Personality 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, the protagonist, Jonas, lives in a community that has made the decision to suppress differences and promote Sameness. In this lesson, we will look at how this decision affects the personalities of the citizens in the community.


Imagine if everyone in the world thought and acted the same way you did. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a community of identical personalities? Jonas, the protagonist, lives in a community that values stability through Sameness. Personalities are suppressed for the common good. Personality includes the beliefs, emotions, and thoughts that define an individual's character traits. Let's take a closer look at personality in The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Being Different

Children in Jonas' community are chastised from a very early age for 'insensitive chatter' any time differences are pointed out. When Jonas has his first Stirring, which is a sexual urge that occurs during adolescence, he begins taking pills to suppress them. He knows that his friend Asher is already taking the pills because he overheard Asher's mother calling him to take them, but Jonas knows not to ask Asher about his Stirrings.

'It was the sort of thing one didn't ask a friend about because it might have fallen into that uncomfortable category of 'being different'.'

Jonas already faces 'being different' because he has lighter eyes than others in the community, but people do not mention it. Anything that sets one person apart from the rest of the community is embarrassing; therefore it is considered rude to discuss it.

Job Assignments

For most of their lives, the citizens of the community are taught to suppress their individualism; however, the Ceremony of Twelve is a time when personality is celebrated. During the Ceremony of Twelve, each person in their twelfth year of life is given a job assignment for which they begin training. The Committee of Elders makes the decisions based on characteristics each child displays as an eleven during their volunteer hours.

As the Chief Elder prepares to announce the assignments, '…she began to describe this year's group and its variety of personalities, though she singled no one out by name. She mentioned that there was one who had singular skills at caretaking, another who loved newchildren, one with unusual scientific aptitude, and a fourth for whom physical labor was an obvious pleasure.'

As Jonas hears the job assignments of each of his friends, he understands how each of their personalities play a role in determining their futures.

Express Yourself

Jonas does not feel like his community's attitude toward differences is oppressive until he begins receiving memories of the past. Jonas learns that at one time different ethnicities and personalities existed.

The elder who gives Jonas the memories explains, 'We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences.'

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