Compare the relationship between Jonas and the Giver to Jonas' relationship with his family unit in "The Giver."

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonas enjoys a warm and open relationship with the Giver. In the story, the Giver is also Jonas' mentor and confidant, someone who will provide honest answers to Jonas' pressing questions. The Giver never judges Jonas for his curiosity, and one gets the sense that he derives a measure of comfort from sharing his knowledge with Jonas.

In the story, the Giver also functions as both historian and chief rebel. He sees the negative impact Sameness has had on his society, and he aims to annihilate the power structure that has robbed his people of their humanity. Jonas' idealism energizes him, and he manages to forge a strong bond with the young apprentice.

In contrast, Jonas' relationship with his family unit is sterile and devoid of warmth. Since Sameness is supposed to eradicate competition and by extension, inequalities on every level, there is little tolerance for strong emotion within this new paradigm. Jonas also finds it difficult to confide in his parents, as they are deeply invested in the ideology of Sameness.

So, when the Giver shows Jonas what a happy family gathering used to look like, Jonas is amazed at the open affection everyone shows each other. He sees freedom and authenticity, and he concludes that the family the Giver has shown him is more "complete" than his own. The Giver tells him that the word for that completeness is "love," something Jonas has never experienced. Later, when he is home, Jonas asks his parents about love.

His parents are flabbergasted that Jonas would dare to discuss such a forbidden term. They become agitated and accuse him of not being "precise" with his language. Then, they proceed to explain how he should approach his relationship with them. However, their explanations fall flat, and for the first time in his life, Jonas realizes that his parents don't understand the meaning of love either. They have lost their ability to be objective and authentic.

In essence, the relationship between Jonas and his parents is adversarial; there is little loyalty and devotion between them. When Jonas realizes how much he loves Gabriel, he must carefully hide his affection for the baby from his parents. This adversarial relationship between Jonas and his parents contrasts from the relationship between him and the Giver. Jonas and the Giver share an intimate and powerful emotional connection. They trust and are loyal to each other. In the end, the Giver entrusts Jonas with a great responsibility: to bring back the old ways to society.

He tasks Jonas with the job of getting to Elsewhere, a task no one else has succeeded in accomplishing before. The Giver has implicit trust that Jonas will succeed. It is the Giver's faith in Jonas that inspires him to make the arduous trek to Elsewhere and to succeed in his mission.



vmoriarity eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonas'relationship with his family is very clinical, formal,  and structured whereas Jonas' relationship with the Giver is emotionally charged, informal,  and unfiltered.  For example, when Jonas discusses dreams and events with his family, the conversation is kind, yet takes on an air of distance.  No passion exists when subjects are discussed.  When his sister Lily explains she felt angry at a boy who cut in line at the slide, the parents counsel her to learn to try to see things from the boy's point of view.  When Jonas discusses a dream he has about about his friend, Fiona, he stays back with his mother so she can explain "Stirrings", and tells him there is a pill for that.  The family unit is devoid of emotion and passion, a stark contrast to familial relationships in American society.

Emotion and passion is the core of the relationship Jonas has with the Giver, which makes sense since memories of emotion are being transmitted to Jonas.  When Jonas experiences painful memories such as starvation which no other members of his community have experienced except the Giver, the bond is forged.  Pleasant memories increase the bond, too; however, those of pain, sorrow, and anguish set these two character apart because nobody else can possibly understand.  This makes their relationship far more intense.

Read the study guide:
The Giver

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question