An Analysis of Freedom in the Giver by Lois Lowry
Freedom and choice are fundamental human rights required to have a healthy and fair community. Basic human rights, such as freedom helps people express their individuality and helps the person make crucial decisions. The Giver, by Lois Lowry, portrays an ideal and open-minded utopia for everyone, but once Jonas is given the role as the Receiver of Memory, the truth of his community begins to surface. The community of The Giver is dehumanized by the Committee of Elder’s profound amount of control over their society. Citizens in the novel conform to the rules that their government established because of their fear of punishment and failure. The citizen’s feelings, as well as the harsh rules that have been implemented, are intended to show the readers that the community resembles a dystopian society, one in which the citizens have little power.
The community of The Giver resembles close relations to a dystopian society because of the totalitarian control that the government has. Citizens in Jonas’ world have very little individuality or natural rights which are important for a society to survive. A dystopian society is characterized by the government’s powerful influence over everything including people’s thoughts, what people wish to do or say, and for citizen’s unwillingness to not question the rules or laws they have put in place to ensure this control. The government in The Giver is called the Committee of Elders. Although the Committee of Elders appears to be fair and kind, they are manipulative and will force you to not question anything to obtain power. Citizens believe that any decision made by the Committee will benefit the community, demonstrating how manipulative the government is. The fear is commonly used by those in positions of authority in society to retain control over the society and hold it in place. In the novel, the fear is the penalty called release. Release is killing a rule breaker or anyone else who chooses to be released from the community. People are released if they have violated the key rules three times or if a person has made one significant error. The release of the Pilot-in-Training in the early chapters of the book is an example of a significant mistake in the novel. It does not matter if you are a contributing citizen, “...(being) released was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming state of failure.” (page 13). Being seen as a failure makes people use you as a teaching moment, so that they do not make the same mistake. Mistakes are viewed by the Committee of Elders as a means of demonstrating to them that the Pilot-in-Training is a failure to everyone and to not make the same mistake. To release people, they inject a serum into their veins using a syringe, killing them quietly and quickly. The people injecting the serum are usually ordinary citizens going about their business. These citizens are unaware of the consequences of the release because “...”They cannot help it. They know nothing.”” (page 192) and do not understand why they should do it, relying on what the Committee of Elders tells them. The novel tells the readers that in this society that lying is bad and they should never do it. When the Committee fails to tell the truth to their citizens, this rule is violated. This analysis demonstrates to readers how much inequality exists in this society, demonstrating how dystopian it is. When Jonas discovers the truth about release in Chapters 19 and 20, he realises the injustice in the community he thought was perfect.
The Committee of Elders has complete control over their community and makes every effort to demonstrate their authority.
Every citizen has a set routine to follow every day.
This routine was made by the government.
It is seen as weird and rude to not follow and contribute to the rituals. It is not seen as weird when Jonas gets role as Receiver of Memory.
“It was one of the rituals, the evening telling of feelings.” (page 15)
A fear and embarrassment controls citizens when breaking rules.
Citizens scared to question laws and thus helps the government show their authority.
Jonas’ community bears a striking resemblance to a dystopian society ruled by the government.
Government has full control over what they want to do, think, or say (totalitarian).
Rules = not fair, powerful, not questioned.
Citizens cannot have their own desires that do not benefit the community.
These desires are the Stirrings.
The Stirrings are what people want in life.
Desires are prevented by the pills to try and stop and calm them.
“... Stirrings must be reported in order for treatment to take place.” (page 55)
The community of The Giver is dehumanized by the Committee of Elder’s profound amount of control over their society. The community in the novel lacks basic human rights and individuality due to the Committee of Elders' harsh rules and laws which are designed to make their community a perfect place to live. Citizens in The Giver cannot have their own wishes and desires, which the government prevents by making people take pills to keep everyone the same and by telling your family about your dreams, which is how the Stirrings are discovered in the first place. These factors demonstrate how the government manipulates Jonas' community. This dystopian society may appear to be a great place to live but closer examination reveals that it is anything but that.