How does Jonas learn of love in The Giver

Jonas learns of love during his training when he receives a memory of a family celebrating Christmas. Jonas is surprised to see "old people," as in his community older adults do not interact with their families. In his society, people do not form strong ties, and love is not a concept Jonas recognizes. He realizes that he will probably never see his parents after he moves into his own home and that this is perfectly normal in Jonas's society.

Expert Answers

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

Jonas learns about the concept of love during a particular training session with the Giver. As the community's Receiver of Memory, Jonas has the unique opportunity to experience memories of the past before Sameness. During his training sessions, the Giver transfers memories to Jonas, which dramatically enhances his perspective of the world and influences him to question and critique his mundane, highly-organized community. After the Giver transfers the traumatic memory of war to Jonas, he attempts to comfort him by sharing a pleasant memory of family opening gifts together at Christmas.

Following the pleasant experience, Jonas asks about the older people in the memory, and the Giver explains to him the concept of grandparents. Jonas also acknowledges that he felt a strong feeling throughout the room in the memory, and the Giver tells him that he was experiencing the feeling of love. In Jonas's community, strong emotions are nonexistent and the concept of love is foreign to the shallow citizens. Since Jonas and the Giver have the opportunity to experience life before Sameness, they are different from their community members and can comprehend the strong emotion of love. Sadly, Jonas discovers that his parents do not genuinely love him because they are incapable of feeling strong emotions. Overall, Jonas learns about love during a pleasant Christmas memory he receives from the Giver in chapter 16.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 4, 2020
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jonas learns of love during his training with the Giver when the Giver shows him the memory of a family celebrating Christmas together. In the memory, the setting is warm and joyful. It is picture perfect. There is a large decorated Christmas tree in the center of the family living room, which is full of people. There is a fire in the fireplace to provide warmth and enhance the atmosphere of a snug family celebration, as it is snowing outside. A golden-haired retriever is asleep on the floor.

The extended family, including grandparents, is gathered around to exchange gifts. After a small child opens a gift, he goes to his grandmother and climbs on to her lap. She cradles him and rubs her cheek against his.

Jonas is very surprised by the scene, as he has never seen what he terms "old people." In his community, older adults are kept in a special care facility and do not interact with their families. In fact, they are never seen in the community. Jonas asks the Giver who the old people in the memory were and why they were there. The author notes,

It had puzzled Jonas, seeing them in the room. The Old of the community did not ever leave their special place, the House of the Old, where they were so well cared for and respected.

Jonas also cannot describe the feeling that he discerned the family shared, particularly when the grandmother rocked her young grandson in her lap. The Giver tells him the feeling is "love." Jonas realizes that he had never thought much about what his relationship with his parents would be once he becomes an adult. He acknowledges that he will probably never see them after he leaves his home. In this society, people do not form strong ties, and love is not a concept that he recognizes. This is what enables Jonas's father to participate in Gabriel's release. He might think that it is a pity that Gabriel must be released and finds Gabriel sweet, but he has no strong ties to Gabriel or even to Jonas or Lily. No one in this society has strong feelings towards one another.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 4, 2020
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jonas learns of love from the Giver in Chapter 16 of The Giver.  As with all that Jonas learns of life outside the community, he learns about love when the Giver transmits to him a memory.  When Jonas is experiencing the Giver's memory, he does not even have a name for the emotion he feels. 

The memory that he is given is a scene of a family at Christmas.  There are parents, children, and grandparents. This kind of family scene is alien to Jonas, since there are no blood relationships between parents and children. There are reproducers in the community, and their offspring are assigned to various parents.  The concept of a grandparent is one that Jonas is not familiar with because anyone old enough to be a grandparent, who is still productive, has been sent off to live with other childless adults, and there is no continuing relationship. Any unproductive adults are released.  There is a beautiful Christmas tree in the memory, and the family is gathered around. Jonas gets a sense of light and warmth, as the people open gifts, which is also an alien idea in the community, and he feels an emotion he cannot identify, but that he likes very much, He asks the Giver what this feeling is and the Giver tells him it is love.  Jonas then goes home and asks his parents if they love him. Being good members of the community, they reject his question as meaningless, love being a useless concept to them. Instead, they tell him they take pride in his accomplishments and enjoy him. Now that Jonas has felt love, he realizes that what his parents and the community have to offer him is not enough, and it is at this point that he really begins to see what an impoverished world he lives in. 

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