full title · The Giver
author · Lois Lowry
type of work · Novel
genre · Young adult; science fiction; fantasy; dystopia
language · English
time and place written · 1993; United States
date of first publication · 1993
publisher · Houghton Mifflin
narrator · The story is told by a third-person narrator whose point of view is limited to what Jonas observes and thinks.
point of view · The story is told completely from Jonas’s point of view. We see all the actions and events through Jonas’s eyes and do not have access to any information to which Jonas does not have access.
tone · Lowry uses direct, simple language with very few figures of speech or ironic comments (though Jonas and the Giver make ironic statements.) The simplicity of the language is appropriate for Lowry’s audience, children between eleven and fifteen, but it also echoes the “precision of language” demanded by Jonas’s community. Despite the simplicity, the tone is somewhat elevated, suited to the nature of Jonas’s discoveries about the richness of life.
tense · Past
setting (time) · An unspecified time in the future
setting (place) · A utopian community that is part of a larger utopian society, presumably on Earth
protagonist · Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy who is chosen to be the new Receiver when he is twelve
major conflict · Jonas’s new emotional and sensory awareness cause him to rebel against the restrictions his society places on freedom of choice, individuality, emotion, and human experience.
rising action · When Jonas becomes the new Receiver, he receives memories that change the way he thinks about himself and his community forever.
climax · When Jonas realizes that when his father “releases” newchildren he actually kills them, Jonas reaches a point of no return. His frustration with his community and his desire to change it have been growing steadily, and finally Jonas cannot accept the society’s insensitivity to the value of human life. He determines to change things.
falling action · In order to put his plan into action, Jonas flees the community on bicycle with the newchild Gabe, evading search planes and enduring hunger and pain to try to bring feelings and color to his community and bring himself to the world he has dreamed of knowing.
themes · The importance of memory; the relationship between pain and pleasure; the importance of the individual
motifs · Vision; nakedness; release
symbols · The newchild Gabriel; the sled; the river
foreshadowing · Important examples of foreshadowing in The Giver include Jonas’s apprehension about the Ceremony of Twelve, which foreshadows his future disillusionment with the community; and his feeling of closeness and freedom with the old woman while he bathes her, which foreshadows his longing for grandparents and other close, personal connections.
The Giver has some pretty broad themes, but the events within the story can help you build those up into a great, specific thesis statement with well-formed points of evidence backing it up.
Let's create an example. One theme from the book is pain/suffering. The world of The Giver deals with pain by isolating it — Jonas's society is "utopian" because no one has to deal with pain (which we actually learn makes it dystopian).
We here in our unregulated world know pain is not pleasant, but we also know pain is a human experience, and is part of growing.
Throughout the course of the story, as Jonas is given memories and learns more dark truths about the society he lives in, he begins to understand people cannot live completely regulated lives free from pain. He leaves to go Elsewhere, along with Gabriel, so they might have a chance to live unregulated lives. He hopes his leaving will transfer his memories to the people of the community, causing them to gain insight into the shallow and horrible lives they lead.
So, with all this in mind, a thesis statement relating to the theme of pain/suffering could be:
Lowry uses memory and Jonas's experiences in The Giver to show pain is part of the human experience and is necessary for people to learn, grow, and live full lives.
Just take any theme from the book that you'd like to write about, see what the book specifically says about that theme, and voila! You've got a thesis statement.