Is the Society of The Giver a Utopia?
Ever since the species of man has existed, men have looked for improved states of society. Searching for food, shelter, and safety have been major problems, even in today’s world: naturally, authors would write books about utopias that provide for the common needs of people and that ensure true social harmony. Lois Lowry’s book The Giver presents a controversial utopia. A utopia (defined by Oxford dictionary) is “an imaginary place in which the government, laws, and social conditions are perfect.” Perfect (also defined by Oxford dictionary) is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” The society created by Lois Lowry in The Giver is a utopia due to its government, laws, and social conditions being as good as it is possible to be.
Lowry’s society as presented in The Giver has a very efficient and stable government: the society has a committee that governs by coming to a consensus, and if the committee is backed up in a tight spot, they ask the Giver to solve a troubling issue/problem. Therefore, the committee doesn’t waste time in getting the issue solved. For example, when the community petitioned to be able to receive a third child, the committee asked The Giver to solve the problem. Lois Lowry writes “A lot of citizens petitioned the Committee of Elders… the strongest memory that came was hunger”(Lowry, 140), showing how The Giver showed the committee that they cannot change such rule. The government/committee shows efficiency through their cautious decisions that show care to the community’s welfare.
The government creates laws that people are willing to follow. Laws organize jobs that people would do well at, marriage partners that will get along, and pills that eliminate desire (which can lead to some form of disaster). Desire causes people to make wrong decisions, such as stealing, killing, and other illegal acts. Crimes like those can destroy and cause the society to fall apart. Jonas states “Two children – one male, one female – to each family unit. It was written very clearly in the rules”(Lowry, 11). The laws were well-designed to prevent trouble in the community to insure its stability and safety.
One of the major factors in this society that causes it to be a utopia is that it presents great social conditions. People living in the community are provided with food, water, and shelter (the basic needs of humans). There is no need to worry about poverty. Scientists developed ways to get rid of pain when physical accidents occur. People don’t need to worry about global warming, pollution, or threats from other animals. The creators of the community also cleared out a big obstacle, prejudice and discrimination. When The Giver and Jonas were talking about the community, they were talking about Sameness. Lois Lowry writes “ Today flesh is all the same” (Lowry, 94) showing how the society got rid of prejudice and discrimination by making everyone have the same skin tone. Everyone looks the same, everyone thinks the same, and everyone learns the same thing (up until the Ceremony of 12). Due to the society getting rid of prejudice, discrimination, pain, pollution, global warming, threats from other animals, hunger, dehydration, and homelessness causes the society to be a “perfect” place.
Critics might say this society is a dystopia because it takes away free will. People are not allowed to make decisions or have their own choices. Jonas argues “I want to wake up in the morning and decide things!”(Lowry, 123). He then realizes the issues that come with choices. The Giver states how decisions can not only change a person, but the community in a bad way. Jonas realizes how that free will can destroy the community when he says “We really have to protect people from wrong choices” (Lowry, 124). While free will may benefit people at times, the greater good is achieved by having a government requiring people to follows rules to maintain the utopia status.
The Giver society qualifies for a utopia due to how the society makes everyone so happy. The utopia has a stable government that solves issues efficiently, good laws that people like to follow, and social conditions that provide for everyone in the society. It is the “perfect” place to live, and seems very desirable. The Giver’s statement “Life here is so orderly … so painless. It’s what they’ve chosen,”(Lowry, 130) shows how the people are so happy because they don’t need to worry about challenges in the real world such as global warming. The society has perfected life in every way by removing the obstacles that people would fear. Now that such fears are gone, people may live a painless life in their utopia.
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