Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hi Miss Li!

A very warm welcome to my Giver blog! I chose this particular blogskin because it reflected on the fact that there are no colours in Jonas's community. The dark grey colour also reflects how sad life is in Jonas's community with no memories and emotions, being very stale and boring. The picture on top of many branches remind me of Jonas's escape journey with Gabriel as they ride past landscapes and agricultural lands where there must have been many trees.

Also, due to some technical problems, I am sadly unable to link my blog to those I have commented on. Hence I have decided to use this post to tell give you the links of the blogs I have commented on. I am so very sorry for the inconvenienced caused! I have commented on:

Maysin's blog ------- (more about Jonas post)
Lisa's blog ------- ("The truth I had not known" poem post)
Nicolette's blog ------- (class analysis of chapters 1&2 post)
Niki's blog ------- (Short extracts post)
Gladi's blog ------ ("Truth is..." poem post)
Alethea's blog ------ giversthinker.blogspot. (" Why the cage bird sings" poem post)

Thank You so much for your kind understanding and enjoy!

0 comments Louisa :) A world not ours @ 2:26 AM

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The day after we watched the Handmaid's Tale, we started to analyse chapters one and two of The Giver. I was quite surprised by the number of features of Jonas' society that could be identified just from these two chapters. I was really impressed by how much we could actually get out about Jonas' community just from the incident of the unidentified aircraft. Much was revealed about Jonas' society from the account of the unidentified aircraft, leaving me rather surprised and satisfied at the same time.

In the book, Jonas reflects on the time when a sleek, needle-nosed, unidentified jet had flown over the community, leaving everyone stunned and confused. It was later announced by the Speaker that it was a pilot-in-training who had misread his navigational instructions and had flown over the community by mistake. The Speaker also informed the community that he would have to be released.

There are several features of Jonas' society that can be seen from the briefly accounted incident. Firstly, Jonas' society is a protected and sheltered society. The reaction of the people to the unidentified aircraft, was of pure terror and fright. They had never seen a plane fly over the community since it was against the rules to do so. Their reaction to something seemingly insignificant to the reader, shows that they are not exposed to many things and hence are thrown into confusion at the slightest incident. From this incident, it can also be seen that the community is a very enclosed community. It is one that keeps to itself, and is almost reclusive and isolated in nature. Hence, due to this fact that they are very isolated and alone, the people were in a state of panic at the sight of an unfamilar aircraft.

Secondly, it can be seen that the government in Jonas' community has tight control over its people. When the Speaker had barked out the order for everyone to leave their bicycles where they were and head for the nearest building, the people adhered to the orders in a swift and prompt manner. They were willing and unquestioning, following the order of the Speaker obediently. This shows that there has been a cultivated and learnt obedience in the people of the community. No one questions when an order is made. This is uncanny, especially in our modern world, where people do certainly question many of the laws and actions of the government. They fire various questions at the government for them to answer, and only if the answer is satisfactory do these people decide to let it rest. However, it is very much the opposite in the book, where the people never ever question anything done by the government. This can be seen the further parts of the book as well, where the people follow the rules strictly. Asher does his Standard Apology Phrase in front of the class, Jonas apologises to the Recreation Director for taking an apple home and the community engages in the Evening Telling of Feelings and Dream telling. Never does anyone question the need for the various rituals and rules. Hence, this blind adherence to the rules has transformed the people into robots without minds of their own to discern if the rules are good or bad.

Lastly, Jonas' society is a harsh society, as seen from the event. The pilot-in-training who had read his navigational instructions wrongly was released. Hence, it can been seen that the society Jonas lives in is unforgiving. There are no such thing as second chances in his community. Wrong doings cannot be erased or forgotten and the penalty must be paid for breaking a rule. There is no such thing as forgiveness. In the strive for perfection, it can be seen that people who are deemed less than perfect, which includes making mistakes, are meted out the worst possible punishment of being released. Release in this case is a utter disgrace and a shameful thing.

The society in the book, because of its strive for perfection, is unable to accept anyone who is less than perfect. Hence, this also relates to the release of newborns. Newborns who are released are usually those that are not progressing as well as they should be, one such example being Gabriel. Just like other problematic newborns, Gabriel does not meet the expectations of the Nurturers. He has not reached the right size and weight. He is not growing as well as he should be and is also unable to sleep soundly at night. These problems deem Gabriel as less than perfect because he does not meet the high standards set. Thus, the committee of Nurturers intended to release him. In this way, it can be seen that even for newborns, there is a level of perfection expected, and when a newborn falls short of this level of perfection, they are released.

Other than these qualities of Jonas' society, there are many more, based on other events and features. They are qualities that I would not have been able to identify myself, if I were to analyse the chapters all by myself!

Jonas' society is a ritualistic society. In his society, there are alot of practices and rituals involved in the people's daily life. For example, there are the various ceremonies held in December, the evening telling of feelings and dream-telling. There are also many social conventions such as the standard apology phrase and the emphasis of precision of language, which has caused the people to speak in a certain way. The people's lives are surrounded by many conventions and customs. They attend the ceromonies every year without fail, and go through the telling of feelings and dreams everyday. Hence, they live in a ritualistic world, where every aspect of life has certain rituals that must be followed.

Also, Jonas' society is a detached society. Normal objects are called by different names. For example, instead of them calling the place they live in as their "home", they call it their "dwelling". This takes away the warmth from the word "home" and replaces it with a cold and distant word, "dwelling". The people also have identification numbers. Jonas' number is eleven-nineteen. This shows how cold and detached Jonas' society is, so much so that the society has become robotic, with identification numbers that tag them. The people are like objects, given numbers to represent themselves.

Lastly, there is a great dillution of human emotions in Jonas' society. The people in Jonas' society are assigned spouses, which have been carefully matched according to many aspects such as temperament and intelligence. The people believe that because the choices are so carefully made, the match that they are in must be perfect, and do not consider their own feelings towards their assigned spouse. A lady might be paired with a man which she did not even know existed! Since they are placed in a spousal relationship, not having naturally fallen in love and decide to get married, there is no effort on the part of both parties to cultivate the relationship as it has already been created for them. They can take each other for granted as they donot have the experience of dating or being in a relationship with this person they are assigned to.

In addition, the couples have to apply for children, which are given birth to by Birthmothers. Couples donot fall in love, decide to get married and have children. They are placed in a relationship, and then are given the chance to apply for children. Hence, there is a dillution of human relationships between parents and children because they are not biologically related, children being not of their parents' own flesh and blood. They are the children of different mothers.

Hence, it can be seen from all the qualities, that Jonas' society is on the whole, a very inhuman, mechanic and robotic society. People go about their lives without thinking because everything has been placed and arranged perfectly for them to go about their business. They do their daily activities out of a cultivated habit, things done so many times that they donot think about it anymore. If the author had not described the people as human beings, I am sure the reader might have thought she was writing about robots!

0 comments Louisa :) A world not ours @ 3:55 AM

" The Chief Elder claims that the Assignments are a way of honouring differences. Does this ring true? Based on you knowledge of other parts of the novel, is Jonas' s soceity one that values sameness or difference?" I pondered on the question staring at me on the Giver handout of chapter 6 to 9.

Just the day before yesterday, we had completed analysing chapters 6 to 9 of the novel. The question above was the question I had some difficulty in trying to answer. It was also through this question that I was able to gain new and surprising insights to the book.

It is very clear that Jonas's community does indeed value Sameness, where everything is standardized and uniform. The people have the same physical appearance such as dark eyes (except for a few rare individuals that have pale eyes like Jonas), haircuts which the Tens receive during their ceremony and also the same tunics, which are of a nondescript shade. The people do not hold memories, see colours or experience the weather. They are ignorant of the existence of animals and have not experienced nature. They all live in the same kind of dwelling with the same type of furniture (the only exception being the Giver himself), and are not allowed to have excess to books. They follow the rules obediently and rather blindly, apologise the same way with the use of the Standard Apology Phrase and practice the same rituals such as dream-telling, the evening telling of feelings and attend the Ceremonies every year without fail. Hence, it can be seen that everything is uniform in Jonas's community, no one or nothing ever being different than another.

However, what struck me the most about the uniformity of Jonas's society is that everyone, because they rigidly obey all the rules, practice all the rituals and do the same things is that they have been brought up to posses the same personality type! This can be seen by the fact that there are rules governing aspects such as always being polite, never rude, always apologising when needed, being exceptionally humble, by not talking about each other's accomplishments and also being a conformist. Thus this shows that no only are things and physical aspects of Jonas's community uniform, but also the people that live in it are as well, behaving like programmed robots.

Also, another point that struck me was that spouses are assigned so carefully, choices and pairing being made so meticulously by the committee of Elders not just so that it would be a best fit and that no problems will arise from the relationship but most importantly to provide and cultivate a good family environment for the children. The matching of spouses are so perfect, paired in such a way that they compliment each other so that after they receive their children, they are able to successfully raise them and teach them the ways of the community in order that the children may fit into the society perfectly. This is also to ensure that the children have a perfect upbringing in order that when they grow up, they will be able to contribute to the society in the labour force, sustaining the community.

In addition, the assignments are definitely not a way of honouring differences since not all assignments command equal respect or status. For instance, the Receiver of Memory is known as the assignment with the most honour while Birthmothers are looked down upon and the assignment called one without honour. Jonas's father also complains about the night crew Nurturers which lack something necessary to take on a more important job in the day. Hence it can be seen that people are labelled by what assignments they get and there are stereotypes of certain assignments and stigmas involved as well. Thus, though Jonas's society seems to promote equality and Sameness on the surface, it can be seen that there is an assignment hierachy in the society. Therefore it can be seen that the ways of the community go against the very fact of individuality.

During the lesson, Miss Li also posed a very thought-provoking question to us, "why does Jonas's community lack a name?". I was quite taken aback by the question since I had never thought about that and had just accepted Jonas's community without a name. I never knew it was necessary for Jonas's community to have a name, though I knew the utopia in the Handmaid's Tale had a name. After a long moment of silence, where it seemed like everyone did not know the answer, Miss Li finally gave it to us and it hit me like a ton of bricks!

Miss Li said that the author was trying to keep the community as open as possible to the reader's imagination and interpretation. Without a name, the community does not have a specific geographical location or fixed time period and hence can be interpreted differently by different readers. Thus, Jonas's community can happen anytime and anywhere. Also, after I thought about it more, my answer to Miss Li's question would be that the author was trying to show almost how impossible it was for Jonas's type of community to exist. Jonas lives in a utopia, the word when translated into Greek meaning No Place. Hence, without a name for the community, it does not have an identity and thus makes Jonas's society seem vague and unreal. Without a name, it can be seen as the community only having a imaginary existence, something not permanently there, and maybe not even possible at all!

0 comments Louisa :) A world not ours @ 3:49 AM

Friday, July 23, 2010

Long ago and faraway
where all good tales began
in a land of plenty
not marred by thinking man
no poverty or sickness,
no anger, greed or hate
Time was not the master
and folk were never late
Utopian land of dreams
heavenly place to some
to one boy is seemed tedious
paradise for the dumb
not for those who question
or rise to seize the day
no challenges to stretch their minds
others seemed content
in the endless glow of sun
but the wise boy prayed most earnestly
that it would come undone
he grew tired of endless day
and longed for the contrast of night
because only after darkness
can they hope to see the light
he looked upon the people
grown complacent, soft and fat
nothing more and nothing less
what to do with a ball without a bat
there was no competition
when everyone agreed
surrounded by perfection
what could they hope to see?
a better world is found
in balanced black and white
growth can only happen
through challenges in life
hearts and minds grow stronger
when they bravely bear the load
how can one develop
with only one choice of road?

This poem, written by an anonymous author, reveals the ugly side of an utopia where people, because of their sheltered life become so ignorant and dependant. The author of this poem questions whether perfection and utopian values are really good for us. This poem can be used quite accurately to describe the people as well as the conditions of the community in The Giver. The boy, described in the poem, can also be used to represent Jonas and how he feels as he slowly gains wisdom from the memories he recieves.

This poem deals with the slow realization of Jonas as he recieves the memories. He begins to realize that his community is not as great as he had viewed it before. As Jonas recieves memories of colour, feelings, weather and nature, he begins to realize how much the community and even himself has missed when they chose Sameness. He becomes more critical of his community and the way the people are living their lives.

The poem writes " in a land of plenty, not marred by thinking man", to describe the utopia. This is also very true for Jonas' community. Jonas' community is prospering, where everything is going well and the "land [is] plenty", with enough food for everyone. The community is running smoothly, with every citizen following rules and contributing back to the community for the common good. Also, the phrase "not marred by thinking man" aptly describes the people in Jonas' community. The people do not have the mind of their own. They cannot think for themselves because they have been influenced by the ways of the community. The government makes decisions for the people, in order that they donot make the wrong choices and cause problems in the community. Hence the way the author writes that the "land of plenty [is] not marred by thinking man" describes how the people decided to do away with each individual's choices in order that wrong choices would not be made and that the world would be, what they percieve, as a better place.

Next, the author writes " no poverty or sickness, no anger, greed or hate". This is also extremely accurate. In Jonas' community, there is no poverty because everyone is given equal possesions. They are all equal and have the same food, treatment and status. All children are given an oppurtunity to have an education and no one is looked down upon by others because it is rude. It is just like the opposite, where no one is allowed to mention another's achievements and make them stand out, because it is rude. Hence, there is no poverty, as there is no difference in social class or status. Also, there is "no ... sickness" in Jonas' community because everything is being done to avoid having an epidemic. There is a pill called the "Relief of Pain" for the people in the community when they get into minor accidents or, for children, when they hurt themselves during play. Even Jonas had taken it when he had smashed his finger in the door. Hence, there are no sicknesses in Jonas' community as instant cures have been created to treat illnesses. There is no "anger.... and hate" because the people in Jonas' community do not have emotions and hence cannot feel "anger" or "hate". There is also no "greed" because everyone is equal in Jonas' community. They all have equal possesions. Everyone has their own bicycles, haircut and clothes. Thus, no one can envy another because everyone has the same things, nothing more, nothing less.

The poem says that "folk were never late". This reminds us of the Ceremony of Twelve and any other ritual in Jonas' community where the people were always punctual to a fault, "never late". Events always started promptly and was never delayed. The people had, already from young, learnt about the importance of punctuality. They had been trained to be punctual. This can be also shown by the fact that an public apology must be made when one was late for school. Jonas, in the first chapter had recalled how Asher had to recite the "Standard Apology Phrase" to his class and give an acceptable reason why he had been late.

The poem then says that it was a "heavenly place to some" but "to one boy it seemed tedious". In Jonas' community, the people love their lives and very happy with it. They find it perfect and "heavenly" and hardly ever complain. However, for Jonas, he does not view it the same way as he did before he became the Reciever of Memory. He finds it very meaningless and stale, because he has experienced much more from the memories. He knows that life is more than just what it is in his community. He feels that it is very "tedious" because he knows what a real, fufilling life is through his memories but his parents, sister and friends do not. They go about their lives contented with what Jonas feels is little compared to what people had way back when there were memories. There is an inner conflict in Jonas because he wants to go back to life the way it used to be, uncomplicated, but he knows that he cannot after learning and experiencing so much from the memories.

The poem describes that it is a "paradise for the dumb, not for those who question, or rise to seize the day, no challenges to stretch their minds, others seemed content". The people in the community have unquestioning obedience. This can be seen by the speed at which they had acted upon the Speaker's orders when the unidentified aircraft had flew over the community. They donot question the rules or orders given, but just follow them blindly. They are almost "dumb", like said in the poem. They follow and do everything they are told and never disobey an order. This is in contrast to Jonas who does question the practices and rules in the community even before he had begun his training as the Reciever of Memory. The people do not "rise to seize the day" and have "no challenges to stretch their minds". The people go about their lives like robots, with unchageable routines. They donot face challenges because their lives are extremely sheltered, protected and cushy. Everything has been laid out for them to do and all problems are solved by the government. The people are contented with their boring, routine lives because they have known no other kind of existence.

The poem then writes "the boy looked upon the people, grown complacent, soft and fat". The people in Jonas' community, just like those in the poem, live sheltered, protected lives and hence are ultimately dependant on the government to provide for them. They hence, are not independant and are spoon-fed by the government in every aspect, causing them to be "fat". The fact that they were in confusion and shock when the unidentified aircraft had flew over the community shows how protected and unexposed to things the people are. They are, thus complacent. The people are also "soft" and not strong or tough because they have never faced adversity. Their lives are perfect and smooth sailing, obstacles taken away. Thus, they do not, through the process of overcoming odds, build a strong will. The people therefore crumble easily when tragedy strikes. The release of the previous reciever, Rosemary, was one of the tragedies that showed how "soft" the people were. When Rosemary's memories returned to the people, they were in utter chaos and confusion, shocked and did not know what to do.

After, the poem adds " there was no competition, when everyone agreed, surrounded by perfection". This is very apt. In The Giver, everyone is equal, no one better than another, and hence there is "no competition". "Everyone agreed" with each other because they had been cultivated in an environment where politeness was of utmost importance. Also, they were brought up to think in a certain way and had been brainwashed to believe in same things. Hence, everyone agreed with each other on everything. In the community, the people are "surrounded by perfection". Everything has been modified and changed in order to attain absolute perfection. Hence, every little thing is perfect and without a fault. However, Jonas later realizes through watching the release of the twin, that his community is far from being as perfect as it had seemed.

Lastly, the poem reads "growth can only happen, through challenges in life, hearts and minds grow stronger, when they bravely bear the load". This is what Jonas rationalizes after he watches the release of the twin made by his father. He is devastated and disgusted by the ugliness of his community and want them to be blinded no more and know the real truth of what they are doing. Jonas wants to make a difference in the peoples lives. He wants them to be able to feel emotions and stop what they are doing. He decides to escape and with the help of the Giver, comes up with a plan. The plan would be that after he escapes and the memories return to the community, the Giver ,who would stay behind, would help the people to deal with the memories. He would help them to live a life with memories so that they would never revert back to the same way they had lived before. Hence, this part of the poem can be taken as part of the rationale of Jonas' escape. In this context, the word "challenges" would refer to the daunting task of learning about memories and living with them. The word "load" would then refer to the memories each person in the community would have to hold. Through his escape, Jonas hopes to be able to help the people in his community grow and strengthen.

3 comments Louisa :) A world not ours @ 7:45 PM

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Father? Mother?" Jonas asked tentatively after the evening meal. "I have a question I want to ask you." What is it, Jonas?" his father asked. He made himself say the words, though he felt flushed with embarrassment. He had rehearsed them in his mind all the way home from the Annex. "Do you love me?" There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. "Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!" "What do you mean?" Jonas asked. Amusement was not at all what he had anticipated."Your father means that you used a very generalised word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete," his mother explained carefully. Jonas stared at them. Meaningless? He had never before felt anything as meaningful as the memory. "And of course our community can't function smoothly if people don't use precise language. You could ask, 'do you enjoy me?' The answer is 'Yes'," his mother said.

This short extract is a key event in the novel. Jonas had just experienced the Christmas memory and had enjoyed the feelings of warmth and love. "Love" is a very foreign word and concept to him. Never has the word been used before and he had never heard of it. However, he feels the depth and intensity of the emotion called "love" in the Christmas memory and knows the true meaning of the word "love".

This pleasant experience during his training causes him to courageously ask his parents a very simple yet deep question, "Do you love me?". Instead of a straight forward, absolute answer, his parents chatise him for his precision of language, leaving him confused, puzzled and a bit lost. They explain that it is a too generalised word, until it has almost become obsolete. However, that contradicts what Jonas feels about love. To him, love is not generalised, it is filled with meaning because he had felt it in the memory. He questions how can love be a meaningless word. Jonas is sure about this feeling and concept of love and stands by it eventhough he lies and says that he understands why it is inappropriate to use such a word.

This whole event brings out the theme of the unfeeling community in The Giver and the lack of individuality. This event like many others in the book, reinforce the fact that the people in Jonas' community do not have real, deep emotions and hence lack individuality as they donot have feelings. This is a realisation that truly, when the people chose to go to Sameness, they relinquished individual feelings. It stuns Jonas that his parents have such a reaction to the word love because he had experienced it and it has a meaning for him. He knows what love is, unlike the rest of his family unit and community. He feels sad, and alone, being one of the few that can experience real, deep, from-the-heart emotions and not just shallow reactions. He had experienced what love was but is unable to describe or share this wonderful, splendid feeling with others. He believes in the feeling of love and that it is not as obsolete or general as his parents have said it out to be. He believes in the power of love and in its existence.

Also, this short extract from the book, mentions about the 'precision of language'. Precision of language is something that has been practiced and shown throughout the book. Even Jonas is careful about his language, trying to be as precise as possible in his everyday speech. Precision of language is an enforced rule and part of the community's everyday life. Children get called for chatisement if they used the wrong words at play or during lessons and Jonas struggles to describe his feelings in the first chapter of the book. Hence, precision of language is almost a habit and a second nature. The need and importance of precise language has been drilled and ingrained into the people of the community.

However, from this extract, it can be seen that what Jonas' parents describes as being precise language is actually not. In response to Jonas' question, they say that the word "love" is too generalised a word, until it has become almost obsolete. They imply that the word "love" is unprecise. Yet, the reader and Jonas knows how meaningful the word "love" is and how it is not obsolete like it is viewed by Jonas' parents.

Hence, it can be seen that precise language in the community is not precise at all, but rather how the people use the language so that the meanings of the words used are intentionally unclear, not precise. The importance of "precision of language" is actually a way to control the people. The use of "precise language" has contributed to the creation of a robotic, non-human society, where the people function like robots and machines and donot have real feelings.

For example, the family units go through the ritual of "the evening telling of feelings" every evening after the end of the evening meal. This sharing that the community engages in is ironic because the people donot actually have feelings. They had given up feelings when they chose Sameness. This is actually a way that the people can be controlled because their "feelings" and thoughts are not kept privately. It is said in the rules that no one is allowed to keep their feelings to themselves. This means that their "feelings" can be regulated and preventive measures can be taken in case the person is planning to do something foolish as a result of a circumstance or "feeling".

Another example is Jonas' father's title of "Nurturer". It is not precise and rather ironic because a Nurturer is supposed to be one who cares for the well-being of the baby, taking care of its needs, having a nurturing spirit. A nurturer is supposed to be a caretaker of infants, tending to their every need and helping it to survive. Jonas' father does care for infants but he also kills them. Though he takes care of infants, helping them to grow, he is also a muderer who releases babies like the lighter twin. Hence, the word "Nurturer" is not precise since nurturers in Jonas' community do kill innocent baby infants by euthanasia or more appropriately known in this case as 'Infanticide'.

Since precise language in Jonas' community is intentionally made unclear, that means that because of this unclear language they are using, it ensures that no one ever publicly lies as they can mask the lie as precision of language. However, later after witnessing the release of the lighter twin, Jonas realises that his whole community is actually a lie.

Love is a very important thing to me, something I hold very dear. I treasure the love showered on me by my family and friends in church and school. I have a really loving and supportive family that encourages me and supports my decisions and endeavours. My family is quite a loud family and we like to joke around and talk about many unimportant things. We have alot of fun and laughter in my family, and there is never one time where are so formal to one another in our speech. This is unlike Jonas' family in the book whose speech to one another seems so formal and distant and cold. There seems to be no real genuine warmth and ties within the family since they are not related biologically. All the family members seem to be alone and almost separate from each other, not having the connection that I feel with my family.

It really tugged at my heart strings to learn that in the many years of Jonas' life, he has never experienced love and has never even heard of it before. I felt quite a great amount of sympathy for Jonas and how he is deprived of the very feelings I take for granted everyday. For us humans, love is a very important ingredient in a family and for a growth of a child. Without love, a family is meaningless and not actually quite possible. Love helps a child to grow psychologically. It is an important and vital attribute for the psychological and emotional well being of a child. A child deprived of love would turn out differently from one with love. I could never imagine living in a world without feelings and especially love!

Though love is very meaningful, powerful and something to be held dearly and treasured, I do some times think that the word "love" is quite a general word, not obsolete though! I just feel that we use "love" too much and to describe everything. Though there are different kinds of love between different kinds of people, they are all dumped under one big, broad word in the English language called "love".

However, in Greek, love is divided into four different words to describe different kinds of love between different kinds of people. They all mean "love" but yet are different from each other. The four words are Eros, Storge, Agape and Philia. Eros means erotic love and is a more shallow love based solely on sexual attraction. Storge is a kind of love that we can find between members of a family. It is the love of a mother, father, sisters and brothers. It is a much stronger kind of love compared to Eros and it requires commitment. It is a kind of love that causes family members to do all they can to stand behind their families in times of trials and tribulations. Philia is described as being a brotherly love. It does not refer to brothers in a family but more of kinsmenship. It is the kind of love that causes us to want to help our friends and others. However, it is sometimes described as being a selfish love, one that only shows itself when you benefit from showing it. Lastly the most powerful and most commonly heard of love is Agape. It is the highest form of love, one that is unconditional despite the other's flaws and weaknesses. It is a special kind of love that must be cultivated for it to grow and can only be achieved when you put others before yourself.

6 comments Louisa :) A world not ours @ 2:27 AM

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Last Wednesday, we started to study about The Giver in depth. We were given a worksheet with an oval drawn in the middle for us to do a mindmap. Miss Li then showed us a few clips from a movie called "The Handmaid's Tale" which was adapted from a Margaret Atwood novel of the same name.

Miss Li imformed us prior to watching the movie that it was a dystopian movie and was set in a utopian community called the Republic of Gilead. Miss Li explained that this community was founded in the post-pollution world where mankind had been badly affected to the extent that only one in hundreds of woman were fertile and able to bear children.

The women who were fertile were forced to become Handmaids to concieve children for the elite couple in the community.

When watching the movie, I was immensely disturbed by the practices and values cultivated in the community. Firstly, they used the Bible and twisted its meaning to justify their practices. The Handmaids, which are the fertile women, used as a vessel to produce children, had to sing Christian hymms which lyrics had been changed to brainwash the women.

Also, there was a scene when a handmaid had done something wrong and was punished by a multiple of brutal slashes on her legs. The punishments were extremely severe for minor transgressions. Also, the people running the community made themselves seem righteous by using God's name. The ladies running the handmaids' camp make the role to be one of "serving God and your country".

I was also very disturbed by the scene where they showed many nuns being hung in public for everyone to see because they refuse to engage in sexual activities and bear children. The movie showed some nuns being shoved into a truck while they were struggling and screaming that they would not go against their belief.

My heart broke during the scene where Kate, the protagonist, tries to concieve for Serena Joy and her husband Fred. When I heard her agonizing screams and tears, I was left speechless and horrified!

Also, when one of the handmaids was forced to share about her experience of being raped, the other women were forced to blame her for the traumatic experience and call her many derogatory names such as "whore" and "cheap". I was completely outraged! It was not her fault that she was a victim of rape at all!

Overall, just by watching that few clips of "The Handmaid's Tale" has left a extremely deep impression on me. My first reactions to the movie were shock, horror, disgust and being utterly disturbed. I was really haunted by the movie. While watching the movie, I was filled with sympathy and pain for the women being forced to be Handmaids, especially the protagonist Kate whose husband had died and child was wondering in the snowy landscape by herself.

I am so thankful that I am living in this modern day, in such a liberal society where I have the freedom of speech and choice! I am so relieved that I am living in such a society where gender equality and women's rights are practised!

Throughout the watching of the movie clips I was able to find many similarities between the movie and The Giver. In the movie, the woman are taged and given identification numbers just like how the people in Jonas' community also have numbers that indicate what number baby they were in their year.

Also, just like Jonas' community, Gilead is a very oppressed society that is very rigid and regimental. In Jonas' community, there are many rules that govern every aspect of life as well as many rituals such as the "Naming" and "Ceremony of Twelve". In Gilead, the handmaids have to sing hymms before bed and have to follow many rituals.

In Gilead, classes and roles in the society can be seen by the clothes and colour they wear. For example, the Handmaids were red while the commander's wives wear blue. Hence, the people are demarcated by the clothes they wear. Similarly, in Jonas' community, people have badges to identify their various assignments. Also, the people are labelled and known more for their roles in the community than as an individual. Also, the children in Jonas' community wear different clothes and have various belongings to distinct their ages. Lily, like all Sevens, wears a front-buttoned jacket. Fours, Fives and Sixes all wore jackets that were fastened down the back. Eights got jackets with pockets and smaller buttons. Nines got their bicycles and Tens get a new haircut.

The handmaids in the movie remind me of the assignment of Birthmothers in Jonas' community. Handmaids are the fertile women, who are used as vessels to bear children. The Birthmothers in Jonas' community do the same, to give birth to children so that they can be applied for by family units. Similarly, after the Handmaids give birth to children, they are taken away and raised by commanders' families just like how Birthmothers in Jonas' community donot ever see the Newchildren.

The way the girl was punished brutally with slashes on her feet in the movie reminds me of how unforgiving and uncompromising Jonas' society is. Similarly, when the pilot-in-training in the first chapter had read his navigational instructions wrongly and flew over the community, he was released for that mistake.

Lastly, there is also a effort at achieving uniformity in both the movie and Jonas' community. In the movie, certain races that different are irradicated. They are separated and sent off in trucks. (It reminds me of the holocaust when Jews are also brought away in trucks to concentration camps). The people left in Gilead are the whites. Similarly, in Jonas' community, everything is uniform. Everyone gets the same possesions, get the same haircut and have the same dark coloured eyes and many more.

Though I was greatly traumatised by watching the movie, having many oppressive images stuck in my mind after that, I feel that I have actually gained something from it. I must admit that it is quite meaningful. The movie shows the themes and issues raised in The Giver in a more blown up and extreme proportion.

My realization of the seriousness and graveness of the immorality in the Republic of Gilead must have been what Jonas felt of his community after he saw the release of the twin. The shock, horror and disgust I experienced must have been what Jonas had gone through when he realised how his community was not perfect at all and how horribly wrong it is.

I absolutely and strongly agree with what Miss Li had said about how when trying to create a utopia, elements of a dystopia come in. When trying to achieve perfection, many ugly, immoral things are done underneath to ensure that happens.

2 comments Louisa :) A world not ours @ 2:45 AM

Monday, July 5, 2010

This picture depicts the Giver's favourite memory, which is the memory of a Christmas celebration. After Jonas recieves this memory, he experiences the warmth of a family. He also feels many other strong emotions like joy and happiness and a sense of being complete. But most important of all, he learns about the concept of "Love". The concept of "Love" is a foreign emotion and thing to Jonas, so much so that he has not even used the word before. Jonas enjoys the feeling of "Love" and wishes it were the same in his community.
This memory also sparks off a momentus moment where he asks his parents if they love him. Instead of giving him an answer, they chatise him on the precision of language. This leaves him utterly shocked and taken aback. They explain to him that the word "Love" is so general until it has become obsolete. However, Jonas' thoughts and views are completely contary to what his parents are explaining to him. He knows and firmly believes in the meaning of love yet is told by his parents that is is meaningless. He realises the shallowness of his parents emotions, not being able to know the real meaning of love. He then reasons that emotions and feelings are felt not shared. This makes him feel alone as he seems to be the only one that can feel the depth of real emotions.

This photograph shows part of what Jonas sees in the Christmas memory. He learns about the existence of grandparents. He begins to realise the sad and vicious cycle in his community, that after he grows up, his parents would live with the Childless Adults, then move on to the House of Old and lastly be released. Jonas would be too busy with his own life to even know or care about his parents anymore and would soon forget about them. He too could apply for children and then the vicious cycle repeats itself. He feels that with grandparents around in the memory, the family seems more complete and he wishes that he could know who his grandparents were.

This picture shows Jonas' point of view when he first arrives at the Annex for his first training session. He is surprised and amazed by the number of books in the Giver's annex. It is the first indication to Jonas about how different life will be as the reciever of memory as books were not allowed to normal citizens. The Giver uses his books to ascertain Jonas' "seeing beyond" capacity. He asks Jonas to look at the top row of books. When Jonas informs him that the thing he understands as "seeing beyond" has happened again, the Giver tells Jonas that he is beginning to see the colour red. Also, books is one of the subjects that Jonas and the Giver talks about. The subject of books come out when Jonas and the Giver discuss about leading a normal life with the memoriesn they hold. The Giver tells Jonas that he can still live a relatively normal life. He could apply for a spouse and children. However, the Giver adds that there will be a whole part of life that he cannot share with his family such as letting them see or have access to the mountains of books he is to keep.
This is a cartoon depiction of the escape scene in The Giver. The boy in the middle is Jonas, carrying with him Gabriel as they escape the community together. The light of a search plane shines on Jonas as he stands in a snowy background. To his left and right are his parents and the Giver repectively. They are a dull colour, unlike Jonas. It symbolizes the escape from the colourless world of the community. This part of the book is the most exciting, evoking feelings of apprehension and worry in the reader. As Jonas battles with the elements outside his sheltered, climate controlled community, his bond with Gabriel is inevitably strengthened.
This picture shows a syringe being filled with an unknown liquid from a bottle. This depicts what Jonas sees as he watches the video of his father releasing the twin. He watches as his father emotionlessly and coldly injects the liquid into the baby's scalp vein, killing the infant in a matter of seconds.This is the key event that sparks off Jonas' escape from the community. It evokes a sense of shock,, horror, anger and grief.
This photograph depicts Jonas' point of view when he first starts to take his Stirrings pill. Stirrings are foreign to him, something unexplained. When he first experiences them, his mother gives him a long talk and tells him that it is compulsory to take the pill in order for the Stirrings to be gone. She also adds that the pills are to be taken throughout his adult life, even until he reaches the House of Old.
The word "Stirrings" is jargon, used by the author. It actually means sexual feelings. The pills that are taken by the people in Jonas' community are to curb these feelings in order that the people are under total control. This brings to mind the dillution of feelings in Jonas' community. Such natural, human feelings are not allowed in Jonas' community and are prevented by a specially made pill.
This picture shows red flowers that stand out from their black and white background. This reminds me of the part in The Giver when Jonas, after experiencing the memory of the rainbow and starts to see all the colours, places his hand on Asher's shoulder, trying to transmit the awareness of the colour red in the geraniums outside the Hall of Open Records. However, nothing happens to Asher and Jonas awkwardly makes the excuse that they need more watering to hide his real intention. From this incident, it can be seen that Jonas is so eager to share his new found knowledge with others, especially his best friend Asher, that he violates the community rule of not having any physical contact outside the family dwelling. Jonas' failed attempt of transmition also leaves him with a sense of loneliness because his friends are unable to understand what he is experiencing.
This picture shows the memory of a rainbow that the Giver transmitted to Jonas after a long conversation about Jonas' experiences with "Seeing Beyond". After this memory, Jonas' life changed. His life became more vibrant and he began to appreciate the different colours. Jonas began to see colours in his very own community. In the book, it says that Jonas fell in love with colours, reacting very strongly when the Giver explained that the people chose to give up colour when they went to Sameness. Jonas learns the names of all the colours and this new found knowledge about it makes him start to think about choices. He explains to the Giver that it is unfair that nothing has colour and tells him that he wants to have a choice on what colour tunic to wear.
If I were to look through the eyes of anyone in Jonas' community, it would have looked something like this. Everything would be hueless and colourless. It would have been like living in a black and white movie. The community would just be bleak and dull. It would be unlike that Jonas would see through his eyes after he recieved the memory of a rainbow. Everything suddenly had colour and shade to it.
Everything in Jonas' community has a nondescript shade, hueless and flat. Everyone in his community, with the exception of Jonas himself and the Giver, are unable see colours. If there were colour pencils in Jonas' world, they would have looked like this to everyone, even Jonas before he learnt about the existence of colours. Colours, in The Giver, represent individuality and diffrentiation. Colours represent individuality and diffrentiation because if everyone could see colours, different people would have different colour preferences. Jonas' colourless community also represents a lack of freedom and choice. Since everything is the same flat, hueless shade, the people in Jonas' community are deprived of the freedom to choose things of diffrent colours. This lack of freedom of choice also extends to the choice of spouses and jobs. Choices are made for the people by the council of elders, not by individuals themselves.
This picture shows an eye, with a pale, light pupil. It reminds me of Jonas' pale eyes, which is a distinguishing feature that sets him apart from his peers. In The Giver, almost everyone in Jonas' community has dark eyes. Only very few, like Jonas,The Giver himself, Gabriel, and a female Six, have pale eyes. It is said in the book that light eyes were a rarity and hence made an individual seem different from the rest.
It seems that those with paler eyes are not only different because of their look, but also in another way. Both the Giver and Jonas have pale eyes, and are able to experience memories, emotions, see colour and in the Giver's case, hear music. When Jonas tried to soothe Gabriel back to sleep one night, he accidently transmitted a memory to Gabriel, and Gabriel was able to recieve. Gabriel, like Jonas also has pale eyes. This coincidence is not accounted for in The Giver, and the author does not make a connection between pale eyes and being able to recieve memories.

This photo shows a boy trying to catch an apple. The apple in mid air, turns a bright shade of red, standing out against the hueless, colourless background. This depicts the scene in The Giver when Jonas starts to experience what the Elder later refers to as "Seeing Beyond", or put simply, seeing colours. Jonas starts to see the colour red in the apple one day when he and Asher tosses an apple around in the recreation area. Jonas catches a glimpse of red in the apple while it was in mid air. The change that Jonas describes in the apple causes him bewilderment and utter surprise. The way the apple had "changed" is very foreign to him, leaving him no way of aptly describing it. This capacity to see the colour red is what sets him apart from the rest of his peers and is also a factor considered when he was selected to be the next Reciever of Memory.

0 comments Louisa :) A world not ours @ 1:15 AM

A colourless world