The Gift of Suffering: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry. 1993.

Lowry opens The Giver with a description of fear and immediately cements the unusualness of the world she’s created as well as giving us insight into the young protagonist, Jonas. She also is so deliciously good at creating a Utopia that seems wonderful, at the start, and only slowly becomes sinister. It’s not at all obvious, unlike, say, Wrinkle in Time, that this Community is full of darkness. Especially chilling is the parallel between Lowry’s Community and that created in Hitler Youth.

  • Emotions are real and honest. I think it was Stephen King who wrote that the key to creating fear was to let characters respond in a realistic way to unrealistic situations (something like that). Lowry does exactly that. Jonas has the same doubts and confusions any of us would have given his situation, which makes the story all the more believable.
  • Last residency some of us were discussing the ending, some saying that Lowry was shocked that anyone thought Jonas and Gabe died in the snow. They’re riding down to an “Elsewhere that held their future and their past.” Throughout, Elsewhere has been the place people go when they’re released. I.e., when they die. So where else but into death was Jonas headed? I always assumed the boys died. Yet reading the book again, I see the ambiguity. My only point is that clarity would have been far, far more satisfying. I spent 10+ years being disappointed and peeved by the end to the book, while now I’m just bewildered.