What are some of Jonas's character traits in The Giver?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jonas is introspective.  He wonders which word best describes his feelings, and he questions himself and his reaction as he learns about his community.

Apprehensive, Jonas decided. That's what I am. (Chapter 1, p. 4)

Jonas is compassionate.  Jonas worries about The Giver, and accepts pain so The Giver won’t feel it.  He also gives some of his new memories to Gabe to soothe him.

The Giver looked up at him, his face contorted with suffering. "Please," he gasped, "take some of the pain."

Jonas helped him to his chair at the side of the bed. Then he quickly removed his tunic and lay face down. "Put your hands on me," he directed, aware that in such anguish The Giver might need reminding. (Chapter 15, p. 118)

Jonas does not hesitate to help The Giver.  He only considers easing The Giver’s pain, and not the pain he will feel himself.

Jonas is humble.  He never tries to abuse his power, and he is uncomfortable with respect he feels he has not earned.

"Oh, please," he replied uncomfortably. "Call me Jonas." (Chapter 10, p. 73)

Jonas is a complex character, and these quotes help describe him.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jonas is more fully human in the traditional sense of the word than the other residents of his community, with the exception of the Giver, of course. In a sense, Jonas is an anachronism in his society because he possesses properties that have been dulled in the sensibilities of others. 

  • Humane

Jonas possesses tenderness and sympathy for others. In the early chapters, during the family session Jonas tells his parents that he worries about Asher's Assignment in life.

Later, as he becomes the Receiver, Jonas begins to understand true human suffering, and his sympathies are greatly aroused. Certainly, after he watches a "release," Jonas is appalled at the insensitivity of such an inhumane act. This recognition is what motivates Jonas to flee his dystopian community.

  • Perspicacious

Jonas is capable of deduction and sound reasoning; he has keen insight and is able to understand the significance of things. As he attains memories from the Giver and learns the truth of things, Jonas perceives how his supposedly perfect society is really limited and actually cruel in its strict regulations of thought and behavior. Having watched a Release, a shocked Jonas understands that his society has serious problems and is actually very restrictive.

After Jonas escapes from his community with Gabriel, having reached the opposite side of the river, he stops and looks backward.

The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without color, pain, or past.

Jonas rejects the life of Sameness and predictability because he realizes that it is stultifying and dehumanizing.

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thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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Jonas is an introspective young boy who thinks more deeply about life as compared to his peers as seen when he is in constant meditation. He is intelligent as seen when he quickly grasps an understanding of what the Giver is teaching him. Jonas is brave as seen when he runs away with Gabriel and everything they go through in their new environment which is at times characterized by extreme weather. Jonas is compassionate as shown when he takes the risk to save Gabriel who is about to be “released” by his father. Jonas is polite and humble as seen when he accepts his designated role but does not detach himself from his friends instead he does not let the attention of being a Receiver bother him. Jonas is honest as seen through his communication with the giver and his friends. 

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