The Giver by Lois Lowry, is the story of a 12 year old male named Jonas. He lives in a community that has no war or hunger, where people show no emotion or affection, and do not care for each other. There is also no poverty or differences amongst the people. Everyone has a job by the age of twelve. When Jonas becomes a twelve (a 12-year old) he is selected to be the Receiver of Memory. This person alone holds the joys and pains of life. When Jonas takes the memories in, he questions whether the perfect society he lives in is actually perfect. In The Giver, Jonas's society is utopian of perfect, but in fact he realizes that it is the exact opposite.
Many things in Jonas's society seem perfect, but are actually cruel and sterile. One negative of this society is the lack of emotions. In a perfect world, one should be able to love and feel, or life would not be worth living. With no emotions, people can never experience true love or joy. Love is a vital part of our lives and brings joy and feelings one can not explain. If only one person can feel love, and no one else can, then that person would feel alone and sad. When Jonas finds out what love is, he asks his parents if they love him. They reply that love is a meaningless word. "Meaningless? He had never before felt anything as meaningful as the memory." (127). Another terrible thing in Jonas's community is that there is no true family: spouses are chosen by the Committee of Elders, certain women are chosen to give birth to all the children, and those children are placed with families via an application process. Due to this, there is no strong sense of family. Since this is a society with no sense of affection, the Elders are able to manipulate the community into doing what ever they want. This makes the community think that this system is perfect. The most in humane part of the community is release. Release is the ending of someone's life, this is murder. Releases happen when a baby has a birth defect, or is a smaller twin child, or when a person has lived to the age of eighty. This is also the sad fate of people who break major rules. The community does this to control the population and to artificially select the society. This lack of public emotion creates a society where people are not affected by someone else's fate. Release is considered good because they think it is to Elsewhere, even though elderly are killed with an injected poison and babies are killed by a drug and then thrown down a trash chute. When Jonas sees his father release a baby, he is filled with rage and anger. He then questions if the society he lives in is perfect.
Jonas's community was considered a utopia, a perfect world with no sorrow or conflict, where every person had a role. This world literally and emotionally had no color. People that lived in this world without pain and conflict also experienced no love or joy, because they had nothing to compare it to. The controlled environment of the community only provided certain options and the volunteer hours determined the person's life path. Jonas's gift of memory opened the eyes of his soul, and he saw that he lived in a soulless society. When he saw his friends playing the war simulation game without any conscience and having fun while killing, he stopped them because of the memory he had just received. However, they said, "What's wrong, Jonas? It was only a game"... "You ruined it". (134). The gift of memory was therefore not a blessing, but a curse in this dystopia that did not have any use for the memories. In Jonas's community, many people think that the system is perfect, but they are actually living in a false reality.
In the book, The Giver, Jonas uncovers the true nature of the world he lives in. This makes him aware of the injustices due to the concept of release, the cruelty due to the lack of affection and the vast powers of the Committee of Elders over the society they have created.