In chapter 14, Jonas asks the Giver why he must possess the community's difficult memories, and the Giver responds by briefly explaining to Jonas the importance of having wisdom of the past to advise the Committee of Elders to make the right decisions. The Giver then tells Jonas that centuries ago, the population had grown so large that food became scarce and people began to starve. As a result of the widespread starvation, citizens took up arms and engaged in warfare.
The Giver is the only citizen in the community who recalls this terrible time and advises the Committee of Elders not to increase the rate of births per year. Essentially, the community's past struggles concerning overpopulation and food shortages influence the way their society is presently structured. In Jonas's community, only fifty children are born each year, which keeps the population low and maintains a stable, comfortable society. The citizens do not have to worry about overpopulation or having food shortages when the rate of births is strictly regulated.