Stirrings in The Giver

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

Imagine a world without deep love or affection. A world without traditional marriages or families. This is the world of ''The Giver''. This lesson explains the role of the 'stirrings' and how the government controls these feelings.

The World of The Giver

Imagine a world where people do not fall in love with each other. People do not go on dates, and they certainly do not spend years trying to find 'the one.' Instead, when they're old enough, they apply to the government for a husband or wife. If they want kids and family, they have to apply to the government for that, too. The government even designates citizens' career paths. Does any of this sound strange to you?

The world in The Giver is much different than the world you live in. In The Giver, relationships are purely functional. People get married to share a home with someone and to raise kids so that they, too, can be productive people. None of this has anything to do with love...but why is this the case? It has everything to do with the 'stirrings'.

The 'Stirrings'

Have you ever had a crush on someone at school? Maybe you couldn't stop staring at them in class, or you had butterflies in your stomach when you sat next to them or talked to them. That nervous feeling is exciting; it makes you happy! In the world of The Giver, that feeling does not exist. In fact, the government actually works to eliminate it all together, but why?

These feelings of attraction, desire, and affection are referred to as the 'stirrings'. You first learn about 'the stirrings' in Chapter 5. Every morning, Jonas and his family eat breakfast and share any dreams they had from the night before. One morning, Jonas wakes up very confused. Usually not much of a dreamer, that night he had a very pleasant, but a very strange dream.

Jonas dreamt that he was with his school friend Fiona in the bathhouse at the old folks' home. In the dream, Jonas had a strong feeling of desire, something he described as 'wanting.' Jonas wanted Fiona to undress and let him bathe her.

After sharing his dream at the table, Jonas's mother sent his little sister to school before talking to him. She explained that that feeling of 'wanting' was something their society called the 'stirrings.' Around the age of 11 or 12 (how old Jonas is), people start to feel that attraction and desire. But not to worry, there was a way to make it stop! Jonas's mother gives him a small pill, something he must take every single day. In fact, after anyone gets the first 'stirrings,' he or she has to take the pill...no exceptions!

Within no time, Jonas can no longer remember how 'the stirrings' felt. He was no longer able to feel that longing and wanting for Fiona. When Jonas learns his career, his life begins to change dramatically. Jonas is charged with receiving all of the memories of humankind from a man he calls the 'Giver'. As the 'Receiver', Jonas must be able to feel every emotion: joy, pain, love, anger, desire, sadness, etc. The Giver tells him to stop taking the pill so that the 'stirrings' can return.

Significance of the 'Stirrings'

So why exactly would the society in The Giver want to get rid of the 'stirrings'? The society described in the book is a dystopia. In an effort to make their world perfect, the government has taken extreme measures to maintain peace and remove social problems like war or poverty. In their minds, basic human emotions like love or anger are a recipe for conflict. So to fix it, they simply eliminate those feelings.

The 'stirrings' seem like no big deal. After all, how bad can a crush be? How bad can it be to want to be near another person? In The Giver, the 'stirrings' can lead to something much greater, though. Love and lust are powerful emotions that can lead to other equally powerful, but often destructive feelings. For example, loving someone may turn to heartbreak over time. Lust may lead to jealousy. Pain and anger associated with these passionate emotions can be very destructive. So the easy solution is to get rid of feelings all together!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account