Phil Motl

Extension Project:  The Giver



After reading and re-reading The Giver, and then digesting this material as presented by Lois Lowry, I found myself with an extensive array of thoughts and ideas that I could potentially use in designing a collage.  With such a vast quantity of symbolic choices, I decided to limit myself to those that were the most significantly important and critical to what I felt was the author’s message to the reader.  The ideas which I selected captured thoughts of freedom (or the lack of it), the mysteries of the unknown, power (and who possesses it), the “other side”, choices (although limited), pain, and memories.  The scenes that I elected to use for my collage depict what I feel to be the author’s writings in “picture form”.  In the paragraphs that follow I have given supportive explanations as to why I feel that my picture choices have satisfied a relationship with many of the symbols in The Giver.


My Collage:

In the upper left of my collage one can notice the closed door to a vault.  This type of door shows a coldness and strength that prevents one from experiencing what lies on the “other side”.  As with any vault, only a chosen few possess the ability to unlock the door and to see what the “other side” has to offer.  The vast majority of people in Jonas’ society were kept in the dark as to what there was beyond their community.  The society was sold on the idea that there was only one way of life and one set of rules, where the people would stagnate in compliance and acceptance.  Community members sometimes wondered what happened to those people who were released.  In my mind the vault door creates a picture representing the forbidden unknown.


Just below the vault door is a picture of a part of the universe.  Unlike Jonas’ society, the universe is boundless.  People who live their entire lives in a bordered and ultra-structured society lose the ability to think for themselves.  This leads to a fear of the unknown, and a fear of questioning.  What other societies exist?  What happens to the people who are released?  What will I experience if I dare to exit the safety of our community?  These types of questions were not easily thought about or spoken about, as they evoked apprehension and uncertainty in the minds of those who entertained such ideas.  For those who led such a sheltered life, the vastness of the universe was a symbol of fear. 


In the center of my collage is a sign representing choice.  In our society a “diamond-shaped” road sign indicates that a type of hazard is on the horizon; and so one should be cautious.  In Jonas’ society a sign such as this would never exist.  Society members were not permitted to have any options.  When Jonas became the receiver, his life was changed forever.  His sense of strict association with the ideals of his society began to deteriorate.  There were times when he thought, “Why aren’t there any colors anymore?”  I remember him thinking something like, “If I wanted to wear a piece of clothing with the color red, why can’t I?”  The only person he could share his true feelings with was The Giver.  He would share some of his feelings with his friends in other ways.  One way he would share feelings with his friends was by playing games from the past like “Good Guys and Bad Guys.”  In Jonas’ society, a sign representing a choice would be one to be avoided.    


I chose the black and white photo of a woman and two children because it portrayed to me the simple and depressing lives endured by the people in Jonas’ society.  It also reminded me of a memory Jonas had where a child laid hurt and was begging for water.  Jonas seemed to have a hard time dealing with any of these painful thoughts.  It was The Giver who supplied Jonas with much of this depressing information.  The look of desperation and hopelessness in this plain black and white photo made it an easy choice for me to include it in the construction of my collage.     


The picture in the lower left shows great numbers of people in protest.  This of course would be unheard of in Jonas’ society.  To have your own opinion on an issue would not have been very well received.  I recall a scene in the book when Jonas was waiting to see what his job was to be.  I pictured the society members sitting and waiting patiently around a big concert hall type stadium wondering why Jonas’ number was skipped.  Great mobs of people in contention with their government would not be tolerated or even thought about in Jonas’ society.  I felt that this picture showed one of the essential elements of a civilization that was lacking in Jonas’ society.


For many people the site of the American Flag brings to mind thoughts concerning freedom.  This particular flag is depicted on the outside of a dam.  A dam is a giant barrier that separates two different types of environments.  Much like the people in Jonas’ society, the water is held back.  The water is released in small amounts, but the majority of it is retained on the other side of the wall.  Here the American Flag represents the freedom that is found on the “other side” of the wall. 


Self Evaluation: In Lois Lowry’s book The Giver the author presents many types of symbols that characterized the hopelessness and despair of a society. My Extension Project on this work captured the author’s message. In the designing of my collage I was careful to choose pictures that would illustrate a clear portrayal of the author’s intent. I combined these scenes with written interpretations to support the worthiness of their selection.

While organizing my material I continually put myself in the “reader’s place” in an effort to make sure that my ideas made sense to those who were yet unfamiliar with The Giver. With this strategy in mind, I could be confident that my efforts would be more easily understood by the reader.

In addressing artistic creativities I purposely chose different types of pictures that to the viewer would not seem to have a common theme. My intent was to collect scenes that would catch the viewer’s attention and in doing so provoke an interest in Lowry’s work. Although my selections did have a common theme, it would probably not be realized by a person who has not yet experienced The Giver.

I gave a concise written explanation of the collage discussing the specific details of each scene and how each was related to the overall meaning of the book. In my descriptions I “walked” the reader through my thought process. My purpose here was to leave the reader with few questions as to how my collage corresponded to the author’s message.

After experiencing my Extension Project concerning Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the reader should be drawn to this work and want to know more. This should result in the reader enjoying The Giver first hand. Sparking enough interest to generate this action was my ultimate goal for this project. As I feel that I have successfully accomplished this goal, I would conclude that my Extension Project on The Giver be rated as expert.  

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