I have recently read a short story called “Jest and Earnest” by Annie Dillard. In this story, the author observes three situations in nature involving different animals. Each represents a different aspect of the amazing and scary world we live in. Using her animal examples, she describes the world as cruel, beautiful, and a combination of both.
I think that we often look at the bad more than the good. We often fail to notice or appreciate the beauty of things we see everyday. After reading “Jest and Earnest”, I became more aware of this. I thought about an amazing book I read called The Giver by Lois Lowry, where both the cruel and beautiful aspects of people’s lives have been (for the most part) eliminated.
The Giver is a story about a boy named Jonas who lives in a utopian society. In his society, there are no wars and no suffering. Everyone is nice and polite. However, this society also does not have many of the simple pleasures we enjoy today. Objects are made to be practical, not beautiful. No one can see colors and no one has strong feelings. People take pills to suppress strong feelings like love, hate, and anger. Upon turning twelve, Jonas, along with all of his other peers in his age group, receives a job presented to him at the Ceremony by the community’s Elders. Jonas is chosen for the exceptionally unique job of becoming the next Receiver of Memories. He is expected to gain the memories of the world from the current Receiver, who changes his name to the Giver when he begins passing his memories on to Jonas. Although many are pleasant, several are painful and all of them give Jonas wisdom and knowledge about the world’s history. He learns about pain and pleasure and cruelty and beauty. These are some of the things that give life meaning. Jonas wants to share his experiences with his community, but they fear learning of the past. They prefer to continue living in ignorance, yet they know the memories of the past must not be lost so they choose one person to hold them all. Jonas must devise a plan to share his memories with his community.
Although The Giver is written in simple language, it is really a book for everybody. It is an incredibly-thought provoking story. I would definitely recommend it.