The Giver: A Warning About Ignorance

Lois Lowry’s The Giver, takes place in a dystopian society where knowledge and information is restricted by the government. Due to the government’s restrictions, no one can see colors or know what they are, except the Giver or their protégé. These rules also apply to emotions, except they are taught what emotions are, so that people can be “corrected” about their emotions until it seems like they have little to no emotion. To ensure this, they have to take daily medicine that reduces their ability to feel emotions, especially love. Each person also has their career determined for them by the government based on the needs of the people and the individual’s personality and abilities.

Now, the previously mentioned Giver oversees holding the memories of the past such as pain, hunger, and war so that the people remain oblivious to them, but the government can be advised on how to act to maintain their society. While it may seem nice to live in a society where pain, discrimination, and war are unknown, the Giver also must keep memories of joy, happiness, and love from the people. In short, the Giver’s job is to make sure the people remain ignorant to anything that could bring them to fight the government to regain their freedom.

One of the things that Lowry really does well in this book is she uses the Giver’s protégé, Jonas, to show how painful it can be to be left ignorant, to be stripped of your ignorance, and to be an outcast for holding different views. Before Jonas became a Giver, he always had a sense that there was more to life than what he was told, and then when he learned about the less than pleasant part of human history through his teachings with the prior Giver, he found some of the memories very painful. However, what hurt him the most is that he couldn’t share his knowledge, and when he did try to share it, he was often shunned. This book really shows what can happen when a society is allowed to remain ignorant.

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