Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Giver

Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Harper Collins Children's Books, 2006
(first published by Houghton Mifflin 1993)

This is one of the few dystopia novels we have for the first-year-students (could be the only one) and I am actually using it for the first time now, despite having liked it for quite some time. 11-year-old Jonas lives in a perfect, tranquil world where "sameness" is a virtue and strong emotion is unknown, medicined and regulated away since time immemorial. The elderly, the criminal and babies who aren't quite perfect are dispatched into Never Never land through a beautiful ceremony called Release. Release indeed, with a big, fat, poison syringe plunged into your blood system, you certainly won't be coming back, that's for sure.

Like all the 11-year-olds, Jonas is looking forward to the ceremony of twelve where the smart oldies in the community reveal to the youngsters what their profession will be. Professions are chosen carefully to suit the children's dispositions and abilities. After Jonas has seen his peers be given futures such as Director of recreation, Fish hatchery attendant, Instructor of sixes and, Birthmother, he is given the questionable honor of becoming the communities Receiver, a job without a proper job description. This, he is given soon enough though and the purpose he is supposed to serve is to be given (by the ageing present Receiver) all the memories of the world. The good ones: sunshine, color (which does not exist for the rest), music, snow and family, make Jonas wonder if there is not something to be said for choice, but the bad ones: war, famine, death and pain turn him into an outsider who may finally be able to plunge his own bland world into change that is sorely needed.

No comments: