The Giver Chapter 16 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 has been receiving a lot of painful memories in his training as Receiver of Memory. In this chapter, though, Jonas begins to learn a bit more about family, and about love. This lesson will summarize chapter 16 of Lois Lowry's The Giver.

There Are Good Memories, Too

In the previous chapter, Jonas received a gruesome and painful memory of warfare. Like anyone who has been through a painful experience, at the beginning of chapter 16 in Lois Lowry's The Giver, Jonas does not want to go through that kind of pain again. He feels he ''didn't want the memories, didn't want the honor, didn't want the wisdom, didn't want the pain.'' But he also knows ''the choice was not his,'' and goes back to training every day.

After sharing the memory of warfare, The Giver has tried to take it a little easy on Jonas. He reminds him that there are good memories, too, including birthday parties, museums and paintings, and even horseback riding. As all of us must learn, too, there is good mixed in with the bad.

One day, Jonas asks The Giver to tell him about his favorite memory. Though Jonas tells The Giver he does not need to receive it yet - he just wants something to look forward to - The Giver happily tells Jonas he will share it with him.

Jonas slides right into the memory. Outside it is a snowy night, but inside is filled with people and warmth from a fireplace. He notices ''there were colored lights: red and green and yellow, twinkling from a tree which was, oddly, inside the room,'' or what readers might recognize as a Christmas tree.

That room is filled with smells of food cooking and the sound of laughter. Jonas watches as children begin to pick up the ''packages wrapped in brightly colored paper and tied with gleaming ribbons'' and pass them out to ''other children, to adults who were obviously parents, and to an older, quiet couple, man and woman, who sat smiling together on a couch.''

Jonas sees a tree with lights inside the room.
Christmas tree

Learning About Love

When Jonas wakes, he lays on the bed ''still luxuriating in the warm and comforting memory.'' The Giver asks what he perceived in the memory, and Jonas responds he felt warmth and happiness.

We know that families come in all shapes and sizes - sometimes the people we consider family are not biologically related to us at all. Regardless of our own families, most of us are familiar with the typical family structure: children, parents, and grandparents. In Jonas's life, though, ''the Old of the community did not ever leave their special place, the House of the Old,'' and so he asks who the older couple in the memory were. The Giver then explains this couple were called grandparents, the parents of the children's parents.

Jonas has never considered before that his own parents must have had parents, and he wonders who they are. If he really wants to know, he could go to the Hall of Open Records and find their names. But in Jonas's community, when children grow up and leave their family dwelling, their parents go to live with the Childless Adults. After that, they enter the House of the Old, where ''they'll be well cared for, and respected, and when they're released, there will be a celebration.''

Once Jonas's parents reach their releases, Jonas and Lily will be too busy with their own lives to attend. If either of them have children, those children will not know their ''parents-of-parents,'' just like Jonas does not know his grandparents. Although Jonas thinks their system works well, he did enjoy the memory and understands why it was The Giver's favorite. He is still a bit confused, though, and cannot accurately describe the feeling from the room. The Giver explains it was love, an emotional feeling new to Jonas.

''I Liked The Feeling of Love''

Jonas cannot help feeling that the way things were in the memory was nicer than their own lives. The Giver agrees - somehow, in the memory, things seemed ''a little more complete.''

That evening, Jonas feels embarrassed, but makes himself ask his parents whether they love him. After an awkward pause, his parents ask him to be more precise in his language. Upon hearing his confusion, his mother explains that he ''used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete.'' Instead, Jonas could ask if they ''enjoy'' him, or if they are proud of his accomplishments.

When mother asks if he now understands why the word ''love'' is inappropriate to use, Jonas responds that he does - ''his first lie to his parents.''

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