An Analysis of Choice in The Giver

An Analysis of Choice in The Giver Free will is crucial to an individual’s life, a source of strength for all humans. Lois Lorry’s The Giver (1993) is about sacrifice, rules and order, the consequences of peace, and ultimately, the significance of free will. Jonas, the protagonist, lives in an intended “Utopian society’. It is a society without passion nor apathy, independence nor enslavement, created in attempt to produce an orderly community where pain is nonexistent.

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Yet such society has a flaw—the lack of human rights. Free will is a vital element of an individual’s personal, professional, and political life. The supposed ideal life of Sonar’s community in The Giver fails to promote free will, contradicting the expectations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDDER). There are numerous references towards extreme limitations of the peoples’ free will regarding expression—interference with personal life.

The UDDER states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas wrought any media and regardless of frontiers” (UDDER Article 19). Yet in The Giver, precision of language is dealt with as a moral issue, a significant task appointed, especially to the small children. “Do you love me? There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. ‘Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please” (127).

Oblivious to real emotion, expression is indubitably limited, yet in Sonar’s community, expression at times is even mandatory. “It was one of the rituals, the evening telling of feelings” (5). Sincere emotions cannot be forced, only by he owner’s complete free will should feelings be revealed. In spite of that, it was required for all members of the family unit to conclude their evening meal by conveying their feelings of the day. Expression is key to personal life, yet it is both restricted and forced upon. The key of an individual’s professional life would be the selection of their Job.

Free choice of employment is recognized in the UDDER: “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to Just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment” (UDDER Article 23). However, choice of employment is not granted in Sonar’s community. Each child turning twelve acquires an “Assignment” that would be imputed to them by the Committee of Elders. “Though he had been reassured by the talks with his parent’s, he hadn’t the slightest idea what Assignment the Elders would be selecting for his future, or how he might feel about it when the day came” (19).

There were no alternatives; everyone is merely assigned a role. Sonar’s mother tells him, “What’s important is the preparation for adult life, and the training you’ll receive in your Assignment” (17). The Committee’s approach of managing employment limits one’s professional potential. One’s political potential is another aspect that is affected by free will. There is no government in The Giver, but The Committee of Elders has absolute sovereignty over the Community. Article 21 of the UDDER acknowledges the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures” (UDDER Article 1). The fact that voting and elections are not even mentioned in The Giver is solely problematic, yet the Committee’s adjudications are indeed irrelevant to the will of the people. It was a secret selection, made by the leaders of the community, the Committee of Elders” (15). Endowed with influence, they even hold the ability to invade privacy; “He glanced quickly at the wall speaker, terrified that the Committee might be listening as they could at any time” (105). This causes citizens to live in fear: if free will were to be promoted politically, the chances of tyranny would be reduced dramatically. Sonar’s community is an unsuccessful attempt of an Utopian society. Its lack of free will for the people fails to meet the expectations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Giver explores the notion of “ignorance is bliss”, yet where the absence of pain is promised, the threat of enslavement and lack of free will hovers menacingly. It is the consequence of peace and stability, a sacrifice made to generate an ideally stable society—a society that turns out to be dyspepsia. Free will is essential to an individual’s personal, professional, and political life, it is the most fundamental of all human rights. Free will enables people to discover their potential both politically and professionally.

As a personal matter, free will enables the freedom of expression, promoting individuality. Individuality would then lead to diversity among people, and diversity is what gives humans strength to strive and excel the way they have. Free will and individualism is what defines mankind—a necessity for humanity. Works Cited: Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Random House, Inc. , 1993. 179-01. Print. United States. Human and Constitution Rights. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Columbia: , 2008. Web..

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