Welcome to my first ever book club! We’re reading “The Giver” by Lois Lowry together, in preparation for the August 15th movie by based on the book!
If you missed it:
Ever feel weird for being different than everyone else?
I know I have. (Of course, I felt “different” from everyone else when I had a baby before my friends! I was thinking of diapers and sleeping through the night while my friends were thinking of high school Prom!)
I guess you wouldn’t be human if you hadn’t felt like the odd man out.
In the world of The Giver, it’s considered very rude for people to point out things that are different about others… generally people try to overlook any small differences. There aren’t many mirrors in this community, so that people aren’t obsessed with comparing themselves to others. If they were to do so, there’s not much to compare. People are all generally the same – they don’t have strong urges, passions, or desires. They dress alike, think similarly, and live in identical family units.
Every “unit” has a mom, dad, and a girl and boy. That’s why Jonas’s dad gets special permission to temporarily bring the baby Gabe into their home – temporarily, to see if he will thrive there. The author describes the baby’s eyes as “pale, solemn, knowing eyes” – like the eyes of Jonas… though he is embarrassed that his eyes are different from everyone else’s.
Jonas and his two main friends — Asher and Fiona –do volunteer work at their community’s version of a nursing home. There, the community’s older people live are taken care of while they wait for their death.
Did I say death? Oops. There’s no such thing as death in this community. The government has taken great care to make sure nothing is bad or painful in this place. The older people at the House of the Old aren’t awaiting death – they are awaiting “release.”
What is release?
Well, according to an older woman whom Jonas is bathing, a “release” is when people are sent to a different world, a better place.
That night, Jonas dreams of bathing Fiona. When he confesses this to his mother – there are NO secrets in this community, apparently – she encourages him to take pills to take away the “longings.”
He has mixed feelings. On one hand, he’s glad to be getting older. On the other, he liked those feelings of passion that he had for Fiona in his dream.
Some feelings, of course, are pleasant!
Now, I want to hear your thoughts.
- What happens in these two chapters that show that people do actually judge each other and rate each other, even thought they boast about equality and sameness?
- Would it be easier for our society if people didn’t have “longings?”
- When Jonas steals the apple, the government publicly shames him over the loudspeaker. How would the threat of this shame affect your behavior?
- When Jonas is bathing Larissa, she describes the “release” ceremony of her friend. While describing it, she says that that all lives are meaningful. Why is this more ironic than an Alanis Morissette song?
- In the community of The Giver, everyone passively accepts all rules that the government passes down. Why is this bad, even if it makes things run more smoothly?
- Jonas doesn’t seem too concerned that the government is watching him. He’s grown up loudspeakers, rules, and public punishment. Are we getting too comfortable with our own “Big Brother” (if you’ll let me mix books for a moment)?
- Do you think the rule against bragging is a good one?
- How are new children and the elderly the same in this community?