Die Königs Erläuterung Spezial zu Lois Lowry: The Giver in englischer Sprache ist eine verlässliche und bewährte Textanalyse und Interpretationshilfe für Schüler und weiterführende Informationsquelle für Lehrer und andere Interessierte: verständlich, übersichtlich und prägnant. In einem Band bieten dir die Königs Erläuterungen alles, was du zur Vorbereitung auf Referat, Klausur, Abitur oder Matura benötigst. Das spart dir lästiges Recherchieren und kostet weniger Zeit zur Vorbereitung. Alle wichtigen Infos zur Interpretation... - von der ausführlichen Inhaltsangabe über Aufbau, Personenkonstellation, Stil und Sprache bis zu Interpretationsansätzen - Abituraufgaben mit Musterlösungen ... sowohl kurz als auch ausführlich ... - Die Schnellübersicht fasst alle wesentlichen Infos zu Werk und Autor und Analyse zusammen. - Die Kapitelzusammenfassungen zeigen dir das Wichtigste eines Kapitels im Überblick - ideal auch zum Wiederholen. ... und klar strukturiert ... - Ein zweifarbiges Layout hilft dir Wesentliches einfacher und schneller zu erfassen. - Die Randspalte mit Schlüsselbegriffen ermöglichen dir eine bessere Orientierung. - Klar strukturierte Schaubilder verdeutlichen dir wichtige Sachverhalte auf einen Blick.
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Analyse | Interpretation in englischer Sprache
Zitierte Ausgaben: Lowry, Lois: The Giver. Klett English Editions. 26. Auflage. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Sprachen, 2017.
Über den Autor dieser Erläuterung: Patrick Charles wurde 1973 in Bournemouth, Südengland, geboren und studierte englische Literatur an der Universität von Newcastle. 1993 zog er nach Berlin, wo er eine Ausbildung zum Buchhändler machte und zehn Jahre lang als Buchhändler arbeitete. Seit 2004 ist er als freiberuflicher Autor von Schulbüchern und Lernhilfen und als Übersetzer im Kulturbereich tätig. Er lebt mit seiner Familie in Berlin.
1. Auflage 2019
© 2019 by Bange Verlag GmbH, 96142 Hollfeld Alle Rechte vorbehalten! Titelabbildung: picture alliance / Foodcollection
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1. At a glance – the most important points
2. Lois Lowry: Life & Works
2.2 Contemporary Background
The 1990s and the “end of history”
Pop culture: Hybridisation and self-awareness
“Sameness” in the book business
2.3 Notes on Other Important Works
3. Analyses and Interpretations
3.1 Origins and Sources
People in The Giver
Methods of control
Sameness vs. diversity
Memory, history and the past
3.6 Style and Language
The use of language
3.7 Approaches to Interpretation
Young adult (YA) fiction
Science Fiction (SF)
Film adaptation (2014)
Other ideas about interpretations of The Giver
Escape or death?
Metaphor for adolescence
4. Critical Reception
Praise and accolades
Metaphor for adolescence
Lowry on Science Fiction and The Giver
The film adaptation: The Giver
George Orwell and dystopian fiction
The Giver on book lists
6. Sample Exam Questions and Answers
Task 1: **
Task 2: *
Task 3: ***
Edition used for this study guide
Secondary literature on The Giver
Banned/Challenged: The Giver
About the film adaptation The Giver
This study guide to Lois Lowry’s The Giver is designed to provide an easy-to-use overview of the structure, context, themes and characters of the novel. Here is a quick rundown of the most important points.
Part 2 takes a brief look at Lois Lowry and her career.
Lowry was born in Hawaii in 1937. Her father worked for the US military, so like many other military families they moved around the world a lot from base to base.
She wrote her first novel in 1977 and The Giver in the early 1990s. Its contemporary background is interesting but actually less relevant to the book itself than is frequently the case, in particular for dystopias or SF.
Part 3 provides analyses and interpretations of the novel.
The Giver – Origins and Sources:
We have in Lowry’s 1994 Newbery Medal acceptance speech an unusually detailed and open discussion of the precise influences and inspirations which combined to form The Giver.
Jonas is about to turn 12, at which point he and all other children his age will be given their Assignments, telling them what their future role in society will be. He is selected as Receiver of Memory, an unique and mysterious position. He trains with an old man called The Giver who is the only person in the community who has access to the knowledge and memories of the past. Jonas learns that his world has decided to give up on or control everything which can potentially cause conflict or limit efficiency. This includes many bad things, like war, hunger, unemployment or chaotic social systems, but also things like colours, weather, love, family and individuality. Jonas becomes increasingly sceptical about the nature of this society until he finally sees that euthanasia is used to kill all unwanted or “inadequate” citizens in the community. He takes his baby brother Gabriel and escapes from the community.
The Giver is a linear, chronological narrative told from Jonas’ perspective. The book is short and divided into 23 chapters.
There are really only two characters in the book, Jonas and The Giver. All other characters are limited by the social conditioning and the medication they take and are more like robots or pets than real individuals.
Jonas – becomes 12 years old at the start of the book. An intelligent, brave boy with a great capacity for empathy.
The Giver – an old man who is feeling the burden of the memories he must keep and the pain he must carry alone. He is tired and sad.
Jonas’ family (mother, father, his sister Lily and baby Gabriel)
Further characters: Fiona and Asher (childhood friends of Jonas), Rosemary and the Chief Elder.
The major themes we will look at in this study guide are control, pain, Sameness and diversity, memory (history and the past) and choice. Another major theme is human connections.
Style and Language:
This is a particularly important aspect of the novel, because one of the major methods by the dystopian society in the novel to control the people is “precision of language”. The horrific secrets are hidden by euphemisms: truth and the very nature of reality is hidden or manipulated by the use of specific language.
The book can be interpreted in the context of at least three genres to which it belongs – Young Adult fiction, science fiction and dystopian fiction.
There has been a major film adaptation (in 2014), which allows us a different perspective on the story and its themes.
Other ideas about interpretations of The Giver
Lois Lowry (*1937) © 2016 Larry D. Moore
20th of March: Lois (originally Cena) Lowry is born. She is the middle child of three. Her parents are Norwegian (father) and German, English, Scots-Irish (mother).
Brooklyn/New York (USA)
Her father was a dentist in the US military and like many military families, they had to move often. This was the first relocation of Lois’ life.
When her father had to serve on a hospital ship in the Pacific during World War 2, the rest of the family moved back to Lois’ mother’s hometown.
Her father was stationed in Japan and the family lived on a military base for a couple of years. Lois returned to the US to attend high school.
Providence/Rhode Island (USA)
Lois studied at Pembroke College for two years until she married Donald Lowry.
Donald Lowry was also in the US military and the young family (Lois was to have 4 children during the early years of their marriage) moved often during this period, as he was stationed at different military bases around the country. They eventually settled after his retirement in Portland, Maine, where Lois finished her studies and graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in English Literature.
Washington D.C. (USA)
Lois’ older sister Helen dies of cancer, aged 28. This event inspires her first novel.
Lowry is commissioned by the publisher Houghton Mifflin to write a book, which becomes her first published novel, A Summer to Die.Lois and Donald divorce.
After her divorce Lois moved to live and work in Boston.
Newbery Award for the novel Number the Stars.
The Giver is published.
Second Newbery Award for The Giver.
Spangdahlem Air Base/ Rheinland-Pfalz (Germany)
Her second son Grey, a pilot in the US Air Force, is killed when his plane crashes. Lois describes this event as the most difficult day of her life.
Film adaptation of The Giver.
Massachusetts and Maine (USA)
Lowry currently lives in the US states of Massachusetts and Maine.
Lois Lowry wrote The Giver in the early 1990s. She had already been a professional writer for nearly 20 years by that time. It is maybe surprising for a writer to have their most famous and critically acclaimed work come in the middle of their careers, rather than in an explosion of energy at the beginning or as a crowning achievement towards the end.
The 1990s and the “end of history”
The early 1990s were a strange time in history. Following the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, many people thought that the world had reached what was called “the end of history”. This was a philosophical idea made popular by Francis Fukuyama 1992 in his bestselling book The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama’s idea, very basically, is that Western-style liberal democracy had “won” the competition between different political and social systems, and that from this point on all people and countries would be increasingly on the same path to shared enlightenment, progress, peace and security. Formerly competing ideologies like Communism and extreme nationalism would become weaker and would vanish into history.
But this view of the world turned out to be premature and optimistic. Within just a couple of years it was clear that rampant nationalism was still widespread, China’s capitalist-Communist hybrid system was becoming an increasing concern for Western nations, and globalised terrorism had a historic comeback in the public eye with al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. By the turn of the millennium Fukuyama’s theories seemed quaint and lost to history.
What is true of the period, however, is that with the end of the Cold War a universal sense of dread and doom was suddenly gone – the world no longer seemed to be a potential battlefield between nuclear-armed superpowers representing capitalism and Communism. This sense of dread and monolithic antagonism had fuelled a lot of pop culture, from British pop band Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s song Two Tribes (1984) to the spy novels of John le Carré and successful, but deeply chauvinistic America = good / Russia = bad films like Red Dawn (1984) and Rocky IV (1985). With the collapse of the Russian “evil empire” (a term used by US President Ronald Reagan in 1983 to describe the Soviet Union) and the apparent “end of history”, pop culture changed as well.
It became much less political: the eras of Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1979–1990, and Ronald Reagan, US president from 1981–1989, were both very conservative and pro-capitalism. Their administrations were both extremely polarising in their respective countries, and triggered energetic subcultural and alternative culture movements, including punk, US hardcore punk, the social-realist cinema of filmmakers like Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, and a general willingness and need for art and pop culture to engage actively and confrontationally with politics. With the end of the era of the Cold War and Cold Warriors like Thatcher and Reagan, this political energy vanished from pop culture, and an era of curiosity, fusion, and non-political hedonism began.
Movie scene from Rocky IV (1985) with Dolph Lundgren as Soviet boxer Ivan Drago. © picture alliance/Everett Collection
Pop culture: Hybridisation and self-awareness
In pop culture, the 1990s saw the beginning of a widespread process of fusion and hybridisation. This occurred in cinema, music and literature. Previously underground or subcultural musical genres became increasingly mainstream – this was most dominantly and lastingly true of hip hop, which in the 1980s was seen by the mainstream as being a gimmick or an underground phenomenon, and is now possibly the single most popular pop music genre in the world. But various forms of heavy metal/hard rock and techno/electronic music were also crossing over into mainstream awareness, creating the alternative rock boom and the rise of techno-pop crossover dance music. Bands like Nine Inch Nails hybridised almost everything that had come before, combining pop and the experimental underground of Industrial and electronic music with heavy metal, punk and dance music. Nirvana borrowed from punk, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction and Faith No More mixed metal, funk and pop, and hip hop acts like Public Enemy, Cypress Hill and Ice-T became hugely popular outside the world of hip hop, attracting millions of predominantly white rock fans.
In cinema as well genres were being increasingly tested and manipulated by filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch and Joel and Ethan Coen, who would often create refreshingly original mash-ups of several different genres in one single film, with unmistakably personal styles and techniques. Tarantino in particular has had an enormous influence on the way mainstream filmmakers would combine humour, violence, irony, and thriller/crime plots and use references to pop culture to display an ironic, knowing tone to their films. Being a huge fan of pop culture and cinema from all around the world and from all possible genres and styles, Tarantino seemed almost like a DJ at a nightclub who knew how to mix up different elements to keep the party going. His genius lay in offering new perspectives on traditions and pop cultural elements by combining and juxtaposing them in new contexts with an educated, ironic eye.
If it can be argued that the 1980s was the decade in which pop culture genres were young, excited and full of energy, then the 1990s was the decade in which these children grew up and married each other to create new children. The hybridisation going on in the world of pop music and the increasingly sophisticated treatment in cinema of cinema’s own history, in particular embracing its trashier elements, pretty much defined the pop culture of the 1990s.
“Sameness” in the book business
In literature, too, the 1990s were a time of change, but in a maybe less healthy manner. The growth of chain bookstores (like Waterstone’s in the UK and Barnes & Noble in the US), which centralised the marketing opportunities for publishers and concentrated potential readers and book buyers in more focussed environments, was one development which changed the book trade. But by the end of the 1990s the Internet was here and Amazon in particular had changed the rules completely. This commercial focus of retail outlets for books made the available market space for publishers and authors more high-profile – the big chain bookstores were in every city, and could reach a huge potential customer base – but at the same time more limited. The arena for new books was growing smaller, as the big chains tended to promote and sell the same books. Instead of finding 100 books by different, new authors, you would be more likely to find 100 copies of the same book by one hugely popular bestselling writer. This would be an example of “Sameness” in effect in culture.
Science fiction, which aside from Young Adult fiction is the most relevant genre here, looks back to the 1950s as its “Golden Age”. This was the period in which SF historians and purists would argue that the genre had the most energy, produced its most important and innovative writers and works, and made the biggest leaps in its growth as a literary genre and as a unique environment for human creative curiosity. The other crucially important period in SF history is the New Wave of the 1970s which included writers like J. G. Ballard and Michael Moorcock, and which opened SF up to more modern, socially and culturally aware themes and settings.
By the 1990s SF was, in the mainstream, reduced to spaceships and aliens again. Even the arguably most successful and important SF movie of the 1990s, The Matrix (1999), was an almost Tarantino-style mash-up of ideas borrowed from the works of Philip K. Dick with action scenes inspired by the violent choreography of 1970s kung fu films, all re-packaged in skin-tight PVC outfits and sunglasses indoors, the edgy aesthetic of the day.
The only original thing here was the combination of elements, not the created work itself. In SF literature, one of probably the most famous and successful writers of the 90s was Iain M. Banks with his Culture series of novels, who had a simultaneous career as a writer of popular literary fiction under the name Iain Banks.
The 1990s saw in SF as well as in most other genres of pop culture media an increased presence of women working in fields which had usually been associated with men. While there had always been women writers of science fiction, including some of the most admired and respected writers in the field (notably Octavia Butler 1947–2006 and Ursula LeGuin 1929–2018), and the creator of the genre was a woman (Mary Shelley, with Frankenstein in 1818), the genre of science fiction has always been widely viewed as something by and for boys. During the 1990s this changed dramatically.
Lois Lowry’s venture into science fiction came in the early 1990s: she had never written in the genre before. Her approach to science fiction is not particularly true to the genre, and it is only when she began to expand on the world of The Giver with the sequels, years later, that she seems to have concentrated more and put more thought into the structures and systems of her imagined future world.
But her novel arrived at a time when young adults – teenagers – were being increasingly discovered and targeted as customers and readers. So The Giver could be marketed and sold as a children’s book, or, as they were then becoming known, as YA fiction, rather than as science fiction.
The processes of hybridisation which were changing pop music and mainstream cinema were having a different effect in the world of literature. Books were being marketed in an increasingly sophisticated way, echoing the traditional marketing of pop music for particular audiences (the most important American music charts, for example, have long been subdivided into categories like “rock”, “country” and “R&B”, targeting the different relevant audiences specifically).
The pressure for publishers and booksellers to market new books to existing target audiences has always resulted in a large amount of generic fiction – books which are written to fulfil existing expectations on the part of the reader. Many of the YA dystopian fantasies which have appeared since the huge success of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games (2008–2010) have been little more than attempts to sell as similar a story as possible to the same readers, for example, and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (1937–1949) created an entire genre, with literally hundreds of authors in the years since working in exactly the same style and using exactly the same themes and storylines.
Lowry’s The Giver is an unusual example of a book which has ancestors – Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
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