The Giver is a novel written by Lois Lowry (written in 1993) it was later made into a film and released in the September of 2014. The giver follows a boy named Jonas as he is about to go to the Ceremony of Twelve, where everyone in his year gets assigned a job. The citizens of the community believe they’re living in a Utopian society but it is actually Dystopian. No one in this world is able to feel proper emotion or see colour.
There is no indication of the location or time this novel was set in, presumably sometime in the distant future. The citizens believe they are in a utopian society, everything is the same, there’s no competition and no one is better than anyone else, to them it seems perfect. They are actually in a dystopian society, information is restricted, the citizens are under constant surveillance, there is no choice or freedom, colour or emotion. People in the society no longer make decisions for themselves, jobs are chosen for them, even their spouses are chosen for them. Citizens do however have the choice of having a spouse or not, but they do not get to pick who. Every couple is assigned two children. The couple do not have their own children; they are born to a birth mother. The birth mother doesn’t get to see them after they have been born. For the year or two after they are born, they are looked after in a ‘Nurturing Center’ before finally being given to a couple. Every single person in their society has their life already planned out for them
The ability to choose what you do with your life in the 21st century (in most cultures) is something that is often forgotten about. The citizens of the society in The Giver were never able to experience any freedom of choice, let alone deciding what they want to do with their lives. Being able to have choices was something that the society let go of, without choice there was no way the citizens can make mistakes, “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong, every single time.” but there is also no possibility of their choices being successful, To them, not having choices is normal. The citizens are also under constant surveillance, even the way they speak is restricted, Jonas had asked his parents “do you love me?” to which his father quickly responds with “Jonas, precision of language, please!’ however, Jonas does not understand why he must not use the word ‘love’ his mother explains “Your father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it’s become almost obsolete,” The word ‘love’ had lost it’s meaning as no one (apart from the giver and Jonas) is able to feel emotions, it had now become a very generalised, completely meaningless word. Over time the technology had advanced enough to regulate weather, rid people of emotions, erase colour from people’s memories and stop people from having dreams with strong emotions, particularly with passion and love. It seems like a great idea, getting rid of colour to stop discrimination, regulating weather so crops survive and stopping strong emotions in dreams might stop people from thinking about their dreams during the day. But in reality, people live extremely boring lives, the only differences between each person are how they look and what job they do. Regulating weather is great for crops, but having the exact same weather every single day would be extremely boring.
The citizens do not know of a time before theirs, they do not know that people used to be able to see in colour, feel emotions or make their own choices. Somehow colour was erased from people’s memories, meaning only Jonas and the giver can see colours as they are the only people that have memories of the past. In order for people to stop feeling pain, they had to give up love. Life is bland and quite meaningless without the joy of love and excitement or the pain behind sadness. A person being killed in the society is referred to as “sending them to elsewhere” which everyone thinks must be such a good place. Death is something they will never be able to comprehend.
Our current society is so focused on having a seemingly ‘perfect’ world that we have forgotten that perfection does not exist. It is absolutely impossible to have a perfect world. Even with the advanced technology shown in ‘The Giver” to attempt to make everything equal and ‘perfect’, it still doesn’t work out. The ‘equality’ in the society isn’t seen as something that is particularly good or something that should be appreciated as nobody has ever experienced discrimination or seen people being treated differently because of who they are. The citizens are happy and healthy, pain, sadness, jealousy and envy do not exist, there is no competition. However making everyone the same, or as similar as possible, will not solve anything. For societies to function properly, citizens need to keep their individuality, otherwise everyone would have the same fears and the same aspirations in life. Although having the same aspirations as many other people isn’t a bad thing it is not logical. In today’s society we need people to do different careers in many different areas, if everyone wanted to do the same thing, society could not function properly.
The world in which The Giver is set in is quite clearly dystopian though the citizens believe it’s utopian. People have no freedom, are under constant surveillance, have no choices, are unable to feel emotions and cannot see colour. It shows us how important it is to keep freedom and individuality in our societies today. Sometimes the idea of a ‘perfect’ and 100% ‘equal’ society is best left as an idea.
...(download the rest of the essay above)