Why is Jonas chosen to be the next Receiver of Memory?

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ishpiro's profile pic

ishpiro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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We, as readers, cannot be absolutely certain why the Elders choose Jonas to be the next Receiver of Memory. Jonas is portrayed as an intelligent, honest, and introspective young man who takes his studies and obligations seriously. The Elders, who observe every child carefully in order to ensure the accuracy of each Assignment, must have seen that; in fact, they realize that he is mature beyond his years. There must have been other responsible eleven-year-olds in the community, but we are told that none have come close to becoming a Receiver for a number of years. The main characteristic that distinguishes Jonas from the rest of the members of the community is his "capacity to see beyond." It is not quite clear how the Elders know that Jonas has this capacity; they are likely relying on the Giver's recommendation. Originally, Jonas is perplexed when he hears the reason for him being selected, but he slowly recalls incidents when he was able to see things differently than everyone else. While the world everyone else in black and white, Jonas is able to see that an apple is red and his friend Fiona's hair is red.

Ironically, the qualities for which Jonas is selected—his wisdom, integrity, and sense of responsibility—are the reasons for him being unable to live with the knowledge of the things done in the community for the sake of maintaining "peace." These include the Release (i.e. murder) of babies who fail to thrive, the elderly, and anyone who does not follow the rules. Jonas chooses to save Gabriel from Release and leaves the community, thus defeating the whole purpose of him becoming the Receiver.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Children in the community in the book "The Giver" are chosen based on certain talents or characteristics that they display.  Jonas has pale eyes which is uncommon among the children.  The child Gabriel that is cared for by his father also has the same color eyes which makes the reader wonder if he too is sensitive like Jonas.  Jonas has dreams that are unusual for the children and community members.  He demonstrates signs that indicate to the elders that he is meant to be the receiver.  One of the signs is that Jonas shows no real inclination for any particular tasks.  Other students turning twelve have already shown an interest or skill in the area he or she will be assigned to work towards becoming.  He does display an early curiosity for things and laughter.

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