The Giver – Literature – Themes

Memories are the values that make you human

Memories make you human and they play a significant role in human life. In the past the community wanted to remove all pain and suffering from their lives. To achieve this, they had to give up their memories. By doing this, the people in the community forgot about all the unpleasant experiences they had gone through and they became wary of engaging in activities that could cause conflict and suffering. They wanted to create a completely peaceful society. They became successful but they also forgot about some beautiful feelings like happiness, love and other deep emotions. The community is in an almost perfect condition. However, The Committee of Elders notice that one should remember his or her errors not to repeat them again. If you make same mistakes repeatedly, you can’t learn anything from them. For that reason, a Receiver is needed to remember history for the community. Lois Lowry points out memories’ preciousness and their power to influence, guide, and enrich life.

You should make your own decisions

In the novel, Lowry emphasizes the importance of individuality and being free to choose. She tries to make every reader aware of the dangers of uniformity at the expense of individuality. Therefore, throughout the book, Lois Lowry tries to bring the reader’s attention to this subject. Everyone should have freedom of choice. People shouldn’t blindly obey the rules of society. They must be aware of and must question everything about their lives. In Jonas’s community, no one makes their own choices.
The people passively accept all choices, rules and customs. Every choice is made by the Committee of Elders. They choose everything for the people from their clothing to their job, spouse, and even their children. The people always do what they are told to do and they know nothing else. For example, they never question why they are supposed to kill certain babies simply because they are different or the fact that they are killing old people who are no longer productive to the community. The Committee of Elders hoped that by preventing the people from making choices, especially wrong choices, the community would be safe.
However, when Jonas escapes from the community, he realizes that he can choose his own destiny instead of remaining in the safety of a community that normally does not even let its citizens choose the time and manner of their death. Even though letting people make individual choice usually involves risk, it also provides Jonas the opportunity to live a lot of joyful experiences. The Giver helps Jonas to understand both the advantages and disadvantages of personal choice, but still Jonas believes that taking risk is worth the benefits.

With love comes pain and suffering, but it is worth it

Lois Lowry emphasizes how a person can change when he experiences some precious emotions. She shows us the changes in Jonas during the novel due to his experiences and actions. The people in Jonas’s community don’t experience the real emotions because the system, by which the people are ruled, doesn’t give any opportunity to feel deep emotions. They can’t choose their own spouses. They are not allowed to be in physical contact. Birthmothers can’t raise their own children. Identical twins can’t both survive or else they will be too close emotionally. That’s why one of the twins should be released (be killed). When Jonas begins his training as Receiver of Memory, he realizes that only the ones who have memory and life experiences can access true emotions. He also understands that only if one experiences pain and loneliness can he also truly feel love and joy.
Once Jonas realizes the beauty of human emotions, he thinks that it is really cruel to make people live emotionless lives. So he wants to change this situation and he decides to leave the community. He wants to make the people open their eyes and wake up from this awful dream. When he leaves the community, he gives the people their memories and a sense of feeling.
After abandoning the community, he also realizes that he can’t return to that world of no feelings.