Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Giver: What it is, and What it isn't

For those who read my post yesterday, please note that I wrote this post a while back and then put it off . . . and forgot which date I attached to it. Sorry about that. I will be around to comment and visit.


With the upcoming release of The Giver, I've seen and heard more concern about the controversy around this book. Released in 1993, The Giver is similar to Matched, The Hunger Games and Divergent, and contains some of the themes found in 1984 by George Orwell.

In fact, I think that it's possible that those who have read and loved The Giver are more likely to write, read, and love other dystopian novels.

Dystopian isn't new, it's been around for a few hundred years, and in early the 20th century, Jack London was one of the first American dystopian writers. Don't knock it as a new, untried, or simply "of the moment" genre.

Here are some of my thoughts on The Giver: What it is and What it isn't.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is an award-winning book that includes heavy topics such as: depression, emotional control over society and individuals through the use of mandatory medications, infanticide, and euthanasia.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is not a book that condones suicide or suicidal tendencies.

In fact, I believe that Lois Lowry paints a very negative picture of all of the above controversial topics. Throughout The Giver, and the books in the series following it, Lowry portrays Christian, Biblical values in an imaginative way that doesn’t flinch from heavy topics.

It’s not something that I would read with most elementary school students.

It is something I required my oldest to read as part of her 8th grade literature course that also included Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery,” and Orson Scott Card’s novel, Ender’s Game. She also read Little Women, The Tempest, The Old Man and the Sea, and other classics that year. We were discussing the role of individuals in society, and the role of society in an individual’s life. We discussed Biblical principles like free will, predestination, sin, salvation, grace, and the Great Commandment and Great Commission. We discussed WWII, communism, and the fear in Western society of communist and socialist government – the government of The Giver is decidedly communist.

It’s not a book I would suggest having a student read in a vacuum without any historical or social context. It’s definitely not a book that students should read without having a chance to discuss the heavy topics introduced within its pages.

It is a worthwhile read. Infanticide, euthanasia, depression, emotional control and uniformity through medication, and a society that values conformity to a politically correct totalitarian rule are topics we could all take some time to think about in our era. They’re current events.

If you can’t handle reading the daily news, then don’t read The Giver. It’s not a light read.

The Giver will make you think. It will make you uncomfortable with infanticide and euthanasia. It will make you celebrate our freedom to feel the full range of emotions. You will probably cry when you read it. And our ability to cry, laugh, and embrace our loved ones will be something you will celebrate after you’ve read The Giver.

 

15 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I was curious what the hype was about. I wonder how the movie will fare since other similar dystopians have come before it!
'They're current events.' That is so true.

mshatch said...

I loved The Giver, but it isn't a 'light' read.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It sounds really intense. I'm curious about the Biblical aspects. Isn't this the book Jeff Bridges has been trying to get made into a movie?

Heather Holden said...

I've heard of The Giver, but never read it myself. I never even knew it was a dystopian! But wow, it definitely sounds like an intense read...

Tyrean Martinson said...

I know what you mean. It seems like they are a lot of expectations put on dystopian fare at this point.

Tyrean Martinson said...

definitely not. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...
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Tyrean Martinson said...

Very intense. I'm a little afraid that they've gone for an "action-packed" twist on it in the movie because I don't want the movie to lose the intensity and purpose of the book.

Tyrean Martinson said...

The Biblical aspects are more of the way in which the mc relates to others and the choices that he makes.

cleemckenzie said...

You've given some very sound advice about this book. It is a compelling and heavy topic book that sticks with you long after you close the cover.

Maurice Mitchell said...

It'll be interesting if they carry those themes through into the movie since they're target audience might be put off by that. Great overview Shannon since I knew nothing about this.

Tyrean Martinson said...

It definitely has stuck with me long afterwards . . . it's a great book, and a heavy book. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

I kind of doubt that they will and it's making me reluctant to see it. I'll probably go see it on a "cheap" night at our local theater.

Quanie Miller said...

I hadn't even heard of this novel before but the way you describe it, it sounds like an intriguing read. Definitely adding to my TBR list. I love dystopian novels and even plan to write one someday.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I hope you like it!