Describe the incident from which Asher learns the precision of language in "The Giver".

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Asher had always been an active child, and even as a toddler he "talked too fast and mixed up words".  When he was a Three, he had a hard time remembering the difference between the words "snack" and "smack", and the long, painful process of his learning to distinguish the two is recalled humorously at the Ceremony when Asher, now a Twelve, receives his assignment.

The Instructor of Threes is in charge of making sure the little ones in his or her group acquire correct language.  A system of punishment is used which incorporates "a regulated system of smacks with the discipline wand...a thin, flexible weapon that (stings) painfully when it (is) wielded".  For a first offense, a "quick smack across the hands" is administered, followed by "three sharper smacks on the bare legs for a second offense".  At age Three, "eager for his juice and crackers a snacktime", Asher had one day said "I want my smack" instead of "I want my snack" while waiting for his treat.  Asher was given the prescribed punishment for his error, but as weeks went by, he kept making the same mistake.  His punishment escalated to a "series of painful lashes that left marks on (his) legs", and for a time Asher, traumatized, "stopped talking altogether".  Fortunately, the unyielding pressure for complete conformity to convention did not appear to leave any lasting negative effect, and Asher did eventually learn to speak with an acceptable level of precision (Chapter 7).