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SCHERER | English 8B | Literature and Language

Class Set | Literature as Craft | Sample Essays: Five-Paragraph vs. Premise-Based

This packet contains tw o essays that answ er the same prompt. One follow s the
formulaic Five-Paragraph Essay format and the other is an example of the more
adv anced Premise-Based Argument.
Prompt: What is the significance of Ashers character in Lois Low rys nov el The Giver?

The Five-Paragraph Essay


Lois Lowrys novel The Giver is about a community that attempted to create a utopia but may
have created a dystopia instead. The novel is told in third person limited point of view from the
perspective of its protagonist, Jonas, who is chosen to be the communitys Receiver. The Receiver is a
highly honorable job in which Jonas will learn the secrets of the world that existed before the community.
Over the course of the novel, Jonas becomes more and more isolated from those around him as he learns
to question his world. The author uses the character of his best friend, Asher, to help emphasize this
change. Asher is important to the story because he shows that only Jonas can see color,
demonstrates that Jonass selection has isolated him from his peers, and ultimately proves that only
Jonas has true feelings.
Asher is important to the story because he shows that only Jonas can see color. When Jonas
and Asher play catch with the apple, Ashers ignorance of the change in the apple highlights Jonass
unique ability. The novel states, Ash? [Jonas] had called. Does anything seem strange to you? About
the apple? Yes, Asher called back, laughing. It jumps out of my hand onto the ground! (Lowry, p.
31) Ashers joke in response to Jonass question shows that he is completely oblivious to whatever Jonas
has noticed. He is only concerned with doing his mandatory hand-eye coordination practice and cannot
see the color that Jonas sees. This is shown again through Ashers response to Jonass attempt to transmit
the red color of flower petals too him later in the novel. Whats the matter? Asher asked uneasily. Is
something wrong? He moved away from Jonass hands. It was extremely rude for one citizen to touch
another outside of family units. (Lowry, p. 125) Jonas tries to share his newfound knowledge of color
with Asher; however, not only is Asher unable to see color, but he is also made uncomfortable by the

SCHERER | English 8B | Literature and Language


Class Set | Literature as Craft | Sample Essays: Five-Paragraph vs. Premise-Based

situation. Thus, in both the situation with the apple and the flower, Ashers ignorant reaction serves to
emphasize the fact that only Jonas can see color.
Asher is also important to the story because he shows that Jonass selection has isolated him
from his peers. At the beginning of the novel, Jonass parents warn him that his friendships may begin to
change once he receives his assignment. In response, Jonas shook his head. Asher and I will always be
friends, he said firmly. (Lowry, p. 22) In this quote, Asher is established as Jonass closest friend.
However, Asher does in fact react awkwardly to Jonass selection as Receiver. When Jonas and Asher say
goodbye to each other after the Ceremony of Twelve, the novel states, Right! See you! Asher called
back. Once again, there was just a moment when things werent quite the same, werent quite as they had
always been through the long friendship. (Lowry, p. 84) Even though Jonas hasnt even begun his
training as receiver yet, there is already a separation between him and Asher. Ashers discomfort, despite
his position as Jonass best friend, allows the author to highlight the fact that Jonass selection has
isolated him from his peers.
Finally, Asher is important to the story because he ultimately proves that only Jonas has
true feelings. In Ashers last scene in the novel, his position as Recreation Director is contrasted with
Jonass position as Receiver. When Jonas tries to stop his friends from playing war games, the text states,
You ruined it, Asher said in an irritated voice. Dont play it anymore, Jonas pleaded. Im the one
whos training for Assistant Recreation Director, Asher pointed out angrily. Games arent your area of
expertness. (Lowry, p. 168) Jonas doesnt want his friends to play war games because he knows what
war really is and the pain it causes; however, Asher cannot understand this and instead yells at Jonas for
infringing on his area of expertise. This altercation with Asher ultimately causes Jonas to realize that no
one else in his community has true emotions. Jonas concludes, But he knew that they could not
understand why, without the memories. He felt such love for Asher and for Fiona. But they could not feel
it back, without the memories. (Lowry, p. 169-170) Ashers reaction proves to Jonas that no one else in

SCHERER | English 8B | Literature and Language


Class Set | Literature as Craft | Sample Essays: Five-Paragraph vs. Premise-Based

the community can truly understand what he does. The war game proves that they cannot feel love the
way the Jonas does, and forces him to recognize that he is now an outsider in his community.
Lois Lowry uses Asher to show that Jonas is different because of his ability to see color, his
selection as Receiver, and his true emotions. Ashers obliviousness to Jonass ability to see color in the
apple and his attempt to share color with Asher highlights how unique Jonass ability is in the community.
Furthermore, his awkward reaction to Jonass selection as receiver, despite being his best friend, further
shows that Jonas is different from his peers. Finally, Asher proves to Jonas through his ignorance of war
that no one else in the community has real feelings. Lois Lowrys character of Asher shows that creating
a contrasting secondary character is one technique an author can use to highlight important information
about their protagonist.

SCHERER | English 8B | Literature and Language


Class Set | Literature as Craft | Sample Essays: Five-Paragraph vs. Premise-Based

The Premise-Based Argument


Lois Lowrys novel The Giver is about a community that attempted to create a utopia but may
have created a dystopia instead. The novel is told in third person limited point of view from the
perspective of its protagonist, Jonas, who is chosen to be the communitys Receiver. The Receiver is a
highly honorable job in which Jonas will learn the secrets of the world that existed before the community.
Over the course of the novel, Jonas becomes more and more isolated from those around him as he learns
to question his world. The character of his best friend, Asher, helps emphasize this change. Lois Lowry
uses Asher to highlight Jonass growing isolation from the community by setting him up as a foil to
her protagonist.
In the novels exposition, the contrast between Asher and Jonas allows Lowry to depict
Jonas as a serious and thoughtful individual. Lowry initially sets Asher up as a foil to Jonas by
contrasting their use of language. The beginning of the novel states, Jonas was careful about language.
Not like his friend, Asher, who talked to fast and mixed things up, scrambling words and phrases until
they were barely recognizable and often very funny. (Lowry, p. 4) The novel begins with Jonas
reflecting on his emotions and carefully trying to choose the right word to express his feelings in
anticipation of the Ceremony of Twelve. Asher is introduced into this context as Jonass opposite; he is
by contrast comically careless with language. The anecdotes about Ashers language mix-ups show that
Jonas is a much more thoughtful and careful individual than his friend. Lowry builds on this contrast
when Jonas goes to do his volunteer hours. The reader is informed that Jonas didnt often do his
volunteer hours with his friend because Asher frequently fooled around and made serious work a little
difficult. But now, with Twelve coming so soon and the volunteer hours ending, it didnt seem to matter.
(Lowry, p. 33) Not only does Asher take language lightly, but he also takes his volunteer duty lightly.
Jonas, by contrast, is such a serious individual that he chooses not to volunteer with his best friend.
Lowry uses these two early reflections by Jonas on Ashers jovial character to point out that Jonas is an

SCHERER | English 8B | Literature and Language


Class Set | Literature as Craft | Sample Essays: Five-Paragraph vs. Premise-Based

unusually focused and thoughtful individual. This disposition is in fact what ends up making him a strong
candidate for Receiver, a position that requires careful thought and maturity.
In addition to highlighting Jonass key personality traits, Asher allows Lowry to
demonstrate how Jonass Assignment intensifies his exceptionality. Simply being selected for the
honorable position of Receiver creates a divide between Jonas and his best friend. When Jonas and Asher
part ways after the ceremony, the text states, Right! See you! Asher called back. Once again, there was
just a moment when things werent quite the same, werent quite as they had always been through the
long friendship. (Lowry, p. 84) Even though Jonas hasnt even begun his training as receiver yet, there
is already a new separation between him and Asher. Ashers discomfort, despite being Jonass best friend,
highlights the fact that Jonass selection has clearly marked him as different from his peers. Jonas is no
longer simply more thoughtful; he now also more honorable. Ashers reaction to Jonass attempt to share
his training with him shows that the divide created by the Assignment only continues to grow. When
Jonas tries to transmit the idea of color to Asher, his friend responds, Whats the matter? Asher asked
uneasily. Is something wrong? He moved away from Jonass hands. It was extremely rude for one
citizen to touch another outside of family units. (Lowry, p. 125) Jonas tries to share his newfound
knowledge of color with Asher; however, not only is Asher unable to see color, but he is also made
uncomfortable by the situation. Jonass failure to overcome the growing difference between him and
Asher shows that his training has made their differences insurmountable. Thus, Ashers lack of change
since the Ceremony of Twelve only serves as a foil to how much Jonas has changed to become different
from the other citizens of the community.
Ultimately, Lowry uses Ashers character to bring Jonas to the conclusion that his
differences signify that he no longer belongs in his community. In Ashers last scene in the novel, his
position as Recreation Director is contrasted with Jonass position as Receiver. When Jonas tries to stop
his friends from playing word games, the text states, You ruined it, Asher said in an irritated voice.

SCHERER | English 8B | Literature and Language


Class Set | Literature as Craft | Sample Essays: Five-Paragraph vs. Premise-Based

Dont play it anymore, Jonas pleaded. Im the one whos training for Assistant Recreation Director,
Asher pointed out angrily. Games arent your area of expertness. (Lowry, p. 168) Jonas doesnt want
his friends to play war games because he knows what war really is and the pain it causes; however, Asher
cannot understand this and instead yells at Jonas for infringing on his area of expertise. This altercation
with Asher ultimately causes Jonas to realize that no one else in his community has true emotions. Jonas
concludes, But he knew that they could not understand why, without the memories. He felt such love for
Asher and for Fiona. But they could not feel it back, without the memories. (Lowry, p. 169-170)
Ashers reaction is a foil to Jonass new, deeper emotions and thereby proves that no one else in the
community can truly understand what Jonas does. The war game proves that they cannot feel love the
way the Jonas does, and forces him to recognize that he is now an outsider in his community.
By setting up Asher as a foil to Jonas, Lois Lowry is able to convey to her reader just how much
Jonas has grown apart from his community. Initially, she uses the differences in their personality to show
that thoughtful Jonas is already different from his carefree friend. Then, she uses Ashers reactions to
Jonass Assignment to show how selection and training as receiver make Jonas even more different from
his peers. These differences peak when Ashers reaction to Jonass request that he stop playing war
games causes Jonas to realize he no longer belongs in his community. Instead of providing comfort to
Jonas, as one would expect from the role of best friend, Asher proves to the reader just how much Jonas
does not fit in to the community that prizes Sameness above all else. The character of Asher shows that
creating a contrasting secondary character as a foil to the main character is one technique an author can
use to highlight important information about their storys protagonist and conflict.