"The Giver" Compare and Contrast: The Individual vs. Society

To analyze The Giver, this compare and contrast essay delves into the striking differences between the world of Sameness and the modern world, where people are free to make their own choices, though often constrained by societal expectations and norms.

In Jonas’s world, everyone in the community lives by the community’s rules. The rules are very strict, and they are all based on the principle of Sameness. At its most basic, this means that all of the big decisions are made. Your family, your occupation, and your housing are chosen for you. You are provided with food and clothing. It is a life of predictability and control, but not controlled by you. You are under their control.

One of the major differences is that people do not choose their spouses or have children. Family units are created by committee, and children are created genetically (it’s not entirely clear how) and born to special birthmothers. They are raised in Nurturing Centers for a year and then appointed to family units created with one male and one female adult and one male and one female child. When the children reach a certain age they receive different types of things such as bikes when they turned 9, or when they reach the age of 8 they get their comforting object taken away.

At the Ceremony of Twelve, the community celebrates the differences between the twelve-year-old children for the first time in their lives. For many children, twelve is an age when they are struggling to carve out a distinct identity for themselves, differentiating themselves from their parents and peers. People in Jonas’s society ignore his unusual eyes and strange abilities out of politeness, but those unusual qualities end upbringing lasting, positive change to the community. 'The Giver' is put to be a utopian society but gradually appeared to become a dystopian society. In our society, things are so much different than 'The Giver' society.

Unlike 'The Giver' we get to choose our spouse, our houses, our occupations, and we also get to choose what we would like to eat everyday. Although we have some similarities like 'The Giver' we still have much more freedom than they do. We do have rules like them but not the same as they do. People can only see black and white besides the Giver and Jonas, everyone has brown hair and brown eyes except for Jonas, his adoptive brother Gabe and Fiona, all kids are given assigned names, jobs, and families, the government/society controls everything and even listens in on your conversation, and it's not an offense for somebody to touch others.

We also have some similarities, the first similarity is that elderly people are left out of the society. In the novel, the elderly cannot have a family. They live in the House of the Old because they are separated from the society. All the people are getting older and weaker without exception, so it is hard for them to live without family. Nonetheless, the society isolates the elderly. “The Old were sitting quietly, some visiting and talking with one another, others doing handwork and simple crafts. A few were asleep” (p. 28). Likewise, in modern society, elderly people are lonely. Some avoid taking care of their parents suffering from a disease like Alzheimer's. The elderly are apt to be easily depressed, and this depression can be triggered by the deaths of their spouses, relatives, and friends or by financial worries. Therefore, old people need constant care and their family’s affection. However, due to the hectic lifestyle of current society, many elderly people live alone or in a care center without their family.

Another similarity can be found in the surrogate mothers’ suffering from psychological and physical pain. In The Giver, the surrogate mothers are termed as Birthmothers. That job has very little honor in this community. “Three years, Three births and that’s all. After that, they are Laborers for the rest of their adult lives, until the day that they enter the House of the Old… The Birthmothers never even get to see new children” (p. 22). Today, some women decide to become surrogate mothers of other women’s babies because of several reasons, such as sympathy for the couples who cannot have children of their own or financial reasons. Though the government controls most things, we still have our rights. Though the government controls most things, we still have our rights.

One of the most important themes in The Giver is the significance of memory to human life. Lowry was inspired to write 'The Giver' after a visit to her aging father, who had lost most of his long-term memory. She realized that without memory, there is no pain—if you cannot remember physical pain, you might as well not have experienced it, and you cannot be plagued by regret or grief if you cannot remember the events that hurt you. At some point in the past, the community in The Giver decided to eliminate all pain from their lives. To do so, they had to give up the memories of their society’s collective experiences. Not only did this allow them to forget all of the pain that had been suffered throughout human history, it also prevented members of the society from wanting to engage in activities and relationships that could result in conflict and suffering, and eliminated any nostalgia for the things the community gave up to live in total peace and harmony. According to the novel, however, memory is essential. The Committee of Elders does recognize the practical applications of memory—if you do not remember your errors, you may repeat them—so it designates a Receiver to remember history for the community. But as Jonas undergoes his training, he learns that just as there is no pain without memory, there is also no true happiness.

07 September 2020
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