The Giver (The Giver, #1) The Giver discussion

The Giver is a Utopian setting.

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message 1: by Ben (last edited Nov 04, 2014 09:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Washington I'm probably in the minority here, but I felt this needed to be addressed. In several threads on here I have seen The Giver listed as a Dystopian novel. As in "what's with the sudden surge of dystopian novels lately?" And then they list the usual suspects; Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, and *shudder* The Giver.

Here are the differences between the two settings:

Big government and military, evil government leader
Segregated and oppressed society
Underlying message of despair and warning

Council (or similar) whose members who work for the "greater good"
Integrated and communal society
Underlying message of hope

Nicole It can easily be called both

Dystopia (In The Giver)
Government changes world to become "perfect"
Inequality - the releases
Segregated and oppressed society - very structured community, doesn't allow people to go outside of their ideal mold of the community
Underlying message of despair and warning - this message is everywhere, the idea that people take away emotions because of all of the pain rendered, and therefore there is no love, how awful of an idea is that

It seems like a utopia because that's what the elders set it up as, and in a way it is one, but to the extreme

That's my opinion, what do you think?

message 3: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Washington Nicole wrote: "It can easily be called both

Dystopia (In The Giver)
Government changes world to become "perfect"
Inequality - the releases
Segregated and oppressed society - very structured community, doesn't al..."

I think calling it a Dystopia is a bit of a stretch.

The Government clearly makes calls for the greater good (view spoiler)
The releases are not an example on inequality but rather the opposite (view spoiler). (I don't really know that that one was a spoiler but I wanted to play it safe.)
They're not segregated or oppressed; everyone is treated equally - keeping everyone in the mold is for the greater good of the community. (though this point perhaps has the most merit from what you posted)
The underlying message of despair/hope; I think you're looking at the author's underlying message rather than the societies underlying message. In the society everything seems on the up-and-up; and everyone seems to have a cheerful disposition and hope that things are going to keep on being awesome.

Those are my thoughts anyway.

message 4: by Kelly Brigid ♡ (last edited Nov 04, 2014 10:47AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly Brigid ♡ I agree with Nicole.

The Giver can be considered both a Utopian and Dystopian novel.

A Utopia: A community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities.

Dystopia: a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is literally translated as "not-good bad-place" and synonymous with the opposite of utopia.

In the Giver, the Community is an example of a Utopian society. Everything seems perfect, but it is actually dark and demented; you're own spouses are chosen, emotions are obscured, and your own decisions are practically taken away. For crying out loud, memories are hidden from everyone!

I would actually consider The Giver dystopian for those reasons, but it can be classified as a utopian novel.

Nicole A dystopia is often-times masked as being a utopia. Like Panem is a "utopia" in hunger games, and in Divergent, everything seems perfect until people look underneath the "perfection" and realize the flaws in the system.

I feel like all of the communities in The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger have that utopia mask.

Angela Tyler The Giver can definitely fall into both camps. It is not an either-or decision.

Rachel Eliason On a related rant: ""what's with the sudden surge of dystopian novels lately?" I shudder when I hear this. The Giver was published in 1993, long before the Hunger Games, Divergent or any of the current dystopians. That grand daddy of dystopia, 1984 was published in 1949. Dystopian fiction has been around a long time.
I do see The Giver as dystopian. I don't think the issue is how the society is ran, but rather how the author portrays it. Many dystopias are based on the greater good, or on equality, but at the expense of individual freedom or choice. In the case of The Giver, the fact that the council isn't honest about what it's doing or why makes it a dystopia. They drug the population, people are killed but it's not called killing so no one gets upset. If that's a utopian world, I will stick our world, thank you very much. ;-)
Just my two cents.

Khaoula Rachel wrote: "On a related rant: ""what's with the sudden surge of dystopian novels lately?" I shudder when I hear this. The Giver was published in 1993, long before the Hunger Games, Divergent or any of the cur..."

I was going to write almost the same comment/reply as yours
I totally agree with you

message 9: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Washington I... this has never happened before. Am I malfunctioning? Am I due for replacement parts?

I... think I may have been wrong. I can see how the Giver can fit into both categories.

Sarah This is an interesting conversation. Ben actually corrected me on one of my comments when I said The Giver was a dystopian novel, and I thought I had made a mistake. But now, I can see how the government illustrated in The Giver is seemingly utopian, but is in fact dystopian. The illusion is that all is being done for a greater peace, when in fact, the government is extremely corrupt, by keeping all the memories of a human-like existence away from its people.

message 11: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Washington I'm sorry, Sarah. I have now been properly educated on the subject. I really thought I understood before, but now I have entered a new level of understanding.

Sarah That's okay, I can see it both ways now.

CeeCee James Wow, I had no idea. I saw it as an utopian setting also, but I can see it both ways now.

Nicole I love it when people can discuss something and not get into heated arguments!!

But I agree with the above people, it frustrates me when people talk about how The Giver is such a rip-off from all the other dystopian books, when it was one of the first of its kind

message 15: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Washington Well not the first of its kind; but certainly it revitalized the genre.

Nicole No, it definitely wasn't the first, Fahrenheit 451 came way before it and others as well, but I still kind of look at it as one of the more foundational books of that genre

Dramapuppy It's definitely a utopia. Dystopias are obviously corrupt and bad; utopias appear to be a perfect world.

Allison Smith Though Utopias seem to be a perfect world, that is not how the author wants to portray it and it isn't meant to be portrayed as a Dystopia. it's neither, it's a conflicting society with secrets but nothing so unbearably harsh. My apologies but I have to disagree.

message 19: by Iris (new) - rated it 3 stars

Iris Dystopian and Utopian are similar so to me it doesn't really matter. To argue over the semantics or politics of the two seem superfluous. Some people are happy in what are called "Dystopian" societies and some people are unhappy in "Utopian" societies. Not everyone can be pleased all the time so to label the society just causes trouble.

Nicole Iris wrote: "Dystopian and Utopian are similar so to me it doesn't really matter. To argue over the semantics or politics of the two seem superfluous. Some people are happy in what are called "Dystopian" societ..."

I agree, labels are a huge deal in society, which is funny since often there are so many layers to books, people, and other things we label that there are many things we could label them, and since each person has a different perspective we might never agree on the label.

Chelsea Another facet to consider is that this is one society in a larger world. The society in the Giver is utopian on the surface, but has dystopian veins and undercurrents. If it was truly utopian, then there would be no conflict; Jonas wouldn't want to leave.

The other communities within the Giver Quartet also have dystopian themes within them. Especially the one in Gathering Blue. So as an overall world, the Giver Quartet is set in a dystopia I'd say.

Miranda Freeman The Giver is a dystopian novel. It is disproving utopian societies through the use of a false utopian society. The dystopian society that Jonas lives in is under the guise of a utopian one. The council, that is a part of utopian societies, is the big bad government that takes away freedom by providing an illusion of freedom. No, there isn't very strict segregation but there is slight segregation. The council is not a part of regular society and the Receiver of Memory lives on the edge of their world, for God's sake. And finally, the only message of hope in this book is through the escape of the government which is a variation of main themes found in basically every dystopian novel. The book is based in a utopian society but only for the irony of the situation and to prove her point. As Chelsea said, "If it was truly utopian, then there would be no conflict; Jonas wouldn't want to leave" Just because a book has a seemingly utopian society in it, does not make it utopian.

Shukri Kolmale "The government works for the greater good." How? the council took away memories, colors, love and a lot of things that make us human from the people. The people have no choice and the elders are deciding everything(playing god). So this is a dystopian book because there are other communities unlike the one Jonas lives in which there is hunger, violence and hate.

Deeptanshu The society in Giver is one of the the worst I have read about. I would rather live in any other dystopia.
There is no hope , progress or freedom in that world.

T.S. S. Fulk I teach Utopia/Dystopia novels in my English class and the first possible assignment is to argue whether the novel they read (one of which is The Giver) is utopian or dystopian. The Giver is really the best of the ones I have available to go either way. They have achieved a "perfect" society, but is the price they paid worth it? If you think the benefits outweigh the price, then it's utopian. Otherwise it's a dystopian society.

Corey Seeing as no one is truly miserable(because only The Giver and Jonas know the reality), I doubt we can call it a dystopian society. Since it appears to be Utopia but harbors dark and disturbing secrets, the setting of it all would probably be better classified as "Anti-Utopia".

message 27: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Washington Shukri wrote: ""The government works for the greater good." How? the council took away memories, colors, love and a lot of things that make us human from the people. The people have no choice and the elders are d..."
Because survival trumps emotion.

Arcanian A Dystopia is simply a failed Utopia.

The body of the sanctioned in "The Giver" may have had an idyllic view of their actions and related consequences, but the experiences related in the story prove otherwise.

message 29: by Iris (new) - rated it 3 stars

Iris Ben wrote: "Shukri wrote: ""The government works for the greater good." How? the council took away memories, colors, love and a lot of things that make us human from the people. The people have no choice and t..."

Some would argue against that. To survive is one thing but people will only put up with it for so long. One of our innate human desires is to LIVE. We want the thrill of life, the rush of emotion. We love living, which is why we explore and create. Why we try new things. No one wants a mundane existence.

message 30: by J (new) - rated it 4 stars

J I find that there are good points for both sides of the discussion. For the utopia side, the reasons are:

1) Everybody's satisfied with what they have.

2) Everybody has a job.

3) The elderly are taken care of.

4) There's no hunger, no disease, no poverty or anything like that.

For the dystopia faction, the reasons would be:

1) They kill small children and the elderly and don't even realize it's wrong. I think that there is something wrong with that on every level. If you can get to the point where you can kill people (who are most definitely and inarguably people) just because they mess up your population numbers, there's just one slide down that steep hill they're on the brink of to a full-blown dystopia.

2) They've gone to a great effort to remove emotion. As you go through the story, Jonas and the Giver appear to be the only ones who are fully human, with all the flaws that entails.

3) Somebody appears to have gone to a lot of trouble to remove color from the world. Color is an important part of human life, and I can't see the point in removing it unless you were trying to remove a sense that could possibly trigger emotion.

I think that I would not classify it as a utopia, but it isn't a full-blown dystopia either. I think that the civilization is on the edge of going into a dystopia, because when you can kill anyone without emotion, and you can't feel love, where is that going to take you? All that world needs is one twisted person in a position of power, and then people would be in serious trouble.

message 31: by Jade (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jade To I classify the setting of The Giver to be dystopian. Here are my reasons:
* They release people, which means they are mindlessly killing babies and the elderly and don't realize it's wrong. If it is such a happy ceremony, than why is it in private? If it is so honorable, then why do criminals get released too? And, to argue that is not murder just because it is their job or because they don't know any better is an invalid explanation.
* There are no choices. In life it is good to have freedom to choose how your life will play out. If everything is chosen for you from your job, to your spouse, to your children's name how is that perfect?!
* There is sameness. How does color play a part in the society being dystopian? Why remove color if it wasn't hurting anyone!? How does seeing in black and white make the world a perfect place?
* To rid people of their true feelings and emotions is cruel. Even when Lily said she's angry, she doesn't truly have the feeling of anger. When Jonas asked his parents if they loved him, they said love was too general of a word. Then said they loved him. But, if they don't have feelings how can they truly love him.
The Giver is dystopian and that's that.

message 32: by Iris (last edited Nov 06, 2014 04:10PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Iris Chanel wrote: "If people here are referring to the society in The Giver being dystopian, then we have to extend the dystopian label to the world we live in today, and I doubt many people percieve Earth or at the ..."

I don't think it's Utopian, nor do I think it's Dystopian. They remove color and emotion. They eliminate the weak and useless. It's more like what can be found in nature. I.e. birds, felines, canines and the like. It's close to what they do in their respective communities. In the Giver they merely adopt nature into their own way of life.

message 33: by sage (new) - rated it 5 stars

sage I'm pretty sure the characteristics are (According to my ELA teacher):

Characteristics of a Dystopia:
~ Extreme Control
~ Freedom are highly forbidden.
~ One person/small group that makes all the laws.
~ You're always being watched.
~ There is a created fear for the "outside world."
~ They give the illusion of a "perfect world."
~ People are treated the same and can't think outside.
~ Strict Government Laws.
~ They work to brainwash citizens.

message 34: by sage (new) - rated it 5 stars

sage The Dystopian Protagonist:
~ They feel trapped and want to escape.
~ They'll question authority, laws, questions.
~ They believe with everything in themselves that things need to be changed.

Mirkat In addition to points others have made above, this is a society where:

Every child's career/life path is determined for him/her at age 12.

Couples apply to the Council for permission to marry and must apply for children.

Everyone is assigned one boy child and one girl child.

"Birth mother" is a career path some of the girls are chosen for. They are expected to give birth to children that they are never allowed to hold or bond with, but instead are given to couples who have applied for parenthood.

Twins are not allowed. The smaller twin gets "released."

Babies who do not develop according to a rigid time-table are "released."

I don't see how any of that can be considered "utopian."

message 36: by Chrisl (last edited Nov 11, 2014 09:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chrisl Tao of topia, yin-yang

topia defined by wordnik : "A fanciful style of mural decoration, generally consisting of landscapes of a very heterogeneous character, resembling those of the Chinese, much used in ancient Roman houses."

Claire I'd say... seemingly Utopian with a dystopian background.... Personally I'd like to see more people read HM Hoover's works... She wrote dystopian futures 15 years before Lois Lowry...(didn't win any awards though)

This Time of Darkness

Return to Earth

Dramapuppy Yeah. The Giver's world is horrible. The point, is that it is a utopia, but utopias are actually impossible, horrible, corrupt, and controlling.

Allison Smith the whole point of this book is to tell you that things aren't always as they seem to be and that's why when you think it's a utopian

message 40: by Leah (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leah It's definitely utopian because if it were dystopian, all the bad things in the society would not be sheltered from the people. Even my L.A. teacher told us it was utopian.

message 41: by sage (new) - rated it 5 stars

sage Your ELA teacher is wrong then sweetie.

Dramapuppy No, Leah is right. In a dystopia, all the faults in a society are apparent. In a utopia, the world appears ideal, but then characters stumble upon faults. Exactly like The Giver. But even if Leah was wrong, calling her "sweetie" is condescending.

message 43: by sage (new) - rated it 5 stars

sage That was what I was going for, and I respectfully disagree (which I think was the main reason of this topic XD). A utopian society is a "perfect world" and a dystopian is "a perfect world gone wrong." The Giver is made out to make everyone equal, even though they don't know the pain and suffering they're really bringing.

Dramapuppy You get to respectfully disagree, but that's not what this thread is for- it's for debating, which you are now refusing to do. And the thread is certainly not for responding in such a rude manner when someone disagrees with you. You're not respectfully disagreeing. You're just telling her she's wrong and immature. What about that is "respectful?"

message 45: by sage (new) - rated it 5 stars

sage Number 1: That's what I said, "disagree (which I think was the main reason of this topic..." To debate. That's what the person who made this wants us to do.
Number 2: She is wrong in my opinion, I cannot help that. I need some facts, information and statements to see that this is a utopian novel. It even uses euphemisms... released... means death! That's dystopian to me.

message 46: by sage (new) - rated it 5 stars

sage Number 3: I said her teacher, not her. And I never called her immature.

message 47: by Dramapuppy (last edited Nov 21, 2014 08:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dramapuppy First of all, I said there's nothing wrong with your disagreeing. But you are not respectfully disagreeing- you admitting you were purposefully being condescending! And being condescending implies that you find Leah immature.

The Giver is a perfect world. It sucks. It seriously sucks. We don't want that. The author creates a perfect world and then explains why a perfect world is bad. This is a utopia that explains why utopias are bad. So maybe a better classification would be "false utopia?"

message 48: by sage (new) - rated it 5 stars

sage That doesn't even make sense.

Dramapuppy I should have put quotes around "perfect." Lowry shows that there's no such thing as a real "utopia." The world is set up as a utopia but we are not supposed to like it. Hence the title "false utopia."

message 50: by sage (new) - rated it 5 stars

sage So... a dystopian novel? I mean I agree the settings of the story are utopian, but the plot and society are dystopian.

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