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Memories in The Giver

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

In 'The Giver' by Lois Lowry, Jonas has been selected to be the Receiver of Memory for the community. It is a great honor, but what does it mean? In this lesson, we will learn more about the role memories play in the community.

Receiver of Memory

The community is surprised when Jonas is selected to be the next Receiver of Memory because this Assignment is so infrequent. Only one person at a time is the Receiver of Memory and the one that is currently in the community has been in place for a long time. Because the position is one of isolation, Jonas does not understand what it entails. In this lesson, we will learn more about memories in The Giver by Lois Lowry.

History of the World

When Jonas arrives for his first day of training with the Giver, he is confused about what being the Receiver of Memory means. I am really interested, I don't mean that I'm not. But I don't exactly understand why it's so important. I could do some adult job in the community, and in my recreation time I could come and listen to the stories from your childhood. He does not yet have the context to understand that the memories are not those of the Giver, but of the history of the entire world. When the Giver places his hands on Jonas' back and shows him snow, Jonas is astonished that such a thing existed in the past.

The first memory Jonas receives is sledding in the snow.
sled

The Burden of Holding the Past

Once a memory is transferred from the Giver to Jonas, the Giver no longer retained that memory. After carrying all of the memories in isolation for so long, the Giver is relieved to be able to give some up. The Giver said, It was exhausting. But you know, even transmitting that tiny memory to you -- I think it lightened me just a little. While Jonas enjoyed the memories of snow, sleds, hills, sun, color, love, and animals that no longer exist in his community, he also had to endure pain, such as sunburn, broken bones, hunger, abandonment, and war.

The community understands that having access to memories is important in making some decisions. For example, the Giver is able to tell them about hunger when the committee considers increasing the population. Only when they are faced with something that they have not experienced before. Then they call upon me to use the memories and advise them. But the Receiver also shields the community from painful memories. The Giver smiled grimly. When the new Receiver failed, the memories that she had received were released. They didn't come back to me. They went ... the people had access to them. Apparently that's the way it was, once. Everyone had access to memories. 'It was chaos,' he said. 'They really suffered for a while.'

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