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The Giver Chapter 11 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's training as the new Receiver of Memory has begun, and the current Receiver has decided where to start. In this summary, we will join Jonas in chapter eleven of Lois Lowry's 'The Giver,' as he receives his first memories.

Opening Information

In the previous chapter, Jonas began training for his new role as Receiver of Memory. Apart from knowing this position is respected and honored in his community, Jonas knew almost nothing about the job. Now, however, he has learned training will involve the current Receiver transmitting all memories to Jonas - memories of all time and places, even beyond the community in which Jonas lives.

Let's Go Sledding

Do you remember the first time you experienced snow? Many of us may have fond memories of building snowmen or getting a free day off from school due to a snowstorm. Jonas, though, has no knowledge of or experience with snow. As chapter eleven of Lois Lowry's The Giver opens, Jonas is waiting patiently to receive the memory of snow.

At first, nothing feels different, and Jonas is almost worried he will fall asleep waiting. Soon, though, he realizes he feels cold - very cold. This change in temperature is surprising, but instead of being afraid, Jonas feels energized. He no longer feels the man's hands on his back, but instead feels the ''cold air swirling around his entire body.'' As so many of us have done during cold weather, Jonas sticks out his tongue, only to find ''tiny, cold, featherlike feelings peppered his body and face.''

Similar to what we might describe as an out-of-body experience, Jonas is somehow aware that he is actually ''still lying there, on the bed, in the Annex room.'' Another part of him, however, feels himself now sitting on a hard object in the middle of the cold, white material with a wet rope in his hands. Somehow, he understands he is sitting on a sled in the snow at the top of a hill, all things he did not know about before now.

In the middle of these realizations, ''the sled, with Jonas himself upon it, began to move through the snowfall, and he understood instantly that now he was going downhill. No voice made an explanation. The experience explained itself to him.'' Unlike our own memories, which we have because we experienced the original event, Jonas is experiencing snow for the first time through the memory itself.

On A Sled Going Downhill in the Snow
Sled

So Many Questions

Try to remember the first time you experienced something you loved. Did you feel excited? Were you excited to try again, and maybe try it in a different way? That is how Jonas feels after he opens his eyes to find himself still on the bed, with the old man watching him. Though tired, the man thinks he feels lighter - now that he has given the memory to Jonas, he no longer has it.

Like a grandparent, the old man is amused by Jonas' excitement, and says they can probably try another sledding memory another time. He asks Jonas to lie down again so they can continue training. Jonas complies, ''eager for whatever experience would come next. But he had, suddenly, so many questions.'' He makes use of his new permission to ask questions - after all, wouldn't you want to know why you had never experienced such fun things as snow and sleds before?

The man informs him that this particular memory is very old, from long before even the previous Receiver's time. Snow, hills - none of these things were convenient for climate control, which made the climate optimal for farming purposes, and so they ''became obsolete when we went to Sameness.'' Though the man agrees with Jonas' wish that they still had them, he reminds Jonas they have no power to change it. While they have honor, it's not the same as power.

The Next Memories

There is no time to waste, and so the man instructs Jonas to lie back down for another memory. This time, however, he will not tell him what the memory is beforehand so they can test the process. Excited for the next experience, Jonas lies down and closes his eyes.

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