From Lois Lowry's The Giver, what does Asher's hesitation to congratulate Jonas indicate?

2 Answers

tinicraw's profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Ceremony of Twelve does not go like it usually does. This causes the whole community some anxiety, which in effect, must cause Asher to feel the same way. First, Jonas is left standing alone after everyone their age has received an assignment. Asher must have felt like Jonas was in trouble. Then, when the Chief Elder says that Jonas has been selected to be the next most important person in the whole community, Asher probably felt like his friend was now a celebrity or something of that sort. He may have also experienced feelings of confusion because Jonas's calling was said to be separate and different from everyone else; so, Asher must have also felt unsure of how to act around Jonas at that point. The text describes the scene as follows:

"Asher smiled, his usual smile, friendly and familiar. But Jonas felt a moment of hesitation from his friend an uncertainty" (82-83).

Not only does Jonas feel as though Asher hesitates, he feels as though Asher feels uncertain about something. We can only infer that Asher feels uncertain for Jonas's future. Their friendship has automatically changed based on their assignments because Jonas won't be able to confide in Asher. The whole situation is just awkward because of the uncertainties surrounding Jonas's new calling. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What this indicates is how utterly apart from his society Jonas will be because of his new assignment.  We see this at the start of Chapter 9.

The chapter starts with us being told that this is the first time that Jonas has ever felt "separate" or "different" from everyone else in the community.  In a community like theirs, being different is much worse than it is in a society like ours.  Their whole society is based on Sameness so being different is a terrible thing.  We begin to see how isolating Jonas's assignment will be.  Even before he has started his training, his friend Asher is hesitant about talking to him and is not really sure if he should congratulate Jonas.  This shows that Jonas's new assignment is going to take him away (figuratively) from his community and make him separate, different, and isolated.