How does the main character change by the end of the story in The Giver?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jonas is the main character in The Giver.  At the beginning of the story, Jonas is eleven years old and just an ordinary member of the community.  The community members all practice the principle of Sameness.  All choices are made for them.  No one makes any choices for themselves.  Jobs, spouses, and children are assigned.

At the beginning of the story, Jonas is very concerned about following the rules.  He is very obedient.   When a plane flies overhead unexpectedly, Jonas is afraid but he follows the Speaker’s direction.

Instantly, obediently, Jonas had dropped his bike on its side on the path behind his family's dwelling. He had run indoors and stayed there, alone. (ch 1, p. 2)

This is an example of how Jonas follows directions exactly. 

When Jonas begins receiving memories from The Giver, he starts to change.  He learns that things have not always been so tightly controlled.  He begins by understanding why he sees color and no one else does.  He begins to understand that things should be better.  People should have feelings.  He realizes that people should be allowed to make their own choices, and have love.

"Do you understand why it's inappropriate to use a word like 'love'?" Mother asked. Jonas nodded. "Yes, thank you, I do," he replied slowly. It was his first lie to his parents. (ch 17, p. 127)

In the end, Jonas decides the only thing he can do is leave the community and return the memories to the people.  He makes this choice on his own, and even takes the baby Gabe with him.  He knows he will be killed if he is caught, but he stands on principle and does it anyway.

Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book) . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

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kipluck | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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In the beginning Jonas believes the way things are in his life and society are good, or at least acceptable. He assumes "release" means to be sent out of the community, even naively imagining it to be some sort of city populated by twins. He believes the Council of Elders to be fair and kind. He shares his dreams and thoughts with out restraint with his family. However, as he works with the Giver and begins to receive memories of emotions, animals, and feelings he begins to question more things. He questions the true nature of "releases" and requests to see one. He sees they are truly just euthanizing the babies, the old, and as punishment, and he becomes much less complacent. When he begins to feel the "stirrings" of attraction he was supposed to take pills to suppress it, but stopped doing so. He keeps secrets from his family, and in the end, even runs away with the baby set to be Released, disagreeing with ALL he previously believed to be true.

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