In The Giver by Lois Lowry, how do the words, thoughts, or actions of Jonas's father contradict what you would expect? 

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonas's father is a Nurturer. That means that he gets to work with newborn babies until they are given to a family unit. He probably acquired this career because he is kind and sensitive to other people's feelings. Jonas describes his father's job as follows:

"He and the other Nurturers were responsible for the physical and emotional needs of every new child during its earliest life. It was a very important job, Jonas knew, but it wasn't one that interested him much" (7).

The elders in the community take into account the abilities, talents and qualities of a person when assigning jobs; thus, when Jonas's father received his Nurturer job, he must have had all of the characteristics necessary to be a loving parent figure to newborns. Jonas's father is so kind that he asks the other Nurturers if he can bring a weak and crying baby home for awhile to see if his health and behavior will improve, as follows:

"Well, . . . I'm going to keep trying. I may ask the committee for permission to bring him here at night, if you don't mind. You know what the night-crew Nurturers are like. I think this little guy needs something extra" (8).

The above passage shows empathy and caring on the father's part. The mother also says to her husband that the baby's condition must make him sad. So there's more than enough proof that Jonas's father is kind and sensitive to the babies he serves.

However, reason suggests that Nurturers would never knowingly hurt a baby, let alone kill one by way of "release." Just the name "Nurturer" denotes one who helps, not one who hurts. But that's exactly part of the job! Killing babies is exactly what Jonas's dad has to do from time to time; and, this is one shocking truth that Jonas can't recover from once he discovers it in chapter 19. Confusion and disgust might be the best words to describe Jonas as he realizes the contradiction surrounding his father as well as the community he serves.