The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver
by Lois Lowry
Quick Facts
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Published in 1994
Young Adult novel genre (type of book)
Widely read by adult readers
Newbury Medal winner
Forget the film for now.
A “dystopian” story
Quick Facts
•
•
•
•
•
•
Published in 1994
Young Adult novel genre (type of book)
Widely read by adult readers
Newbury Medal winner
Forget the film for now.
A “dystopian” story
Dystopian and Utopian Stories
Utopia: A place, state, or condition that is ideally perfect in terms of
politics, laws, customs, and conditions.
Dystopia: A futuristic, imagined universe in which oppressive societal
control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through
corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control.
“Utopian” stories explore perfect or ideal societies. “Dystopian”
stories do just the opposite—they explore troubled, miserable
societies where humanity lives in degraded or even horrible
conditions, often oppressed by a powerful government or other force
Characeteristics of Dystopian Society
• Propaganda is used to control the citizens of society.
• Information, independent thought, and freedom are restricted.
• A figurehead or concept is worshipped by the citizens
• Citizens are perceived to be under constant surveillance.
• Citizens have a fear of the outside world.
• Citizens live in a dehumanized state.
• The natural world is banished and distrusted.
• Citizens conform. Individuality and dissent are bad.
• The society is often an illusion of a perfect utopian world.
Controls in a Dystopian Society
Most dystopian works present a world in which oppressive societal control
and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through one or more of the
following types of controls:
• Corporate control: One or more large corporations may control society
through products, advertising, and/or the media. Examples include Minority
Report and Running Man.
• Bureaucratic control: Society is controlled by a mindless bureaucracy
through relentless regulations and incompetent government officials. We see
this in The Giver and 1984.
• Technological control: Society is controlled by technology—through
computers, robots, and/or scientific means, such as in The Matrix.
Religious or philosophical control: Society is controlled through ideology.
We have some of this in The Giver as well.
Dystopian and Utopian Stories
Dystopian stories are particularly popular now. Can you think of any
other examples?
The Giver is, of course, a dystopian story, even though it may not
seem so at first.
Response Assignment One
1. Look up five unfamiliar words in the four assigned chapters above. Identify
the part of speech, (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) and define each IN YOUR OWN
WORDS or use each correctly in a sentence. Do NOT simply copy and paste
from an online dictionary, as that will not be helpful to your development.
2. Identify three passages of two or more lines in the first four chapters that
you find particularly well written, and explain why. What is it about the writing
that makes it work?
3. Describe the society that Jonas lives in. How is it different from our
society? How is it governed, and in what ways is harmony maintained? How
are rules enforced? Your answer must include two properly formatted quotes
from Chapters 1-4 to demonstrate your ideas.
Response Assignment One
4. Symbolism occurs in stories when a person, place, or thing that suggests
more than its literal, actual meaning. How would you describe the physical
environment in the world of The Giver? How is it symbolic of the social or
cultural environment?
5. Discuss the behavior and values of the people of Jonas’s community. What
are their culture and lifestyle like? What things are missing from their lives
that are important to us? Your answer must include two properly formatted
quotes from Chapters 1-4 to demonstrate your ideas.
6. What disturbing aspects of Jonas’s society are revealed in these first few
chapters? What negative effects might living in this kind of society have on
people? Why do you think they don’t question the way things are and how
they came to be that way? Your answer must include two properly formatted
quotes from Chapters 1-4 to demonstrate your ideas.
Response Assignment One
7. Describe Jonas. What is his personality like, and what do his values seem
to be? In other words, what is important to him? What is the significance of
his name—does it suggest anything about the story? What signs are there
that Jonas is special? Your answer must include two properly formatted
quotes from Chapters 1-4 to demonstrate your ideas.
8. Why do you think the author chose to start telling the story from this
point—how is it appropriate?
What else stood out for you about the story?
Note on mechanics. . .
When showing ownership or possession, we add an apostrophe S.
This is not optional. It’s basic stuff, and it’s really important that to our
impression that we don’t ignore it.
Go through your homework and double check. Any time a noun
(person, place or thing) comes after a name or another noun, it
probably needs an apostrophe S. For example:
Jonas’s family
Jonas’s dreams
Bicycle’s wheel
Lily’s ribbons
Mother’s job
Plane’s engine
Asher’s bicycle
Gabe’s crib
Roberto’s release
Response Assignment Two
1. Look up five unfamiliar words in the four assigned chapters above. Identify
the part of speech, (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) and define each IN YOUR OWN
WORDS or use each correctly in a sentence. Do NOT simply copy and paste
from an online dictionary, as that will not be helpful to your development.
2. Identify three passages of two or more lines in the first four chapters that
you find particularly well written, and explain why. What is it about the writing
that makes it work?
3. What do you think are the reasons for the customs of the telling of feelings
and the sharing of dreams? Why do you think Jonas rarely dreams? What,
exactly, is it about him that makes him different? Use at least one quote from
the text to support your point; include the page number.
Response Assignment Two
4. Why do you think the people of Jonas’s community are required to take pills
after the Stirrings begin? Apart from the obvious, what do you think some of the
more indirect consequences of this practice might be? And why would such a
policy of total sexlessness be important in a community where "sameness" is
absolutely prized? Use at least one quote from the text to support your point;
include the page number.
5. What do you think is significant about having different markers for each age
group such as the ribbons, the clothes that button in front, etc.? Discuss how
children are taught in Jonas’s society. How does the classroom symbolize the
greater society and culture as a whole? Use at least one quote from the text to
support your point; include the page number.
6. Why do you think a Receiver must have the qualities named by the Chief Elder?
What specific advantage do these qualities provide?
.
Response Assignment Two
7. Why do you think Jonas is exempt from the rules governing rudeness?
Why do you think he is not allowed to discuss his training or his dreams with
anyone? Why do you think he is allowed to lie?
8. What effect can you imagine a life almost completely free of pain might
have on people? It sounds wonderful, but, would it be? Explain.
9 . Why do you think the community has a rule against locking doors? What
reasons might the Receiver (The Giver) have for locking his door besides the
one the Attendant gives Jonas? Why do you think he alone has the power to
turn off the speaker in his dwelling?
Response Assignment Two
10. What do you think pale eyes might be intended to symbolize in the novel?
What major theme of the novel does The Giver’s decision to share the
memories of both sunshine and sunburn relate to?
11. What is Sameness, and why do you think the people of Jonas’s society
chose to institute it? What are some of the consequences of Sameness for
people’s lives? Use at least one quote from the text to support your point;
include the page number.
Response Assignment Three
1. How would you interpret the meaning of Jonas’s dream?
2. Why does Jonas have such a hard time describing what “seeing beyond”
is? Be very specific. Use at least one quote from the text to support your
point; include the page number.
3. Why are the people in the story unable to see color? How is the inability to
see color symbolic of the lives of the people in Jonas’s society— in other
words, what main idea from the story does this inability symbolize?
4. What do we learn in these chapters about the color of people’s skin in
Jonas’s society? What does this suggest about the history of Jonas’s
society? Use at least one quote from the text to support your point; include
the page number.
Response Assignment Three
5. What reaction does Jonas have to the idea of Sameness? Why do you
think he has this reaction? How does The Giver apparently feel, and what
does this suggest about how the story will proceed (foreshadowing)? Use at
least one quote from the text to support your point; include the page number.
6. On the surface, many would say that the people of Jonas's society
exchanged "freedom" for sameness. While that is true, it's vague. What
concrete things did the people of Jonas’s society exchange for Sameness?
What benefits did they receive? Use at least one quote from the text to
support your point; include the page number.
7. Why does Jonas start to feel “irrationally angry” in his day-to-day life? Is
this feeling a byproduct of "knowledge" or "knowing"? Explain.
Response Assignment Three
8. What especially disturbing memory involving elephants does The Giver
give Jonas, and what aspects of it make it so disturbing? Why do you think
The Giver chooses this memory specifically?
9. What does the breaking up of family units (when parents go to live with the
“Childless Adults”) suggest about relationships between people in Jonas’s
society? What attitude do the people of Jonas’s society have toward the
concept of love? How is this attitude reflected in family members’
relationships? Use at least one quote from the text to support your point;
include the page number.
10. What does Jonas think constitutes the essence or the point of life as he
has lived it so far? What does The Giver suggest is the essence of his life?
Response Assignment Three
11. What significance might Gabriel’s inability to sleep soundly have? What
does the fact that Gabriel is able to absorb the memory that Jonas transmits
to him suggest about him? What is the significance of Gabriel’s name?
12. Describe The Giver, now that more has been revealed about his
personality and character. Why was he a good choice for the position of
Receiver? In light of his words at the end of Chapter 15, how might the task
of being a Giver be difficult for a person like him? Use at least one quote from
the text to support your point; include the page number.
13. What is Jonas’s initial reaction to the idea of giving everyone choices
about, and control over, their lives? Why do you think he reacts this way?
What changes his mind? Explain.
Response Assignment Three
14. How is the nature of Jonas’s feelings different from that of everyone else’s
feelings? Why do you think he decides to stop taking the pill? Use at least
one quote from the text to support your point; include the page number.
15. In light of what Jonas discovers later, why do you think his father uses his
“silly voice” when he answers Jonas’s question about the release of one of
the twins? What does this show about him (and, probably, all of the other
adults of the community) as a person? Explain.
Response Assignment Four
1. Why do you think all of the painful memories seem to outweigh the happy
ones in terms of their effect on The Giver, Jonas, and Rosemary? What does
this say about the nature of memory?
2. What do you think The Giver is thinking about at the end of Chapter 18?
3. What aspects of the ceremony of release are disturbing? Why do you think
the term “release” is used? What effect do you think witnessing the
ceremony will have on Jonas?
4. In your opinion, why did Rosemary fail as a Receiver? The Giver doesn’t
see it as a failure of her courage. How do you define courage, and why might
The Giver feel that way?
Response Assignment Four
1. Why do you think all of the painful memories seem to outweigh the happy
ones in terms of their effect on The Giver, Jonas, and Rosemary? What does
this say about the nature of memory?
2. What do you think The Giver is thinking about at the end of Chapter 18?
3. What aspects of the ceremony of release are disturbing? Why do you think
the term “release” is used? What effect do you think witnessing the
ceremony will have on Jonas?
4. In your opinion, why did Rosemary fail as a Receiver? The Giver doesn’t
see it as a failure of her courage. How do you define courage, and why might
The Giver feel that way?
5. Why does The Giver not hate the people of their community, despite their
dishonesty and lack of compassion?
Response Assignment Four
6. Why is the expression “lied easily” repeated at the top of page 158, and
what does it suggest about
Father and then Jonas himself?
7. How is the timing of The Giver and Jonas’s plan ideal?
8. What new meaning does the term “Elsewhere” have for Jonas and The
Giver?
9. What does The Giver mean when he says that he wants to “be with [his]
daughter”? What foreshadowing of this has occurred in the story?
Response Assignment Four
6. Why is the expression “lied easily” repeated at the top of page 158, and
what does it suggest about
Father and then Jonas himself?
7. How is the timing of The Giver and Jonas’s plan ideal?
8. What new meaning does the term “Elsewhere” have for Jonas and The
Giver?
9. What does The Giver mean when he says that he wants to “be with [his]
daughter”? What foreshadowing of this has occurred in the story?
10. How is Gabe’s upbringing different from that of other children, and how do
you think it affects his development and his personality?
Response Assignment Four
11. What fundamental change occurs in Jonas as their difficult journey
continues and they grow weaker? See page 174 especially.
12. What must Jonas learn to do as the memories of strength and courage
given to him by The Giver begin to fade? What theme does this process
suggest? (See p.178 especially.)
13. What theme is suggested by the first paragraph of Chapter 23?
14. What do the following things symbolize near the end of the book: the
snow and the single snowflake (p. 176), the warmth that Jonas transmits, the
hill that Jonas climbs?
15. In what ways do the “memories” passed from Giver to Receiver differ from
real memories—what special characteristics do they have that memories
don’t have in the real world?
Response Assignment Five
1. The ending of The Giver has been interpreted in a few different ways.
Choose one possible interpretation of the ending and defend it, using clues
from the text to explain your conclusions. Your answer must include two
properly formatted quotes from the novel to demonstrate your ideas. Include
page numbers.
2. Some readers believe that Jonas and Gabriel die at the end of the novel. If
this is the case, can the novel still be considered hopeful? Yes, it’s a very sad
way of looking at the story, but even if the boys do die, does the story end
with any sense of hope? Think about your answer carefully and explain why
or why not.
Response Assignment Five
3. In a book like The Giver, which features a society unlike our own, the author
must present familiar things—sleds, love, sunburns, grandparents, color—
with completely fresh eyes. Choose something ordinary from our world that is
totally unfamiliar in the world of the book, and evaluate Lowry’s success in
capturing the characters’ reactions to the “new” object. Your answer must
include two properly formatted quotes from the novel to demonstrate your
ideas. Include page numbers.
4. The requirement for precise language is often used as a tool for social
control in The Giver. Choose one or two words used in the book (examples
are release, newchild, Stirrings) that distort or conceal meaning in order to
promote the rules of the community. Describe how their use affects the
behavior and attitudes of the characters. Your answer must include two
properly formatted quotes from the novel to demonstrate your ideas. Include
page numbers.
Response Assignment Five
5. Consider the community’s repression of sexuality in The Giver. What
function does it serve in helping the society run smoothly? What dangers do
romantic love and sexuality pose to this extremely strict, structured
community? (Stick strictly to analysis of the story, please. It is obvious that
such a world is completely different from our own and that most of us could
not imagine it; in college work, obvious is never good. Avoid overly simple
ideas or personal opinions on sexuality in general. Focus on what the novel
is saying.)
6. In Jonas’s society, most forms of emotional and physical pain essentially
do not exist. How does the book present the idea that pleasure cannot exist
without pain, light without dark, positive without negative? Your answer must
include two properly formatted quotes from the novel to demonstrate your
points. Include page numbers.
Response Assignment Five
7. Discuss the significance of "dreams" in The Giver, why they are so strictly
controlled and reported, why not all townspeople dream, and what the content
of the dreams communicates about the characters and their world. Your
answer must include two properly formatted quotes from the novel to
demonstrate your ideas. Include page numbers.
8. Foreshadowing is a literary technique where clues are given to readers
about upcoming events and important character elements in the story. Give
two interesting examples of how is foreshadowing used in The Giver. Include
page numbers.
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