The Giver Chapter 3 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 lives in a community that discourages individuality, but in this chapter we begin to see that Jonas himself is a bit different from the rest. This lesson will summarize chapter 3 of Lois Lowry's 'The Giver,' and take a look at some important quotations.

Opening Information

Every citizen in Jonas's community has a prescribed role, decided upon and assigned by a group of Elders. Breaking the rules means risking the worst punishment imaginable: release. Jonas is awaiting the Ceremony of Twelve, during which he will find out his Assignment, or job.

Jonas's father, a Nurturer, is in charge of taking care of newchildren until they are assigned a home. One of this year's newchildren is not developing as quickly as the others, and Father has received special permission to bring him home at night. Jonas was surprised in the previous chapter to learn that his father broke the rules and learned the newchild's name, if he makes it to the Naming, will be Gabriel. Father has nicknamed the child Gabe.

Pale Eyes Like Jonas

Jonas's father has received permission to bring Gabriel home in the evenings. He hopes the extra attention will help in the infant's development. Lily, Jonas's younger sister, is excited to have the baby visit. Immediately, she comments on how cute Gabriel is, and points out 'he has funny eyes like yours, Jonas!'

Lily does not intend to be mean, but Jonas is hurt when she mentions his eyes. When Jonas comes over to look at the baby, the first thing he notices is the baby has 'pale eyes' like him. Almost everyone in the community has dark eyes, except Jonas and a female Five. However, 'No one mentioned such things; it was not a rule, but was considered rude to call attention to things that were unsettling or different about individuals.' Because this community does not encourage individuality, it is inconsiderate to draw attention to anything that makes someone seem different from the others.

In Jonas's surprise over the infant's eyes, he thinks about how light eyes are rare and how different a light-eyed person looks from the rest of the population. He thinks about what word might describe that difference. Finally, he decides people with light eyes have a look of 'depth.' He explains that the look is 'as if one were looking into the clear water of the river, down to the bottom, where things might lurk which hadn't been discovered yet.' This description not only emphasizes that light-eyed people look different, but also that they may act differently.

The Beginning of an Infant's Life

Thinking about his own difference makes Jonas feel self-conscious. He goes to his desk, acting as though he does not care about what is going on with Gabriel. From his desk, however, he can overhear Lily and his parents as they play with the baby. Every newchild is given a comfort object which is usually a soft, stuffed creature. When Lily asks what Gabriel's comfort object is named, Father tells her it is called a 'hippo,' and 'Lily giggles at the strange word.' This emphasizes how different Jonas's community is from our own. While children in the novel have stuffed animals, much like children do in real life, Jonas and his friends do not know what animals are.

Comfort Object

Admiring Gabriel's cuteness, Lily expresses the hope that she may end up becoming a Birthmother. Her mother quickly snaps that she should not wish for an Assignment with such little honor. Although Lily thinks she would enjoy being fed delicious food and being required to do little else but play games while waiting for the baby to be born, Birthmothers only work for three years, or three births. After those years, they are reassigned to jobs that require physical labor. Father points out 'Birthmothers never even get to see newchildren. If you enjoy the little ones so much, you should hope for an Assignment as a Nurturer.' This conversation shows another way Jonas's community is different from the reader's. Children are not born into a family in The Giver. Instead, they are assigned to adoptive parents.

Singled Out Without Being Singled Out

When Lily realizes that Gabriel has fallen asleep, Lily says she should try to be quiet. With Lily's aptitude for chattering, though, Jonas thinks she should hope for an Assignment as Speaker, one of the people who make the announcements broadcast throughout the community. These announcements are often reminders of the rules, such as reminding 'females under nine that hair ribbons are to be neatly tied at all times.' Lily's own ribbons are often untied, and Jonas knows there will be such an announcement made soon.

These announcements never specifically name the individual they are meant for, but citizens in the community always know who the reminder is directed toward. Jonas remembers the day a month ago when an announcement was meant for him. That announcement was a reminder that nothing could be taken home from the Recreation Center, and snacks must be eaten and not saved. This announcement happened because Jonas had taken an apple home from his hours at the Recreation Center.

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