Hello! This is going to be the page for my iHub reads novel, The Giver. I plan on doing summaries of each chapter and then briefly going over character development as well. I don’t want to go into how I feel about each chapter here because I plan on saving it for our fishbowl groups.
Before you read this blog post: Please do not read any of this blog if you intend to read The Giver, spoiler free.
Before the Book:
- Its set in a distant future, presumably in North America, considering the way they speak and certain words they use.
- I can confirm its America because they spelled “Gray” with an “A”.
- The people in the book are all very polite and choose their words carefully with “precision of language”.
Questions throughout the book:
- What does the term “release” mean? Why is it sometimes a punishment.
- When people are told to be “an eleven” or “a twelve” is it referring to grade or age?
- Who is Jonas and what significance is he to the story? Why do we see things from Jonas’s perspective and why can’t it be someone else?
- Where is this story set geologically and in time?
- What are the stirrings a reference to? Why do people need to take pills for them?
What’s the conflict in the book:
- Beginning: Jonas is having internal struggles with himself, he’s very insecure about himself being good enough for the community.
- Jonas: 11, mindful of what he says, polite in general.
- Asher: 11, Jonas’s friend, often doesn’t think about what he’s going to say, late to class most of the time.
- Lilly: 7, Jonas’s little sister, level headed, her problems are often easily solved by analyzing her feelings.
- Jonas’s dad: Level headed, very serious.
During chapter one, we’ve been introduced to the characters above and something that I assume will be important in the story, releasing. While Jonas reminisces about the situation a year ago where a pilot-in-training misread his directions and sped over the community and a lock down proceeded. A loud speaker came on and explained the situation and told that the pilot would be released. I feel that the term “release”, when used in this sense, is used to talk about how someone will be removed from the community by execution or being exiled. Jonas’s friend Asher, is late to school that day, and is scolded by the teacher. He apologizes to his class and takes his seat. People in the community are very picky with their words, which is referred to as “Precision of Language”, in which they do their best not to mislead or offend. At dinner, Jonas discusses with his parents how he’s nervous about the ceremony of twelve, where the elevens are given a job they stick with until retirement. From this chapter we can tell that the community is very strict and mindful of what’s going on within.
Chapters 2 and 3
- Gabe: Almost one, cared for by Jonas’s father who is a nurturer. May be released due to development issues.
- Jonas has shown that he is a serious person that can also have fun once in a while.
- Jonas’s father seems like a person who likes to have fun a majority of the time, but can also be serious when needed. This makes sense as he stated that he liked to play games with the babies but he also had a serious conversation with Jonas about the ceremony of twelve.
- Jonas’s mother isn’t an important character (yet?) but all we know about her is that she doesn’t think Lily should want to be a birth mother and is also very refined.
We learn at the beginning of chapter two that children are assigned to a family unit and named at the ceremony of ones, and the children come from women whose jobs are to give birth to the community’s children. His father goes on about his ceremony of twelve and how he was nervous as well. He then says the Elders observe and evaluate elevens to decide what job they will be given, most elevens are happy, because the Elders are so careful and selective. Lily is playing with the baby and says to her mother she’d like to be a birth giver. Her mother scolds her for it because there’s no honor in that job and after three births all you do is hard manual labor, Lily hears this and she agrees with her mother. Her father tells her if she wants to be around the babies, she’ll need to become a nurturer, and that she should volunteer at the nurturing center when she’s an eight. Jonas thought about an incident last month when he took home an apple from school, an announcement directed at him (although no name was included) was given on the loud speaker that food is to be eaten and not horded. He took it home because he said there was a “change” for a split second while he and Asher threw it back and forth to each other. I can predict that Jonas is clearly different from the others of the community.
Question: Why can’t people in the community have their own children?
Chapters 4 and 5
Fiona: A friend of Jonas and also an eleven. She is a quiet and polite girl who also has a sense of fun. She often volunteers with the elderly at a care center.
As volunteer hours are explained, we learn from Jonas that when you become an eight, you have four years to volunteer at different places where adults work (and be observed by the Elders, if you’re an eleven.). Jonas meets Fiona and Asher at the care center where they give the elderly sponge baths. An old woman named Larissa tells Jonas of the people’s releases that they celebrated earlier, from this we can assume “release” means death, because it was used in the context in which old people had died. Larissa states that she doesn’t know what the term “release” means and that only the committee does, but it must be wonderful because Roberto (an old man who was released that morning) looked excited about it. The next morning, we learn that families recount their dreams and analyze them to determine what they meant. During the dream recounting, Jonas speaks about how he dreamed about Fiona and himself in a room with a tub, where he wanted to bathe her. As his father leaves with Lily for school, his mother tells him to stay behind so they can talk. His mother tells him he’s getting “stirrings”(which I assume is the beginning of puberty) and he needs to begin taking pills for it. He leaves for school, and the chapter ends. In these two chapters we’ve learned a bit about releasing, which we can safely say means dying, and “stirrings” which I assume is the beginning of puberty, because his mother says you need to take pills for it for the rest of your life. Could these pills be to leave people impotent so they can’t procreate on their own? This would make sense being that there are birth mothers that are given the task of bearing children for the community.
Chapters 6, 7 and 8.
- These few chapters, especially 8, have shown massive change for what we can expect from Jonas. We learn about him becoming the Receiver of Knowledge, someone who is given the memories of the past, by the giver. I’m going to predict that Jonas is going to go through a very big struggle in his training.
- Fiona: Fiona was granted the title of Caregiver or the Elderly, which means she’s going to work in the nursing homes, helping the old people who live there. From this we learn that Fiona has a lot of patience and that she’s good at babysitting, for lack of a better word.
- Asher: Asher was told he would be the Assistant Director of Recreations which you can translate into “Event Planner”. He’s told by the Head Elder that because of his high energy and generally positive and playful attitude that this is the job he’s going to have for the rest of his life.
- The Head Elder is someone who we don’t hear anything about; only that she was elected by the people in the community and can be considered the Mayor of the community.
As Lily and Jonas get ready for the year end ceremony, Jonas talks about how there’s good things about each New Year, like how as an eight, Lily will be able to volunteer. Gabe is granted an additional year of nurturing and not released, due to Father’s request. Jonas and his family watch the ceremony and the ones are named, the nines get their bikes, they go to lunch and watch the rest of the ceremony, but nothing of interest happens. Jonas mentions that asides from a name, before children are named they have a number and a year, for example Jonas is (age) 11, (number) 19. As the twelves are called onto the stage, Jonas talks about how he’s glad the jobs he doesn’t like were taken and Asher was assigned Assistant Director of Recreation. Jonas was patiently waiting for his name to be called, only to be skipped, and the Head Elder went straight from 18 to 20. Jonas is called to the stage, and from what happens I can assume this will be the pinnacle of the story. The Head Elder tells him that he’s to become the next “Receiver of Knowledge”, someone who will be trained by the current Giver of Memories. She explains that he will endure pain like no one has ever experienced, and that he was selected years ago. He has the four qualities of a Receiver which are Wisdom, Courage, Knowledge and the capacity to see beyond. He looked into the crowd, and he saw them change for a split second, the way he saw the apple change a few days ago. The crowd started to chant his name, and when they were done, the Head Elder thanked him for his childhood, and sent him to his seat.
Chapters 8, 9, and 10.
I’m going to call the previous receiver of knowledge, The Giver, because I assume that’s his name, hence the title of the book.
- Jonas: Jonas has showed more of himself in these past few chapters, although they were short, with how Jonas said he felt, we now know he isn’t as calm and collected as previously thought. He’s actually very nervous and has a bit of anxiety about his new job.
- The Giver: Although no age has been defined, we know that he’s not as old as he looks. Assuming the average person goes to a nursing home at the age of 90, and he notes he only looks old because of the job, and Jonas noting he looked like he should be in the nursing home with Fiona, that he’s somewhere in his late 70’s to early 80’s.
After the ceremony, Jonas’s parents speak to him at dinner about his new role as Receiver. They tell him of a girl, the last receiver, whom was never seen again, and that her name was never to be spoken of, or given to a new child. Jonas opens his assignment folder which gives him a list of instructions on where to go, and rules for his assignment. A shortened version of the list includes but is not limited to: lying, being rude, asking any question and getting the answer, and not being allowed to apply for release. He finds these unnerving. Jonas went to the Annex, as instructed and met the previous Receiver of Knowledge, who explained to him that he wasn’t as old as he looked, and that the job had aged him. After some conversation, he had Jonas lie of the bed, face down.
Chapters 11, 12 and 13.
- Jonas has shown himself to be very caring for the Giver, and has quickly matured from his anxious self when he was first given his assignment.
- The Giver has told Jonas of many new things like color, sameness, why sameness was introduced and why the council needs him. Not much development from the Giver so far asides from that he’s often in pain.
While Jonas’s eyes are closed, the Giver “transmits” (?) the memory of snow to him. He experiences sitting at the top of a hill on a sled, and going downwards. We can assume now that the community has somehow gotten climate control and removed unnecessary weather like snow. After that, he gave Jonas the sensation of the sun, and then sunburn. He explains all of these things; hills, snow, and sunshine, it was all removed years ago when they came to sameness, he also confirms, that his name is the Giver. Jonas is riding his bike with Fiona the next day and when they say goodbye to each other, he notices a change in her hair. He asks the Giver who gives him a few tests, and decides that he’s starting to see the color red. Color was also taken away when the community reached sameness so I would guess that everyone sees in shades of grey. The Giver tells Jonas that he can see all the colors, and that one day Jonas will be able to as well. The genetic scientists also made all skin the same color, which I assume is Caucasian since it’s the man on the cover’s skin tone. Jonas starts to see other colors like orange and green, and asks the Giver why color was taken away, and why people can’t choose anything different. He comes to a conclusion on his own, that it would be dangerous to choose by themselves. He lies down in the bed the next day and the Giver shows him ivory hunters and cars. He tells Lily later that there used to be real elephants, like her stuffed one, but she doesn’t believe him, he tries to give her memories of elephants but it doesn’t work. Jonas asks the Giver if he has a wife, he says yes but she’s in a nursing home now because of her age. Jonas asks the Giver why the council needs him if they very seldom ask for his help. He tells Jonas it’s because of an incident with the last Receiver, who filed for release because the memories were too much for her. The Giver tells Jonas a few days later that the reason he’s always in so much pain is because of the memories, Jonas tells him to give him some to lighten the load on him so he agrees, and brings him back to the top of the hill, on the sled.
Chapters 14, 15, and 16.
- Gabe: Although Gabe has become more of an important character, Jonas bonds with him and gives him memories. I feel like there will soon be conflict with Gabe, as only Jonas can get him to sleep peacefully.
- Jonas: I’m not sure what I would describe Jonas as at this point, he wants to go back to being an eleven, with ignorance and no pain, but he also is eager to help the Giver.
- No real development has been made from the Giver.
The Giver shows Jonas what it’s like to have a broken leg, his first real experience of pain, when he falls off the sled, and is left helpless. After several more excruciating memories, the Giver tells Jonas that the reason they have to know things like Hunger and Starvation is because of times like when the committee petitioned to have a third child in family units, so he showed them starvation, which was followed by warfare. The Giver mentions the plane that flew over the community and how the council was prepared to shoot it down, because they were scared, so the Giver pulled past memories and told them not to. Later, Jonas’s father talks about how he hopes Gabriel isn’t released, and his mother says that she wouldn’t mind, as his crying at night bothers her. Jonas gets Gabe to sleep by giving him the memory of sailing in a boat, to calm him. The next day, Jonas enters the Annex and the Giver tells him he’s in pain and to take some of the pain away, the Giver shows him war, and a boy not much older than Jonas asks for water as he dies. Jonas could hear the whinnies of horses and people screaming. The Giver asks Jonas to forgive him, for making him see that but Jonas waves him off. The Giver then shows him Christmas, and the joy of the children and presents being given to each other. Jonas asks about what grandparents are, and the Giver tells him they’re the parents-of-parents, Jonas notes that he doesn’t know who his grandparents are, no one cares to remember, no one even knows of their parents’ releases. Jonas later asked his parents if they loved him, they chastised him for precision of language, and he lied when he told them he understood. That night he talked to Gabe, while he slept. For the fourth night in a row, Jonas has gotten Gabe to sleep easily by giving him happy memories and the Nurtures declared he would be named and given to a family in December, which is two months away. Jonas talks about how there could be love, family, and things he learned of from the Giver.
Chapters 17, 18, and 19, and 20.
- Jonas (13 now): I feel like Jonas is being burdened by the memories he’s receiving, and while I know he has to receive them, they’re hurting his relationship with his friends. It seems that he’s only happy with Gabriel now. He has matured greatly in the past four chapters and now shows that he’s willing to leave his home and the community so they can have the memories back.
- The Giver: Now we know that the Giver is nearing the end of his life, he tells us that he wants to be with his daughter after he helps the community with the memories. He means he wants to be released.
The speaker announced that today is an unscheduled holiday, Jonas left down a bicycle path to find Asher and Fiona. He hadn’t taken his pills for four weeks, as he decided he didn’t want or need to. He finds his friends playing in a field, they’re playing a war game and he asks them to stop, but because no one but him realizes what war really is, they don’t take him seriously, and leave. Later at home, Jonas’s father talks about how he has a busy day at work tomorrow. When twins are born, they can only keep one twin, so the healthier one is kept and the other is released. Jonas asked the Giver if he ever thought about release in general, he says he thinks about his own release, but he’s not allowed to request it until Jonas is trained. He asks about the failed receiver and the Giver says she was quite like Jonas and that her name was Rosemary, but it was never to be spoken of outside the room. He explained that he didn’t want to give her physical pain, and pushed it off until a later time, and instead gave her emotional pain, which sent her into depression, and she was no longer a happy person. She then filed for release, which is why it’s against Jonas’s rules. The Giver explains that the community got the memories back when Rosemary died, and that because they were mostly good ones, it wasn’t as bad. If Jonas’s were to die, it would be chaos in the community. Jonas asks to watch a taping of the smaller twin’s release that morning. They put in the video and watch, as Jonas’s father takes the twin into the room, cleans it up, makes it comfortable, and then euthanizes it. He placed the corpse into a box, sealed the lid, and then put it down the trash chute. The Giver recollects about when Rosemary was released, she asked to inject herself. Jonas asks to stay the night, because he’s enraged with his father, and the Giver agrees, and calls his family unit to tell them. Jonas and the Giver, after talking, decide they want to make a plot to return the memories to the community. The Giver tells him that if Jonas leaves the community, the memories will come back, but he can never return. He also can’t go with him, because if they take away all their protection, the community will go into chaos, and destroy itself. For the next two weeks, the Giver gave Jonas every memory of courage, and strength he had. Jonas plans to leave at midnight, the night before the ceremonies. His family would think he was with Asher, and Asher would think he was with his family, so no one would notice he was gone until it was too late. The Giver will help the people with the memories and Jonas will never come back. Jonas pleads one last time for him to go with him, but he says once he’s done helping the people, he wants to be with his daughter, Rosemary.
Chapters 21, 22, and 23.
- Jonas has proven that he’s the most selfless person in the book by carrying on only to keep Gabe alive, to reach “Elsewhere.”
Jonas leaves at 12, and takes Gabe with him, as his father told that he would be released the next morning. They often slept during the day, as planes would be out looking for them in the light. They stopped for food when they needed, and when they wanted to rest or Gabe needed to walk around. Gabe would often say “Plane!” when he heard a plane so Jonas knew to take cover under foliage. The sameness started to disappear the farther out they got, which makes sense considering they were past any civilization. The terrain started to get rougher, and forests were around them. When Gabe yelled “Plane!” again, Jonas looked into the sky and realized that it was birds that he was pointing out. As they started to run out of food, it started to become harder to find as well. Jonas used the memories he had of food banquets, to try and settle their hunger, but when the memories ended the pain of their empty stomachs came back. Gabe had only just started to cry, from being cold, weak, and hungry. It rained often and there was little warmth for either of them. Jonas devoted his life from that point to Gabriel. There was no indication of any place being near; all he could see were long, winding roads. But he could sense somewhere; I would think it’s his “Ability to See Beyond”. It started to snow, the rain turned to cold swirls. He told Gabe that it was called snowflakes, but Gabe was weak and no longer the happy toddler he used to be. Jonas rode the bike as far as he could up a hill, until he had to get off and walk with Gabe, the snow was too much. He warmed them with what scraps of memories of warmth he had left but it didn’t do much. When they reached the top of the incline, he started to feel happiness, he saw the sled that the Giver had shown him and they rode it to the bottom of the hill. As they reached the bottom of the hill, Jonas saw a new community, filled with the good memories Jonas got from the giver. He thought he heard noise from behind him but it was probably just an echo.
After the Book
Although I feel like it’s only something to preface the rest of the series, I really enjoyed this book for a few reasons:
- The author made sure each emotion and memory was described to the fullest.
- You could connect with Jonas on an emotional level.
- The author described things in little detail, to intrigue you, and then make you keep reading, only to go into great detail about the thing you thought would have been a minor detail.