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The Giver Chapter 10 Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

Jonas does not know what to expect on his first day of training as the new Receiver of Memory. In this lesson, we will look at chapter ten in Lois Lowry's The Giver, as Jonas begins his first day in his new role.

First Day Jitters

Everyone gets nervous their first day on the job. But how much more nervous would you be if you knew nothing about the job description apart from your title? As chapter ten in Lois Lowry's The Giver begins, Jonas is in just that situation. Today is his first day training as his community's new Receiver of Memory, but he still has no idea what that means.

Jonas' friend, Fiona, is also nervous to begin her first day training in the House of the Old, even though she has spent countless volunteer hours there. However, Jonas reminds her things are different now that they are officially Twelves. As adults, Jonas and Fiona now begin training for their new roles in the community. Both of them will be working in the House of the Old, a building they have spent plenty of time in. Now, however, Fiona says goodbye to Jonas at the front door, while he heads around towards 'the Annex, a small wing attached to the back' of the building.

The Annex seems like any other building, except for one feature: the doors lock. Like many office buildings, Jonas presses a buzzer next to the door and tells a speaker who he is before the door is unlocked for him. Once inside, the Attendant working the front desk must push another button to unlock the door to the Receiver's room. While this process might seem normal to us readers, Jonas is uncomfortable because 'no doors in the community were locked, ever. None that Jonas knew of, anyway.' The Attendant reassures him that the locks are only to allow the Receiver privacy so he can concentrate.

'Welcome, Receiver of Memory'

The room behind the lock is much like any other home Jonas has experienced, which are also similar to our own homes. The room contains a bed, table, and desk. While there are some differences in styles, and the Receiver's furniture is somewhat better quality, the biggest difference in this room is the books.

Jonas knows what a book is, of course. But his community is not like ours. There is no library with free access to many books. Standing in this room, Jonas is overwhelmed. Every wall is filled with bookshelves. Jonas cannot 'imagine what the thousands of pages contained.' In his own home, 'there were the necessary reference volumes that each household contained: a dictionary and the thick community volume, which contained descriptions of every office, factory, building, and committee. And the Book of Rules, of course.' Before today, Jonas thought those books were the only kind that existed.

Bookshelves Fill the Room
Bookshelves

Jonas has only seen the current Receiver once before, but he recognizes the man sitting in the corner of the room. Perhaps most striking is that he has the same unusual pale eyes that Jonas himself has. The current Receiver seems very old, though he tells Jonas, he is not as old as he appears. He explains that, though he has years left, he does need what energy he has left to train Jonas. His job now is to pass on all the memories he has inside to Jonas.

Understandably, Jonas is a bit confused, and thinks the current Receiver means he will tell him stories about his childhood. He imagines a scenario similar to a grandparent, or other older family relative, in our own world. In fact, Jonas already has experience listening to these kinds of stories from his volunteer hours in the House of the Old. However, this is not what the current Receiver means. These memories are not his own, but are instead from all time, 'before you, before me, before the previous Receiver, and generations before him.'

Try to remember learning for the first time that such things as memories exist, or that there were cities beyond your hometown. Jonas is learning both of these facts for the first time and has trouble wrapping his mind around the idea. Confused, Jonas does not 'know what you mean when you say 'the whole world' or 'generations before him.' I thought there was only us. I thought there was only now.' While Jonas is aware that other communities exist, everything outside of his community is simply called Elsewhere.

The Elder explains there is 'all that goes beyond - all that is Elsewhere - and all that goes back, and back, and back.' These memories were given to him when he was first selected, and 'here in this room, all alone, I re-experience them again and again. It is how wisdom comes. And how we shape our future.' Now, he will give them to Jonas.

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