Imagine living in a community that claimed to be perfect, where people were regularly euthanized, but had done nothing wrong? In The Giver , by Lois Lowry, a boy named Jonas lives in a Utopian society where there are no choices or feelings. Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of Memory, which means that he is the only person in the community who knows what pain, fear, hunger, happiness, and love is. The Giver transfers memories to Jonas and Jonas finds that he enjoys a life with choices and feelings more than a controlled life. During his training, Jonas finds out that people are euthanized in the community if they are a baby and underdeveloped or if they are elderly. Jonas does not think it is right to euthanize the people of the community. There are many advantages and disadvantages to euthanasia.
It controls population and allows the elderly to die peacefully, but it also kills people when they have done nothing wrong and have not had a chance to live. Even though there are advantages to euthanasia, it is wrong to kill people without reason. In Jonas’ community, when people are released, they are killed. There are some advantages and disadvantages to this. For example, an advantage is releasing, or killing, the elderly. This can be an advantage because it is mercy killing. Rather than letting the old die slowly and possibly becoming ill, they can let them die peacefully and allow them to say their good-byes. “‘This morning we celebrated the release of Roberto,’ she told him. ‘It was wonderful.’” (31)
When the elderly are released, their life is celebrated and they have an opportunity to spend time with friends before their death. Mercy killing prevents the old from contracting an illness. As they get older, the elders have decided that it is better to kill the old in peace rather than letting them become sick and die slowly and painfully and create a sudden tragedy. “‘He just bowed to all of us and then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room. But you should have seen his look. Pure happiness, I’d call it.’” (32) The releasing is a happy ceremony that lets the elderly have time and peace to move on without a hospital bed and crying relatives. The system for the releasing allows a good time to relax and prepare for leaving and not being sad about the death but being happy for the life of the person being released. Another example of euthanasia being an advantage in Jonas’ community is that it controls the population. “‘The population had gotten so big that hunger was everywhere.
Excruciating hunger and starvation. It was followed by warfare.’” (111) The Giver is telling Jonas how important it is to keep the population of the community under control. It is important because without the ability to control the amount of babies that are born and not being able to monitor the status of the population, the community could die of starvation and not be able to take care of themselves because there are too many people. The elders of the community, at one point, had wanted to increase the amount of babies born each year to raise the population and get more laborers. The Giver, however, advised them against increasing the population because he has the memory of starvation and pain. He knows that if the community increases too much they will die. Euthanizing people keeps the population under control and healthy and prevents the instance of too many babies for too little people.
In addition to the advantages of euthanasia in Jonas’ community, there are also many disadvantages. For example, the babies that are underdeveloped, or smaller than their twin are released. “‘ He killed it! My father killed it!’ ”(150) When Jonas finds out that his dad kills children, he is filled with anger and concern for the babies because they had not had a chance to live. When the babies are killed, they are less than a year old. If they are not developing quickly enough, the committee decides that they must be released. Also, if twins are born, the one that weighs less is released. In either situation, the children are killed and the community is told that they go to Elsewhere and are adopted by another family. “Release of new children was always sad, because they hadn’t had a chance to enjoy life within the community yet. And they hadn’t done anything wrong.”(7) The babies that are released in the community have no reason to be killed. They are innocent and young and they are killed because they are too small.
They do not get to enjoy life in the community or experience friendships and family. In The Giver, when people are “released,” they are killed. However, the people who are in charge of euthanizing others do not care about what they are doing because they have no feelings. There are some advantages and disadvantages to euthanizing. For example, it keeps the population under control. It also lets the old die in peace rather than letting them slowly die and possibly become ill. Another advantage is that releasing can keep the town from having people who commit crime in it. However, there are some disadvantages.
One disadvantage is that they are killing people without reason and they lose a lot of their population because if anyone breaks a rule, they are released. Also, the only reason that the people get away with killing is because no one has feelings. If anyone knew what was going on and had feeling, the town would find out. Even though the release of the old is good, it is also bad because they are killed. The advantages and disadvantages of releasing people do cancel each other out, in a way, but the killing of people for committing a minor crime, because they are old, or because they are undeveloped is wrong.