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How do Jonas's characteristics change throughout the book The Giver?

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addons | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 3, 2012 at 9:53 AM via web

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How do Jonas's characteristics change throughout the book The Giver?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 13, 2012 at 4:49 AM (Answer #1)

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Jonas grows up quite a bit in The Giver.  When the story begins, Jonas is an obedient, relatively normal 12 year-old in a very restrictive community.  He questions nothing and no one.  He does what he is told. 

When Jonas notices an apple change, he realizes that there is something different about himself.  He is apprehensive about the ceremony because, unlike other kids his age, he does not seem to have any special interests that might get him a certain assignment.

At the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is selected as Receiver of Memory.  He is told that he has the Capacity to See Beyond, but he is not sure what it means yet.  Then Jonas begins his training with The Giver, and he begins to see everything differently.

"Finally, The Receiver must have one more quality… the current Receiver has told us that Jonas already has this quality. He calls it the Capacity to See Beyond." (p. 63)

As Jonas receives memories, he notices that the people in his community do not feel.  When he asks his friend Asher not to play a war game, Asher gets annoyed.  When he asks his parents if they love him, they lecture him for not using precise language.  Little by little, Jonas begins to distance himself from everyone in the community.  He takes advantage of the rules that say he can lie now.

The turning point for Jonas is when he asks to see the Release of the newborn twin, performed by his father.  The community cannot have identical twins because it would be confusing and make people feel uncomfortable.  The ceremony changes Jonas’s life forever.

Jonas watches as his father gently and sweetly murders the smaller twin by lethal injection into his forehead.  He is stunned and angry.  He refuses to go home. 

"I will do whatever you like, sir. I will kill people, sir. Old people? Small newborn people? I'd be happy to kill them, sir. Thank you for your instructions, sir. (pp. 152-3)

Jonas's hysterical sarcasm proves to The Giver that Jonas is ready to change his community.  That day, Jonas and The Giver make a plan for Jonas to escape to Elsewhere and release the memories back to the people.  When Jonas finds out that Gabe is scheduled for Release, he leaves sooner and takes Gabe with him.

Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book) . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

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