What Is the Theme of "Messenger" by Lois Lowry?

by Marisa Hefflefinger
Matty is the only person able to safely travel through Forest, so he is chosen to deliver messages to outside communities.

Matty is the only person able to safely travel through Forest, so he is chosen to deliver messages to outside communities.

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With the same futuristic feel as "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue," Lois Lowry creates another fantasy realm in her young adult novel "Messenger," the final book of the trilogy, in which readers follow Matty as he ventures to discover his purpose. Though similar in atmosphere, each story of the trilogy is unique; however, characters from the previous two books make appearances in "Messenger." Nonetheless, it is the intense theme of humanity's struggles that make this novel a truthful one.


At the story's start, Village is a safe haven for those cast out of previous dwellings. It is a place that welcomes anyone in need of help. However, intolerance sets in, and the people of Village decide to close their boundaries to strangers who may not be good enough to live among them.


Jean, a girl living in Village, tells Matty that her father, Mentor, is changing. She explains how her father went to Trade Mart to exchange his short, hunched body and bald spot for a taller, straighter body and full head of hair. Mentor's facial birthmark disappears, and Jean sobs that his physical changes were done in vain to make a woman love him.


Ramon, one of the children in Village, is ultimately affected by materialism. Ramon's mother conducts a trade to purchase a Gaming Machine. Soon after his mother's trade, Ramon and his sister become deathly ill. It is understood that his mother traded her children's health so she could add to her material possessions.


Village members are unable to see how their trades have changed them in negative ways. They have been blinded by their fancy belongings and physical beauty. Fighting over who among them will be the next chosen to make a trade, villagers do not notice the kindness and compassion they once had being overtaken by greed and cruelty.


  • "Messenger"; Lois Lowry; 2004


About the Author

Writing since 2008, Marisa Hefflefinger's work has appeared on websites such as SuperGreenMe, Jennifer McColm and Character Odyssey. She holds a Bachelor of Science in English education and a Master of Arts in teaching literacy and language, and she is currently working on a Ph.D. in critical literacy and English education.

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