In The Giver, Lowry presents the reader with the idea of Sameness, which is just as the name suggests, the same for everyone. The residents of Sameness are told who to marry, what to wear, how many children they can have, where to live, what to feel, and what job they will have; no matter how tempting it may sound to have all of these decisions made for you, and believe me, as an adult,...
In The Giver, Lowry presents the reader with the idea of Sameness, which is just as the name suggests, the same for everyone. The residents of Sameness are told who to marry, what to wear, how many children they can have, where to live, what to feel, and what job they will have; no matter how tempting it may sound to have all of these decisions made for you, and believe me, as an adult, it would sometimes be easier to have them made for you, I can not begin to imagine a society where I had no choice in any part of my life. Think about it in terms of your own life; how would you feel in this situation. As a teenager, life would be devastating to be controlled by others. No video games, no color, no choice! Surely the disadvantages are evident; the advantages are not as readily evident, other than the fact that you don't have to worry about the judgements of others about your clothes, shoes, etc. Sameness would take many of the stressors out of everyday life. It could reduce anxiety due to social differences and probably reduce prejudices, as well as certain social stigma.
"Sameness" is the name given to the ideology practiced by the leaders of Jonas's community in its desire to create a utopian society. The principle essentially involves a system of covert oppression in which citizens are indoctrinated into believing that they are all the same and, therefore, equal. The purpose is to establish, through conformity, a peaceful and stable civilization that is free from all man's iniquities. The leaders believe that removing the individual's free will avoids the act of making wrong decisions. Furthermore, such a system is supposed to prevent prejudice, crime, and many other risks to ensure peace and harmony. For the system to succeed, the Elders have created rules that must be respected and strictly adhered to.
The Elders are the overseers in this society. They are responsible for ensuring that every member of society maintains the principles adopted when Sameness was introduced. The ideology has been inculcated into society's consciousness through a system of genetic propaganda, manipulation, and brainwashing. To guarantee Sameness, the Elders control every aspect of each citizen's entire existence. There is no room for individuality, and emotions are suppressed through the compulsory use of drugs. When Jonas, for example, develops "stirrings," he is compelled to take pills regularly to quell what he feels. The education system propagates and encourages Sameness, and citizens of every age are carefully monitored and publicly admonished if they should break a rule or disobey an instruction.
Advanced medical technology has enabled the rulers to suppress almost all of the citizens' natural and instinctual abilities. They cannot, for example, distinguish color or feel passion. Furthermore, extensive and consistent brainwashing has turned the population into unquestioning, obedient servants who follow every rule and obey, to the letter, every instruction. There is no freedom of choice. Citizens' lives are so regulated they do not even prepare their meals—these are delivered to their living quarters and everyone, presumably, follows the same diet. There are no relatives outside the nuclear family since the Elders determine spousal relationships and family constructs. Children are not biologically related to their parents or their siblings and never discover who their actual parents are. The Elders have developed a system whereby birth mothers are appointed in their roles. The Elders seem to have a supply of genetically engineered sperm cells (and probably ova too) that are used for conception. After birth, the infants are removed and taken care of in nurturing centers. The newborns are kept there until they are allocated to parents who qualify.
Furthermore, Sameness requires that language is used as a tool to manipulate and suppress. Citizens are encouraged to use language that does not convey deep feelings and "correctness of language" is consistently taught. Language must always be couched in neutral terms and should not be offensive or cynical. The use of a wrong word or phrase may result in admonition or sanction. References to death are couched in euphemistic phrases such as "going Elsewhere." Citizens who constantly break the rules, overstep the boundaries, or who do not fit in are "released." Jonas later learns that release means execution by lethal injection when he witnesses his father "releasing" a twin. It is ironic that in a society where everyone is purportedly equal, weaker twins are executed.
Further irony lies in the fact that Jonas and the Giver, who do not entirely fit the mold, are given the complicated task of keeping society's memories because of their extraordinary abilities, instead of being executed. The Elders have succeeded in suppressing all memory to ensure that citizens are not reminded of the past and cannot, therefore, make any comparisons to their current situation.