Oct 17, 2012

My Thoughts About the Dystopian World of The Giver

I finished reading Son by Lois Lowry (read my review here) and I have so many thoughts!  I loved that we got such a more in depth image of the community from The Giver--both from Claire's point of view, then the points of view of people from other villages that Claire encounters once she leaves hers.

(However I will be honest, I haven't read The Giver in many, many years so I cannot remember how much of the community we actually got--but I remember some of the impressions I had).

Anyway, now that dystopian novels are everywhere I feel more picky about the dystopian world I step into.  And I hold up The Giver as a perfect example of a dystopian world.  It looks perfect, a pure utopia.  Equality.  Sameness.  But underneath, there is something not so nice.  The thing about this community is that everyone accepts the sameness.  It has completely fascinated me.

How did this community come to pass?
Did groups of people agree to live there to get it started (a la Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix)?
How do they control the weather?
How did they get rid of animals and insects and color?
Who developed the pills that make everyone the same?

How do the people on the supply boats perceive this community?

When I first read The Giver I had the impression that the whole world was similar to this little community.  When I read Gathering Blue and Messenger I realized that the whole world was a series of small communities.  There didn't seem to be much travel or communication between the communities so they are each able to live with their own set of rules and traditions.  When it is put that way it really isn't so different than our world today--different countries with different rules and traditions.  Some we don't understand at all.

As I was reading Son I started viewing this community as maybe one that lived under a dome.  Although the people couldn't see the dome it would explain how it was able to be so controlled against nature. I just can't see how else this thing that we haven't figured out how to control could've been controlled.

I think that if someone was reading Son without having read any of the other books they would get the feeling that this was a fantasy world.  There don't seem to be any relics of our world today.  If you hadn't read The Giver and knew about the memories The Giver had given to Jonas I just don't think you'd view this as dystopian. 

I kind of started viewing the community that Claire and Jonas were from as a cult.  A big, weird controlling cult.

What about you?  Have you read Son?  What did you think?


  1. I've never read anything beyond the original, which I love with all my heart. I've actually avoided the sequels so they wouldn't tarnish my love of the original :) I think I'll have to check them out, they sound better and better all the time.

    -Kate the Book Buff
    Recent Post: Confessions of a Book Blogger who Hates “Confessions of a _____” Book Titles

    1. You should!! In fact, Gathering Blue & Messenger are really more companion novels. I didn't even realize they were part of The Giver world until I was almost done with Messenger. And until you get to Son, the characters don't intermingle much at all.
      Excellent books!! (And Son is the only one to re-visit The Giver community). Try them!!