The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

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How did Jonas’s relationship with his parents and friends change after he received his Life Assignment in The Giver?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Before Jonas was selected to be the community's next Receiver of Memory, he believed and trusted his parents. Jonas was more than happy to participate in his family's routine rituals by telling his dreams and describing his feelings. After the December Ceremony, where Jonas is given the prestigious, enigmatic Assignment of being the community's next Receiver of Memory, he begins to feel apart and separate from his peers and the members of his family. During his training sessions with the Giver, Jonas learns about the past before Sameness was implemented and dramatically altered the natural environment and way of life throughout his community.

The more memories Jonas receives, the more he longs for life before Sameness and believes that citizens should have rights and the ability to see in color. Tragically, Jonas cannot share this information with his family and he becomes even more aloof and distant from them. Jonas then begins to lie to his parents by concealing his true emotions and not taking his pills for the Stirrings. After Jonas discovers the truth about the release ceremony and realizes that his father has been lying to him for his entire life, Jonas is filled with resentment, anger, and disgust. Jonas eventually decides to leave his family behind and flee the community with Gabriel.

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vfreed eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Until Jonas received his assignment, he had a normal parent / son relationship.  He believed everything they told him out of both deference to their authority, and trust in the community's values and norms.  Following his designation as Receiver and receipt of the paper outlining his duties and rights, Jonas realizes that if he is allowed to lie, perhaps his parents are too.  If this is the case, then how can he possibly know what is the truth.  How can he trust a word his parents say?  How can he trust in the rules that govern his life?  If his parents are allowed to lie, how can he ask a questions and trust the response?  This revelation attacks the very foundation of his relationship with his parents.

His friends live in a very black and white world (literally) governed by the rules of the society.  Jonas, upon receipt of his position, is exposed to the incredible and unbelievable truths of his society.  How can he possibly explain to his friends what 'giving' and 'receiving' entails?  Even if he were permitted to.  His relationships change from dynamic and stimulating to superficial and restrictive.  He can not trust anyone other than The Giver, since no one knows or understands the fragile infrastructure of their society.

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mralladdin12345 | Student

How was Jonas's second experience with snow unlike the first? Why did The Giver offer Jonas this experience?