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Headscratchers: The Giver
  • How can people in the Community become airplane pilots if they're all completely colorblind?
    • Maybe those assigned to be Pilots are given color vision. Remember how Jonas wondered if anyone else got the "You are allowed to lie" rule in their folders and then found out that his dad lied to him about what really happened when he released the twin? Maybe others are given special qualities but are told to lie in order to keep the peace.
    • Would colorblindess really be such an obstacle to piloting?
    • The colorblind can't become pilots because instead of writing, color is used to convey signals them over a distance. Presumably there is a different system worked out.
  • The people have no memory of war, yet at the beginning when an unidentified plane flies overhead, everyone is told to take cover. Then it turns out the plane is from their own airforce. What do they think an airforce is for if they don't know about war? (Note - I may be misremembering details, it has been a while since I read it.)
    • It's just said to be a jet, not a war plane. Could be meant for scouting or something.
    • Probably. It seems it's the same kind of jet they use when searching for Jonas and Gabriel.
    • If memory serves, it was used to deliver food or supplies. The person flying it was inexperienced and flew in an incorrect path, which was why the people freaked out. Everything was so conformed, that the slightest change caused massive panic.
      • Memory does not serve. The pilot was in training and wasn't using the usual sort of plane. That's part of why it was so scary. Of course, everybody older than 16 or so probably remembered having Rosemary's memories....
      • Which makes perfect sense, actually. If a plane is behaving oddly, it might be out of control and about to crash, so taking cover is a good idea.
  • Why do the memories supposedly stay in the community when Jonas leaves, yet he still remembers food and sleds and all that?
    • This troper always thought of it as him remembering remembering. He knows that the sun is warm because he has felt its remembered warmth before, but he doesn't recall how it feels exactly.
  • How has this never happened before? Jonas' actions seem so natural given his circumstances that it seems odd that no Receiver of Memory has ever tried it before. Even his predecessor is unsatisfied with the status quo and regrets not doing something sooner. In fact, counting Rosemary, every single Receiver of Memory we know of has strained against his station and caused some memory leaks. Were previous Receivers of Memory somehow able to know the whole truth but be perfectly satisfied with the way things were?
    • The Giver does suggest at one point that the system might not have stood like that for as long as they want to think it does.
    • Alternatively, you could say that this is further illustrating the whole problem with Jonas' society— it's forced everyone to live so unnaturally that someone acting in a way we would consider "normal" is a rare occurrence.
    • Their plan hinges on the memories leaving Jonas and returning to the community. Until Rosemary inadvertently released memories to the population they probably didn't know it could be done.
  • Where do the Birthmothers get their sperm if none of the men have a sex drive?
    • It's probably artificial insemination. Of course, that raises more questions...
      • You can extract semen surgically.
      • Ouch.
      • I think it's the doctors.
      • Sex drive aside, direct stimulation (particularly of the prostate) would still induce ejaculation, unless they've had some major internal rewiring.
      • It's probably surgical. I doubt they'd want to give anyone even a taste of sexual stimulation and risk them throwing out their pills.
      • We're told that after birthing her three children, a Birthmother then works as a Laborer the rest of her years; I'm guessing she exists solely to provide children, and would never be allowed to have own Family Unit. Presumably there may also exist men with the same role, that is, to give good genetics to the proscribed children and to toil the rest of their days providing food/cloth/building materials for the more recognized members of the Community.
    • Maybe it's a duty to the Community that at least once in his life, a man has to relay a sample of his... genetic material. He might be given special instructions on how to behave during this point, no contact with his wife, perhaps. So that might mean that the Giver has samples of his genetic material in the Community...
      • More than the one daughter, you mean?
      • No, I mean, the Giver is biologically the father of all the children with light eyes.
      • "No contact with his wife?" Are you suggesting that recreational sex still exists in The Community? Why? If people are drugged to suppress all sexual thinking upon reaching puberty, what purpose would it serve? They wouldn't want to have sex.
      • Perhaps they meant that "no contact with his wife" means not necessarily that they do have recreational sex in the Community, but that they'd want to start having it?
    • I recall thinking that perhaps the Elders are the birthfathers.
  • How did they render all the citizens color blind?
    • A Giver did it.
    • Artificial selection — they chose colorblind birth mothers and sperm donors (however that's done) for a few generations.
    • Side effect of the drug they all take.
    • Can't be the drug, they start taking it at puberty, and they're color-blind from birth. Can't be genetic, training reverses it. Maybe neural conditioning? If kittens only see left-to-right movements, they will grow up not to perceive right-to-left movements, but it's reversible. They could do that with babies and colors.
      • No, Gabe's toys are colored, I think. Personally I think it's a genetic thing, and Receivers can overcome that...somehow.
      • Maybe there are some other drugs.
    • When I first read the book as a sixth-grader, I thought that it was the world (and all the objects in it) that was without color, (a product of the omnipresent artificial lights designed for that purpose), and that the ability to "see beyond" was the ability to flash to bits of memory as to what color things should be. In retrospect it doesn't make a lot of sense, but if you want things to make a lot of sense, why on Earth are you reading The Giver?
      • How would they make the sky not be blue? That weather control system forcing it to be constantly overcast, maybe? *can't remember if the sun was ever mentioned*
      • One of the memories that the Giver gives Jonas is of sunshine, something Jonas has never experienced before. Given that there is still a day and a night of some sort within the Sameness, it can be assumed that the sun is being partially blocked somehow.
    • This troper thought it was just symbolic.
    • Remember we're talking about a book about an old guy giving a young boy memories by touching him. A Wizard Did It is all you really need.
    • Some kind of psychic block, maybe? That'd explain why the Receivers, and only the Receivers, can do it when they have enough stockpiled memories. It's a bit outside their field for one of them to have actually set it up, but mind control's plausible enough as one of the other "gifts" from the sequels. Alternately, a side effect of the Receivers' psychic memory-transferring ability is that they see things as they really are rather than what their eyes are telling them.
    • Or, in a reverse manner, people have been specifically genetically engineered to have many 'desirable' traits for a Utopian society that focuses on non-conflict, one of which would be colorblindness - a possible extrapolation of today's experiments with the human genome and turning on/off genetic 'switches' to hopefully eradicate inherited diseases and disorders. This theory is also hinted at in that The Giver says Fiona's red hair (technically, a genetic mutation and difference that would put her in the minority!) drove scientists mad trying to get rid of it. It would follow that it is The Giver's/Jonas memories that let them superimpose color mentally on what they see, even though their eyes cannot actually perceive it.
    • I used to wonder if things really were actually colored, but like the psychic block description above, the people didn't actually notice the color, that the observation of color was incapable for them. The real thing that makes the Receiver capable is the capacity to notice things like color and music.
    • Putting all of that aside, how do they describe things? I imagine the word "gray" doesn't exist in their vocabulary either. It seems to be that objects are referred to as being darker or lighter in "hue" than others. Seriously, you need words to describe what shade things are. I suppose all clothes could be white by default, but then how would you denote position or rank?
      • They DON'T describe things other than in size or ownership distinctions, if you look carefully at the opening chapters - why bother in a world where everything is the same anyway? There was only going to be one kind of bicycle made in a conflict-free society, see. Also, age/position/rank would be shown by clothing style much more clearly in a color-free world, which we are not immune from now either: In our world, graduates wear funny hats that used to symbolize scholars on a daily basis. In Lowry's world, young children don't get to have pockets on their clothing, both of which immediately identify a person's place in life without the help of color.
      • With hard to forge documents? Also, since nobody in the community seems to lie unless given permission to (and the only exceptions seem to be work related), they can probably just ask and get a straight answer. Plus, the community is quite small; I think most people know each other and their roles/positions already.
      • While they never outright use words like black, white, or gray, Jonas's eyes are repeatedly referred to as "light." So, yes, they do describe things in shades, just not with colors attached to them. I'd guess that instead of, say, "dark gray" and "almost black" they'd just say "dark" and "very dark," and so on, and things like position and rank could be denoted by different shades. Even without knowing what actual colors are, since "blue" apparently translates as "light" to them, and different colors do have distinct values when converted into a black and white photo, they could still recognize shades easily enough (yellow would also be light, orange, red, and green would be "medium," purple would be dark, and so on).
    • For that matter, how does the lack of music work? The Giver describes "the hearing beyond" as being analogous to Jonas's "the seeing beyond," but that would imply there is always some kind of music in the community (maybe just random sounds that happen to synchronize together?) which nobody "recognizes" as such unless they have the ability.
      • It's possible that nearby communities actually play music, and that sound leaches over into the Community?
    • Maybe they selectively bred humans to lack receptors/cone cells in their eyes, thus rendering them physically incapable of perceiving colour. The exceptions might have a rare genetic combination that gives them more receptors, and additionally, the magic/superpower/whatever that enables memory transmission helps those receptors in perceiving more colors as they learn more about them via memory. As for the music the Giver hears, like posted on the main page, he probably was able to combine random noises into rhythm.
    • I always figured it was something in the food and water that didn't effect the pale eyed people. There are some drugs that people with certain conditions take that won't work because of their conditions.
    • Actually a form of Truth in Television, surprisingly — Similar to the mental block suggestion above, it turns out that if people never hear of colors when they're young, they can never see any color for the rest of their life (Example: A real life girl never heard of the word "blue" until she was about 5, and ended up always saying that the sky was white, for instance). I always figured that the reason Jonas wasn't really able to see color before but was later was because he was getting the memories of young kids who did know about colors to make up for his lack of formative memories and gradually incorporating them into his psyche. This would also be why the Giver was slowly losing his ability to see color, because he was giving all the formative memories of toddlers seeing colors to Jonas. About Jonas's "Seeing Beyond," I wasn't quite sure why that would have been happening when he was younger, but I do know that red (like the apple) is actually one of the first colors that cultures as a whole recognize.
      • Adding on here, it seems our real world in some ways downplay the power of the human mind. It can be tricked and altered to do a lot of things, and in earlier years a lot of potential good or harm can easily be done. If as in this society this was done by a group of people who WANTED to do this to people, they could probably produce some pretty scary results with just some mental legwork. While this world does have some less factual elements, however i wouldn't limit the scope to just that though, but it is something to be aware of when it comes to just what can be done with a human mind.
  • They never explain if there's anything different about going to the bathroom; It mentions that there are no locked doors in the community, and it also mentions that no one is allowed to view anyone else's nakedness, so what happens if someone walks in on someone going to the bathroom?
    • They knock.
    • The bathrooms have "Occupied" signs that you can hang on the doors?
    • Or everybody has their own individual bathroom. This helps eliminate conflict because nobody ever has to cross their legs and wait.
      • What about public buildings?
    • They probably just go by the rule that if the door is open it is unoccupied, if the door is closed it is occupied
  • Why is it they can't get rid of all those memories? I mean, we seem to be doing a good job of it over here.
    • The way it seemed described to me, if the Giver did not hand down their memories before they died, all the memories would be released to the general population (for a brief period of time), creating chaos and disorder. At least, that what it seems like because that was what was described as happening when the previous receiver died. It was likely only brief because the previous receiver didn't have a lot of memories, and the Giver was still alive.
    • It's not a good idea. They need the wisdom of the past to refrain themselves from repeating past mistakes; that's the receiver's job, not "person who holds the memories because they have nowhere to go." The giver gives an example of when they asked him about increasing population, he got memories of starvation (presumably from overpopulation at some point in the world's past), and he promptly advised them against it. That's why they need the memories.
  • Why is it every "Anti-utopia" book (by which I mean, opposes engineering a perfect/better world.) filled with such poor utopias? I mean seriously, i could design a better utopia that's more feasible than this without much effort.
    • Are you sure it's Anti-utopia? My impression was the message was "ignorance is bliss." What with Jonas likely not caring so much about Gabriel's actual fate if he had the realization that "Release" equaled "Death."
    • Um... why is every anti-utopia book filled with such poor utopias? If it wasn't a poor utopia, it wouldn't be anti-utopian.
      • That's not necessarily the case — Brave New World, for example, was something that the author found horrifying and hoped would never exist, but outside of a few largely gimmick attributes like the decanting tubes, it's quite feasible.
      • It's often argued that The Giver belongs to a class of science fiction that takes a "What if..." future standpoint based on current trends and issues. In this case, it's basically, "What if we tried to make the world perfect by eliminating conflict, since we're always banging on about war and discrimination?" The 'perfect' part is what gives us the idea of Utopia, and the 'oh, wait, I guess humans just can't really be perfect - but they can certainly carry a single socio-scientific experiment way too far, way too long after people forget what the whole point of it was!!' part is what makes The Giver an example of anti-utopia now verging on dystopia. Interestingly, Sir Thomas More, who wrote Utopia in 1516, reportedly did not believe that a pure utopia could ever exist BECAUSE of our human flaws. (And it's all the human flaws that make us human, right? Emotions, screw-ups, hormones and all that jazz? Which is why Jonas totally... intentionally... tried to bring that all back once he'd tasted the proverbial fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil... thus making a point about human nature and how trying to screw with/squash it is more evil than letting the pain of life exist... yay for young adult literature! End middle school lit lesson.)
    • Because the entire point of a so-called "anti-utopia" book is to illustrate PRECISELY WHY you should never try to engineer a utopia. You end up with a crappy dystopia with a superficial veneer of utopia. This troper rather thought that was obvious.
      • This troper thinks that attitude is kinda defeatist.
      • The real problem with trying to create a utopia is that everyone has a different idea of what that would be (some people's idea of utopia would have no homosexuality, others would have no religion, etc). You can't please all of the people all of the time.
  • As far as the Birthmothers go, the math doesn't work. Only one child is assigned to each job every year, and a Birthmother only has three children during her lifetime, yet fifty children are born every year. Did I miss something?
    • Pretty much the thing that just bugged me with how many plotholes there were. (I dislike The Giver)
    • I don't remember reading that only one child per generation is assigned each job. That aside, they could have fifty birthmothers at any one time who are not the same age/from the same generation.
    • They didn't say it directly, but there were several times when Jonas referred to a job as being "taken," which implies that there's only one child assigned to a job in any given year.
      • That might just imply a quota of any sort, not necessarily one of "one child per job."
    • I don't know exactly how you're saying the math is not working out. If you're saying that the numbers say there should be a lot more children born every generation, then it's worth considering that they Release infants for pittances. Gabe would have been Released because he had trouble sleeping through the night. There might be a significant number of babies Released before they are given to families. Gad, how Squicky. I need some Sweet Dreams Fuel right now...
    • Also confirmed during the Ceremonies: Jonas notes during the Ceremony of One that there would be fifty per cohort, if none were Released as newchildren. Presumably having all fifty kids make it to One is uncommon.
    • What bothers me more about the numbers is how the community won't die out if every mother is only allowed to have two children.
      • No, each mother having two children is exactly how many you need to keep the population stable.
      • That's only with a 100% survival rate to reproduction, which they clearly don't have. There are accidents, infanticide, suicide and executions that set the replacement rate somewhat higher than 2.0.
    • Ok see, there are 50 Birthmothers, all of which have a child a year for 3 years. Not 3 children in one year, which isn't possible unless there are triplets.
    • The math only works if an average of 16.6 new Birthmothers are assigned every year, since for any given year, there are only three years' worth of active Birthmothers; all the ones who were assigned more than three years ago have already filled their quota (this assumes that the birth-giving years are consecutive). It's at least conceivable that out of 50 children, 16-17 girls could be selected for the exclusive purpose of being human broodmares, but nothing in the book suggests that the number is anywhere near that high. Not to mention that the whole concept is almost unspeakably squicky.
      • Here's a solution coated in Fridge Horror. The official word is that birthmothers are selected at age 12, given three years of training to prepare their bodies for motherhood (good nutrition, fitness regimens, and the like), followed by one baby a year for three years, and then they work as laborers until age 65 or so. What if that's a lie, given that it's highly suggested that everyone is authorized and even required to lie when asked questions about their jobs. What if, the birthmothers have a baby every year starting not at age 15, but at age 12? Then you'd only need eight or nine girls a year, rather than 16-17. You can reduce their number further by having them conceive every ten months rather than once a year.
      • Most girls aren't ready to carry a pregnancy at 12. Their bodies just aren't grown enough. It's too risky. I'd highly doubt they'd risk it.
      • Claire gave birth to her first child at age 14.
    • There are several possible explanations for this that this troper thought of the last time she read the book. Granted, this is all just guessing on my part, but here we go: Firstly, remember that Jonas kind of stopped paying attention after he was skipped over at the ceremony, so it's possible that there were other girls assigned to being birthmothers, and he (and therefore, we) just didn't hear them. Also, he could have just been mistaken about there only being one birthmother from his year anyway; as a boy, he probably just didn't care or didn't get much info on birthmothers as it's a job he can't have anyway. As for the numbers overall, given how some families apparently have to wait quite a while before getting their second child (IIRC, his two friends got their siblings that year or the year before), it's possible that some years there are less birthmothers than other years. And there's always the possibility of fraternal twins/triplets being born in years with fewer birthmothers, or even in other years for that matter (presumably that would not break any rules, because fraternal twins/triplets wouldn't cause "two identical people to be running around" or however it was phrased.)
      • If the birthmothers are impregnated via IVF, fraternal twins or triplets could be produced intentionally. IVF would also allow the Community to genetically screen/engineer embryos for a greater degree of Sameness.
    • It would make a lot more sense if birth mothers were birth mothers for more than 3 years. the longer they stay birth mothers, the less new birth mothers you need every year. If it were for say ten years, only 5 new birth mothers are needed per year.
      • According to "Son", Birthmothers don't become pregnant again immediately after giving birth. After a birth, a Birthmother goes through a 6-month recovery/waiting period before being available for pregnancy again. So say 15 months, times 3, gives us 45 months. That's closer to 4 years, not counting the training period.
  • What the Hell happened in the ending? Did he die?
    • Canonically, it's strongly implied that Jonas survives and is a secondary character in the lesser-known and far more Marty Stuish Messenger, the final book in the trilogy. That said, don't write that in a book report, or your teachers will have unkind words with you.
      • This troper thought it was very strongly implied that Jonas was the leader in the third book, since he mentioned that he had a gift which manifested with an apple (the first thing Jonas saw in color was an apple), the leader had remarkable blue eyes, and there was something about his old community sending him books after he established the village (Jonas would have inherited the books from the Giver). There was also mention of a child named Gabriel who went to the school in the village. And why would a teacher mind thinking Jonas survived? This troper's teacher strongly encouraged her students to decide for themselves whether or not he lived or died and was the one who brought up evidence in later books that he survived.
      • I think what the troper meant by "...or your teachers will have unkind words with you" was that teachers want their students to consider the book on its own, not with its sequels. I had made that connection in something I wrote for 6th grade English, and my teacher said that he would have liked if I had considered only what happened in The Giver, not in either sequel (though both sequels were assigned to us for summer reading, before we even knew we would be reading The Giver).
    • Here is what Word of God has to say on the matter, from the interview at the back of this version:
    Q. When you wrote the ending, were you afraid some readers would want more details or did you want to leave the ending open to individual interpretation?
    A. Many kids want a more specific ending to The Giver. Some write or ask me when they see me, to spell it out exactly. And I don't do that. And the reason is because The Giver is many things to many different people. People bring to it their own complicated beliefs and hopes and dreams and fears and all of that. So I don't want to put my own feelings into it, my own beliefs, and ruin that for people who create their own endings in their minds.
    Q. Is it an optimistic ending? Does Jonas survive?
    A. I will say that I find it an optimistic ending.How could it not be an optimistic ending, a happy ending, when that house is there with its lights on and music is playing? So I'm always kind of surprised and disappointed when some people tell me they think the boy and the baby just die. I don't think they die. What form their new life takes is something I like people to figure out for themselves. And each person will give it a different ending. I think they're out there somewhere and I think that their life has changed and their life is happy, and I would like to think that's true for the people they left behind as well.
    Those of you who hoped that I would stand here tonight and reveal the "true" ending, the "right" interpretation of the ending, will be disappointed. There isn't one. There's a right one for each of us, and it depends on our own beliefs, our own hopes.
    Let me tell you a few endings which are the "right" endings for a few children out of the many who have written to me.
    From a sixth grader: "I think that when they were traveling they were traveling in a circle. When they came to "Elsewhere" it was their old community, but they had accepted the memories and all the feelings that go along with it..."
    From another: "...Jonas was kind of like Jesus because he took the pain for everyone else in the community so they wouldn’t have to suffer. And, at the very end of the book, when Jonas and Gabe reached the place that they knew as Elsewhere, you described Elsewhere as if it were heaven."
    And one more: "A lot of people I know would hate that ending, but not me. I loved it. Mainly because I got to make the book happy. I decided they made it. They made it to the past. I decided the past was our world, and the future was their world. It was parallel worlds."
    Finally, from one seventh grade boy: "I was really surprised that they just died at the end. That was a bummer. You could of made them stay alive, I thought."
    Very few find it a bummer. Most of the young readers who have written to me have perceived the magic of the circular journey. The truth that we go out and come back, and that what we come back to is changed, and so are we.
    • I don't know anyone who found it a bummer actually. Well, now that this troper knows Lowry said that, he probably won't view the book with the "...this is pretentious waffle" view he had since he was required to read it in 8th grade and had grade points deducted since what he interpreted the ending to be wasn't the true ending. (And no, he said that Jonas was free in the end.)
  • In my opinion, this book is so symbolic, I start to lose grasp of what is real and what isn't. Are memories, stirrings, colors, sounds, speakers, apples, even people, they all start to fade away into nothing. It sets up a decent Dystopia, lacking all individuality, but I personally think that Lowry could have done a better job hiding symbolism.
    • If Lowry hadn't made such heavy use of symbolism, the book would be a mostly forgotten obscure novel rather than the introduction to dystopias widely used in English classes today. As it is said "those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators." The latter is a much better indicator of the literary significance and lasting influence of a work.
    • ... I think we have Alternate Quote Interpretation going on there. A true author doesn't want commentators, s/he wants readers, people who will actually take the story to heart and remember it and love it. Writing obscurely has its merits, but reader is a much more desirable thing than commentator - which is a term of the intellect and reason, which is good, but it's not why we love to read. The genius of The Giver is that the writing manages to be both clear and obscure: simple when it needs to be simple, subtle when it needs to be subtle.
      • Some authors want readers; perhaps even most. But some want to be remembered beyond the fad when their book was popular and write their books with more intellectual aspirations, and desire to have commentators and other people who will analyze their work. We've had a bit of discussion on this sort of thing in the forum, actually. And yes, some authors try to balance the demands of obscure writing vs accessible and popular writing (another example being The Little Prince), but most tend to go for one or the other.
    • And there's a fuckton of people who wrote... call it critic-bait, intellectual literature-type fiction and get forgotten five minutes later. Just as many people wrote popular fiction and are both beloved and anlayzed today. Like, say Dickens. Colleges and universities are full of people who are trying to write "literature," and even being successful at it. But no one is going to remember them, I can promise you.
      • This what we call the major problem with the society's attitude and education. Writing fiction is art, it is subjective. We need more teachers that actually paid attention to their English and Logic (if they actually took that one, i doubt many did) classes. Those classes have jobs to do and the people writing curriculum will obviously draw their own line as to where literature ends and pulp starts, no point calling spades out there, but if your curriculum is not teaching kids that many of those great books are where they are today because people actually wanted to read them for fun all those years ago enough to make arguments based upon them, you need to readjust your elitism.
      • Is it possible that BOTH styles have their merits, and that we don't need to put people down for writing how they want to write?
  • Why does everyone see the community as a dystopia? It may not be the perfect place to live, but the lack of violence, starvation, and oppression make it better than many parts of our world.
    • But everyone is also emotionally repressed and anyone who causes problems (gets too old, breaks the rules three times, is a twin, etc) is automatically euthanized. Heck, they tried to euthanize a baby for having problems sleeping at night, which a little extra attention could have solved easily!
      • Did solve easily, mind - Gabriel had minimal trouble sleeping and was meeting all his developmental criteria while he was housed with Jonas' family unit. It was only at the Nurturing Center, which presumably is a sterile, contact-free environment, that he couldn't cope.
      • But remember, Gabriel could only sleep well at Jonas' family house because Jonas was there to give him soothing memories. The Nurturers seemed to be a kindly and perfectly contact-happy bunch (except for Releasing). And Gabe could not have stayed with Jonas' family, because having more than two children is against the Rules. Yes, the problem was solved fairly easily, but Gabe still was not compliant enough.
      • Not compliant enough? Gabe is barely a year old! Sometimes babies have trouble sleeping through the night in their first year. It certainly isn't justification for murder.
      • That's the whole point. Besides, if a society is capable of killing a newborn for being the weaker twin, it can kill a newborn for not being compliant.
    • It's not a dystopia — it's a deconstruction of the Utopia, but the latter is eventually regarded as the former since they're both places you theoretically wouldn't want to live.
    • I don't know what your idea of violence is but I think murdering babies just because a family can't be found for them counts. Also, lack of oppression? The whole community is founded on oppression! There is literally nothing but oppression in the community!
  • There are no animals in the community. Kids assume the things their stuffed animals are modeled after are imaginary creatures, and the word "animal" is something that no one actually knows the definition of, and uses to describe something wild and savage. This I can understand. The community has meat and fish are once mentioned specifically. Where do they get this?
    • Supplies are delivered to the community in cargo planes. While they grow much of their own food meat could be an import. They do have a fish hatchery, but they might just regard fish as alive in the sense that plants are alive.
    • Having and eating meat doesn't necessarily entail knowing (and in particular everyone knowing) what meat is. It's just a special type of food distinct from grain or fruit; its exact nature is probably only known to those who have to work with the feedstock directly, and they're probably given in their rules list a command like "You are prohibited from telling others in the community that animals are real; if asked, you may lie" or something of that sort.
    • Possibly they used a substitute meat.
      • Maybe the meat comes from a source closer to home. after all, it is never explicitly stated what happens to people's bodies after they are released...
  • It's understandable that Jonas freaks out when he finds out what "Released" actually means. But is it never addressed that people also die naturally? I may have missed something, seeing as it's been some time since I've read the book, but I don't seem to recall the Giver mentioning that if Elders are not Released, they will die eventually.
    • Apparently, all elders are released before they die. Death by another cause is referred to as a "loss", like the kid who drowned.
    • The book said that for people who are "lost," a ceremony is performed with many members of the community. They would all repetitively chant the person's name slowly, then speed up, then slow down again.
      • In reading "Son" it makes it clear that Clair at least understands death. She uses the word when referring to drowning. And others, such as the Fish Hatchery trainee understand death with regards to the fish.
  • They're making a movie of this book. Just... Why.
    • Because a lot of people like this, and because a lot of people like it, Hollywood will try to squeeze a movie out of it. Hell, they made a movie about Facebook, why not The Giver?
    • While this troper is personally excited about the movie, she wonders exactly how they'll do the color thing. In the book, you don't fully realize that Jonas's community can't see color until the point that The Giver explains it. In a movie adaption it would be a tad obvious if it started out black and white.
      • Simple: make the movie in "stylistic black and white"(like The Elephant Man or Schindler's List) and then reveal that's actually how the people see it, and not just a presentation fancy.
      • They made a movie out of BATTLESHIP. They can make one out of this.
      • According to some of the trailers, some of the movie, likely for the first part, is going to be in color, and some of it, possibly beginning with the scenes when Jonas meets the Giver, is going to be black and white. However...
    • They've aged up Jonas. His actor is early twenties, and Taylor Swift is playing Rosemary. And the film is in full color. I am apprehensive.
  • Whose bright idea was it to read this to elementary school children? I'm all for children learning that not everything in the world is puppies and rainbows (pun unintended), but what kid is going to even understand suicide, murder, and hormones?
    • Because everyone assumes that elementary schoolers have the intellectual capacity of newborns.
    • Fifth grade, (which is when this troper read the book,) is when most kids take their first sex ed class. I think it's safe to say they'll already know about death.
    • In this troper's days, we read it in 8th grade, but when i was graduating the age kids started to experiment with drugs and sex was as low as 6th (11-12 in age mostly) When i was young, we first got dare in 5th grade which by rebellious tactics helped usher more kids to try it then and sex ed in 6th grade. As witnessed these happen younger, so kids are obviously rebelling younger. However on a side note, even though i know of kids who did it that young, the earliest i ever saw someone pregnant in my schooling was 10th grade (15-16 in age mostly)
    • This troper remembers reading the book in sixth grade and concedes that a lot of the themes and implications went right over my head. Obviously everyone is different but the book does seem like an odd choice given how abstract it's execution is.
  • When I read this book in sixth grade, the book made it seem like after the Birthmothers give birth, the baby is just snatched away, like a child after a toy. Am I wrong? I mean, do the birthmothers actually get to hold their child, because after nine months of assigned pregnancy, I would want to hold my child.
    • I'm pretty sure they don't. And, in our world, that would be really sad, but I'm guessing that, like many other things in their community, they learn not to be bothered by it.
    • Jonas's father says that the birthmothers never get to see the children. It's probably to prevent the mother from forming any sort of emotional attachment, since the community works so hard to suppress and eliminate strong emotions.
      • And he even says this right after Jonas's sister says she wants to be a birthmother because she likes babies.
      • Nursing them, even once would cause a release of oxytocin, and considering that the community hates even the concept of people having or desiring sex (the other major cause for releasing oxytocin), they clearly want nothing to do with this.
    • Confirmed in Son that they don't get to hold their baby at all.
  • Why don't people in the other community (featured in the sequels) try to liberate this Naziesque, totalitarian society? Seriously.
    • Unlike most dystopias, most of the public in this one doesn't seem to want out of it.
    • Because there are a lot of sucky communities in the world of The Giver and Gathering Blue. The village of the broken people lives very close to another sucky town, and they don't do a thing about it except take in their runaways. They have strangers coming in from other places all the time. Why would they go months out of their way to take care of yet another sucky community where, at least, everybody is well-fed and as a place to sleep at night? (Heck, for some people that life would almost be a blessing, hence why they built it in the first place.)
      • In the end of the book, we see a happy town, presumably celebrating Christmas. So, there ARE good countries.
      • Then again, half of the readers have interpreted that scene as a Dying Dream...
  • So other than fish, the members of the community are unaware that animals actually exist. It's been a long time since I read the book, so bear with me, but I gotta ask... What's the benefit in keeping all animals (save for fish) out of the community?
    • Predictability. Animals, subject as they are to instinct, can't be completely controlled. They will develop biases of loyalty and/or aggression.
      • Animals are pretty predictable, but I think they would be kept out, just because they want to keep out everything they can, so people don't know about much.
      • Not everyone wants to have a pet. So if some families have pets and some don't, that messes up the Sameness. Different animals, with different temperaments and sizes, have different needs. That messes up the Sameness. And so on.
  • If Sameness is the governing philosophy of the community, why do they object to twins? How exactly would that undermine community stability or Sameness? If anything, the Sameness philosophy should look favorably on twins as a model for all of society (see Brave New World.)
    • It might be because twins being born at all is relatively abnormal(at least to the community).
    • Jonas makes the point in-story: It would undermine community stability inasmuch as nobody would be able to tell which twin was which. Remember, they'd have been placed with separate families (since each gets only one child of each gender) yet have identical clothing, haircuts and largely behavior. There'd be constant small misunderstandings, which in this context is a huge embarrassing deal. Never mind what might happen if the children themselves turned out to have a mischievous streak...
    • "Sameness" is also relative in this context. While there must be some differences to know who is who exactly how limited things are to all be the "same" is very much a limited phrase. We could all have the "same" house and that could mean we all live in caves or all live in castles
  • So are the Receivers specially bred/enhanced for their futures and have light eyes as a label, or are people with the gene for blue eyes just special?
    • I don't think it was ever made clear in the books, but this troper thinks that people with the gene for blue eyes are just special, rather than having been specifically bred for it. It was strongly implied (read: practically outright stated) that the Community citizens were being bred to all look the same, after all, so I doubt they'd actively try to get someone with differently-colored eyes.
  • So... Gabriel was going to be released for not meeting his development goals, so he was allowed to stay with Jonas's family until the next Ceremony of One. However... in the age ceremony at the beginning of the book, I believe it mentions that all the newchildren born that year are there, even the ones who are just a couple months old as well as the ones that are actually almost a year old. My question is, how in the world would they know if those few-week/month old Ones would be able to be adjusting well into their new families or not? Gabe was having trouble adjusting despite the fact that he technically would have been almost two had he actually gotten to be with the next group of Ones, so why would they allow the youngest children to be added into a family unit? Or did I just miss something, and the most recent ones were actually going to the next ceremony like Gabe would have?
    • No, you didn't. Most likely, if Gabriel had been born at the end of the year, he would've gotten a free pass. Or maybe they release children even after being parceled out to families if they are really very slow.
    • In Son, it's mentioned that births are timed very carefully so that by the time the Ceremony comes around, the very youngest babies are at least a couple of months old, and the most intensive caring period is over.
  • Very minor, but Lily's comfort object wasn't taken away upon becoming eight.
    • It likely was, but her and Jonas's parents were just easy on her and let her keep it a little longer rather than taking it away more suddenly. Though I do think you're right that it was never outright said whether it was taken away or not, but the book focuses less and less on Jonas's family (besides Gabe) in the later chapters, so it's unclear if Jonas even noticed whether Lily's comfort object was taken away.
  • Jonas and the Giver had a great plan for his escape, which was all screwed up because of Gabriel's impending release. But why didn't Jonas tell everybody the truth then? Maybe mixed in with a little blackmail? "You can't release him, I've given him LOADS of memories, and if you DO release him I'll never train a different successor!" Or, barring that, at least go to the Giver so PART of the plan could be carried out in the same way.
    • Presumably, Jonas still had way more memories left than the ones he gave to Gabe. He might not have thought that the memories Gabe would have released would have has as big of an effect as all the ones he had. Plus, Jonas was panicking anyway so he probably hadn't even thought of that.
    • Weren't the memories he gave Gabe specifically supposed to be calming, comforting memories to help him sleep better? I know that any disruption, even a positive one, is a disruption. But as desperate threats go, making everyone have dreams of sunshine for a few days is probably not going to seem like the most useful plan.
    • Because Jonas panicked, IIRC, so he wasn't thinking clearly enough to go to the Giver like he was supposed to. All he was thinking of was getting Gabriel out of there. Besides, it kind of has the same effect anyway, because leaving the Community still means that Jonas's memories are released.
  • How would Rosemary, a twelve-year-old with no medical training whatsoever, be able to do an intravenous injection (on herself, no less)? She'd never be allowed to do that, either. Plus, with the poison most likely being very strong, she might not be able to inject the entire lethal dose before losing consciousness. Her "releasing" herself may be a powerful image in the story, but from a medical perspective, it's pretty ridiculous.
    • I thought it was said that she asked to be "released", as in she went and requested that someone else do it for her.
      • She did, but she asked to inject herself rather than letting the worker inject her. And she did.
    • Maybe the kids do receive some medical training that wasn't mentioned — some first-aid and other medical care.
    • It is mentioned that they do volunteer work before becoming 12, so maybe she volunteered at a medical place and could do that sort of thing?
    • Receivers of Memory have access to books, so perhaps she read medical literature to teach herself to do it in preparation for her suicide. She may have also received memories from a nurse or doctor or other professional who would know how to do this.
  • The Community has speakers monitored by someone, that can't be turned off (well, except for the Giver's), then why didn't Jonas's dad get in trouble for learning Gabe's name?
    • Perhaps the Community lets citizens get away with tiny infractions to give the illusion of being less oppressed. This troper also got the idea that the speakers were rarely actually monitored. . . just the idea of never being able to be sure that no one was listening, except for the Receiver, was enough to make the point.
  • In this utopia, the population is kept unaware of certain negative concepts, they are supposed to be blissfully unaware of what a crappy place the world used to be. Yet, for some reason, they're still taught the meaning of words that have an inherently negative meaning which *does not apply to their perfect world and are only useful for exposition*. This is only problematic because it takes place in dialogue, which destroys the illusion of these people being naive. A good example is a boy says "I'm starving!" and an adult over hears this and scolds him harshly, because the boy should've said "I'm hungry" instead. The same adult then informs the boy (and us) that starvation will never exist in the perfect world. Well, whose bright idea was it to introduce the concept of starvation to the children AT ALL. Knowing this word implies a harsh reality, and the people are defended against this at all costs. Another example happens later in the book, when Jonas feels love for the first time and asks his family if they too love him. They respond that love is inappropriate and they only deeply care for him. Who taught these people what love was? The appropriate response should've been "Jonas, what is love? I don't know what you mean." Since Jonas only understands love through the gift of memories.
    • Knowledge of words referring to negative concepts: A result of propaganda. "Our community is so much better than communities in the past, where people were starving and miserable. You're so lucky to have a life full of [such wonderful things] with no [bad things]. Your job is to ensure [all these good things] happen for our Community; if you fail or do anything different [bad consequences like starvation] will result."
    • Knowledge of words referring to unknown concepts: The words have a different connotation in their society. When Jonas' parents laugh at his question of whether or not they love him, they don't tell him, "The concept of love is stupid"; they tell him, "The word 'love' means nothing." They know the word but not the concept of love as we know it. They probably only use the word "love" in the sense of "I love this type of food" or "I love this weather" or "I love my job" but never to refer to a person. As Harry Potter explains, forbidding/outlawing words gives them power; if they lose their meaning, the words themselves are harmless. People can use the word "love" all they want — they've forgotten the original, potentially dangerous meaning of the word, which is all that matters.

  • What exactly do these children study in school? I could see them studying math because math is pretty much unchangeable, but nothing else makes sense. If the kids don't know anything about race, color, war, family, and so forth, how would they study literature or any of the humanities? How would they study history without knowing about war, government, and so forth? Science wouldn't even work because the teacher would have to explain how Sameness came about, which would mean introducing concepts the kids are shielded from.
The Girl Who Owned a CityHeadscratchers/LiteratureGone

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