I was raised in a rather political home, and conservative Christian at that. Traditional values, freedom, responsibility, et cetera… that sort of upbringing. Thus, I naturally have a taste for political, and sometimes utopian and dystopian, novels. For one, because I am a nerd who is constantly reading and following politics, scientific discoveries, and so on. Second, because I think such books give hints to what is going on in society, even before they happen. Why? Because I hold the belief that writers, specifically novelists and storytellers, have the great ability to see future events. No, I don’t mean like soothsayers. I mean that they can see and occurrence and understand how it will play out in the future. It is a plot line so unbelievable that it has to be true, and it typically is. How is that possible? Specifically, because they read. A lot. And a lot of reading is history. That’s what makes the stories good. They see a past event, most likely it will repeat itself in the future. These plots make for the best stories because they are relatable. Other times, they make even better stories because they are true, and they are warnings.
The Giver is one of these utopian worlds. It is ideal because things stay the same. Happenings are always the same – have been and always will be. People dress a certain way for each age, wear their hair a certain way. They are even tempered, they do not lie, and they do not break the rules. When you come of age, those who have watched you your whole life chose what you will be, or rather, who you will be and how you will function in this society. There is no upper or lower class, though there is a ruling body. They “know what is best” and “will take care of everything” as they are “the same as everyone else”. There is no varying in color, and there are no dreams. You take a pill, and everything remains in safe “sameness”.
Or what I would rather call bondage.
There is no freedom in this world, no personal choosing of anything. You are told how to live, how to think, and how to act from dawn until dusk. Even when you die, that is chosen by someone else. If there are twins, one will surely be killed. A group of people decide if you live or die, and when. More so, there are no memories. No one remembers what life was like before “sameness”. In fact, no one knows what goes on outside of the community. And most of all, there is no love. The “feelings” that everyone have are superficial. No one IS truly anything. In a sense, they feel and are nothing. They merely exist, not live.
There are only two people who realize how wrong this world is: Jonas, who the book is centered around; and the Giver, who the book is named after. The giver of memories to the receiver of memories. Of color, of freedom, of feeling, of love. They realize something is wrong with this world, but there is very little they can do about it. I would give the ending, but I cannot completely spoil the book for you. The complexity of this world of sameness is quite interesting, and only a read from beginning to end will aid in understanding it.
However, I will say this. The Giver is a fantastic book. It is short, and it is insightful. In a land where we are losing our freedom of thought, speech, action, and personal beliefs, it is profound. Yet it is also a warning. The Giver sheds light on a world where there is no choice. Yes, it is a simple world of simple pleasures. People are in a “happy” complacency with complete ignorance of anything meaningful – past, present, or future. Nothing matters outside their world, and I would even dare to say that nothing truly matters inside their world. Everything is the same, or equal to put it into today’s terms. There is no freedom, there is no ‘self’. It make sound like a utopia, but it is bondage of free-will. And that is frightening.
For those living in a world of nanny-state laws, watered down thought, controlled free-speech, and no self-responsibility, this book is the book for you. And while you are at it, read “We the Living” by Ayn Rand. Though, I will write on that soon enough.
It may sound trivial, but if one keeps giving up freedom, soon they will have nothing else to give. Yes, you may think me radical, but then you’d also think that what is happening in the world, specifically the U.S., is unbelievable. We may think that we are only restricting others, but we are restricting ourselves as well. When we restrict what others think, feel, act, and so on, we lose freedom with that. But before you think I am calling for anarchy, I will rest your mind at ease that I am not. I am calling for sensibility and for freedom. I am calling for self-government, for responsibility, not complete control of personal lives; for the establishment of laws, and the respect of liberty.
The Giver gives us a glimpse of what complete control is, and I hope you will read it to see its reality today. Like I said, writers have this knack for seeing how events will play out. It is fiction, but it is based on reality. Still, sometimes a fictional glimpse at reality helps us to step out of our own world and understand it better. The Giver is a beautifully well written book, and I could have commented on so much more. Also, it is not as gloomy as I may be making it out to be. I don’t wish to do that, but only to point out the truths well-written in the book. As it says in the book, when the Giver and Jonas realize the state of the world and its need to change, “There could be love”. Not fear and bondage, but love and freedom. I hope you will add it to your personal library as I have, and I look forward to any of your thoughts on it as well.