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The Giver Utopia Or Dystopia Essay

Louis Lowry’s The Giver: Dystopia or Utopia?

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Louis Lowry’s The Giver uses a dystopian society as a metaphor to show how one lives without pain and lacks knowledge of other places in order to give the reader a warring that society will never be perfect. “The Giver offers experiences that enhance readers levels of inquiry and reflection.” (Friedman & Cataldo pp102-112) At First glance the novel's setting seems to be a utopia, where all possible steps are taken to eliminate pain and anguish. Often the difference between a Utopia and a Dystopia is the author’s point of view. The difference between dystopia society and a utopian society is that a “dystopia is a world that should be perfect but ends up being horrible. Imagine dystopia as a world where the government gives everything to everyone for free. You would think it would be perfect, but imagine if that government oppressed everyone. Essentially a Dystopia is a utopia that has been corrupted.” (Levitas p1) A dystopian society is “Any society considered to be a undesirable, for any number of reasons. The term was coined as a converse to a Utopia, and is most used to refer to a fictional (often near-future) society where social trends are taken to a nightmarish extreme. Dystopias are frequently frequently written as warnings, or satires, showing current trends extrapolated to a nightmarish conclusion. A dystopia is all too closely connected to current day society.” As defined in The Giver (Telgan pp162-182). This is why I believe that Lowery is giving the reader a warring about how our world is changing. We have the power to stop it before it happens if we listen to warring signs and act accordingly. If we don’t listen to those signs our society will become a nightmarish environment, to live in. “ The Giver demonstrates how conflict can force us to examine our most important beliefs about what is right and true. Conflicts can change our worldly view of thing.” (Freidmane & Catadlo pp102-112)
When asked why Lowery used a dystopian society she stated, “ I chose the setting because I wanted to give the reader a warring that society will never be perfect.”(Lowry) If she would have chosen a different setting the book I do not believe the book would have been the same. Lowry stated, “that when writing The Giver created a world that existed in her imagination only. She got ride of all the things she feared and disliked: violence, prejudice, poverty and injustice.

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” (Lowry pp 414-442) The book transports you to a world that very hard to understand if you are not familiar with a dystpoian society. However it makes you question where or not our society is really what it is crack up to be. The setting is nightmarish one to the characters in The Giver once they realize what’s going in their society. Which is not easy to do because they have to do it without memory, no imagination, and no sexual desires and without understanding the concept of love. It shows ways that the government could end up corrupting our society if we are not carefully. So must listen to Lowry's warring even though we do not really want to cause in America we like to think our world is perfect compared to other countries. Africa is one of those countries that have a lot of Genocide because there governments are corrupt. Just take all the countries in the Middle East are examples with all their corrupt governments. Once the people received knowledge of what was really going on they decides it was time to stand up and do something about it. What they did not know that once one country stood up it would manifest in a global revaluation. It is also affecting those who buy oil from them, which was not the intention. So with all the corruption in the world Lowry warring is true there will never be a perfect society no matter how hard we try.” Lowry’s skill at depicting cheerful ordinary reality makes the revelation of the difference in this alternate reality is so chilling.” (Campbell p 117)
Lowery uses how one lives without memory, as a metaphor in order to give the reader a warring that society will never be perfect. Memory is a key element in The Giver! Jonas receives memories of hills, snow, sleds and Christmas lights that play a factor at the end of the book. When Jonas receives the memory of “release” he decides that society is not at all what he thought it was. “The day Jonas asks to view a tape of “release” that his father performed earlier that morning on an unwanted baby at the community nursery and learns the horror that euphemisms cover engineered and for the surplus or difficult infants”(Campbell p 717) “I will say that the whole concept of memory is the one that interest me a great deal. I'm not sure why that is, but I've always been fascinated by the thought of what memory is and what it does and how it works and what we learn from it. And so I think probably that interest of my own and that particular subject of origin, one of many, of The Giver. “ (Lowery pp414-422) If our world today did not have memory we would be a dystopian society. How would you like it if you could not remember what your best friend in grade school or there were not pictures? Memory’s allows you to feel pain and it allows you to also have emotion, which is not present in The Giver. “ None of the members of the community besides Jonas really understand the nature of releases or even question the practice.”(Chaston p118) “The lack of individual and collective memory found in the novels prominent motif which is found in most Dystopian and Utopian literature.” (Hanson p45) “As much as the novel focuses on recovering the past as a means to achieve civil humanity. Lowry also shows that memory is the primary Dystopia tool for opening up the future.” (Hanson pg 45)
Lowry uses no imagination, as a metaphor in order to give the reader a warring that society will never be perfect. No imagination is connected to memory, if there is no memory then there is no imagination. Without imagination there would be any creative. There would not be books like Twlight or Harry Potter. There would not be TV like my Super Sweeten or Jersey Shore or Secret Life of an American Teenager. There would not be music from artist like Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga. Everything we know of in today’s society required imagination at one point or another. No one would could create a world that is better then the one that they are living in. Once on receives memory then the imagination process can begin. Which could mean a better way of weeding out those who are said to bring you society down.
Lowry use how one lives without Sexual desires as a metaphor in order to give the reader a warning that society will never be perfect. When dreams accrue about things such as sex the parents of the child have to give their children a special pill to help the desires to stop. “Jonas realizes that world that he lives that is not perfect, when he learns that people in the community take pills to eliminate all sexual desires” (Chaston p121) The only people who are allowed t have these desires are those who are chosen by the elders to bare children. This can be detrimental to the child because they grow up not really growing up with their real parents. Only Fifty children are allowed per year. If the number of children born goes over fifty some children will be “released” “In The Giver society represents “an extended idealized childhood” with no pain and no unpleasantness. But in another scene childhood seems impossible in this society, for it has been sacrificed in order to create sameness the community demands.”(Latham pp 135-136) “Members of the community are separated by age.” (Latham p 136)
This is happening in countries like China. Their policy is that each family must only have one child and there are serious consequences for going over that number. So in a scene Lowry’s warring is coming true. It is seen as a way to stop over population and prevent children with disabilities to live in their society. So that society is perfect, which I believe is an impossible thing because no one is perfect.” Each person is in group a fifty and they are distinguished by certain clothes, haircuts and required behaviors that are appropriate for their stage of development.” (Campbell p117)
Lowery uses not understanding the concept of love and affection as a metaphor in order to give the reader a warring that society will never be perfect. Since Children do not live with their birth parents there is not it’s hard for the child to so signs of affection towards those who raise them. In my own experience with this I can tell you that its very hard to show someone other then your own parent affection. Signs of affection are a key in a good relationship. Relationship are designed so that people can feel love and feel the pain of leaving and moving on as a individual person in society. Without the concept of love its hard to live with pain or feeling if our society did not understand the concept of love and affection it would become a dystopian society. So we are warned to show love and affection to those around us even if they are our enemies.
Who makes the decisions in dystopian society like the one in The Giver? Can this group hand out punishment? “ The Giver announcers a thematic concern with social discipline. In the scene where Jonas remembers a time when he was afraid of what type of punishment he was going to receive” (Latham p 134) There is a small of elders that were chosen at the age of eleven to work on board of directors. “Many decisions are made by the community of elder.” (Hanson p 45) Once they become the age of 50 or older there is an election to decide which ones move up a step in position on the board. The high person on the board gets to give the “Elevens there assignments for place of employment. This person is know as the chief elder. The rest of the board members have the privilege to over see that the rules are not broken “One of the hardest challenges of maintaining social discipline is the regulation or sexual desires is difficult to subordinate to the larger concerns of the community.” (Latham p 137) . They do this by watching ever move you make “ Some methods of surveillance can be seen by how carefully the member of society watch one another. Even the children are looking for rule violates.”(Latham p138) However there is one person who expect from the rules of the community. “The Giver has the power to break the rules by switching off the loudspeakers and he has access to books, memory, imagination, feeling and pain.” (Telgan pp 162-182) If the elders catch you breaking the rules they can give you one of many punishments depending on the rule you broke. “In the giver there are many kinds of punishments that are employed . The most visible is the discipline wand a thin flexible weapon used to strike the hands or legs.” (Latham p 142) One of the rules that is broken the most is the one about proper language. “In order to control discourse, they must regulate language itself. The Giver strictly enforces the precise language. Our community cant function smoothly if people do not use proper language” Jonas mother (Latham p 45)
Who has access to books and education in a Dystopian society like in The Giver ?
Only the Receiver of Memory has to books, Unless its a book that has the community rules it in ! “Receiver of Memory, is the highest position in the community.” (Campbell p 717) Books are found on a self in the receivers home. At first Jonas did not understand what they were but soon realized they where knowledge of “elsewhere”. “Jonas is shocked to discover that “elsewhere” where people make there own decisions.” (Chaston) “ Elsewhere is where memory is. Also it is where feeling and suffering are. Elsewhere is sometimes described as Heaven, because heaven will never be corrupt ” (Louis pp 414-422) All the children have a form of education although its not the same education that me and you get in today’s society. “Jonas is not only cut off from history but also geography.” (Hanson p 45) If only one person had access to books and an education how would one survive to in today’s world? Well it would be difficult because we are so to having information at our figure tips. We would not have a revaluation going on in the Middle East because there would not be Internet. So Lowry is telling us that we should attend school so that we have knowledge of what’s going on in our world and so that we do not repeat all the mistakes in history. However the United States has started to repeat history with the downfall of the economy, it has given the wake up call it need. Otherwise if we really start repeating history without stopping to fix it we will become a dystopain society.
How do escape a society that has a ton of rules and regulations?
You must leave at dark on a bike with lots of water and water. You have no clue where the nearest town is so might want to pack a blanket. For its the only time that there is not very much surveillance. Most people are in bed once it becomes dark outside. Although there will be some surveillance it is you best bet not to get caught. If you get caught you will be released.
“The end of the book makes the reader wonder whether the lights on the trees are real or memories. I will say that I find it an optimistic ending. How could it not be an optimistic ending, a happy ending, when the house that is in the house in the distance has lights on and music playing? So I am always kind of surprised and disappointed when some people tell me that they think that6 the boy and the baby just die. I do not think they die. What form their new life takes is something I like people to figure out for themselves. For invokes that the reader uses there imagination and each person will give it a different ending.” (Lowry) “Lowry's novel is compelling, terrifying, and above all hopeful, through reading about Jonas a boy who has the courage and vision to help his people to acknowledge pain and differences. Lowry's reader can experience theory of pushing the gate open that separates them from elsewhere” (Telgan pp 162-182) “At this most difficult crossroad Jonas makes a decision based on a memory received of someone being released by his own father.” (Freidman &Cataldo) “Jonas hatches a plan to leave the community by hiding in the back of the town when the rest of society is preoccupied with the annual ceremony however he that Gabriel is scheduled for immediate release due to the failure to thrive. Jonas is forced to flee with infant and his dads bike.” (Hanson p 45) “ Since Jonas plans to escape failed he steals his fathers bicycle and Gabriel, and rides towards elsewhere. The journey is cold, dark, and painful. They both become hungry and are sleep deprived.” (Telgan pp 162-182) “The novel ending is ambiguous, but circular.” (Telgan p 162-182) So in the end we must listen to Lowry's warring if we do not want to end up in a dystopia society.



Works Cited

Campbell, Patty. “The Sand in the Oyster” Horn Magazine; Nov/Dec 93 Vol 69 issue 6 p 717 Web Feb 4,2011

Carter, Carter F. "Extrapolation." p 45. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Feb. 2011.

Chaston, Joel D. "Chapter Six "What Friends Do;Rabble Starkey, Number the Stars and The Giver." Ed. Ruth K. MacDonald. Louis Lowry. New York: Twayna, 1997. p 114-24. Print.

Freidman, Audrey, and Cataldo, Christina . "Character at Crossroads:Reflective Decision Markers in Newberry Books." The Reading Teacher 56.2: p 102-12. Web. 5 Feb. 2011.

Latham, Don. "Discipline and It Discontents : a fundamental Reading of The Giver." (2004): p 134-50. Children's Literature Research Library. Web. 05 Feb. 2011.

Lowry, Louis. "Newberry Medal Acceptance Speech." Hornback Magazine 70.4:p 414-22. Web. 05 Feb. 2011.

Telgan, Diane, ed. "The Giver." Novels for Students. Vol. 3. New York: Gale, 1998. p 160-82. Print.



The Giver: Utopia and Dystopia

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Trang Le Antarctica – March 10, 2010 The Giver Essay Lois Lowry’s The Giver is set in a futuristic, dichotomous society, one that is both utopian and dystopian. In response to the overwhelming destruction and chaos in the world, the Elders have attempted to create and maintain a peaceful and orderly utopia, but this security comes at a price. The citizens of the community have sacrificed their individuality and freedom. Although most adult members have some knowledge of the hypocrisies involved, they choose to perpetuate the deception, allowing the community, as a whole, to continue on blissful ignorance.

When young Jonas is confronted with all the truths of the present and all the memories of the past, he must choose for himself whether the sacrifice is worth it. Lowry uses this fictitious community to remind her readers of the value of independent thinking. We all crave stability and security, but at what cost? The utopian setting of the community allows the citizens live in an arranged and calm paradise. The community has climate control, meaning they keep it at the same temperature the same and have no seasons or different kinds of weather.

This is very normal to the citizens, but to The Receiver and The Giver, it is very abnormal. They aren’t able to enjoy the sensation of snow, the feeling of sunlight, the warmth or coolness of a simple breeze; it is the same every day. As Jonas receives his first memory, he feels the chill of snow and the joy of a hill. He exclaims that he is surprised because he didn’t know that there was such a thing as snow, or a sled, or a hill. He wonders and questions why his own community had no such things, but climate control made snow go obsolete and hills became flat ground.

As Jonas experiences more memories and sees beyond his community he begins to realize that Sameness wasn’t very good, that it made everything alike, there was no such thing as individuality. The community experiences no real, sufficient pain, just cuts and bruises, nothing serious enough to make them want to cry. The sadness, the emptiness, the hurt, the community never felt any of it. The Receiver has to experience it alone. Giving them so much pain that they have to go on alone, without a companion to share their memories with.

The community is colorless, through the eyes of its people, everything is colorless. Preciseness of words is very important. One error in a child’s speech and they could be hit. Poor little Asher had gone silent for a month because of the smacks he got, just because he had said ‘smacks’ instead of ‘snacks’. The community doesn’t have any emotions; the word ‘love’ has gone obsolete. Adults laugh at the word ‘love’ because no one uses it anymore and it has very little meaning. But to Jonas, “love” is not meaningless, it meant a lot; it is meaningful.

The many policies and conditions the community has set limits on its residents. Each family unit had the maximum of four members. Civilians would apply for a spouse, a first child, or a second child. They aren’t able to choose themselves and they aren’t able to have their own children because they think they will choose the wrong one. The children that reside in the community have a specific appearance, such as hair and clothing to make them more organized and neat-looking. Depending on your age, your hairstyle would be different from the children from different age groups.

When you turn a year older, you get a new jacket with more features than the one you used during the past year. When you become a Ten, if you are a female, your braids were to be cut off, and if you are a boy, your long childish locks are cut off the show your ears and make you look manlier with your short haircut. At the Ceremony of Twelves, the children get their job; they are given a specific job that fits their actions and by where they had spent most of their volunteer hours.

Everything is chosen for you, you can’t make a choice that’s important by yourself, and someone else is to choose for you. The Release of the Old and the Release of some of the unfortunate infants may seem very benign but it isn’t. Other folk believe Release to Elsewhere would nice but what they think is wrong. The workers actually use a syringe and inject fluids into the innocent elder, infant, or voluntary victim to kill them. Jonas’ father had to Release the innocent twin brother because he was identical but was smaller than his sibling.

Jonas believes that the people that Release others have no feelings; that they have no regard that they are killing an innocent life just because they were born that way or that they were getting too old. Jonas discovers what is really beyond his community, beyond all the rules and policies they have to follow; he decides to leave and give all of his memories to the rest of the community so they would know about what they have not seen or experienced before. Jonas discovers that the community has decided too many things for everyone. He realizes Sameness is not right, that it cannot last any longer.

He thinks of all the what-ifs. What if the Elders choose a wrong spouse? What if the Elders choose the wrong job for someone? What if everyone was able to see color? Would life be better? Would life be more pleasant? He realizes the only way to find out is to leave. The Giver and Jonas decide for Jonas to leave and never come back. He is to go further and further away from the community so that all of the memories that he has received will go into the minds of everyone else living in the community, allowing them to see beyond the bleak life within Sameness.

Jonas leaves because he believes that if all of his memories were to be transmitted to everyone else in the community, life could go back to the way it was before Sameness. He hopes that the community will become independent and not the same as everything else. The community is very safe, but can’t they trade some of the security into freedom? The community is trapped in rules and regulations they all have to follow that limit all their individual thoughts and their opinions.

The community would in fact be a little less safe, but freedom is important as well, and the citizens on Jonas’ community have no freedom whatsoever. They are even limited to their speech. It’s like they can’t choose for themselves, like toddlers, but they should be more sensible than that. They should have the capability to make decisions without other people choosing for them. The Patriot Act was issued in 2001 after 9/11 struck. The Patriot Act gave the authorities to do whatever they want, such as search homes without the owner’s permission or go through phone calls without a court order.

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Lois Lowry’s utopian community doesn’t allow its people to choose what goes on in their lives. The Patriot Act did the same thing but it had something to do with the citizens’ privacy. The Patriot Act took away the freedom of talking on the phone knowing anyone might be listening in on them. It took away some of the freedom they had and added more security, but it also invaded their privacy. Jonas may have been a Twelve, but he has a creative mind and can ‘see-beyond’, believing that one day, his community may go back to being what it was like in the past.

Author: Brandon Johnson

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