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The Giver

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  The Giver

author  Lois Lowry

type of work  Novel

genre  Young adult; science fiction; fantasy; dystopia

language  English

time and place written  1993; United States

date of first publication  1993

publisher Houghton Mifflin

narrator  The story is told by a third-person narrator whose point of view is limited to what Jonas observes and thinks.

point of view  The story is told completely from Jonas’s point of view. We see all the actions and events through Jonas’s eyes and do not have access to any information to which Jonas does not have access.

tone  Lowry uses direct, simple language with very few figures of speech or ironic comments (though Jonas and the Giver make ironic statements.) The simplicity of the language is appropriate for Lowry’s audience, children between eleven and fifteen, but it also echoes the “precision of language” demanded by Jonas’s community. Despite the simplicity, the tone is somewhat elevated, suited to the nature of Jonas’s discoveries about the richness of life.

tense  Past

setting (time)  An unspecified time in the future

setting (place)  A utopian community that is part of a larger utopian society, presumably on Earth

protagonist Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy who is chosen to be the new Receiver when he is twelve

major conflict  Jonas’s new emotional and sensory awareness cause him to rebel against the restrictions his society places on freedom of choice, individuality, emotion, and human experience.

rising action  When Jonas becomes the new Receiver, he receives memories that change the way he thinks about himself and his community forever.

climax  When Jonas realizes that when his father “releases” newchildren he actually kills them, Jonas reaches a point of no return. His frustration with his community and his desire to change it have been growing steadily, and finally Jonas cannot accept the society’s insensitivity to the value of human life. He determines to change things.

falling action  In order to put his plan into action, Jonas flees the community on bicycle with the newchild Gabe, evading search planes and enduring hunger and pain to try to bring feelings and color to his community and bring himself to the world he has dreamed of knowing.

themes  The importance of memory; the relationship between pain and pleasure; the importance of the individual

motifs  Vision; nakedness; release

symbols  The newchild Gabriel; the sled; the river

foreshadowing  Important examples of foreshadowing in The Giver include Jonas’s apprehension about the Ceremony of Twelve, which foreshadows his future disillusionment with the community; and his feeling of closeness and freedom with the old woman while he bathes her, which foreshadows his longing for grandparents and other close, personal connections.