In The Giver, whose memories does The Giver hold?
The Giver has all of the memories of the community and all of the memories that the world has ever had.
When Jonas first learns that he has been chosen as the Receiver of Memory, he has no idea what the job entails. The instruction folder he receives gives him little information either, except to tell him not to share the details of his training with anyone.
As he begins his training by meeting the old man who was the Receiver of Memory, he thinks at first that his job will consist of listening to the old man’s memories. The old man, who tells him he has now become The Giver, assures him that it is not his memories that Jonas is receiving.
"No, no," he said. "I'm not being clear. It's not my past, not my childhood that I must transmit to you…It's the memories of the whole world," he said with a sigh. "Before you, before me, before the previous Receiver, and generations before him." (Ch. 10)
Jonas is baffled by the concept of all of the memories of the world, “back and back,” behind held by one person. The Giver begins by sharing him simple memories of things that do not exist anymore in Jonas’s world—like a ride on a sled down a hill in the snow. Jonas’s community has embraced Sameness, which means they control the climate so it does not snow, and there are no hills either.
In a community without memory, there can be no sense of the past or history. Jonas’s people live in a perfectly controlled world, so they have no concept of suffering, pain, or death. Yet not having these things has left them disconnected from what it means to be human. This is why they can kill people without giving it a thought, having no real idea of what is happening. After Jonas gets some memories, he becomes a different person. He realizes that the world as his community has arranged it—the perfect world—is a travesty that should no longer exist.