Messenger, By: Lois Lowry

Blog by: Dumonee Larmeir


A theme found in this book is desire. Most of the people in the village traded their inner selves for something that they wanted. Ramon's Mom traded her inner self for a "gaming machine." Mentor traded his inner self for Stocktender's widow's love. Even Matty wished he could have a gaming machine. Matty also hoped that his true name would be Messenger. After the schoolteacher's daughter told Matty that her dog had three puppies, Matty wanted to have another dog. After meeting Kira again, Matty told her he could heal her bad leg, but she said no. When both of them went through Forest to go back to Village (and Forest attacked them), Matty had a longing to use his powers so they would not be in pain anymore, but he couldn't because he was told to save his powers. Some of these wants were good, and some were bad, but those who traded their inner selves were healed when Matty released his powers everywhere.


Another theme I found is nature. In the book, a strange forest that was called Forest (with a capital letter) had some kind of power. It's almost as if Forest was alive. When certain people entered Forest, they were killed by branches and vines that hit, poked, and suffocated the victim. However, Forest apparently let immigrants from cruel countries through. When immigrants came through the forest, they were usually headed toward Village, which was where people with disabilities and problems were welcome. When people traded their inner selves for things they wanted (gaming machine) and decided to close Village, Forest started becoming rotten. Dead bugs started filling in lakes. Trees bent over to make the forest dark even in day. The very center of Forest smelled like decay. Luckily, when Matty died and his power was released everywhere, Forest healed along with everyone's Inner Selves. However, Village wasn't just surrounded by Forest; there were also fields for farming and rivers for fishing. Matty and Ramon liked to fish when they were bored. Also, because it is a village, there are probably a lot of trees.

Characters-- Leader

Leader (Jonas from The Giver) had escaped his community and had gone down the hill to Village on a bright red sled. He was taken to Village on a ship filled with books. Somehow he then became leader. Leader has pale blue eyes that can see beyond. Seeing beyond is his special power. When Leader sees beyond, he can see far away places. Leader is not old, really. In fact, he is young for a leader. It doesn't say so in the book, (it only says he's a young man) but I think Leader is around 20 years old. When Forest starts becoming rotten, Leader finds it difficult to see beyond through the forest.
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Seer was a man who's eyes were poked out by branches when he was traveling through Forest. He was taken to Village, where the people helped him learn how to make his way around. He had a daughter named Kira, who had a special power. When Matty arrived at Village, Seer took him in and treated him like a father. Seer taught Matty that stealing and lying was wrong. Seer liked to read, (he said it's his favorite part of the day) but since his eyes were poked out, he had to have Matty read it to him. Seer also appeared to like to cook with Matty as well. Seer often corrected Matty when he made a grammatical error. Seer is very elderly. At first I thought he was the Giver, but I remembered the end of The Giver where the Giver said he had to stay with the Community, so Seer couldn't be the Giver. (Seer also said he didn't have a power, and Giver did.)
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Matty was a boy who had arrived from a cruel country where he had to steal and lie to survive. Of course, he had brought with him naughty behavior. Kira had to teach him hygiene and manners. Matty was the main character, who ended up dying to save Forest and heal everyone's Inner Selves. Matty was a teenager (in the book it says he wasn't a child, but not quite a man). He struggled to understand his power after he had healed an injured frog he found in Forest. He lived with Seer, the blind man. Matty often read to him. Matty also went fishing in the river sometimes. When he was tasked to bring Kira back to Village, he was attacked by Forest on the way back. Matty had become so weak that he was dying, and he used his powers. Forest and the People in Village healed. Leader gave Matty his true name after his death. It wasn't Messenger; it was Healer.
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Mentor was the person who had taught Matty to sit still, listen, and read. He was Jean's father. He had a bright red birthmark that spread across his face. His hair was balding. Mentor's wife had died before. This led him to trade his Inner Self for Stocktender's widow's love. This removed his birthmark, made him stand up straight, and grew his hair back. When several other people traded their Inner Selves, they formed into a group to close the border to outsiders. This group was leaded by Mentor. When Matty's power was released everywhere, Mentor's Inner Self was restored along with all the others.
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Kira was Seer's daughter. She had a crooked leg, but that didn't stop her. Kira lived in a village where she was tasked to create wonderful things. Kira had a special gift with her hands. She was able to weave patterns very quickly and it created a scene that predicted the future. Kira was very optimistic. She also had amazing strength and skill of her hands. When Matty offered to heal her leg, she said no, because her disability made her who she is. In 'Gathering Blue', Kira stayed at her old village, because she had things to do. When Matty came back, Kira told him that things were a lot better.
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The Climax is the most interesting part of the book. I believe that the climax is when Matty and Kira go through Forest to come back to Village. Forest first gives them "warnings" when twigs start poking and scraping Kira's feet. On page 137, Kira states that "It poked me hard, too. Maybe tomorrow I'll wrap some cloth around my feet before I put my sandals back on." "Good idea," Matty replied, but he felt uneasy. This part is interesting because now the reader knows that the forest is going to hinder their progress. Matty's arms were burned after he cut through several vines. This is interesting because now you can tell that Forest is attacking Matty now. On page 145, Matty finally decides to tell Kira that their journey was an ordinary one. Kira asks, "What should we do?" and Matty suggests that they could go back, but "you can see that the path is blocked already. I don't think we could find the way, and I know I can't go through those vines again. Look at my arms." This is interesting because now they have to keep going forward; there is no turning back now. On page 164, they're finally so weak that they can't move. Matty then accidentally uses his powers on the earth. This is interesting because this is the solution to every problem in the book. Everybody is healed, and so is Forest.
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The setting is in a village that is called 'Village' in the book. This book takes place in the same world as The Giver and Gathering Blue. In fact, when Jonas (from The Giver) arrives at Elsewhere, it is actually the Village. The Village is Elsewhere. The story also partly takes place in a forest called 'Forest' in the book. Matty goes through there when he takes messages to other villages. He was also in Forest when he first discovered he had healing powers. Matty also travels through Forest to get to Kira's village. Kira's village is another setting. However, Matty is only there for about a day.
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I believe that the conflict is when Village's borders are to be closed. Matty was assigned to deliver messages to the other villages. Seer told Matty to bring Kira back to Village as well. Matty was now in a rush, because Village's border was closing soon. The border closing caused other problems, too. Forest became rotten and hostile. The journey back had become much harder because of Forest. Matty and Kira had to hurry through a forest that attacked them. They became weakened by Forest. They couldn't hurry anymore. They weren't concerned about getting there in time, they were concerned about staying alive.
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Matty releasing his powers is the solution to every problem in the book. But Matty had died. He could see and hear everything. He saw that the people who traded their Inner Selves were healed. Forest was no longer rotten and hostile. Ramon was no longer sick because of Matty. The ruined tapestry that belonged to Seer was fixed as a breeze flew by. Leader’s (he was in Forest rushing to get Matty and Kira out, and, of course, he had been attacked) Lesions had faded. The bushes had drawn back so he could get through. The air smelled fresh, not rotten like it once was. Once again, Mentor was stooped and balding, but he was happy. After Matty died, he was given his true name, Healer.

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The tone seems dark. There is hardly any humor in the book. Matty dies at the end. The book describes the forest as a being that brutally kills people. There is also a vivid description of the pain that Matty and Kira went through as they were traveling through the forest. On page 140, the book states that the vines blocking their way had acidic sap that “dripped from the cut vines and burned where it landed on his arm”. There were several vines that burned Matty’s flesh. Then they had to move through a swamp filled with sharp reeds. Fortunately, Matty had shoes. Unfortunately, Kira did not. Eventually, they just lay there, dying, but then Matty uses his powers.


When I was reading the book, the mood changed several times. When Matty healed the dogs on page 40, I was joyful (I love dogs). Before Matty saw his first Trading Mart, I was confused about the whole trading-thing. When I read about the Gaming Machine on page 7, I was jealous. I wanted countless amounts of candy! On page 12, when Ramon tells Matty about Forest killing Gatherer, I was angry. I wanted to cut down every tree in that forest. When Matty and Kira were in Forest, I felt worried for them. When they were suffering, I felt sorry for them. When Matty died on page 165, I was disappointed, but also happy that all the problems were fixed.

Event 1

An important event was when Matty healed Jean’s two dogs. When he felt them, his hands hurt. It was a vibrating shock. He told Jean to get catnip. He didn’t really need it. He just needed to not let Jean see him using his power. The dogs are big, and he healed two of them. This is important because it Matty begins to realize that his powers are stronger than he thought. Matty had healed a frog before, but frogs are small, so that wasn’t as important (he did discover his power by healing the frog, though).

Event 2

Another important event was when Matty went to Trade Mart. Matty had noticed that nobody had brought anything to trade. Everybody was quiet and tense. The crowd parted to make way for a man called Trademaster. He said, “Trade Mart begins” in a slight accent. Mentor shoved everybody out of the way as he moved to the front so he would be noticed. The reader can tell that Mentor is much meaner. Trademaster asked, “Trade for what?” Mentor replied, “Same as before.” Matty notices that Stocktender’s Widow blushes. This is important to know because now the reader knows what Mentor is trading for. Trademaster then wrote in his book. He then asked, “Trade away what?” Mentor whispered, so no one could hear. This is important because the reader can now guess that Mentor traded away something important. The reader can also infer that the Trade Mart is what is causing everyone’s generosity to die.

Event 3

While Matty and Seer were cooking at the very beginning of the first chapter, Seer gave Matty an onion. "We can just throw it in. Or," He added, "we don't even need to cook it. but then our breath stinks. There's a girl promised she'd kiss me if I have sweet breath. but I think she's teasing." Seer suggested that "You could trade for a kiss," with a chuckle. Matty then told him, "Don't. Don't joke about the trading." This is important because the reader can tell that this is a bad thing. Seer said, "You're right, I shouldn't. It used to be a light-hearted thing. But now- you're right, Matty. It's not to be laughed at anymore." This is important because this conversation foreshadows the people losing their Inner Selves to trading.
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Event 4

Another important event was when Matty healed a frog. The frog's leg was broken, hanging on only by a few tendons, and it looked dead. When he touched it, his hand started vibrating painfully. The reader can tell that this is not a normal thing that happens. The frog was alive, but it's leg was still broken. The reader now knows that Matty somehow kept the frog from dying. Matty got a sharp rock to cut the remains of his bad leg off, so that the frog didn't have to drag it around everywhere. He touched the shredded leg to arrange it so he could cut it easier, then he felt the jolt of pain again. The reader can already tell that Matty is about to heal the frog more. The frog's legs were back to normal. The reader now knows that Matty could heal the frog. Matty stumbled out of the forest, exhausted. Now the reader knows using his powers leaves him exhausted. This event is important because it is the first time Matty used his powers.
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Event 5

The final important event was when Matty and Kira were traveling through Forest. This is one of the most important parts of the book. Matty and Kira had first entered the forest and twigs poked at Kira's feet. Now the reader knows that Forest is going to make the journey back hard. Next, vines blocked the way. Matty had to cut through them, but acid dripped from the vines and splashed on his arms. The reader can tell that Forest is not just attacking Kira, but Matty as well. Eventually, they just lay there dying. This is important because Matty puts his hand on the earth, which releases his powers. He heals the people in Village, and Forest no longer killed people who entered. This event is very important because it solves every problem in the book.
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Character Relation

I think that Mentor reminds me of myself. I used to be patient and generous to my little brother. Now, not so much. My brother makes me extremely mad sometimes, like when he attacks me while my back is turned. I still love my brother, though. I guess that makes me better than Mentor was. Mentor wasn't nice at all after he traded himself. I used to be able to deal with my brother. However, my "bubba" is growing out of control for me. Sometimes, it is my fault because I mess with him. But I'm usually nice to my brother unless he angers me.
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Different Setting

If Messenger took place in a city, the story probably would have changed Immensely and not have been as intense. Seer would tell Matty, "Hey, go get Kira at her apartment and bring her to my house. Hurry, dude!" There's no Forest in the city. That means there's no danger. Well, unless the buildings could move and flagpoles whacked people. That would be silly. If Matty died, what would there be to heal? And, there is trading everywhere in the city. Would that be bad? People trade all the time, people trade their money for coffee! There are also bad people, maybe those people are who Matty heal. But, what would cause Matty to use his powers? I'm glad Lois Lowry didn't have the book take place in a city, because that would be as confusing as saying "the Horseless Headless Horseman" five times quickly.
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