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Jonas in The Giver: Character Analysis & Traits

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  • 0:00 Jonas Tries to Do the…
  • 0:28 Jonas Becomes the…
  • 1:49 Jonas Wants to…
  • 2:34 Jonas Is Overcome with…
  • 3:22 Jonas Leaves With Gabriel
  • 4:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Jonas is the protagonist of the Lois Lowry novel 'The Giver.' When he receives his adult assignment, he realizes his community has deprived itself of feelings, color, even love. He decides to force them to remember.

Jonas Tries to Do the Right Things

Have you ever wondered where you fit in? That is not a problem in Jonas's dystopian society where everyone is the same. Jonas is just an ordinary eleven-year-old kid; smart, inquisitive, and honest, so why is he being singled out by Chief Elder at the Ceremony of Twelve? We are about to learn what's special about Jonas in The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Jonas Becomes the Receiver of Memory

Jonas seems like a regular kid. Why is he plucked out of the crowd for a special honor? Except for his light eyes, Jonas is like all of the other Elevens in the community. There was a time recently when he noticed something strange happening to an apple, but Jonas kept that to himself.

He's careful to complete all of his required volunteer hours before the Ceremony of Twelve when he will be given his adult job assignment and become a citizen-in-training, so he is shocked when the Chief Elder skips over him during the ceremony. What did he do wrong? Jonas had to have done something terrible to deserve this embarrassment.

At the end of the ceremony, the Chief Elder comes back to Jonas and says, 'Jonas has been selected to be our next Receiver of Memory,' the Chief Elder said. 'Then he heard the gasp -- the sudden intake of breath, drawn sharply in astonishment, by each of the seated citizens. He saw their faces; the eyes widened in awe.'

Jonas realizes in this moment that he's different from others. No one has been assigned to this role in ten years, but the committee feels that Jonas's qualities of intelligence, integrity, courage, the ability to become wise through training, and the Capacity to See Beyond make him a good choice for the most revered, though somewhat dreaded, role in the community.

Jonas Wants to Experience Everything

Jonas is inquisitive and open. Once he begins to take in the life experiences that he's been sheltered from, he begins to crave more. He wants to share them with others, but they wouldn't understand.

Jonas tells the Giver, 'I liked the feeling of love. . .I wish we still had that.' But Jonas is nervous and confused by this feeling, he quickly qualifies by saying: '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.'

As Jonas's knowledge grows, his dissatisfaction with sameness does too. His attempt to see both sides demonstrates that he is fair, but the reality of what the community is missing begins to gnaw on him.

Jonas Is Overcome with Emotions

No longer satisfied with the flat, gray world of sameness, Jonas makes a decision to stop taking the pills he has been given to suppress his stirrings, or sexual feelings. 'The next morning, for the first time, Jonas did not take his pill. Something within him, something that had grown there through the memories, told him to throw the pill away.'

Jonas finds himself separating more and more from his peers: 'He found that he was often angry, now: irrationally angry at his groupmates, that they were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.' Jonas wants as much for his friends and family as he now has. Jonas begins to look for a way to selflessly share his new outlook on life.

Jonas Leaves With Gabriel

Realizing the need for change in the community, the Giver and Jonas made a plan. Both believed that the community would be better off in the long run if they learned to deal with differences, but as long as the Receiver of Memory is holding all of the memories for them, nothing will change. Jonas will leave, forcing the memories to return to the people all at once, and the Giver will help the people deal with the difficult emotions they will all experience.

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