Last Updated 04 Jan 2023

The Theme of Oppression in the Books, The Giver by Lois Lowry and Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan

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The Giver and Wanting Mor are both books that are greatly based on the theme of oppression. Both novels follow the protagonists’ journey through an oppressive and unjust world. The Giver is about Jonas, a twelve-year-old boy, and his struggle to have his people feel emotions and feelings. He lives in a world where everything is the same and emotions are under the control of the government. As the Receiver of Memory, Jonas receives all the memories of the past generations and learns the truth about the world Heartbroken and hurt, Jonas devises a plan to run away from his community. With him running away, all of his memories are transferred back to his community members, letting them feel emotion and love without restrictions Wanting Mor is about a teenager named Jameela and the struggles in her life after her mother’s death.

Her oppressive father neglects her by forcing her to leave her home and go to a city where she has nothing. After her father remarries, he does as his wife chooses and leaves Jameela on the streets Alone and helpless, she is taken in by an orphanage where she learns to read and write and slowly brings prosperity back into her life. Her father returns to her so that he can use her skills to improve his life, but Jameela resists his demands and frees herself from his unjust holder Jonas is more oppressed than Jameela because he is not aware of his oppression, his people's oppression has been going on for centuries and absolutely all aspects of his life are under governmental control. Firstly, Jonas is more oppressed than Jameela because Jonas is not aware of his oppression until he becomes the Receiver of Memory.

It is present from the start of Wanting Mor that Jameela‘s father is her oppressor and that Jameela has knowledge of that Jameela says in the book, “in I would often avoid Baba. He had an unpredictable temper, and I didn’t like the way he looked at my lip, like somehow it was my fault I was born this way”. She knows that her father is her oppressor and that knowledge allows her to avoid him and lessen his oppression against her. In Jonas‘ case though, he doesn‘t find out about all that is kept away from him until he is the Receiver and receives memories. When he finds out about what his government has done to his people, Jonas is changes forever. The Giver says this to Jonas when he inquired about colour, “Once, back in the time of the memories, everything had a shape and size, the way things still do, but they also had a quality called color.”

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This textual evidence shows that Jonas isn‘t aware that he is being deprived of colour and he only finds this out while becoming the Receiver. Prior to his training, Jonas doesn’t know what colour is because his oppressive leaders do not want their people to see colour. Secondly, the people in Jonas‘ community have been oppressed for generations. In the book, the Giver says to Jonas: ”It's a very distant memory. That's why it was so exhausting--I had to tug It forward from many generations back. It was given to me when I was a new Receiver, and the previous Receiver had to pull it through a long time period, too." (Lowry, pg. 83) This quote shows that it has been many years since Jonas‘ world has ever had any freedom as the Giver says he has to pull the memory from generations back, a memory as simple as riding down a hill of snow, in this case. As well, throughout the book, the Giver uses the phrase, “... back and back and back...”

In the book, it is an inside joke between Jonas and the Giver but it shows the stark reality of the situation that the community members are in. It shows that they have been in Sameness, have been oppressed, for centuries without end. In Jameela’s case, however, her father only assumes control over her after her mother dies, and due to the power she has that Jonas and his people don't, Iameela frees herself from her father’s grasp at the end of the novel. The other oppressor in Wanting Mor, the Taliban, only assume control over Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Finally, the government controls all aspects of life for the people in Jonas’ community. In the book, it is mentioned how specific amounts of food are delivered to each family unit, jobs are assigned to each citizen, spouses and children are given to the citizens, and how pills are given to control specific thoughts and feelings.

In the book, Jonas thinks to himself: “Even the Matching of Spouses was given such weighty consideration that sometimes an adult who applied to receive a spouse waited months or even years before a Match was approved and announced. All of the factors--disposition, energy level, intelligence, and interests--had to correspond and to interact perfectly Jonas's mother, for example, had higher intelligence than his father; but his father had a calmer disposition. They balanced each other. Their Match, which like all Matches had been monitored by the Committee of Elders for three years before they could apply for children, had always been a successful one.” This shows the precision and effort put into the oppression of Jonas’ people. The Council of Elders spend years looking for a spouse, wasting time and energy. Every detail about the person must be considered to give them a spouse while, in a free world, spouses are chosen by the people who are going to get married so that they can live happy life.

Jameela though, has the freedom to eat as much food as she can get, have as many children as she wanted, and not have her thoughts and feelings interfered with, and have a say in who she marries. Jonas’ condition shows the ultimate level of oppression where nothing is in the hands of the person and the government manipulates their citizens to think that oppression is good for them. In conclusion, Jonas is more oppressed than Jameela because Jonas is not aware that he is being oppressed, his people have been oppressed for generations, and he doesn’t have control over anything that goes on in his life.

The moral to consider from both novels is that oppression does not provide anything positive for the population. It brings on unnecessary results and unintended consequences. It deprives people of their freedom and doesn’t let them live their lives to the fullest. Oppression comes from a lack of security and self—confidence of a person or leader. A person thinks being unfair to people around them will give them closure and provide them time to become complete while everyone else suffers. They are drunk with power and cannot comprehend what is going on, since they are cowardly hiding in the background. Oppression is a horrible practice and has no place in our modern society. For those who still oppress, are living in the past and need to move on with their lives.

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