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

A colourless world