Metaphors in The Giver

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  • 0:00 What Is a Metaphor?
  • 0:50 Jonas and Light Eyes
  • 1:33 The Giver's Use of Color
  • 2:13 The Child Gabriel
  • 2:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Lois Lowry uses metaphors in 'The Giver' to provide visual and emotional details that might otherwise be elusive to readers of this novel about a dystopian society. Learn more about it in this lesson.

What Is a Metaphor?

'Sugar and spice and everything nice,' is a metaphor that has been used in American culture since the 1800s to illustrate the preciousness of little girls. Metaphors, which are comparisons of two things that are not alike, are part of daily language. In The Giver, author Lois Lowry paints vivid pictures in the reader's mind that demonstrate how different the protagonist, Jonas, is from the rest of the community. Jonas's community is run by Sameness, the government's plan to make people comfortable and easy to control, by making everyone think, act and feel the same. Not only does he see things differently, but he is acutely aware of how limiting Sameness is for his friends, family, and neighbors. Only the newchild, Gabriel, offers hope. Let's discuss some examples and learn more about the author's use of metaphors to portray these important points.

Jonas and Light Eyes

Jonas is a rule-follower with a great deal of integrity, but that is not what stood out about him when the elders made the decision to assign him to a prestigious position in the community. Jonas is different from the others. The novel reads:

'Almost every citizen in the community had dark eyes. His parents did, and Lily did, and so did all of his group members and friends. But there were a few exceptions: Jonas himself, and a female Five who he had noticed had the different, lighter eyes.'

In a place where everyone is nearly identical, Jonas' eyes provide visual evidence that he can 'see beyond.' Light eyes are a metaphor, describing those who see the world differently from other people. Lowry selected this metaphor to provide a visual image for the reader about Jonas's gift.

The Giver's Use of Color

The Giver also uses the ability to notice color as a metaphor. Before Jonas realizes that colors exist, it never occurs to him how limited his personal freedom is. Jonas says:

'If everything's the same, then there aren't any choices! I want to wake up in the morning and decide things! A blue tunic, or a red one?'

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