In The Giver is Jonas ever helpful?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jonas helps Asher with his exercises, helps Fiona at the House of the Old, and helps out with Gabriel.

Jonas is generally a kind and helpful person. He is a good friend and cares about others, and he shows these traits throughout the book.  These are some of the reasons he is chosen as the Receiver of Memory.

Jonas helps Asher with his toss and catch exercises.  This is something that they must do often, but Jonas does it because Asher needs to do it, not because it is fun for Jonas.

It was effortless for Jonas, and even boring, though Asher enjoyed it, and playing catch was a required activity for Asher because it would improve his hand-eye coordination, which was not up to standards. (Ch. 3)

The incident that Jonas describes when tossing the apple and seeing it change color is significant, but it may not have happened if Jonas had not been so diligent about helping Asher with his hand-eye coordination exercises.

All older children help others as part of the volunteer hours that they complete in learning how to prepare for their new assignments once they turn twelve.  Jonas helps in various ways, spreading out his help in different departments and not helping in any specific one.  The only one that is really described in the book is when he helps Fiona at the House of the Old.

Jonas was glad that he had, over the years, chosen to do his hours in a variety of places so that he could experience the differences. (Ch. 4)

Jonas turns out to be pretty good at helping the old woman in the House of the Old though.  He is gentle and methodical.

He helped the woman from the chair, led her to the tub, removed her robe, and steadied her with his hand on her arm as she stepped in and lowered herself. (Ch. 4)

Jonas asks her about her life, and is polite to her when she describes it to him.  He does not seem to be bothered by the fact that she is old and he has to bathe her, something most eleven year olds would balk at.  It shows that he is sweet and gentle, and generally helpful.  It demonstrates his compassion toward others and his ability for empathy.

It is directly after this incident that Jonas has his first Stirrings dream, about Fiona, because she was there with him that day.  He has a dream about Fiona in a bath.  This does not mean that Larissa’s taking a bath was significant, it just means that Jonas is growing up.

Another way that Jonas is helpful is possibly the most important.  He helps out with Gabriel, the newchild who is taken into their home because he is not growing fast enough.  He ends up in Jonas’s room, and Jonas helps him sleep at night by giving him memories.

Since Gabe seemed to like it in Jonas's room, he would sleep there at night a little longer, until the habit of sound sleep was fully formed. The Nurturers were very optimistic about Gabriel's future. (Ch. 16)

Jonas gives Gabe a few more months of reprieve from being released by helping him sleep through the night.  Of course, eventually the Nurturers lose patience and assign him the death sentence anyway.  That is when Jonas helps him most of all, by grabbing him and escaping with him.

Jonas is compassionate, with a capacity for empathy that extends far beyond that of most members of his community. It is because of this that he makes an excellent Receiver of Memory.  He is so good, in fact, that he has to leave, and rescue the community from itself.  He knows that once he leaves and returns the memories to the people, they will be forced to face what they have become.

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