Daily Archives: April 27, 2012

Reading Circles – The Giver {Part 2}

Happy Friday! Is anybody else winded by the fact that it’s almost MAY? May, folks. May. How did this happen?

So last week, we read Chapters 4-6 of The Giver, by Lois Lowry, to see how we can use the example of an experienced writer to learn how to write better ourselves. If you’re late to the party, never fear! The book is short and a fast read, so it’s no problem to catch up quickly if you want to join in.

In reading chapters 4-6, we wanted to pay specific attention to plot, dialogue, setting, and prose. How does Lowry unleash her magic on us? Some questions to consider included:

* What does Jonas want and what internal & external forces prevent him from getting it?

* What details does Lowry give to reveal Jonas’s character to us?

* How would you characterize the family conversations around the dinner table?

* What does Lowry’s prose reflect about the story?

For me, one of the most interesting parts in this selection of chapters was the part where Jonas admitted to his parents that he had been having sexualized dreams and they introduced him to the pill he needed to take daily to repress his natural urges. It was interesting that it was not a subject normally talked about because it would be rude to make another uncomfortable because of his differences. And I thought it was interesting and important that he kind of still wanted to feel those feelings, that he found them pleasurable – even as this desire combatted with his desire and pride in growing older and more mature. For me, this represents the beginning of a potential conflict between him and the restrictions his society places on him as well as an internal conflict between his natural urges and his desire to fit in and belong.

What stood out for you?

*     *     *

We’re building up quickly to the Ceremony we know is coming. For the next week,  let’s read Chapters 7 – 10. In this section, we’ll be crossing the Point of No Return: the part where the main character reaches a situation where things cannot go back to normal. He is inevitably thrown into the conflict and must find a way to resolve the situation one way or another.

Try to pay attention to what Lowry uses to keep us reading. How does she always keep conflict present? What questions do you have in your mind as a reader about how things will turn out in the end?

What other details does she give to reveal character and setting? For example, how does she show how Jonas feels about being selected and the increasing divergence between him and his friends, Asher and Fiona?

This time, try to pay attention to other more technical details of her writing. For example, do you notice anything about where and how she chooses to end her chapters? What about dialogue? How does she write conversations? Are they whole conversations, including “hello” and “good-bye” and “how are you?” Do they include “ums” and “yeahs” and other parts found in regular speech? Try paying attention to how people talk in real life and see how well it matches dialogue in fiction.

Which part do you think is the Point of No Return?