In The Giver, what freedom does Jonas have within the rules of the community?

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Jonas has the freedom to lie, does not have to tell his dreams, and can be rude.

There are many rules in the community.  Members of the community do not have many choices, and have to follow strict behavioral guidelines.  Jonas has grown up with these rules, and as far as he knows this is just the way it is.  However, when he is chosen as the Receiver of Memory he is granted several exclusions from the rules governing behavior.  This is because his training makes him unique.  The community does not want him to interact with the others and possibly give things away about his training, but also wants to make sure he can learn as much about the community as possible so that he can acquire wisdom to advise it someday.

When Jonas is selected for the special job of Receiver of Memory, he is told that this job distinguishes him and that it is a role that everyone in the community respects.  Because of this, Jonas has some provisions in his rules that ensure that he is kept apart from the community.  This distance not only makes it easier for him to maintain the dignity of his office, it keeps any details of his training from slipping out.

Rules one (go directly to training), two, four and five ensure that Jonas will interact with as few people as possible related to his training.

2. Go immediately to your dwelling at the conclusion of Training Hours each day. …

4. Do not discuss your training with any other member of the community, including parents and Elders.

5. From this moment you are prohibited from dream-telling. (Ch. 9)

The community elders do not really know what goes on in Jonas’s training, but they know that they do not want him sharing it with others.  If they know anything at all about it, they will realize that Jonas and The Giver are the only ones with feelings, and they would want to keep Jonas from spreading the feelings to anyone else.  If Jonas tries to share his memories with his friends or family, they could be upset and confused, and the community does not want that.

Rules three and eight are the ones that distinguish Jonas from the rest of the community because they give him special privileges. These rules focus on what Jonas can do that no one else can.

3. From this moment you are exempted from rules governing rudeness. You may ask any question of any citizen and you will receive answers. …

8. You may lie.  (Ch. 9)

Jonas is disturbed by both of these rules.  He does not know what questions to ask, and he is so concerned about that last rule that he begins to wonder if anyone else has it too.  If he asks questions, he wonders if the answers will be true.

The purpose of these rules is to help Jonas learn as much as he can about the community.  He has access to everything.  He should be able to ask anyone anything, watch any video, and read any book.  No one else in the community has access to books.  Jonas is required to learn as much as he can about how his community functions so that when he is the only Receiver of Memory (without The Giver) he can advise the elders and help them make important decisions.

Jonas’s most important privilege is the ability to share the memories of the community.  At first, he has no idea what this means.  The Giver explains to him that he is not sharing his own memories, but the collective consciousness of the community’s past.  Somehow, they have found a way to pass this on from person to person, but only through people with the Capacity to See Beyond.  The Giver explains to Jonas the importance of the memories.

"There's much more. There's all that goes beyond--all that is Elsewhere--and all that goes back, and back, and back. I received all of those, when I was selected. And here in this room, all alone, I re-experience them again and again. It is how wisdom comes. And how we shape our future." (Ch. 10)

Through his training, Jonas learns to feel, and think for himself.  These are two things that no one else in the community can do.  When he does break the rules and try to interact with community members, they get frustrated, confused, or amused.  His parents do not understand what love is, when he asks them if they love him, and respond with laughter and chastisement about proper language use.  His friend Asher gets angry and flustered when he tries to tell him that war games were once real.  Jonas comes to realize that no one in the community has ever had a true feeling.

After Jonas begins his training, he understands why he is different from others in the community and why his community is different from the way it was in the past.  He comes to realize that things need to change.  He sees terrible things happening within his community, such as the murder of innocent babies, and decides that only he can be the instrument of change. 

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