The Giver: Notes

The Giver: Notes

The Giver: Notes

The Giver: Notes


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.


  • Life and Background of the Author
  • Introduction to the Novel
  • A Brief Synopsis
  • List of Characters
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Map of Jonas' Community in The Giver
  • Critical Essays
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

    Lowry narrates The Giver in third person ("He said," as opposed to "I said," which is called first person), using a limited omniscient viewpoint (only Jonas’ thoughts and feelings are revealed). Through Jonas’ eyes, his community appears to be a utopia—a perfect place—that is self-contained and isolated from Elsewhere, every other place in the world. No evidence of disease, hunger, poverty, war, or lasting pain exists in the community. Jonas’ family, like all other families in the community, includes a caring mother and father and two children—one male child and one female child. Jonas’ mother has an important job with the Department of Justice, and his father has a job as a Nurturer, taking care of newborns. Jonas has one younger sister, Lily. His family seems ideal. Each morning, they discuss their dreams that they had the previous night; during the evening meal, they share feelings about the events of the day, comforting and supporting each other according to the rules of the community.

    As we learn more about Jonas’ family, we also learn about the community as a whole. Family units must apply for children, spouses do not get to choose one another but, instead, are matched, and grandparents do not exist. All of a sudden, this utopia that Lowry has created doesn’t seem quite right. The mood is foreboding, a feeling that something bad will happen. This mood suggests that Jonas’ community is far from perfect.

    A long time ago, the people in Jonas’ community chose to have the community ruled by a Committee of Elders. The Committee of Elders controls everyone and everything, blasting rules and reprimands from loudspeakers located throughout the community, including in every family dwelling. A total of fifty infants are born to Birthmothers every year. Each peer group is identified by its age—for example, Threes, Sevens, Nines—and must follow specific rules about appropriate clothing, haircuts, and activities for that particular peer group. When children become Eights, they begin mandatory volunteering and are closely observed by the Committee of Elders so that the committee can assign a lifelong profession to each child at the Ceremony of Twelve, which takes place every year during the December Ceremony...

  • Excerpt

    As Lois Lowry stated in her acceptance speech when she won the Newbery Medal for The Giver, she began writing a book that takes place in a utopia, where everything is perfect. She learned from her memories that living in a perfect society is not risk-free, that dangers lurk in a society in which everything is the same and in which the freedom to choose how to live has been given up. Lowry’s memories are the basis for The Giver, and her writing conveys lessons about life to her readers.

    Lowry lived with her family in an Americanized community in Tokyo, Japan, when she was a young girl. The community was very familiar and safe because it resembled other communities in the United States, where she’d lived earlier in her life. While in Tokyo, Lowry oftentimes rode her bike to visit a nearby Japanese community, where everything was foreign to her, including the language, colors, smells, and even the way people dressed and . . .

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