In the Giver, what happens in the release ceremony?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 4, Fiona tells Jonas about the release ceremony that they celebrated earlier in the morning. Fiona goes on to explain the release of an old man named Roberto. She says that Roberto's life story was told before he was peacefully released. Fiona elaborates on the significant moments of Roberto's fascinating life and tells Jonas that he was an extraordinary man. After Roberto's life story was told, everyone raised their glasses and cheered before they all chanted the anthem. Roberto then made a good-bye speech, and several people made speeches wishing him well. After everyone was done speaking, Roberto bowed with a look of content on his face and walked through a special door in the Releasing Room. At this point in the novel, Jonas is not aware that releasing someone is the same thing as euthanizing them. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

During chapter four, Jonas is giving a bath to an elderly woman named Larissa.  At one point during their conversation, she tells Jonas that they celebrated the release of an old person earlier that day.  Jonas asks her what the celebratory ceremony is like.  In a lot of ways it is similar to a funeral, except that the person is still alive . . . and will be killed a little bit later.  

Larissa tells Jonas that every release ceremony has a "telling."  Somebody gets up and narrates important parts of the person's life that is about to be released.  Other people are allowed to get up and speak as well about things they remember about that person.  The person being released is allowed to speak as well.  That's basically a goodbye speech.  

"Well there was the telling of his life … is always first. Then the toast. We all raised our glasses and cheered. We chanted the anthem. He made a lovely good-bye speech. And several of us made little speeches wishing him well."

After all of the speeches are made, the person is taken away to another room in order to be released.  Only members of the release committee are allowed to see and know what happens next.  That's why everybody assumes being released is happy and wonderful instead of murder.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial