At the age of twelve children in the community receive their assignments (or rather the job that they will be performing for the rest of their lives). Up until then Jonas lived safely within the community, a place where there is no war, no hunger and no pain. But that was until Jonas was chosen as the Receiver of Memory.
The keeper of memories
The Giver is an easy-to-read novel although some of the concepts introduced in the novel are not so easy to digest. On the surface the community where Jonas lives seems perfect. No war, hunger or pain. But that is until Jonas receives the most important assignment of all. He is to be the Receiver of Memory which means that he will be the keeper of all the memories of all mankind. The people in his community have no memories other than that of their own lives. They thus need a Receiver to keep the memories for them and advise the community based on those memories.
The Giver, which is the previous Receiver of Memory, gives the memories to Jonas one by one. The Giver starts off by giving Jonas happy memories like the memory of a rainbow but soon the Giver has to give Jonas more painful memories of starvation, war, pain and loneliness. Jonas struggles to deal with these memories as it is something that he has not experienced before. Jonas’s world seems ideal compared to these memories but his world is also a world without love.
The people in the community, Jonas’s parents included, do not understand the concept of love as they have no knowledge of it. But the memory of love has such an influence on Jonas that he decides that it would be better to have pain and suffering if there could also be love. He starts to reject the ideas his community has on what life should be like.
A world without pain, loss or loneliness seems ideal but what would that world be if there was no colour, no choice and no love.
What would you choose?
I enjoyed this book immensely. The concepts and ideas introduced in this novel makes one think and re-evaluate the life you’re living. Am I exercising my right to choice? Am I seeing the colour in my life?
The only critique I have of The Giver is that the concepts could have been dealt with more in-depth. I feel that Lowry touches the surface of these concepts but don’t explore them in detail. This could be to encourage the reader to make up their own mind and to give them the freedom of choice as to how they want to interpret the novel. I personally would have liked the novel to explore these concepts further.