What is the conflict in “The Giver”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
The main conflict in "The Giver" is the struggle between individuality and conformity. In Jonas's seemingly perfect world, everything is controlled and planned by the community. However, as Jonas learns more about the past and gains access to memories of love, pain, and joy, he begins to see the flaws in the community's system. He realizes that by conforming to the community's rules, people are robbed of their individuality and the experiences that make life worth living. This realization leads Jonas to take drastic action to try to change the community, putting him at odds with those in power.
Detailed answer:

In "The Giver," the main conflict arises from the tension between the community's desire for sameness and Jonas's growing realization that individuality and free will are essential to a meaningful life. This conflict is exemplified by the role of the Giver, who holds the collective memories of humanity and is tasked with guiding Jonas as he learns about the world beyond his community's limited scope. As Jonas discovers the joys and sorrows of life outside of his sheltered existence, he becomes increasingly disillusioned with the rigidly controlled society he once thought was perfect.

One of the most striking quotes that illustrates this conflict is when Jonas says, "But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin." This statement encapsulates his yearning for experiences that lie beyond the boundaries of the community's carefully constructed reality.

The conflict between sameness and individuality is further highlighted by the issue of release, which is presented as a benign form of euthanasia but is actually a way for the community to eliminate anyone who does not conform to its strict standards. This is made clear when Jonas learns that his father, who he believed was simply releasing infants to "Elsewhere," was actually killing them.

Ultimately, the conflict in "The Giver" is resolved through Jonas's decision to leave the community with Gabriel, sacrificing his own safety to give them both a chance at a better life. In doing so, he not only rejects the oppressive sameness of his old world but also embraces the risks and challenges that come with true freedom and individuality.

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