The Giver has always been one of my favorite books because it was one of the few books that really got me thinking as a kid and really allowed me to question everything. And guess what? The same thing happened when I re-read it as an adult! Lois Lowry is a mastermind of creating a science fiction novel that raises questions but let’s you answer them.
Jonas, the main character, lives in a community of Sameness run by the elders. All creativity is stripped from these people, so much so that they can’t even see color. This is insanely frustrating to me. How can a society progress without creativity? This lack of color brought to mind a Rothko painting…
Rothko creates huge canvases that he paints with a few simple colors. These paintings stop me in my tracks and I become immersed in the color that spreads before me. Jonas seems to have a similar reaction when he sees color for the first time. He cannot let go of the experience he had when seeing the color, and so he wants to see more. He gets angry when he can’t see color, stating, “It isn’t fair that nothing has color!” (97) With his knack for emotional reactions, I can only imagine what Jonas would think standing before this gorgeous Rothko painting.
The concept of sameness really irks me too. The community is completely regimented and the people are like robots. Everyone is the same and no one thinks for themselves.
“How could someone not fit in? The community was so meticulously ordered, the choices so carefully made.” (48)
When thinking about this concept, Andy Warhol comes to mind. He created prints that incorporate a common object such as a Campbell’s soup can. Add the repeated pattern of the soup can to a canvas, and Voila! you have complete and utter sameness.
Are there other pieces of art that question the idea of sameness and lack of creativity in a society?