Conformity and Lois Lowry's The Giver

Jonas asks, “What if we could hold up things that were bright red or bright yellow, and [Gabriel] could choose?” The Giver replies with “He might make wrong choices.”

Unlike novels like Brave New World, A Wrinkle in Time and 1984, the community in The Giver is small enough, and is allowed enough choice, that people do not realize that they are being controlled into Sameness. Camaztoz, is the most extreme in the examples of conformed societies, where all people operate on exactly the same time table. Like IT’s control of many worlds and his assertion that it is only to eliminate pain and choice, the community in The Giver and the choices that are made for the people are also designed to keep them from the pain of war, famine, etc. that Jonas receives as memories from the Giver.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Amazon Link)

That Gabriel might make the wrong choice when it comes to the color of a toy is inconsequential. The Giver challenges Jonas to think about the bigger picture, other wrong choices that Gabriel could make in the future, and Jonas acquiesces.

I felt like both the Giver and Jonas struggled with whether or not they saw the sameness that permeates the community as completely beneficial to the community, especially when it comes to the release of citizens.

Our discussion questions ask if we’ve ever made a wrong choice, if we’ve regretted having to choose. It may seem surface to many, my recent major choice that I have guilt about more than regret, is the choice of a mobile phone. My brother-in-law works for Verizon and I have AT&T. I was supposed to switch to Verizon—everyone in my family has a Blackberry. But that device didn’t and doesn’t make sense for me. I’m a Mac user and since last September have carried around my phone and my iPod because the functionality of my iPod was better suited for what I wanted in a device than my Blackberry. Do I regret buying an iPhone rather than switching to Verizon? Not really. I just have family members that make me feel bad for choosing what makes sense for me. I’m sure they could take a lesson from the community—I’m sure one of the rules must be not to lay guilt trips on people for indiscretions.

Lowry, L. (1993). The Giver. St. Paul, MN: EMC/Paradigm Publishing.


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