Anthropological science fiction explores human culture and asks the question, “What is [hu]man?” (Stover 472).  In Lois Lowry’s The Giver, a dystopian society is created. Individualism is removed and the society functions as a collective without emotions. The sameness of everyone and everything promotes their black and white peaceful existence. Lowry creates a world without war, history, pain, selfishness, greed, lust, jealousy, bias, passion, and love. In her novel, one pill takes away emotions, making life colorless. Lowry was inspired to write this story after seeing her own father suffer from memory loss (Ulaby). The lack of remembering makes life colorless. Lowry’s The Giver teaches us the importance of experiencing all that makes us fully human; individual memories—good and bad—and historical memories—good and bad—are part of that colorful, feeling human experience.

In Lowry’s novel only one individual knows the historical past, keeping all the other members of the society limited in their world view. In “Empowering Students Through History: “The Giver” as a Metaphor and Preparation for Studying History in the Secondary Classroom,” Kristy A. Brugar states, “The Giver serves as a metaphor for teaching history” (86). Jonas, the protagonist, struggles with the new version of history that he is learning as the Receiver, training to become the next Giver. As he learns more, Jonas comes into his humanity.

Social movements have been pushing many boundaries over recent decades. Controversial debates regarding morals and societal norms exist. In “Banned Book Week September 22-29, 2001: Look What They’ve done to My Books, Mom!” Daphne Muse writes that The Giver was one of the most controversial titles for young readers. She states, “While well-marketed titles draw the attention of school boards, irate parents and fundamentalists groups bent on removing them like a stain on the precious soil of young minds…” (22).  Lowry’s novel fell under critique for its dangerous social and immoral content. Her novel was temporarily banned. To some people a more inclusive human experience and historical past represent a danger to our presently constructed one.

Can we move beyond our current modes of thinking, into a more expanded consciousness which includes everyone and everything? Presently, individuals ask themselves, “Who am I?” Cultural identity and individual identity fade into otherness. History lays hidden. Lowry’s novel is the metaphorical Giver of Remembrance: remembrance for what it means to be fully human, emotions and history included. The genre of Science Fiction allows us to explore new ways of perceiving the world and those around us.

Works Cited

Brugar, Kristy A. “Empowering Students Through History: “The Giver” as a metaphor and Preparation for Studying History in the Secondary Classroom.” The History Teacher 46.1 (2012): 85-94. 28 February 2021. <www.jstor.org/stable/43264075>.

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 1993, 1993. Book.

Muse, Daphne. “Banned Book Week September 22-29, 2001: Look What They’ve done to My Books, Mom!” The Black Scholar 32.2 (SUMMER 2002): 22-24. 28 February 2021. <www.jstor.org/stable/41068977>.

Stover, Leon E. “Anthropology and Science Fiction.” Current Anthropology 14.4 (n.d.): 471-474. 28 February 2021. <www.jstor.org/stable/2740850>.

Ulaby, Neda. Lois Lowry Says ‘The Giver’ Was Inspired By her Father’s Memory Loss. 16 August 2014. 28 February 2021. <www.npr.org/2044/08/16/340170478/lois-lowry-says-the-giver-was-inspired-by-her-fathers-memory-loss>.