The Giver – Literature – Setting

The Giver takes place in a dystopian world in an unspecified future. In the book, the people in the community don’t have a past. That’s why we don’t know the exact date when the events occur. The people have no memories, freedom of choice or ability to see colors and experience deep emotions such as love. Everyone dresses, lives and behaves in the same way.
The community, where our protagonist Jonas lives is a small, riverside community. In this community, there are lots of useful facilities for the people. For example, the people have the Nurturing Center, where the newborn babies are taken care of, the House of the Old, in which the Elders live before they are released (die) and the Auditorium, where public events take place. There are also several family houses which are called units or dwellings. The place where The Giver lives is called Annex. Nobody is allowed to go there except The Giver and Jonas. All these facilities have neutral names, so they don’t evoke any feelings. Calling facilities with such names affects the social/ psychological development of the characters. For example, calling houses as “family units” gives us a sense that people don’t have real and caring families. The term of family does not mean anything to them. So this makes the community distant from emotions. Although, the “Nurturing Center” seems to have a positive meaning, this neutral name doesn’t also give good feelings because the babies in the Nurturing Center are kept away from their birthmothers. Those babies never know mother’s affection. The people use “Auditorium” to describe the place where people meet for formal occasions. This name doesn’t also arouse any feelings. It can be understood that the people come together only for certain purposes and they don’t have anything to share in common.
There is an emphasis on the month of December, in which the people celebrate new ages. This month of December is also important for Jonas because there is the Ceremony of Twelve, when Jonas will be assigned to a job.
There is another special setting in the book, which is called “Elsewhere”. This term is used to call anywhere that is beyond the community. The physical presence of Elsewhere is not certain. It refers to any area outside of Jonas’s community and the people believe that the released people go there and they are never seen or heard from again. At the end of the book, Jonas passes the physical borders of the community to achieve the plan to release the memories of the community. Jonas thinks that he will reach Elsewhere, when he crosses the borders beyond the community’s reach. However, this also means that he will never return to his community.