The Giver Chapter 2 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 is anxiously awaiting December, and the Ceremony of Twelve. In this lesson, we will learn more about the yearly ceremonies and Jonas's community through a summary of chapter two and some notable quotations in Lois Lowry's 'The Giver'.

Previously in 'The Giver'

In the previous chapter, we met Jonas, an Eleven who lives in a highly structured community. Each citizen of this community has a special role and must follow strict rules or risk getting released. Jonas is feeling apprehensive as he awaits his upcoming Ceremony of Twelve in December, where he will receive his lifelong role.

December Ceremonies

At the beginning of chapter two, Jonas's parents prepare to have a private conversation with their son. After pouring a cup of coffee, Jonas's father opens by commenting on how exciting Decembers had been for him when he was young, since 'Every December brings such changes.' This comment indicates Jonas has been through a ceremony before, and that there is a different ceremony for each age group every year.


Although Jonas can only remember the Decembers since he became a Four, he remembers watching the ceremonies every year. He also remembers his sister Lily's early ceremonies, especially 'when his family received Lily, the day she was named, the day that she had become a One.' Rather than celebrating birthdays individually, every child born in a year turns One in December regardless of which month they were actually born.

During the Ceremony of the Ones, babies -- called newchildren -- are given their names and assigned to a family unit. Jonas's father is a Nurturer, one of the citizens whose job is caring for the newchildren until they are given to a family. When Jonas and his mother reminisce about Lily's Naming, Father reveals he could have found out Lily's name before the ceremony, since the committee keeps the list in the office of the Nurturing Center.

Although Father did not sneak a peek then, he admits to having looked at this year's list in order to find out the name of number Thirty-six, the infant he has been working with. Jonas is surprised to learn his father broke even a relatively unimportant rule. If the child is not released before the Naming, he will be named Gabriel -- although Father reveals he has nicknamed the child Gabe. Jonas decides Gabe is a good name.

The Rules

As they talk, Jonas's father recalls when he was waiting for his own Ceremony of Twelve, he did not pay much attention to the other ceremonies taking place over the two-day time period. He does remember watching his younger sister become a Nine and receive her first bicycle. Although it was technically against the rules, he had been teaching his sister, Katya, to ride on his own bicycle. Jonas chuckles, since they all know this is 'one of the few rules that was not taken very seriously and was almost always broken.'

Jonas's community is highly structured, and follows a rather strict set of rules. Breaking the rules means risking the worst possible punishment: release. It seems here, however, that the rules vary in importance, and there are some instances where rule-breaking can be overlooked.

Image of a bicycle

Because the rule about learning to ride a bicycle is rarely followed, a 'committee was studying the idea' of lowering the age when a child receives their bike. However, the rules are almost impossible to change. Especially the really important rules, which must not only go through the committee, but may also end up going to The Receiver, the 'most important Elder.'

Jonas has never seen The Receiver because 'someone in a position of such importance lived and worked alone.' In a community that seems to avoid individuality, there is something special about the Receiver's job that isolates him. By specifically mentioning him, this quote also foreshadows the important role The Receiver will play in the rest of the novel.

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