In The Giver the main character, Jonas, is selected to be next in line for what is called The Receiver of Memory in his community. Being selected for this position gave you the highest honor you could get in this community. In spite of the fact that this job gives the highest honor in the community people start to treat him differently after they find out that he was selected for this job. They seem unsure of whether they should talk to him, or how they should act towards or around him and they even question of they should treat him equally or if they should be giving him the honor due to him that is supposedly attached to this job. They are especially unsure of whether they should congratulate him when he is selected because of problems that came up form the last person selected for this job,
Now for the first time in his twelve years of life, Jonas felt separate, different. He remembered what the Chief Elder had said: that his training would be alone and apart.
But his training had not yet begun and already, upon leaving the Auditorium, he felt apartness. Holding the folder she had given him, he made his way through the throng, looking for his family unit and for Asher. People moved aside for him. They watched him. He thought he could hear whispers. “Ash!” he called, spotting his friend near the rows of bicycles. “Ride back with me?” “Sure.” Asher smiled, his usual smile, friendly and familiar. But Jonas felt a moment of hesitation from his friend, an uncertainty. “Congratulations,” Asher said. “You too,” Jonas replied. “It was really funny, when she told about the smacks. You got more applause than almost anybody else.”……. “Congratulations, Asher!” someone called. Then that hesitation again. “You too, Jonas!” (Pgs. 65-66)
They seem to be more afraid to treat him the same because they have this picture in their mind of the Receiver being different and somehow not a part of the community like he shouldn’t be treated the same way as everyone else, like he doesn’t need to have the same kind of respect everyone else gets. They seem more afraid of what will happen because he is now in this position than willing to honor him in this position because he was selected for it. They have a bias against him because of what happened to the failed Receiver before him and thus they are scared he will fail the same way and so they don’t want to honor him because they don’t believe that he can fulfill the position the way the current Receiver is fulfilling it. This all happened as soon as people found out he was selected as the new receiver of memory, as soon as they found out he was different.
This is something that happens in real life as well. As soon as people find out someone is different in some way they suddenly see a need to treat them differently. When they find out that someone has a different skin color they start to treat them as not equal, as not a human being with honor and respect. If someone has a disability of some sort they suddenly need extra special attention, more attention than a person without a disability. This is because everyone is inherently biased or prejudiced in some way, whether it’s against sex, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or anything else, we are all biased and prejudiced against something and this bias and prejudice changes for each person on a personal level, it’s different for each person. This is why people treated Jonas differently because they didn’t like the fact that he was different, that he could see “beyond” and he didn’t have the Sameness that everyone else had.
This spoke to me because I had a similar situation. My ex-boyfriend is black and when I was dating him and when I would talk to other people about him I wouldn’t mention this fact because I knew people would think differently about both me and my ex. When I did eventually mention to certain people that I see everyday that he was black they would talk about him differently and talk to me differently about him. In some instances they would treat me differently because of it, because of their inherent bias and prejudice against people of other races. This is what happened to Jonas, people found out he had a different kind of sight than they did so they didn’t see him as their equal because he was different, he didn’t have their “Sameness” and this brought out their inherent bias and prejudice against his ability to see “beyond.”
People in general are inherently biased and prejudice against something. Each person on this earth is inherently prejudiced against something, it could be age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or anything else but we are all prejudiced and biased towards something in our lives, in the same way people were biased and prejudiced against Jonas’s ability to see “beyond.”