Lois Lowry's The Giver Should Not be Censored
Parents in modern society routinely attempt to shield their children from what they view as evils of the world. Adults censor television they watch, conversations they have, and books they read. In so doing, parents feel that they are guarding their children from knowledge that they may not be emotionally capable of handling. However, it also is imperative in the highly competitive atmosphere of modern society for youth to become prepared for the pressures of adulthood. Ironically, the dangerous knowledge parents believe they are hiding from their children inevitably is learned through exposure. In the domain of literature, a parent may feel that a particular book attracts attention to inappropriate or taboo issues, neglecting the positive aspects of that same work. This is the situation that has developed with Lois Lowry's The Giver, a book opposed by parents across the nation. Throughout the novel, despite challenges that have emerged based in her use of euphemistic expressions for euthanasia within a utopian society, the author nonetheless demonstrates the importance of experiential learning and the valuable lessons to be learned by working through the negative aspects of life.
Parents have raised protest against The Giver because it references euthanasia; a concept many believe corrupts youthful readers' minds and values. Indeed, the author initially does minimize the significance of mercy killing by euphemistically denoting it as, "release" (139). However, when Jonas learns the true definition of this term, he grows determined to awaken the community to what it is condoning. He realizes that the process of release is a "feeling of terrible pain clawing its way forward to emerge in cry" (151). As the protagonist, Jonas assumes the role of hero in the novel, setting a precedent for expected behavior and reactions. In fact, the knowledge of the meaning of release Jonas discerns eventually leads him to leave the community. Like members awakened in the fictional community, children reading a book in which the heroic figure chooses to reject the concept of infanticide also will come to see Jonas' behavior as worthy of emulation. The hypocrisy of the actual community of parental critics becomes clear when one realizes that they are citizens of a country that permits infanticide in another form, namely abortion. Thus, it is utterly preposterous that some would feel justified in banning a novel that actually opposes such practices.
While the use of euphemisms may be justified based on the moral factors they support, they serve as just one example of Lois Lowry's stylistic ability to capture meaning not only in words, but also in experience conveyed by the words. Another example of such use of language appears specifically in her definitions of certain words. On his first encounter with the Giver, Jonas learns of sled riding. While the...