How Rules Govern Society in "The Giver"

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1193 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Jan 21, 2020

Words: 1193|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Jan 21, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Rules in Jonas’ community
  3. Rules in Jonas’ family
  4. How assignments control and organise citizens
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works Cited


The Giver by Lois Lowry is a novel about a teenage boy named Jonas. Jonas lives in a utopian community, where there is no pain, no fear, no war or crime. In this community, no one is allowed to choose their spouse, their family or their job. Everything and everyone in the community is the same “No one thinks to ask a question. Everyone obeys.” Life in the community where Jonas lives is perceived as perfect, this is a result of the rules that govern the community. Lowry demonstrates the theme of rules governing society in three ways: rules in Jonas’ community, rules in Jonas’ family, and how assignments control and organise citizens.

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Rules in Jonas’ community

Lowry effectively demonstrates rules how Jonas’ community is strictly governed by rules through Jonas’ experiences and thoughts throughout his daily life. “At first, he had been only fascinated. He had never seen aircraft so close, for it was against the rules for Pilots to fly over the community”.

Later the reader hears of the fate of the pilot. This quickly establishes that this community is very structured and rule-based, and breaking that rule leads to penalties. Lowry Then introduces the emphasis on accurate language allows the community to avoid speaking habits or slang that may differentiate someone. “Two children, one male, one female, to each family unit. It was written very clearly in the rules.” When parents in a family unit feel that they are ready, they must apply to the Commission for a child. Their application is reviewed and a match is found, pairing a new child born that year with each family that has an approved application. New children are given to their designated families at the December rituals, some of them are still babies, while those born earlier in the year may walk. Each new child has a name when placed with their designated family unit. When Jonas’ father brought Gabriel home Everyone in the family unit, even Lily, has to sign a contract saying that they will not stick with the new child, and be ready to abandon him for nurturing once the extra nurturing contract is up. There was no way that Jonas’s family could keep Gabriel because they had two children in their unit. These examples show how peoples actions are controlled by the rules that exist.

Rules in Jonas’ family

Lowry outlines that rules for each family unit were very important, too. In this community, Jonas has school books, and every family has to have three books “But the most noticeable difference was the books. In his dwelling, there were the necessary reference volumes that each household contained: a dictionary and the thick community volume which contained descriptions of every office, factory, building, and committee, as well as the Book of Rules.” The main book of the community is called Rule. It contains all the necessary rules that citizens must follow in the community. There are many rules because there is a rule for everything. If you violate the rules there would be punishment and break the three rules and you would be released from the community. When Jonas first sees the books, he can’t imagine what all of these books could contain. “Jonas stared at them. He couldn’t imagine what the thousands of pages contained. Could there be rules beyond the rules that governed the community? Could there be more descriptions of offices and factories and committees?”. Every evening, around the dinner table, each member of Jonas’ family (Mother, Father, Lily, and Jonas) has to share their feelings, the family share dreams in the morning over breakfast. ‘“Who wants to be the first tonight, for feelings?” Jonas’ father asked, after their evening meal. It was one of the rituals, the evening telling of feelings. Sometimes Jonas and his sister, Lily, argued over turns, over who would get to go first. Their parents, of course, were part of the ritual; they, too, told their feelings each evening. But like all parents. All adult, they didn’t fight and wheedle for their turn’. Sharing emotions seems to be a great ritual in which families share and help each other solve problems and problems maturely. Jonas’s family seems to care about each other. However, the strong emphasis on rules is prevalent.

How assignments control and organise citizens

Lowry effectively demonstrates that everyone in the Jonas community is organised and controlled by their assignment (received during the ceremony of twelve). In The Giver, most of the first twelve-year-old children are marked with a gift. One-year-old children are assigned a name and placed in a family unit. At the age of four, they receive coats with buttons at the back to teach them interdependence. At the age of seven, the children were given a button-up jacket. At the age of eight they got new clothes. while the ninth year children received bicycles. In the tenth year, the children get a haircut. In the 11th year, they are given less gender oriented. Finally, in the twelfth year, children are assigned a job within the community.

“Jonas laughed. It was one of the few rules that were not taken very seriously and were almost always broken. The children all received their bicycles at Nine; they were not allowed to ride a bicycle before then. But almost always, the older brothers and sisters had secretly taught the younger ones. Jonas had been thinking already about teaching Lily”. This is the rule regarding riding bicycles. The children are not allowed to ride a bicycle until they become Nine. However, is it a rule that is usually broken, and there was a discussion about changing it, but it is difficult to change these rules in Jonas’ community. Jonas realised that some rules were unrealistic, but he still gives people suggestions on how to act from those around him. He is fine with breaking bike rules because others do it, but he does not break the nakedness rule. Moreover, Jonas realises that in his community, everyone is the same, and everyone obeys when Jonas heard announcements “The assignments continued, and Jonas watched and listened, relieved now by the wonderful Assignment his best friend had been given. But he was more and more apprehensive as his own approached… thinking about the training that lay ahead. For someone studious male had been selected as Doctor, a female as Engineer, and another for Law and Justice, it would be years of hard work and study. Others, like labourers and Birthmothers, would have a much shorter training period.” In the community, the beginning of adulthood is marked by the induction of all of the twelves into the workforce.

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To conclude, the society in the giver is heavily regulated by rules regarding the community, the family units and the assignments. The rules that control the society can be found in numerous parts of the novel, with each one having a significant effect on the story, this shows the significance that they hold in the community. This regulation plays an important role in Jonas’ development throughout the novel and as a result, Jonas can realise the flaws in the community and release the memories.

Works Cited

  1. Lowry, L. (1993). The Giver. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  2. Selander, S. (2011). Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society. Peter Lang.
  3. Loon, B. (2004). The Power of Rules: The Politics of Local Control. M.E. Sharpe.
  4. Ehrlich, C. (2016). Social Rules! Origin; Character; Logic; Change. Springer.
  5. Hyman, L. (2007). The Giver: Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations. Infobase Publishing.
  6. Jacobs, D. (2013). 21st-Century Fiction: A Critical Introduction. Edinburgh University Press.
  7. Magill, F. N. (Ed.). (2011). Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Fiction Series Supplement. Salem Press.
  8. Warren, L. (2011). Children's Literature: A Guide to the Criticism. Wiley-Blackwell.
  9. Fry, J. (2012). The Giver (Literature Guide): Common Core and NCTE/IRA Standards-Aligned Teaching Guide. Secondary Solutions.
  10. Trumbo, K. (2012). Examining Lois Lowry's "The Giver" (Lit Kit). Instructional Fair.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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How Rules Govern Society in “The Giver”. (2022, December 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“How Rules Govern Society in “The Giver”.” GradesFixer, 27 Dec. 2022,
How Rules Govern Society in “The Giver”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
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