The Giver has some pretty broad themes, but the events within the story can help you build those up into a great, specific thesis statement with well-formed points of evidence backing it up.
Let's create an example. One theme from the book is pain/suffering. The world of The Giver deals with pain by isolating it — Jonas's society is "utopian" because no one has to deal with pain (which we actually learn makes it dystopian).
We here in our unregulated world know pain is not pleasant, but we also know pain is a human experience, and is part of growing.
Throughout the course of the story, as Jonas is given memories and learns more dark truths about the society he lives in, he begins to understand people cannot live completely regulated lives free from pain. He leaves to go Elsewhere, along with Gabriel, so they might have a chance to live unregulated lives. He hopes his leaving will transfer his memories to the people of the community, causing them to gain insight into the shallow and horrible lives they lead.
So, with all this in mind, a thesis statement relating to the theme of pain/suffering could be:
Lowry uses memory and Jonas's experiences in The Giver to show pain is part of the human experience and is necessary for people to learn, grow, and live full lives.
Just take any theme from the book that you'd like to write about, see what the book specifically says about that theme, and voila! You've got a thesis statement.
Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “The Giver” by Lois Lowry can be used as essay starters. All four incorporate at least one of the themes found in “The Giver” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “The Giver” in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “The Giver” on our quotes page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Topic #1: The Capacity of Decision Making in the Absence of Experience
Human beings have the unique ability of making decisions based on personal beliefs and knowledge gained from the consequences of previous experiences. In Jonas’s world, individuals have very few choices to make. They are told what to say and do at all times. Through genetic science, individuals cannot distinguish color and are strikingly similar in appearance. Even their most important decisions such as whom to marry or which career path to select are assigned by the Elders. With this limited agency dating back for generations, how capable is the average community member of making choices for themselves? How well could the community survive with the responsibilities and painful knowledge suddenly thrust upon them after Jonas’s departure?
Topic #2: Secrecy and Deception in Totalitarian Governments
Within totalitarian governments, the dictator is the ultimate authority. One of the powers these governments have over their citizens is the ability to withhold information and block communication. In some countries, for example, social media websites such as Facebook are banned. Within the community in “The Giver” contact with the outer world is completely blocked. Only members from similar communities may visit, but only for a brief time. In addition to preventing external communication, an internal structure of secrecy is built within the community. Jonas’s instructions for training include not disclosing information about his training, and the statement, “You may lie.” Upon receiving this, he immediately wonders if others have been given the same instruction. By comparing the Jonas’s community to examples of totalitarian countries, how do the rigid rules, distrust of others, and lack of communication contribute to community loyalty? Why has no individual challenged this concept? If a person attempted to, what would the outcome be?
Topic #3: Family Dynamics Without Love
Some of the strongest emotions people can experience involve love and physical intimacy. The bond between husband and wife is strengthened through sexual passion, as mother and child bond through pregnancy and birth. Jonas’s community separates Birthmothers from those who raise children. These women are looked down upon by other members of the community and are sentenced to hard physical labor after they can no longer bear children. From as early as they are first experienced, sexual desires are inhibited by a mandatory medication. These attitudes and mandates towards intimacy contribute to insubstantial and superficial relationships between family members. In what ways does this mindset contribute to Sameness? How do family dynamics compare with the memories of the past? Which differences between the family structures are most significant to creating love within the family?
Topic #4: Growth Through Experience
Oscar Wilde, a playwright of the Victorian Era, stated, “Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” In other words, he believed personal experience is the most critical aspect of learning and growth. On a related note, Marcel Proust, a French philosopher, claimed he gained the most profound learning and sense of self through the times in life that he suffered. If novel opportunities promote growth, Sameness prohibits it. Discuss how Jonas’s development throughout the novel supports this claim. How does his personal evolution compare to his friends and family?