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.
The Individual vs. Society ThemeTracker
The Individual vs. Society Quotes in The Giver
"Love," The Giver told him.
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. "Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!"