The Giver Chapter 12 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 to be the new Receiver of Memory is changing the way he sees things. In chapter 12, we see how training is beginning to affect him and learn more about what it means to see beyond.

''You Slept Soundly, Jonas?''

Do you remember your dreams? Or are you a sound sleeper? Jonas is a sound sleeper, and we know from previous chapters that he rarely dreams. This morning, however, is somewhat different. When his mother asks him whether he slept soundly, and had no dreams, Jonas ''smiled and nodded, not ready to lie, not willing to tell the truth.'' Unlike Gabriel, the newchild who is still spending nights with his family, Jonas did sleep soundly the night before. In fact, Jonas slept so soundly he did not hear Gabe fussing during the night.

Jonas did not tell his mother the entire truth, however, because he did dream last night. In his dreams, he relived the memory of sledding down the hill over and over. He felt that ''it seemed as if there were a destination: a something'' just past the place where the sled stopped. He had ''the feeling that it was good. That it was welcoming. That it was significant. But he did not know how to get there.'' He tries to shrug the dream off and get ready for another day at school.

The feeling in school is different today. Like Jonas, all his classmates have begun their training. While they are anxious to share their experiences, though, Jonas is not allowed to tell anyone anything about his training. Even if he were allowed to talk about it, he does not think he could accurately describe what he has learned. After all, ''how could you describe a sled without describing a hill and snow; and how could you describe a hill and snow to someone who had never felt height or wind or that feathery, magical cold?''

Even his friend Fiona seems to expect him to tell her about his experience as they ride to their separate training together after school. Instead, Jonas asks her to talk about her own work in the House of the Old. He does agree with her - they think they will enjoy training more than school. She pauses before saying goodbye and heading inside, but Jonas does not say anything more.

After she is gone, Jonas stays outside, surprised because ''it had happened again: the thing that he thought of now as 'seeing beyond.''' This is not the first time something's appearance has seemed to change while Jonas was looking - first, it happened with an apple, and then with the audience's faces in the Auditorium. This time, it was Fiona. More specifically, it was her hair. Jonas decides he will ask The Giver.

Seeing Red

The Giver is excited to see Jonas, and is eager to begin even though he says Jonas was a minute late. Before they can start, though, Jonas wants to talk about why he was late: what happened to Fiona's hair? Is this ''seeing beyond?''

Think back to a time when you were trying to describe something but did not have the right words. That is how Jonas feels while trying to explain what happened. Jonas tries his best - starting with the apple, then the people's faces, and finally with Fiona's hair - but it is ''frustrated by his inability to grasp and describe exactly what had occurred.''

Instead of answering Jonas's question, The Giver asks one of his own: did Jonas look around during the memory of the sled the day before? Jonas can only remember feeling the sled, but not actually seeing it. The Giver thinks he knows what is happening to Jonas. And he has a way to test his guess. Jonas must call back the memory of sledding and look at the sled this time. Since he gave the memory to Jonas, he cannot access it anymore.

At first, Jonas does not understand. How can he call back the memory? The Giver explains it is similar to remembering last year - ''everyone in the community has one-generation memories like those. But now you will be able to go back farther.'' When Jonas tries, he is excited to find himself back in the sledding memory. He looks down at the sled, only to see ''that same mysterious quality that the apple had had so briefly. And Fiona's hair. The sled did not change. It simply was - whatever the thing was.''

Back in the room, The Giver asks Jonas to try one more thing and look at a row of books - it happens again! With this verification, The Giver confirms that Jonas is starting to see the color red.

Jonas Begins to See Red
Red crayon

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