The Influence of Color on Individuality
The Giver, by Lois Lowry, is a novel about a eusocial society that has united its citizens by the idea of “Same-ness.” This conformity disallows almost all of the citizens to have any form of individuality. Every citizen in the community sees in black and white, which symbolizes how bland and monochromatic their lives are. The absence of color from the novel represents the monotonous, repetitive vigor and personality within the dystopian society. All but two people, Jonas and the Giver have the capability to see colors, which is known as “seeing beyond.” As Jonas’ life develops and he matures, so does his experience with colors: they begin to become more and more prevalent until he sees every single color that subsists, through all different senses. This gift not only allows him to see true beauty that persists within the society, but the ugliness that exists outside, as well. Having the aptitude to see beyond symbolizes the meaning of the work as a whole: this power, which acts as a window into growth, individuality, and self-fulfillment for Jonas, ultimately helps him find his escape for a better life outside of the community with Gabriel.
Every member of this Orwellian-type society is born without the ability to see in color. This hueless, achromatic point of view portrays how these individuals are not capable of seeing beauty or ugliness. The lack thereof demonstrates how boring their lives are: day after day, they proactively do the same, tedious activities in the community: those who are able to see color have the capability to recognize these concepts of reality. The people who see in black and white are also limited in another sense: Jonas and the Giver both have blue eyes, whereas everyone else has dark, empty ones. The lack of color in the eyes symbolizes the lack of color surrounding them. They do not have depth in their personality, in their emotions, and most importantly, in their life. The scarcity of emotion, intellectuality, and individuality within this unified dystopia constructs the basis that, altogether, aids Jonas in escaping this limited society.
Jonas, along with the Giver, has the power to “see beyond.” At first, like all citizens, Jonas only sees in black and white, but because of his blue eyes, they enable him to start noticing change, if only for a second. Things for Jonas begin to “look different; but not in its shape” (Lowry 91). Often, Jonas becomes frustrated due to his inability to grasp and describe exactly what happens because he cannot understand them. As the novel continues on, Jonas’ life becomes more developed and he begins to see colors more readily. The more active he is in his new career as Receiver, the more he experiences he has with the colors.
When Jonas is first exposed to seeing beyond, the first color he sees is red. Red, the color of passion and emotion, is prevalent throughout the entire novel. This color plays the strongest role in Jonas’ life because not only does it depict the beauty he notice, but also the ugliness, too, allowing him to experience new emotions, many of which cannot be felt by the deprived members of society. Jonas experiences love, warmth, and passion through witnessing the color red. His classmate Fiona that he is attracted to in many ways has red hair: because of the color of her, he sees her true beauty and how much love she possesses. Fiona is love, herself, and Jonas finds himself falling in love with her – a feeling that the family units do not understand. The Giver helps Jonas not only see colors, but feel them as well. During the session of the transmission of memories, Jonas feels sunlight. As the red heat of the sun radiates through his skin, he discovers what it means to be tepid. Another form of beauty that Jonas experiences is joy from riding the red sled. The use of the sled in the novel symbolizes his passion to find an escape from the community and create a better world for himself and Gabriel.
Though many strong and positive emotions arise from seeing, feeling, and touching the color red, Jonas experiences savageness, ferocity, and pain as he starts to understand the ugliness that resides outside his community. Jonas sees Ugliness’ true colors when he perceives blood for the first time. He is given a memory of an African tribe mutilating an elephant for its tusks and “he felt himself overwhelmed with a new perception of the color he knew as red” (Lowry 100). It is at this point in the novel that Jonas realizes how cruel humans can be. The Giver was burdened by pain one afternoon; Jonas asked him to transmit some of the awful memories to try and help. One in particular, warfare, showed Jonas how ferocious mankind can be. This memory depicted a boy dying, begging for water, as he had been shot. “The colors of the carnage were grotesquely bright: the crimson wetness on the rough and dusty fabric” (Lowry 119) scarred Jonas, forcing him to come to terms with just how brutal life could be. Jonas also experiences pain when he was given another memory of the sled; he loses control of the sled and ends up breaking his leg. Jonas feels pain to its fullest extent because the transfer of memories causes the individual receiving them to feel real emotions.
Having the aptitude to see beyond enables Jonas to receive the sled. The sled, which is red, is sought as a beautiful, yet horrific object that contributed to the meaning of the work as a whole. The fact that he can see beyond allows him to grasp the concept of colors – how magnificent, yet appalling the world around him can be. Through this experience, Jonas developed as an individual and ultimately fulfilled his path: seeking out a better life. The sled not only symbolizes the contrast of reality, but it represents what Jonas needed to finally escape the community, that created a better life for himself and Gabriel. (E.D.)




Parallels of Companionship Between Dogs and Women

Without question, there is a unique and distinguished bond between mankind and dogs. This relationship, which is very distinct, can be seen not only in real life, but in novels as well. In Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry, one of the main characters, Matt, proves just how authentic the friendship between a dog and human can be. The relationship that Matt shares with his dog, Branch, is often connected to the relationship he shares with the main character, Kira. Gathering Blue defines the parallels that are found between a man and his dog and a man and a woman, both of whom he considers his best friends and ultimately feels a need to foster. This certainty contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole: everything and everyone needs someone to care for them once in awhile.
As mentioned before, Matt is that someone who needs to care for Branch. By being together all the time, Branch gives Matt the companionship he needs and visa versa - one is never without the other. Branch had “been a useless stray, underfoot, scavenging everywhere for food” (Lowry 51). Branch had been injured when a cart had fallen on him and he was left to die in the mud. Had it not been for Matt, he would have died. Matt took Branch in and fed him every day, nurturing him back to health.
In comparison to Branch, Matt took Kira in and helped her during her time of need. Kira had been orphaned and deemed useless due to the fact she had no mother to look after her anymore. Her mother, who was the dominant caretaker of Kira after her father was murdered by beasts, fell sick and died, ultimately abandoning Kira. Not only does she suffer from the loss of her mother, she also suffers due to the fact she has a twisted leg that can not function properly. Every day Matt would come to visit and keep her company with the hopes of livening up her day.
Not only does Matt tend to and love both Branch and Kira, but the two of them also have a disability - they are both handicapped. Matt kept a splint tied around Branch’s tail (hence where he got the dog’s name from), though it never healed properly. This splint ultimately helped Branch to get back on his feet and continue life as a free spirited dog. Like Branch, Kira a twisted leg that could not function properly. She, too, uses a wooden stick provided by Matt to help her with her get back on her feet, using it to guide her through the town and balance her walking. Aside from stabilizing their injuries, Matt also stabilizes Branch and Kira with a place to live. Branch was a stray, but after he was injured in the accident, Matt hid him from his family in order to keep him alive. He hid Branch in the bushes when he was healing, and keeps him on the outskirts of land when his mother is home. Matt also provides Kira with a new home - him and the other tykes gather bunches of sticks and twigs to begin making a new shack for her after they burned the one her sick mother’s body was in. It is evident throughout the entire novel that all Matt wants to do is help.
The compassion that Matt has for these two individuals is prevalent throughout the entire novel. When Branch, a stray dog, is wounded, he cares for him until he is capable of living a healthy dog life. Kira, also a stray after her mother’s death, is cared for and always visited by Matt to lighten up her spirits. Both of Matt’s best friends, who he tends to and loves dearly, are often helped by him because of their disabilities. He provides them with places to live and does everything in his power to make sure they are okay. Matt’s friendship towards these two characters in Gathering Blue demonstrates exactly what is meant by everything and everyone needs someone to care for them once in awhile - which, overall, is the meaning of the work as a whole. (E.D.)