The Giver and The Organic Analogy

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 9.22.52 PM.pngEmile Durkheim used the organic analogy to attribute the workings of society to that of the human body. He believed that all humans exist according to one another and are interconnected to create a cohesive whole. The society described in the popular novel and film The Giver is also analogous to the structures of the body. The story is set in the future when a group of people set out to create a perfect society. It was made up of several small communities in which nearly everything was organized and predetermined. There was no such thing as color, race, religion, emotion, or conflict. Everything was controlled; everyone was in a state of contentment. The main ideals of the society were based on sameness and following rules. Each person was assigned their family unit and given assigned partners and children. When kids finished their schooling they were assigned specific jobs to fulfil within their community. This reflected the interdependence of each role and their necessary function.

This utopian society is comparable to each organ in the human body and how it is supposed to function in order for the rest of the body to be able to. Durkheim thought of these pieces of a whole to work with a collective conscious. The Giver displayed this through the creation of a stable, impersonal, organized society. They eliminated any possibility of individualization and focuses on the group. They ultimately created social solidarity that was orderly and highly organic. Like Durkheim, The Giver was interested in creating and maintaining social relations. However, the Giver disregarded social groupings such as religion within a society that were defining characteristics for Durkheim. They completely disregarded ideologies that could cause for any differentiation.

In our real life societies, we can apply the organic analogy to our occupations and roles we fulfil similar to that in The Giver. Although if we were to break down all the pieces, we would be able to see that the system is way more complicated than it appears. Somewhere the individual person is lost and sometimes forgotten, as each individual also makes up a part of something bigger. It is like losing a part of your lungs, they will still work, but not as perfectly and efficiently as it could if it were intact. To an extent society can only function on the macro level if it is also working on the micro level.

Brianna Hayden


4 thoughts on “The Giver and The Organic Analogy

  1. Though I haven’t read The Giver, I was able to get a good idea of it by your first paragraph. I thought that you did a good job relating organic analogy to the society within The Giver, how both focus on the group as opposed to the individuals within it. Your comment on society only being able to function on the macro level if it is working on the micro level is interesting.

  2. Could we say that the author of The Giver is using the organic analogy (after all, it’s an interpretation, not an actual thing) and then pulling it apart? Does it open up the way to using a more Weberian or Marxist interpretation of ideal society? After all, a novel is a depiction of an idealized (in the sense of an idea of a) society. What is this author claiming about human nature? And for another take on this image of using an organic analogy to create a society and whether that works or not, try the Hugh Howey series – Wool, Shift, and Dust.

  3. heber004 says:

    When reading this I thought of the movie Divergent or the Hunger Games where the societies are set up as being broken into distinct groups that are interdependent on one another and had clearly defined roles. These also showed the inherent contradictions of the individuals and the larger society. I am curious if the Giver showed the individual’s interest as contradicting that of the society in anyway or where contradictions may have been seen. I think using theory to look at these types of movies would be an interesting exercise to prepare for our final paper.

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