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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
As The Giver begins, we are introduced to what seems overall to be a pleasant, if somewhat strange, community. We learn things about the community that seem appealing. At the same time, there are a few disquieting aspects of the community. The most important concern of Jonas, the protagonist, is the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve. This is the introduction or exposition.
The day of the Ceremony of Twelve arrives but the stress in Jonas's life does not end. Instead, his life changes dramatically. Jonas learns much from The Giver. What he learns changes him. Because of what he learns, his life will never be the same. This is the rising action.
When Jonas learns that a newchild that he loves will be released the following day, he knows that he must act. Release is a euphemism for death. This is the climax.
Jonas flees with the newchild, hoping to reach Elsewhere. This is the falling action. At the point when he is exhausted and unable to continue, Jonas feels that he has reached his destination. This is the denouement or resolution.
The story can also be divided into three parts. First, we see the way that the community is. We see its good points and suspect its bad points. Second, we see Jonas grow intellectually and change as he acquires the memories that the Giver passes to him. Third, we see Jonas realize what he must do and act upon that realization.
The novel, The Giver shares many similarities with other dystopian novels like Brave New World and 1984. In each, a society is depicted which has sought to normalize everyone and eliminate basic human feelings and expressions to eliminate conflict and better the society.
We see many of the same patterns here:
The community has sought to eliminate pain and suffering and provide peace for all of those who conform to the rules. In order to do so, they seek to eliminate human emotion and individual freedom to prevent chaos and harm in the utopian society.
Everyone works for the good and betterment of the society and not for themselves. Individual freedoms are repressed by harsh rules.
The community imposes absolute restrictions on memories/thoughts, sexual activity, reproduction, and the family. On the surface this utopian community of the future seems perfect. Everyone does what is expected of them and there seems to be no conflict.
In other dystopian novels, main characters eventually become uncomfortable and untrusting of the rigid rules and the strictly defined structure of the society. In their rebellion from authority, they eventually are led down a path of self-destruction and collapse. In this novel, while Jonas does revolt against the control and direction of the community, the ultimate outcome is left with the optimistic feeling that Jonas has succeeded in escaping to a better place.
While the reader is left alone to fill in the specific answers to the many questions that spring to mind at the end of the novel, Lowry has stated, "I made the ending ambiguous on purpose. "Ambiguous" means that it can have different explanations. I like to leave it that way so that each reader can use his or her imagination and decide what is happening. But I do think it is a happy ending."
It is somewhat unusual to take on sensitive topics such as birth control, euthanasia, and sexual activity frankly in a young adult novel. Because of this, the book has been somewhat controversial, with many parents feeling that it should not be made available to young children.