Book Summary The book starts with Jonas feeling apprehensive. At dinner that night, Jonas’s family- his father, mother, and sister named Lily- share their feelings like they do every night, it’s called the “the telling of feelings”. Jonas’s dad talks about taking care for a child. Jonas explains that he is apprehensive about the Ceremony of 12- the time when he will be assigned a career and begin his adult life. Jonas lives in a very strict community. Jonas starts thinking about all the other Ceremonies he’s witnessed.
Jonas’s Father explains that the Ceremony of Twelve is the last ceremony; after that, no one eeps track of how old they are anymore. They stop seeing their friends, and life basically becomes about their work after that. Lily has a comfort object, which are imaginary creatures such as an elephant. Jonas’s father brings a new child named Gabriel home. Jonas realizes that Gabriel has pale eyes Just like him. Lily says she wishes she could be a Birthmother. Her mother says it’s a horrible Job. Jonas remembers of a time he got in trouble for taking home an apple from school to play catch with his friend named Asher.
He noticed the apple change but couldn’t explain how. Jonas and Asher Volunteer at the house of old. When he is bathing and elder named Larissa she discusses the release of one of the old, a man named Roberto. The old woman says it’s a wonderful celebration. Jonas asks Larissa what release like. She’s not sure. All she knows is that the person in question walks through a door to the Releasing Room. At breakfast, Jonas and his family go through a telling of their dreams. In Jonas’s dream, he explains to his family, he was in a bathtub, like the ones at the House of the Old.
And he was trying to convince her to get in the tub with him. Jonas talks about two feelings: wanting, and feeling that he shouldn’t. Jonas’s Mother tells him hat these feelings are called “Stirrings,” that he has to report them every time they happen, and that she has a pill that will make them all go away. Everyone takes these pills, every day, until they end up in the House of the Old. When Jonas and his family shows up, we see that the entire community attends the Ceremonies. One family Just lost a son, a four-year-old named Caleb, when he drowned in the river.
Afterwards, everyone partook in the Ceremony of Loss, where they repeated the name of the dead boy softer and softer until everyone forgot about him. And now today, the family gets a new Caleb. It’s time for the Ceremony of Twelve. Jonas and his friends line up in the order of the numbers they were given at birth, before they all had names. The numbers reflect the order in which the children are born. The group will receive its assignments in this order. The Chief Elder moves on to number twenty. She skips Jonas. Everyone notices, and the crowd is all hushed.
Jonas wonders what he might have done wrong When all the Twelves have gotten their assignments, the Elder addresses the fact he has been selected, to be the Receiver of Memory. The Chief Elder explains that they tried to pick a new Receiver about ten years ago, but it failed. Then she starts isting all of Jonas’s qualities which qualify him to be The Receiver: intelligence, integrity, courage (there will be pain, she says), and wisdom (although Jonas doesnt have this yet, he’ll soon be acquiring it. There is one more quality, she says, “The Capacity to See Beyond. That night at dinner, Jonas asks his parents about the “failed” receiver from ten years ago. His parents hesitate to talk about it, and finally reveal that it was a girl, but they can’t say her name. Her name can never be used ever again in the community. After the ceremony, all the new Twelves had been given folders of materials in the ay of training for their new Jobs. In bed that night, Jonas opens his to find Just one sheet of paper. It’s a list of instructions telling him to go to the Annex entrance behind the House of the Old as soon as he’s finished with school.
Immediately afterwards, he has to return home. He is exempt from rules about rudeness, it says, which means he can ask anyone any question he wants. He’s not allowed to discuss his training with anyone, and he’s no longer permitted to share his dreams. He can’t apply for any medication if the injury is related to his training, he can’t ask to be eleased, and he is allowed to lie. Jonas goes to the Annex. He buzzes at the door and is allowed inside. The female attendant stands and greets him as “Receiver of Memory,” which makes him uncomfortable.
She then unlocks the door to The Receiver’s room, which makes him even more uncomfortable, since doors in the community don’t have locks on them. Jonas goes through the door into what appears to be The Receiver’s living area. Jonas greets the old receiver of memories. He tells Jonas to feel free to ask as many questions as he wants. He explains that his Job is to transmit to Jonas all the emories of the past. The old man puts his hands on Jonas’s back, explaining that he’s going to transmit the memory of snow. Jonas lays on the bed waiting for the memory of snow. All of a sudden, he’s very cold.
All of a sudden, he knows that he is surrounded by snow and that he’s sitting on a sled. He then races downhill, fast at first, until the snow piles up and the runners come to a standstill. The old man begins to transmit the memory. Jonas identifies warmth coming from the sky and decides that this mysterious thing is called “sunshine”. The old man transmits one last memory for the day: sunburn. The man tells Jonas to call him the Giver. The next morning at breakfast, Jonas manages to avoid directly lying while not telling his dream to his parents, which was riding on a sled.
As he’s looking at Fiona, during lunch, she “changes” the same way the apple did that day. It only happens for an instant, and it is Just her hair that changes. When he arrives at The Giver’s place after school, Jonas decides to ask him about it. This is a case of his seeing beyond; the same thing happened to him when he was Jonas’s age, but it happened a little bit differently. The Giver tells Jonas he is starting to see the color red. He gives Jonas the memory of a rainbow. As the weeks go by, Jonas learns all the colors, but still sees only glimpses of them in the world around him. Jonas is mad that his world is prevented from color.
The Giver explains that the reason they don’t have choices is so they don’t make the for being satisfied with their lives, which are so dull. Jonas asks the Giver about the failure of the last receiver of memory. The Giver explains that, when she failed, the memories didn’t come back to him. Instead, they were released to the world – everyone had access to them, the way it used to be. Sometimes, when Jonas shows up or his training, The Giver is rocking in pain and sends him away without training. Jonas asks if perhaps it isn’t about time for him to take some of the painful memories to carry him, The Giver agrees.
The giver gives Jonas a memory of pain, a broken leg. When he gets back to the room with The Giver, Jonas asks for relief-of-pain, which we understand to be medication, but the giver refuses. They have never known pain,” he thinks of his family. The Giver starts transmitting more and more painful memories to Jonas. Jonas asks why everyone doesnt have the memories, and The Giver explains that they dont ant everyone to have to be burdened with the suffering like the two of them are. Jonas wants to apply for a change of rules, but they both know it Just isn’t going to happen.
Jonas’s dad reports that twin males are going to be born next month, which means one of them will have to be released. Jonas asks if Gabriel could sleep in his room. when Gabriel cries at night Jonas he accidentally transmits the memory of the sailboat. When Jonas shows up at The Giver’s room, the old man is crumpled in pain. The Giver begs him to take some of the pain, which he willingly does. This time, Jonas receives the memory of a body-strewn battlefield. He himself is lying on the ground and seems to be missing a good chunk of his arm, and he’s forced to watch a comrade beside him slowly die.
When he can’t take anymore, Jonas opens his eyes and returns to the room with The Giver. The Giver apologizes for having transmitted such an awful memory, and he looks away from Jonas. After that, Jonas doesn’t want to go back to the Annex. He Just wants a normal life like all of his friends. Jonas asks The Giver what his favorite memory is, adding that he doesn’t have to give it away yet. The old man, however, is happy to give away the memory. He transmits to Jonas the scene of Christmas morning. The Giver tells him that it was love. Back at home, Jonas hesitantly asks his parents if they love him.
His Father explains that such a word has become obsolete, meaningless even. When they ask him if he understands what they mean, he says yes – which is his first lie to his parents. There’s a surprise holiday declared over the public speakers. Jonas can now see all the colors almost anywhere. He realizes he is also feeling emotion a lot more. Jonas finds Asher playing with some other kids. They’re all running around pretending to shoot each other. Jonas stops cold. He never before realized that this popular game was a game of war. Knowing what real war is like; he’s less than interested in playing.
When Jonas begs his friends not to play the game anymore. Tomorrow, Jonas’s Father says, the twin males will be born, and he will have to decide which one is sent elsewhere. The next time he sees The Giver, Jonas asks him about release. The Giver and Jonas both wish they could be released but they can’t. Jonas asks who the person that failed was. The giver said it was, an always happy, girl named Rosemary. But after he what would happened if he drowned. The Giver said not to try. Jonas starts to talk with The Giver about the twin that his father is releasing today.
He then says he wishes he could watch the ceremony, to see what happens to the twin who goes Elsewhere. The Giver tells him that he can watch the ceremony if he wants to. It’s in the rules, after all, that he gets to ask any questions of anyone he wants. They start watching the video Jonas’s dad weighed both the babies, gives the lighter baby a lethal injection. Then throws the baby down the garbage chute. Jonas is outraged. Jonas still mad spends the night at the Giver’s. Jonas asked if every release was like that The Giver says yes. The giver explains they are the only one with real feelings.
The Giver says the two of them need to make a plan. They know that things can be different than they are now, because they’ve seen the past through the memories they share. Spending time with Jonas has made The Giver realize that things have to change. He tells Jonas he should escape, so memories escape to everyone, and there will be no one to hold them in. The giver explains that Jonas will escape during the December Ceremony. The Giver says he wants to stay with his daughter- Rosemary. Jonas took his father’s bike because it had a baby seat and he took Gabriel because he was going to be released.
He hides them in the grass and they both sleep through the daylight hours. Days go by, and Jonas is still biking. He’s gotten into a routine now of hiding in the day and traveling at night. Mostly, he worries when the low-flying search planes come by overhead. When he sees the planes, Jonas tries to hold on to memories of cold, in the hopes that that will neutralize the heat-seekers. Jonas hits a stone and the bicycle turns over. Gabriel is fine, but Jonas has twisted an ankle. Jonas even sees a bird pass by overhead – the first he’s ever seen in real life. He is running out of food. Then it starts to rain. Jonas and Gabriel begin to cry.
Jonas is worried about saving Gabriel. Jonas starts to feel that he’s getting very close to Elsewhere. But he also starts to feel that he’ll probably die before he gets there. It started to snow. He climbs to the top of a hill and finds the sled from his first memory. He settles on to it, pulls Gabriel close to him, and feels hopeful as he begins to surge down the other side of the hill. Jonas struggles to stay conscious as they fly downwards. He knows that elsewhere is waiting for him at the bottom of the hill. Looking ahead, Jonas can see lights and colors. He knows he’s going toa place of love. He hears music for the first time.