness is dwindling, and there seems to be something missing in his life.
Furthermore, what is missing in Jonass life becomes revealed. It is love. During one of Jonas training sessions with the Giver, he receives the memory of a family at Christmas, surrounded by relatives, encompassed by love. Jonas then remarks, I was thinking, I mean feeling, actually, that it was kind of nice, then.
And that I wish we could be that way, and that you could be my grandparent. The family memory seemed a little Bofinger 3 more– Complete?(126), the Giver suggests, to which Jonas replies, I liked the feeling of love(126). Without love ones life cannot be complete. Not having the choice to love other people, Jonas discovers, is slowly destroying him. When discussing Jonas changing feelings towards his friends Fiona and Asher, it is stated, he felt such love for Asher and Fiona. But they could not feel it back, without the memories(135).