Similes in The Giver

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  • 0:01 Precision of Language
  • 0:40 Lily's Frustration
  • 1:37 Overwhelmed by Memories
  • 2:27 Grandparents
  • 2:56 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 'The Giver' by Lois Lowry, precision of language is very important to Jonas' dystopian community. How does figurative language fit in? In this lesson, we will look at the author's use of similes.

Precision of Language

'As quiet as a mouse…' and '…as sharp as a tack,' are some common similes that are used in our culture to describe things. Imagine if you lived in a place where every word that came out of your mouth had to be precise and literal. In Jonas' community in The Giver, that is exactly what the children have been taught to do. The author, Lois Lowry, is very intentional with her placement of similes in light of the community expectations and lack of context. A simile is a comparison of two things that are not alike using the words 'like' or 'as' to link them. Let's look at some of the similes used in this novel.

Lily's Frustration

When Lily, Jonas' little sister, shares her feelings with her family one day, she expresses her frustration at the children from another community that visited her group. She felt so angry that she didn't have the right words to describe her feelings. 'I don't know. They acted like…like…' 'Animals?', Jonas suggested. He laughed. 'That's right', Lily said, laughing too. 'Like animals.' Neither child knew what the word meant, exactly, but it was often used to describe someone uneducated or clumsy, someone who didn't fit in. Evidently, this simile had inadvertently been passed down from past generations, but since no one in the community understands what an animal is, it lost its context and was assigned a generic definition. Similes aren't often used in his community, but Jonas finds that as the Giver passes all of the memories of the world to Jonas, concepts become difficult to describe without the use of similes.

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