The Giver Chapter 20 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 horrified after learning what is truly involved in a release. After watching a video in which his father releases a newborn identical twin, Jonas and The Giver develop a plan. This lesson will summarize Chapter 20 of Lois Lowry's The Giver.

I Won't Go Back!

Even after all the pain Jonas has gone through during his training as the new Receiver of Memory, watching his father release, or kill, a newborn infant is devastating. All of his life, Jonas has believed release means a lovely ceremony, at least in the case of a newchild or an older person. After the ceremony, the released person goes to Elsewhere, a place other than their community, where the released person will be cared for. At least, that is what Jonas believed until watching a video that showed him a release actually involves injecting the person with a mixture that causes death.

Jonas is reeling from the experience of learning the truth about releases. Sobbing, he insists he will not go home. The Giver agrees he should spend the night there and uses the wall speaker to ask the attendant to notify Jonas's parents. As upset as Jonas is about his father killing an infant and lying, The Giver reminds him that people in the community do not know what they do is wrong. He reminds Jonas that the people in the community ''know nothing,'' explaining that it is ''the way they live. It's the life that was created for them.'' People like Jonas's father lie because they are told to do so, and they do not know to question that routine.

Developing the Plan

Although The Giver has believed for a long time that things should change, he never thought they could. But now, he thinks maybe they can. Together, The Giver and Jonas make a plan. After talking for quite a while, they believe their plan is possible. It will be very difficult, and it may not succeed. If Jonas is caught, he will probably be killed, but ''if he stayed, his life was no longer worth living.''

Though he is willing to risk it, Jonas wants The Giver to come with him. The Giver insists he must stay. If Jonas succeeds, ''it will mean that the community has to bear the burden themselves'' of the memories he has been receiving. Ten years ago, the previously selected Receiver, Rosemary, could not bear the memories and had applied for release, even choosing to inject herself with the fatal mixture. Back then, the community only received a small amount of memories and they panicked. This time, they will have to deal with many more. Since there is nobody in the community ready and old enough to be selected as the next Receiver, ''they will be forced to bear those memories.''


Even if The Giver does not want to stay and help the community, he is too weak now to make the escape. He can no longer even see color. Hearing this reminds Jonas of when he first began to see colors, and when ''you told me that the beginning had been different for you. But that I wouldn't understand.'' Remembering this conversation, The Giver admits he has been a bit selfish in keeping ''it for myself to the last.'' He explains that the beginning was different for him: Instead of seeing-beyond, like Jonas, for The Giver it was hearing-beyond. The Giver's abilities began when he ''began to hear something truly remarkable, and it is called music.'' Though he wants to give Jonas some now, Jonas wants The Giver to keep it all for when he is gone.

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