Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Giver

Lowry, Lois (Author)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014. 226 pages
First published: 1993
ISBN: 9780544336261 (paperback)
9780547995663 (hardcover)
9780547345901 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Dystopian

Text Elements:

character, conflict, dialogue, evocative language, point of view, setting

Award

Newbery Medal – 1994

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Since the communities opted for “Sameness,” there is nothing to fear. Any dreams and emotions are analyzed into harmlessness; “Stirrings” are medicated away upon their onset at puberty. Weather has been eliminated, as have animals, music and colours. Everything in this imagined society is prescribed, from spousal assignments, to clothing, to the age at which children may begin to ride a bicycle. When they become “Twelves,” citizens relinquish their childhood and are appointed to an occupation. Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memory, a painful, lonely post. He will carry the entirety of human history, its cruelty and its beauty, passed along from the current, aging Receiver. As Jonas realizes the extent of the sensory and emotional erasure to which his fellow citizens are subjected, trepidation turns to anger. He and his mentor hatch a plan to return memory to the people, but it goes awry when he realizes that his baby foster brother Gabriel will be “Released” because he doesn’t sleep through the night. Saving the boy’s life, Jonas escapes with him far into Elsewhere.

The vocabulary of the closed society reflects its chilling utilitarian dictates: “citizens” are divided into merely “males” and “females;” “newchildren” are born to “birthmothers”—an employment category only—and allocated to a family; bedrooms are “sleepingrooms.” Everyone is trained to use precise language, yet paradoxically, Jonas finds he lacks the words to describe sunshine, snow or love.

The narrative is powerfully wrought and is an affecting reminder that, in trying to avoid conflict and chance, “we gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.”

  •  

    Discuss the concept of rules, including when and where they are applied, and for what purpose. What would happen if there were no rules?

  •  

    The Giver explains, “We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.” List some of the advantages and disadvantages of living in Jonas’ world. Discuss them with a partner.

  •  What do you think was waiting for Jonas at the end of the story? Write a final chapter to finish the book.
  •  

    Would you rather live in a cold, emotionless, uneventful, yet stress-, pain- and worry-free society or the society we live in today? Discuss this in small groups.

  •  

    Take note of words the author uses to describe the community Jonas lives in. Compare notes with a partner at the end.

  •  In a small group, create a trailer/advertisement (either digital or hardcopy) for the novel, showcasing the main characters, setting and plot. Be sure not to give away any end-of-book spoilers.
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Social Sciences