In The Giver by Lois Lowry, does Jonas feel bad about lying for the first time (when he lies to his parents)? Also, does he experience anything after doing it?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonas does not feel bad about lying to his parents, because he realizes that they cannot understand the concept of love.

Jonas is horrified when he receives his instructions and one of the rules says that he can lie.  Lying is expressly forbidden in his community, as far as he knows.

He had been trained since earliest childhood, since his earliest learning of language, never to lie. It was an integral part of the learning of precise speech. (Ch. 9)

Jonas wonders if anyone else had the same rule, and people have been lying to him all along.  He ponders the fact that if he were to ask someone if he or she was lying, he wouldn’t know if the person was telling the truth.  He can't imagine a situation where he would be the one lying. 

Jonas lies for the first time when he asks his parents whether they love him or not.  Love is not a construct that exists in the community, but Jonas learns about it through the memories.  It seems wonderful to him, and he misses the closeness that he experiences in the memories.  When he asks his parents if they love him, he does not get the result  he expected.  His father is amused, and chides him about precision of language.

"Your father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete," his mother explained carefully. (Ch. 16)

Jonas’s parents ask him if he understands, and he tells them that he does.  He has never lied to his parents before, but he doesn't feel bad about it.  He lied because they have no understanding of love, so they could never know how he feels.    Understanding that his parents do not love him, he tells Gabe that the world could be different.  Love is possible, in a community that allows it.

Jonas’s realization that love is a better way of life is an important one.  In lying to his parents, he separated himself from them.  This is the point where Jonas ceased to be a member of his community.  For him, the community is broken.  Its way of life is a tragedy.  Jonas seeks a connection with others.  This is why he told Gabe about the concept of love.