Jonas had a little sister named Lily and he stayed with his parents. His friend was Asher and he couldn’t write well. As a nurturer, his dad was in charge of taking care of physical and emotional development of young kids.
In this society, those incapable people, those who have committed grave mistakes, the sick and elderly, or even those who didn’t fit into societal norms were ‘released’ and never to be seen again. There was a ceremony every year from the ages 1 to 12 to celebrate the new milestone and development of the children. Spouses, names and assignments for adults were all determined by the Council of Elders. There were some assignments which were apparently worse than others but it seemed like they were highly accurate for every individual.
Jonas’ family took care of a little boy called Gabriel who was developing too slowly for children his age. As a result, his dad had to appeal to keep him for a while more before ‘release.’ Jonas had the power to see things and was worried about it. Asher, Fiona and Jonas had to perform compulsory voluntary work and they decided to perform it at the House for the Old. Dream telling was compulsory and Jonas related a story where he imagined bathing Fiona in the nude. From then on, he was instructed to take a pill every morning to suppress such dreams and wild emotions. Losses were mourned, but not releases.
Jonas was highly anxious about his potential assignment at the ceremony for twelve year olds. He was assigned to be the receiver of memory as he had the right characteristics. Being the receiver entailed having to follow many strict rules, including not being able to discuss his assignment with his family. Jonas met the Giver, whose role was to impart every memory that he had from ages back to Jonas. This would wipe the memories away from the Giver. Jonas was first introduced to snow, sunshine, sunburn. The society valued stability and sameness and let certain objects and ideas like colour, sunshine go. The Council would approach for advice when they had not experienced something before.
The people had little choice and limited range of emotions and sense of appreciation for surroundings. Society thought it would be confusing for men if they experienced too much and it might lead to poor decision making. In the past, the previous receiver abandoned her duties and fled after she couldn’t handle the responsibilities involved. This led to her memories flooding back to the society, causing much unwanted chaos. The Giver now imparted painful memories to Jonas like fear, warfare, loneliness, loss. In the meantime, Jonas became transmitting memories to Gabriel even though it was illegal to do so. Now, Jonas finally understood the warm feeling of love and companionship from his memories and was upset that society didn’t value those traits. In his anger, Jonas stopped taking the pill and got to experience the full scope of emotions. Rosemary, the previous receiver, was actually The Giver’s daughter. Jonas witnessed a video of how his father put the smaller of a pair of twins to sleep via a lethal injection and was traumatized by the video. The child was ‘released’.
The Giver and him came up with a plan where Jonas would escape to ‘Elsewhere’ and the Giver would initially follow him but later return to society in order to handle the ensuing chaos once the memories were stacked back on the people. Knowing that Gabriel was going to be released, Jonas took him along and they both escaped. After moving around for a bit and escaping the search planes, they were exhausted and famished. In a last burst of strength, Jonas recalled the memories of sunshine and the sledge to combat the bitter chilly winters. Finally, he and Gabriel landed up in ‘Elsewhere.’
Release of new children was always sad, because they hadn’t had a chance to enjoy life within the community yet. And they hadn’t done anything wrong. Jonas
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 differences. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others. The Giver
I like the feeling of love. I wish we still had that. Of course, I do understand that it wouldn’t work very well. And that it’s much better to be organized the way we are now. I can see that it was a dangerous way to live. Jonas
The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared. The Giver
The life where nothing was unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without color, pain or past. Jonas