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The Giver

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.