The idea of a perfect society might sound appealing, but would a perfect society include Sameness? In the novel, The Giver by Lois Lowery, Jonas, the main character, lives in a society where everyone portrays Sameness. Sameness is where everything is equal. For example, every family has four people: a mother and a father, one boy and one girl. Jonas is assigned the job of the Receiver of Memory. The Receiver of Memory holds all the memories, so that the members of the society don’t have to feel pain, or happiness. The Giver, the old Receiver of Memory, and Jonas can have feelings since they have memories.
The Sameness portrayed in the novel would be a negative way of life because it would eliminate choice, there would be a lack of individuality, and it would limit feelings. By depriving citizens of choices, the creators of Jonas’s society eliminate agency. Agency is the ability to choose. If the ability to choose was taken away from today’s society, then nations would cease to develop. Agency allows people to choose to develop and become better. For example, in Jonas’s society, the members are not permitted to choose their job.
Jonas has a friend named Asher, who is free spirited. Jonas tells his mother he is concerned that Asher might not get an assignment because he has no serious interest. “‘The Elders know Asher,’his mother explained. ‘They’ll find exactly the right Assignment for him,” (21). Elders carefully observe the children and then choose a job for them. A citizen’s life is planned out for him or her. He or she don’t get to choose how to live their life and what to make of it. People’s everyday small choices to the bigger life changing choices, like choosing a career, make up who they are.
By taking away choice, the creators of Jonas’s society prohibit the members of his society to choose who they become and what they develop into. A lack of individuality is the second reason why sameness would be a negative way of life. Individuals in today’s society are honored, but in Jonas’s society, if someone is not the same as everyone else then he or she can apply for release (61). Different individuals bring different perspectives. With different perspectives come new ideas and more options on how to solve a problem.
The Giver is the only person in Jonas’s society who can tell people his ideas and offer advice, because he has memories. The Giver asks Jonas if he remembers the day a plane flew over the community. Jonas replies that he does remember the plane and he was scared. The Giver then continues, “So were they. They prepared to shoot it down. But they sought my advice. I told them to wait… I used my wisdom, from the memories. I knew that there had been times in the past- terrible times- when people had destroyed others in haste, in fear, and had brought about their own destruction,” (141).
The Giver is the only one who could have known this. The reason the creators of Jonas’s society eliminate individuality is so the individuals would not have different ideas. The creators figured it would be easier to control one person’s ideas rather than a whole society’s. By doing this though, Jonas’s society cannot develop and become better. Third, having sameness would be a negative way of life is that citizens would be deprived of feeling deep feelings such as sadness and pain, but also happiness and love.
It might sound nice not to feel pain and sadness, but without them, people would not be able to experience true happiness and love. In Jonas’s society, the members are taught that love is an inappropriate word. One scene that best illustrates this is when Jonas had just received his first memory of love. When he returned home he asked his mother and father “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! ” (159). Jonas is confused and wonders what his father means.
He realizes that his father has never truly experienced love because he has never felt pain. Later that night Jonas whispers “There could be love,” (162). Because Jonas has memories of pain, he can feel true love and happiness. Deep emotions are needed because they allow us to feel true joy and happiness. The opposition may argue that Sameness would be positive way of life because people wouldn’t have to worry about making the wrong choice. However, it is commonly said in our society to learn from our mistakes. By making mistakes we learn what to do next time the problem arise.
Also the opposition might point out that there would be no jealousy in Jonas’s society since there is Sameness. While this may be true, jealousy can motivate people to want to work harder instead of just being content with mediocrity. Ultimately, in Jonas’s society, the members are deprived of choice, individuality, and feelings. Choices and individuality allow people to grow and become better. Feeling deep feelings allow people to feel true happiness and love. Sameness limits what the citizens can do. Obviously, it would not create a “perfect” society.