Larissa In The Giver: Character Analysis & Traits

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

Larissa has only a small part in ''The Giver'' by Lois Lowry, but she offers a great deal of insight about how people in the community feel about release.

House of Old

In The Giver by Lois Lowry, Jonas meets Larissa, who lives in the House of Old, when he is assigned to give her a bath as part of his volunteer hours. If Elevens do not complete all of their required volunteer work in time, they are not allowed to participate in the Ceremony of Twelve, which is where they are given their adult work assignment in a public celebration. Larissa only appears in chapter four, but the information she provides about release (leaving the community to go Elsewhere) offers insight about the community. In this lesson, we will learn more about Larissa.

Jonas meets Larissa when he is assigned to bathe her.

Larissa's Bath

As Jonas is gently washing Larissa's body, he reflects on the community rules about being naked. Children and adults are not allowed to look at each other naked, but newchildren (babies) and the Old do not fall under the same rules. Jonas 'couldn't see why it was necessary. He liked the feeling of safety here in this warm and quiet room; he liked the expression of trust on the woman's face as she lay in the water unprotected, exposed, and free.' Larissa is obviously confident and trusting of the system that is in place. She feels no embarrassment as she is bathed by a boy in the same room as men her age being bathed by girls.

Roberto's Release Ceremony

While he is bathing her, Larissa tells Jonas about the release of Roberto that morning. 'It was wonderful,' she said. Before the Old are released, the elders tell the person's life story. They always try to make it sound interesting, but some lives seem more meaningful than others. After the story, everyone toasts the one to be released and sings the anthem. The person being released gives a speech, which is followed by speeches in that person's honor. Then, he bows and walks into a special Releasing Room.

Jonas asks where the released person goes. 'She lifted her bare wet shoulders in a small shrug. 'I don't know. I don't think anybody does, except the committee. He just bowed to all of us and then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room. But you should have seen his look. Pure happiness, I'd call it.'' Although she is not really sure what it entails, Larissa believes that being released is a wonderful honor and looks forward to her celebration of release.

Edna's Release Ceremony

By comparison, Edna's release ceremony was dreadful, according to Larissa. She explains, 'all lives are meaningful, I don't mean that they aren't. But Edna. My goodness. She was a Birthmother, and then she worked in Food Production for years, until she came here. She never even had a family unit.' Clearly, Birthmother is not a highly respected position in the community. 'Then she confided, 'I don't think Edna was very smart.'' Larissa agrees with Jonas that children should be allowed to come to celebrate release. Larissa tells it like it is. She does not approve of the life Edna led, therefore Larissa feels Edna's release ceremony was drudgery.

That night, Jonas's Stirrings, or sexual feelings, begin as he dreams about bathing his friend, Fiona.

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