by Lois Lowry
The Giver Tradition and Customs Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
There were only two occasions of release which were not punishments. Release of the elderly, which was a time of celebration for a life well and fully lived; and the release of a newchild, which always brought a sense of what-could-we-have-done. This was especially troubling for the Nurturers, like Father, who felt they had failed somehow. But it happened rarely. (1.52)
Tradition is used to mask what should be painful in the community. In this case, death is masked by a fictional "release."
Though Jonas had only become a Five the year that they acquired Lily and learned her name, he remembered the excitement, the conversations at home, wondering about her: how she would look, who she would be, how she would fit into their established family unit. He remembered climbing the steps to the stage with his parents, his father by his side that year instead of with the Nurturers, since it was the year that he would be given a newchild of his own. (2.13)
Adults are under the strict control of traditions and customs just as much as children in The Giver.
There was talk about changing the rule and giving the bicycles at an earlier age. A committee was studying the idea. When something went to a committee for study, the people always joked about it. They said the committee members would become Elders by the time the rule change was made.
Rules were very hard to change. Sometimes, if it was a very important rule – unlike the one governing the age for bicycles – it would have to go, eventually, to The Receiver for a decision. The Receiver was the most important Elder. Jonas had never seen him, that he knew of; someone in a position of such importance lived and worked alone. But the committee would never bother The Receiver with a question about bicycles; they would simply fret and argue about it themselves for years, until the citizens forgot that it had ever gone to them for study. (2.18-19)
A sense of tradition certainly contributes to the Elders' hesitance to change, but there's also the fact that they have no knowledge of the past on which to base their decisions. It's an odd combination, isn't it?