Thursday, June 10, 2010

Section 5: Ambiguity

When something is ambiguous, it is unclear or uncertain, having more than one meaning. Ambiguity is is a literary device that is used by authors to allow for multiple interpretations of an event. The Giver has an ambiguous ending. As Jonas was 'losing consciousness' and sliding 'downward, downward, faster and faster' on his sled with Gabriel,
"...he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing.
Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo." (p. 179)
  • What is you interpretation? What do you think happened to Jonas and Gabriel?
  • How might others interpret this same event?
  • Why do you think Lois Lowry chose to write such an ambiguous ending to The Giver?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Section 5: Etymology

The history of a word from its origin to its present use is called its etymology. Speakers of English borrow words from other languages. The bold word in the following paragraph from the novel has an interesting etymology:
"He tried to use the flagging power of his memory to recreate meals, and managed brief, tantalizing fragments: banquets with huge roasted meats; birthday parties with thick-frosted cakes..." (p. 172)
In Greek mythology, Tantalus was a wicked king who, as punishment for his crimes, was forced to stand in deep water with grapes growing overhead. The water receded (moved away from his reach) when he was thirsty, and the grapes receded when he was hungry.

The following is a definition of tantalize from the Random House Dictionary:
to torment with...the sight of something desired but out of reach

How does knowing the history of the word enrich the meaning of this paragraph? 
How might being aware of etymology help you as a reader?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Section 5: Euphemism

Euphemism is when you substitute a mild or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt or offensive.
  • What was the euphemism for death in Jonas's community?
  • What is the affect of using this euphemism?
  • How do we use euphemism in our own society? 
  • Why do you think people do this?

Section 4: Dramatic Irony

Dramatic irony is a literary device in which the audience's knowledge of events or individuals is greater than that of the characters. Read the passage below and then respond to the question.
"Jonas...had wondered what lay Elsewhere. Was there someone there, waiting, who would receive the tiny released twin? Would it grow up Elsewhere, not knowing, ever, that in this community lived a being who looked exactly the same? For a moment he felt a tiny, fluttering hope that he knew was quite foolish. He hope that it would be Larissa, waiting...Fiona had told him recently that Larissa had been released at a wonderful ceremony." (pages 114-115)
What does the reader understand about this statement that Jonas does not?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Section 3: Science Fiction

Science Fiction is a form of fantasy in which the action takes place on another planet, in the future or in another dimension. Is The Giver a science fiction novel? How do you know? What is the evidence?

Section 3: Simile

A simile is a comparison of two seemingly different things using the word 'like' or 'as'. Read the passage below and then respond to its effect on the reader, using the questions as a guide.
He fell with his leg twisted under him, and could hear the crack of bone...It was as if a hatchet lay lodged in his leg, slicing through each nerve with a hot blade.
  • What are the two things being compared?
  • What is the effect of the simile?
  • Why might an author choose to use this literary device?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Section 2: Cliff-hangers

Many authors use a technique called a 'cliff-hanger' at the end of a chapter or a section of their work as a means to build suspense and to entice you to read on. At the end of Chapter 8, Lois Lowry writes,
   But at the same time he was filled with fear. He did not know what his selection meant. He did not know what he was to become. 
   Or what would become of him.
In your comment consider the following questions:
  • What is the affect of this cliff-hanger? 
  • Where else have you seen authors use this technique? 
  • Have you seen another example in The Giver
  • To what extent is using a cliff-hanger effective? 
  • Where do you think the term cliff-hanger may have come from?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Section 1: Allusion

Now that you have read the first section of the novel, you have been introduced to the main characters, Jonas. The name Jonas is a variation of the name Jonah. In the Bible, the prophet Jonah was commissioned by God to proclaim judgement on a sinful city. Why might Lois Lowry have chosen this name?