In The Giver, all the members of Jonas's family had to sign a pledge that they would not become attached to the newchild, Gabe. Do you think it is possible to keep such a promise?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonas seems to be the only family member who becomes attached to Gabe. 

In our world, it would probably be impossible to take care of a baby for a year or so and not feel attached. Jonas’s community is different, however; people are raised from the youngest age to avoid attachment or emotions of any kind.  Therefore, as impossible as it might sound, the family did not get attached to Gabe. Jonas, the only one with emotions, did develop a strong attachment to him. 

Families in Jonas’s community are very different from ours.  Although they are made up of parents and siblings, no one is actually related and not even really attached. The parents are paired by community Elders, and only stay together until they raise the children. They do not get their children until they are a year old, missing a crucial bonding period.  Therefore, no one is attached. 

Jonas is one of the few members of his community who has access to his emotions. He learned how to feel through his training as Receiver of Memory. Only Receivers have the ability to feel emotions. As a result, Jonas comes to see Gabe as a real sibling. He grows very fond of the baby because he sleeps in his room at night. They both have light eyes, which no one else in the community has, and they both have the Capacity to See Beyond. 

After his parents laugh at him for asking if they love him, Jonas stands over Gabe and imagines a different kind of world. 


The newchild stirred slightly in his sleep. Jonas looked over at him.

"There could be love," Jonas whispered. (Ch. 16) 

Jonas has come to love Gabe. He is the only one in his family who understands this concept. Jonas’s affection for Gabe is one of the reasons he is so horrified when he learns Gabe is scheduled to be released. 

Jonas’s family reacts only mildly to this news. They are simply not attached enough to Gabe to care. Even Jonas’s father, who has taken care of the baby and nurtured him after requesting extra time with him, does not seem to mind the release much, saying, 

"Even I voted for Gabriel's release when we had the meeting this afternoon."

Jonas put down his fork and stared at his father. "Release?" he asked.

Father nodded. "We certainly gave it our best try, didn't we?"

"Yes, we did," Mother agreed emphatically.

Lily nodded in agreement, too. (Ch. 21) 

Jonas is horrified to watch his entire family just dismiss Gabriel like that, but it is not surprising. Jonas has come to realize that no one actually has feelings in his community. Jonas makes the decision to take Gabriel and escape.