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Rules in The Giver

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  • 0:04 Book of Rules
  • 0:23 Rules for Family
  • 1:22 Rules for Community
  • 2:40 Assignment Rules
  • 4:11 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.

In a community that thrives on predictability and Sameness, rules are a way of life. In this lesson, we will learn more about the rules in Jonas' community in 'The Giver' by Lois Lowry.

Book of Rules

Rules are important in Jonas's community to maintain stability and productivity. The Book of Rules contains everything citizens need to fit in. Some rules are created to promote order, while others develop after a problem created a need. In this lesson, we will learn more about rules in The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Rules for Family

Every household contains three books: a dictionary to promote precision in language, a community book that describes every building, job, and activity of the community, and a Book of Rules, which is most important and must be committed to memory.

When Jonas first saw all the books that were in the Giver's home, he was astonished. 'He couldn't imagine what the thousands of pages contained. Could there be rules beyond the rules that governed the community?' Jonas is used to having rules for everything. There are rules about sharing feelings with family each night and sharing dreams each morning. There are rules about how many people can be in each family unit, 'Two children -- one male, one female -- to each family unit. It was written very clearly in the rules.' There are rules regarding modesty, although the rule against nakedness does not apply to new children and the old. Once an adolescent begins having stirrings, he or she is required to report it and begin taking medication. By having these types of rules, the population can be controlled and passionate emotions that can be potentially destabilizing are controlled.

Rules for Community

Just as there are rules for everything involving family life, there are also rules for the community. Some rules seem to be less important than others. For example, taking food out of the recreation area, failing to keep ribbons properly tied, and teaching younger children to ride bicycles are rules that are either ignored or handled through gentle reminders. Other rules, such as stealing leftovers from the community or going out at night have serious consequences, such as removal from job, home, and family. 'You know that there's no third chance. The rules say that if there's a third transgression, he simply has to be released.'

Release is a gentle way of saying killed by lethal injection. When Lily becomes frustrated with a child from another community who does not follow the rules when visiting her childcare group, Mother and Father try to teach her empathy for those who don't understand the rules, but no empathy is shown to a pilot from another community, who gets lost and accidentally flies over Jonas' community. People feel alarmed at the invasion and he is immediately released.

Once a rule has been established, it is very difficult to change. 'When something went to a committee for study, the people always joked about it. They said that the committee members would become Elders by the time the rule change was made.' In the event that the committee members choose to change a rule, it goes before the Receiver of Memories before a final decision is made.

Assignment Rules

When a citizen-in-training receives his assignment, or future career, at the Ceremony of Twelve, he receives a set of rules. Jonas is surprised when he sees his rules.

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