It’s my second time reading The Giver and again I am quite taken by the story. Here is a society in which every aspect of reality is controlled from the weather, to what people eat, to what they are allowed to think, for the most part.
The story opens with Jon, an observant boy who is about to turn twelve, the age at which he will receive his Assignment. He is anxious about it: Who will he be assigned to become? What role in the community will he be assigned to fulfill?
Opening the story with Jon gives us a sense of the type of society he lives in. Through his eyes, we are able to see how unnaturally structured the community is and how much the people’s lives are controlled by those in charge.
Everyone is expected to act the same and abide by the rules in the community. There is a three-strike policy and if a person breaks a rule a third time, he is “released” from the community. Sameness is of utmost importance and difference is not accepted. Those who may seem different must assimilate to the community’s practices or they will be “released.”
At the community’s Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas receives his assignment as the Receiver of Memory, an honored position in the community. For this position, Jonas will receive all the memories of the community, which is like the history of the community and the human race. Being the Receiver of Memory, Jonas is exempt from Sameness. He is allowed to be different. In being different, he is allowed to feel and experience emotion, something that other members of the community are unable to do. Until this moment, Jonas was unaware that he was prevented from experiencing emotions or being able to choose.