The Giver


Lois Lowry

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The Individual vs. Society Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Giver, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon

Jonas's community is founded on the idea of Sameness—the elimination of difference in its members. In order to achieve this Sameness, individualism is discouraged, and rules and discipline matter most. Jonas learns from an early age that both breaking rules and being different is considered shameful. By celebrating group birthdays, allowing only one kind of clothing and haircut, assigning spouses, jobs, children and names, and eliminating sexual relations, Jonas's society stifles the things that allow for individual differences. Without mirrors, there can be no vanity or jealousy. Without sex, vanity loses its importance, and competition and conflict are eliminated. In Sameness, no one knows the meaning of loneliness, but no one knows true happiness either.

Young Jonas, however, is different in ways he cannot change. With his pale eyes and ability to see in color, he stands out in his community. While these traits at first make him uncomfortable, they give him the courage to be different in a more powerful way when he decides to escape from the community. When Jonas comes to recognize the value innate in every individual, he is horrified that his community leaders can so casually "release" their members, ending precious human lives.

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The Individual vs. Society ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of The Individual vs. Society appears in each chapter of The Giver. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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The Individual vs. Society Quotes in The Giver

Below you will find the important quotes in The Giver related to the theme of The Individual vs. Society.
Chapter 2 Quotes
After Twelve, age isn't important. Most of us even lose track of how old we are as time passes.
Related Characters: Jonas's Father (speaker)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes
The apple had changed. Just for an instant. It had changed in mid-air.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
No one mentioned such things; it was not a rule, but was considered rude to call attention to things that were unsettling or different about individuals.
Related Symbols: Blue Eyes
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes
He just bowed to all of us and then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room. But you should have seen his look. Pure happiness, I'd call it.
Related Characters: Larissa (speaker)
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes
If you don't fit in, you can apply for Elsewhere and be released. My mother says that once, about ten years ago, someone applied and was gone the next day.
Related Characters: Asher (speaker)
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes
I have a great honor. So will you. But you will find that that is not the same as power.
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker), Jonas
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes
Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with difference. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others. >
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker)
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes
They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
Sometimes I wish they'd ask for my wisdom more often-there are so many things I could tell them; things I wish they would change. But they don't want change. Life here is so orderly, so predictable-so painless. It's what they've chosen.
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker)
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes
"I couldn't quite get the word for the whole feeling of it, the feeling that was so strong in the room."
"Love," The Giver told him.
Related Characters: Jonas (speaker), The Giver (speaker)
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:
"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!"
Related Characters: Jonas (speaker), Jonas's Father (speaker)
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:
The next morning, for the first time, Jonas did not take his pill. Something within him, something that had grown there through the memories, told him to throw the pill away.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes
He saw the familiar wide river beside the path differently. He saw all of the light and color and history it contained and carried in its slow-moving water; and he knew that there was an Elsewhere from which it came, and an Elsewhere to which it was going.
Related Symbols: The River
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes
He killed it! My father killed it! Jonas said to himself.
Related Characters: Jonas (speaker), Jonas's Father
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes
"Having you here with me over the past year has made me realize that things must change. For years I've felt that they should, but it seemed so hopeless. Now for the first time I think there might be a way," The Giver said slowly.
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker), Jonas
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes
He wept because he was afraid now that he could not save Gabriel. He no longer cared about himself.
Related Characters: Jonas, Gabriel
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis: