How does Jonas learn about pain and suffering in The Giver?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because he has no experience of many feelings, Jonas must be transmitted the sensations of pain and suffering by the Giver, who is the only one of the community who retains memories of things that have been eliminated from the knowledge of others.

In Lois Lowry's dystopian society of The Giver, a society that eliminates pain and suffering, color, emotional words, erotic feeling, unhappiness, bad weather, and anything else that is negative or different, Jonas is designated as the Receiver. This means he will receive the memories of times past and various sensations that have been eliminated from others so that he can become the next Giver, who holds the memories for when they are needed.

During his training, Jonas meets with the Giver and he is bestowed memories. In Chapter 14, he is given pain by the Giver. He is thrown from a sled and his leg is twisted underneath him.

It was as if a hatchet lay lodged in his leg, slicing through each nerve with a hot blade. In his agony he perceived the word "fire" and felt flames licking at the torn bone and flesh....The pain grew.

When Gabriel returns home, he looks at his family and realizes that they have never known pain. Suddenly he feels terribly lonely. 

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The Giver

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