How did the lack of memory effect Jonas's society?In Lois Lowry's 'The Giver.'

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The people there have lost not only a sense of history but all reference points associated with it.  For instance, the notion of an inherent family unit is non-existent; family members are appointed by the Chief Elders and are no longer functioning as such when their roles become "obsolete."  That is why Jonas is so moved to behold a Christmas scene with grandparents with a family link to the other people present. The lack of memory also erases from the people's minds the notion of suffering and inflicting pain upon others. Once Jonas makes the children stop pretending to play war games because he has "witnessed" through the Giver a real war scene and understands what suffering and death are. He finally saves the toddler Gabriel from being "released" since the concept of killing is no longer an abstraction but very real indeed.

In short, the lack of memory estranges people from one another and keeps them from thinking for themselves. Besides saving Gabriel, this is why Jonas decides to run away from the Community in the end - to give back to the people there all the memories they have lost over time.