Memories are the foundation of the human body. These memorable life experiences, positive or negative, mold an individual to be who they are.
There are several interdependent parts of the body which work together in order to define a person as a human being. In The Giver, by Lois Lowry, a community as a whole, lack all memories, in exchange for a loss of awareness. Beyond the book, in real life, many comparisons can be from that of a disorder.
Inside The Giver’s demented, dystopian society, the community’s lack of memory can be associated with psychological disorders in modern day, such as amnesia, and other difficult psychogenic disorders.Sometimes when an event is simply too difficult for a person to cope with, they protect and defend themselves by blocking that memory of the event. Amnesia can be blamed for this occurrence.
When people lose the ability to memorize information that is stored in memory, they have amnesia. It can be caused by many things such as traumatic experiences and brain injury.. “These may include important milestones in life, memorable events, key people in our lives, and vital facts we have been told or taught.” (Nordqvist) There are a wide range of the different types of amnesia, some include: anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia, and psychogenic amnesia. Patients who have anterograde amnesia show normal memory of events before the incident responsible for their memory loss, but can not recall information about events occurring after the incident. “Whereas with retrograde amnesia there is almost always a gradual restoration of most of the lost information, with anterograde amnesia there is quite often no such recovery and patients are left with a permanent and debilitating condition”(McLeod). Lastly, “Psychogenic amnesia, which is characterized by abnormal memory functioning in the absence of structural brain damage or a known neurobiological cause.
It can occur from the effects of severe stress or psychological trauma” (Mastin). This next kind of amnesia pertains mostly to The Giver, cultural amnesia. Cultural amnesia is the obscuring of human history through hiding key historical events that threatened humanity. “On one end of the spectrum is a denial or severe repression of these memories. It is a survival strategy and can be called a skillful adaptation that creates alternative meaning to replace the previous fear and confusion.”(Fitts). The Giver introduces an 11 year old boy named Jonas, living in a dystopian society that has gotten rid of all pain,fear,love,war, and choice. Jonas is given the opportunity of being the Receiver of memory.
So when Jonas’ community turned to “sameness”, it left behind all memories of events, but that does not mean those events are gone completely. The novel presents a setting where an overpowered government controls their people by erasing memories of history and using that to gain complete control of the community.. Louis Lowry has managed to display that memory, when taken, is a beginning of escalating power. A mass concept in The Giver is one individual holding all the good and bad memories that the citizens are forbidden to be exposed to. It would cause love,chaos, sadness, starvation, etc. These citizens do not know those feelings, everyone suffers from memory loss.
Being a receiver, Jonas has explored new surroundings and emotions he never knew of. People who suffer from amnesia can be related to Jonas’ and his home, they do not what being genuinely happy feels like because they have never encountered the negative and low parts that life has to offer. “He had seen a birthday party, with one child singled out and celebrated on his day, so that now he understood the joy of being an individual, special and unique and proud” (Lowry 121) This is said when Jonas is scarred after experiencing the memory of war, and The Giver tried reminding him that not all memories are terrifying. This shows that memories can be pleasant, and, “the joy of being an individual”, can help shape a person’s personality.
The community does not understand this, therefore taking away a factor that distinguishes personality. Positive memories, like a celebration or a success , leave a great impact on our lives. This again connects to the unfortunate disorder of amnesia. A person who suffers from amnesia would lose their sense of identity, due to how both pleasant and unpleasant memories shaping who we are. “One of the children raised an imaginary rifle and made an attempt to destroy him with a firing noise.
..Then they were all silent, standing awkwardly, and the only sound was the sound of Jonas’s shuddering breaths. He was struggling not to cry” (Lowry 134). This comes up in The Giver when Jonas is at the playground and sees Asher with other children playing war.
After experiencing war himself, he immediately reacts. This shows how bad memories also shape our personality, as they help stimulate our fears and sudden reactions to events.