Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Giver

*************Updated March 23, 2014*****************
Conversation with my son
Check this book out from your library.
Lois Lowry
Movie Trailer

Questions I have after rereading the story:
1.  Why is the mom okay with the father breaking the rules?  She just smiles when she learns that he has figured out the baby's name, Gabriel. 

2.  If Sameness is the goal, then why is it that when twins are born one of them is released?

3.  On page 43 Fiona says, "He's cute.  But I don't like his name very much."  Then Jonas is thinking, "It wasn't a great name Jonas, thought, like - well, like Gabriel, for example  But it was okay."  Doesn't sameness apply to names?

4.  If the children have not been exposed to warfare, how do they know how to play the war game?

*************January 24, 2014************************

Author:  Lois Lowry
Illustrator:  Bagram Ibatoulline
Published:  1993
Newbery Medal Winner
The Giver by Lois Lowry is about a boy who lives in a world where everything is the same.  There is no color, no love, no music, and no memories of the distant past.  The children all "celebrate" their birthdays on the same day in December and are presented with something each year to help keep the community the same and safe.  The children look forward to the 12th year because that is when they become adults and are assigned their jobs.  Anything that does not fit with the Sameness is released.  You'll have to read to figure out what it means to be released!

At his 12th year ceremony, Jonas does not get a job like everyone else, but is selected to be the The Receiver.  As The Receiver he will be given all of the memories from the distant past.  The focus throughout the book seems to be memories, but I don't think that is really what is important.  Yes, memories of love and even memories of dreams that could lead to relationships are taken from the people, but the memory of the life they are now living is not taken from the people.  As a matter of fact, the people celebrate those memories at the end of their lives with a celebration for the old right before they are released.  The really important idea in the book is choice.  The ability to choose which toys to play with, which job you'll get, which person you will marry, or even what clothes you will wear is taken from the community for the sake of Sameness and for the sake of avoiding problems in the community.  

The only person really given some choice in the community is The Receiver.  He has choice only because he knows there are other options, unlike everyone else in the community.  He realizes that there is color, he feels love and wants to feel love from others, and he realizes that differences are good.  The problem is that he lives in a place where he is the only one to realize it.  

This book reminded me of the quote - and sorry if I do not have it correct - "those that do not know history are destined to repeat it."  Well, whether or not you know history, you will repeat mistakes from the past, but whether or not you make the same mistake should be up to you.  The Elders in The Giver do not allow the mistakes from history to be made because everything is so controlled and if there is something that comes up from the past, then The Receiver can look back on history and help avoid the same mistakes.

The book also reminded me of the books from The Divergent series.  Everyone is grouped by their sameness and life as we know it today is unknown or Elsewhere.  Unlike the Divergent series though, this book ended with the possibility of something better.  

I will have my middle school son read this book.  I'm looking forward to discussing it with him and learning what the book makes him think/wonder.

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