In the highly-controlled society featured in The Giver, the rules govern a strict "precision of language." The irony comes in when the reader realizes that, in a world with no real depth of emotion, many words have become hollow and meaningless. "Love," for example, has no use in this world. Terms like "apology" and "feelings," as well as specific reactions of "anger" or "jealousy" are used daily, though in reality they don't reflect those actions or emotions.
Questions About Language and Communication
- When The Giver calls Rosemary his daughter, is he speaking literally? What does the word "daughter" mean in this community? What does it mean to The Giver?
- Are words for emotions (like "anger" and "love") the only hollow or meaningless terms in the community? If not, what others terms are misconstrued, even despite the attempts at "precision of language?"
- Why is the community so obsessed with "precision of language"? What does this have to do with rules and control?
Chew on This
The titles "Giver" and "Receiver" are ironic in meaning in The Giver.