Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Giver

I loved this book. Unfortunately, its surprise plot twist (not twist, really, but, you know) was spoiled for me in advance. It was offered as a book group choice at our school's third grade and the teacher let parents know children would be reading a book "on euthanasia."

I wish I'd been able to read it without that foreknowledge. I suspect I would have guessed the true meaning of "release" anyway. But I'd have liked the chance.

This became our book group's book for last month. This interesting question arose, which I share with you here:

In stories about regimented eu/dys-topias (1984, The Matrix, Brave New World, etc.), the protagonist always escapes. The societal liberation is brought about by someone who fights the status quo, either from within, or by abandoning it. Is it possible to create a compelling story in which the protagonist is persuaded by the merits of and chooses to remain and support the society despite knowledge of its shortfalls?

7 comments:

Betsy said...

did you think that he was the giver's son because he had the same eyes? that may be a really non-important question, but i was just curious.

texasblu said...

I love this story...

And didn't the giver do that? He did stay to help reshape things - the other left, because he HAD to...

I understand this was the first of a series - 3 books in all. I haven't found the other two yet. I need to find them! :)

Wendy said...

I'm in Alicia's book group (Hi Alicia!). I was lukewarm on the story and felt like it was "1984"-for-kids. I read something after book group that Lois Lowry was interested in exploring the idea of memory in this book. And I think that is one of the things that bothered me about the story. In "The Giver" memories are solid, permanent things that have to find a home somewhere, in the Giver, the Receiver, or the community. I don't think memories are like that at all! I think it's more like Milan Kundera's "Unbearable Lightness of Being" where events happen and ultimately are insignificant. Memories have no weight and are fragile, perishable things.
Re: Betsy's comment--I didn't think Jonas was the Giver's son because I thought every person was genetically engineered (to not see color and maybe for other things?) and there were no biological relationships. The birth mothers were surrogates.
I'm interested to read "Messenger" and "Gathering Blue" to see how/if the whole story ties together.

BookGal said...

I wonder about this one for third grade. Maybe fifth or sixth. I found the ending quite disturbing.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this book, but, also also found the end disturbing. I'm surprised that it was your third grade reading assignment. There is more to this story than just the "release". This book also explores early sexual feelings. How old are third graders, 8 or 9? Can't these type of books wait a little longer? Everyone's growing up so fast :o).

Patty said...

I currently teach this novel for 7th grade PreAP English... and I've also taught it in the 4th and 5th grades. Due to the themes contained in the novel it can be taught at a variety of levels and therefore the understandings gained at each level vary greatly.

Also, to clarify... Gathering Blue and The Messenger are companion books not sequels. There are thematic ties -- and some similarities -- but they are not sequels. However, if you loved reading The Giver -- you will love these as well!

Anonymous said...

I have read this book, and it is one of the best, most compelling books you will ever read. In this book, the way the people live is soo... weird. They live in the "community." There are no birthdays, they all turn a different age, say into a three or a twelve, in December. When they become a 12 they are assigned jobs. They don't choose their jobs, they are assigned jobs according to their personalities, skills, etc. If you break the rules three times you get "released," which means thay kill you by lethal injection. Oh, and they are'nt born, they are created by scientists. Anf, they all see in black and white. AND, there are no TVs or any electronice what so ever. Not even candles or cars! They ride bycicles, which they obtain when they become and Eight. For those of you who want to read this book, I won't spoil the rest of the book. Plus, their's a lot to say of this book, and if I explain the rest I'd be writing the book! Trust me, this book is soo good it's inexplainable! Hope you ebjoy this book!