Lowry, L. (1993). The giver. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Genre: Modern Fantasy/
A major theme of this text set is accepting differences and overcoming the obstacles created by these differences. This novel is set in a society that values... read more
The book is told from a third-person point of view. The protagonist, Jonas, is followed as he awaits the Ceremony of Twelve. Jonas lives in a standard family unit with his mother (a "law enforcer"), his father (a "Nurturer") and his seven (later becomes eight) year old sister named Lily. As he... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
The book is told from a third-person point of view. The protagonist, Jonas, is followed as he awaits the Ceremony of Twelve. Jonas lives in a standard family unit with his mother (a "law enforcer"), his father (a "Nurturer") and his seven (later becomes eight) year old sister named Lily. As he anticipates the Ceremony of Twelve, which is the last ceremony, he has a dream. He has to tell his family unit what his dream is and he explains how he dreamed that he was in the House of the Old (where he was before), alone in the bath house with his friend Fiona. He tries to explain how in his dream he wanted her to take off her clothes so he could bathe her though he feels angry at the same time, mostly due to her laughing in the dream and feeling slightly embarrassed while telling the dream, not knowing why. After he told his family this, his mother tells him to take pills to suppress the "Stirrings", or the beginning of sexual attraction, which is totally eliminated in Jonas's world, possibly even for Birthmothers, who may be impregnated via artificial insemination. When the day of the Ceremony of Twelve arrives, each of the eleven-year olds is called up by their number, which corresponds to the order in which they were born, (Jonas is nineteen) and is given their Assignment. However, the Chief Elder skips Jonas' number and proceeds with twenty. After everyone has been given their Assignment, the Chief Elder calls up Jonas and apologizes for the confusion. It is revealed that Jonas has been selected to be the next Receiver of Memory. The Chief Elder reveals to him that training will involve physical pain that the community has never felt before and that ten years ago, another selection was made but it was a failure. He is selected to be "Receiver of Memory" at the Ceremony of Twelve because of his unusual "Capacity to See Beyond", which is the ability to see color (or in other cases, hear music, which is referred to as "hearing beyond"), which the other people in the community cannot. This is noted in the fact that Jonas has lighter eyes, which only a few people, such as Jonas, Gabriel, The Giver, and a female Six named Katherine have rather than the dark eyes that everyone else has.
After Jonas has been selected to be the Receiver of Memories, he is set aside to receive training through the Giver (who was the last Receiver of Memory), who becomes his teacher. Jonas telepathically receives memories of things eliminated from his world: violence, sadness, and loss, as well as true love, beauty, joy, adventure, animals, and family. Having knowledge of these complex and powerful concepts alienates Jonas from his friends and family, as well as making him more cynical towards his previously sheltered life, as he often discusses with the Giver. Eventually, these revelations prompt Jonas to seek to change the community and return emotion and meaning to the world. He and the Giver plan on doing this by having Jonas leave the community, which would cause all of the memories he was given to be released to the rest of the people, allowing them to feel the powerful emotions that Jonas and the Giver feel. Eventually, Jonas asks the Giver if he ever thinks about his own release. This conversation leads to watching the release of a lighter child of a set of twin boys born that morning. Jonas watches in shock and horror as his father talks sweetly to the baby before giving the newborn a lethal injection, and then dumping the body down a garbage chute. It is also said by The Giver that the previous Receiver of Memory had applied for release, and had told them that she would prefer to inject herself. The Giver then reveals that he also had a child named Rosemary, who was the previously selected Receiver of Memory.
During the course of the novel, Jonas's family temporarily houses a baby named Gabriel, because he is unable to sleep throughout the night and disturbs the other babies in the "Nurturing Center". Jonas learns that unlike the other people in his community, "Gabe" can receive memories from Jonas, which he uses to help calm the baby. Because Gabriel still cannot sleep through the night without crying after the extra year he was given to learn how to sleep soundly, he is now destined to be released. Desperate, Jonas flees the community with Gabe. Also, he was given the instructions from the Giver to flee, and release all the memories that he had stored to the rest of the community. At first, the escape seems successful, with all of the search planes finally giving up their search for Jonas. Soon, however, food runs out and they grow weak. Cold and hungry, Jonas and Gabe begin to lose hope, but then remembering the memory of sunshine Jonas was given, he uses it and regains strength. Jonas begins to no longer care about himself, but only about Gabe's safety; it is here that he feels happy as he remembers his parents and sister, his friends and The Giver. Jonas and Gabriel cross a snow-covered hill in the dark and find a sled on top, which Jonas remembers from the first memory he ever received. He and Gabriel board the sled and go down the hill where they seem to hear music coming from some houses, which possibly could be Christmas, because he sees trees there too, which Jonas believes is the Beyond.
The ending is ambiguous, with Jonas depicted as experiencing symptoms of hypothermia. This leaves his and Gabriel's future unresolved. However, their fate is revealed in Messenger, a companion novel written much later.
“Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine, and did away with difference. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.”The Giver
“Memories are forever.”The Giver
“Things could change. Things could be different. I don't know how, but there must be some way for things to be different. There could be grandparents. And colors. And everybody would have memories.”Jonas
“They Know Nothing”The Giver
“He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.”
“They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrancy his own was taking on. And Jonas was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.”
“If you can't feel the pain in life, you won't feel the pleasure of living.”
“No one mentioned such things; it was not a rule, but was considered rude to call attention to things that were unsettling or different about individuals.”
“How could you describe a sled without describing a hill and snow; and how could you describe a hill and snow to someone who had never felt height or wind or that feathery, magical cold?”
“His thoughts continued. If he had stayed, he would have starved in other ways. He would have lived a life hungry for feelings, for color, for love.”
'The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.'Highlighted by 161 Kindle customers
5. From this moment you are prohibited from dream-telling. 6. Except for illness or injury unrelated to your training, do not apply for any medication. 7. You are not permitted to apply for release. 8. You may lie.Highlighted by 102 Kindle customers
He had seen a birthday party, with one child singled out and celebrated on his day, so that now he understood the joy of being an individual, special and unique and proud.Highlighted by 94 Kindle customers
JONAS RECEIVER OF MEMORY 1. Go immediately at the end of school hoursHighlighted by 87 Kindle customers
Two children—one male, one female—to each family unit. It was written very clearly in the rules.Highlighted by 83 Kindle customers
How could you describe a sled without describing a hill and snow; and how could you describe a hill and snow to someone who had never felt height or wind or that feathery, magical cold?Highlighted by 82 Kindle customers
For a contributing citizen to be released from the community was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming statement of failure.Highlighted by 81 Kindle customers
'I'm right, then,' The Giver said. 'You're beginning to see the color red.'Highlighted by 65 Kindle customers
Frightened was the way he had felt a year ago when an unidentified aircraft had overflown the community twice.Highlighted by 65 Kindle customers
The children all received their bicycles at Nine; they were not allowed to ride bicycles before then.Highlighted by 57 Kindle customers
Followed by Gathering Blue.
Followed by Gathering Blue.
Grade/Reading Level: 6 Interest Level: The Scholastic website suggested this book for students in grades 3-5. However, I believe that students in grades 6-8 would have a better understanding of the themes of the novel, and they would be more interested in learning about the dangers of conformity.
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