Literary Terms and Devices in The Giver
Below are some literary devices present in Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Take a minute to formulate a working definition of your identified devices. Consider how you would present this term/device to a group of middle school students in a way they could understand it. For example, how might you connect it to their prior knowledge, experiences, pop culture, etc.? What language would you use to relay a definition to them?
After formulating a working definition and ideas for presentation, find some examples in The Giver. Be prepared to present these back to the class.
1. symbol / imagery / allegory – objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts
- The Newchild Gabriel – hope and starting over
- The Sled – the journey Jonas takes during his training and the discoveries he makes
- The River – escape from the confines of the community
- The Color Red – Jonas is seeing passion, fire, and love
- Light Eyes – an artistic device to indicate those who can receive memories
2. setting – the general locale, historical time, and social circumstances in which action occurs
- an isolated community in the future
3. narrator point of view – the way the story gets told
- third person (limited omniscient)
4. genre – dystopian literature, science fiction
5. tone – the expression of the speaker’s “attitude to his listener” (Abrams, 156); through subtle clues reveals an author’s conception of and attitudes toward the things he/she is talking about; also reveals assumptions about the social level, intelligence, and sensitivity of the speaker.
- Lowry described it as “seductive” in her Newbery Medal acceptance speech – because she wants to draw the reader in.
6. theme – fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a work
- The importance of memory – important to human life; connections to pain and pleasure
- The relationship between pain and pleasure – there can be no pleasure without pain (dualities)
- The importance of the individual – Ceremony of the Twelve is when children have their differences celebrated for the first time; typically an age where children are struggling to define their individual identity
7. motifs – recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes
- Vision – sensory and emotional perception
- Nakedness – physical and emotional nakedness related
- Release—refers to death in Jonas’ society, but throughout the novel it means different things to different people
Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms (6th edition). Harcourt Brace, 1993. Print.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Giver.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2003. Web. 18 Jan. 2010.