On page 127 of The Giver, Jonas is trying to find out if his parents "love" him. Jonas is disappointed in their response but do you think Jonas's parents really don't love him?
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The community in which Jonas and his parents live places a very high importance upon using words with precisely definable meanings in order to insure complete and accurate communication at all times. Love, being an emotion that means different things to different people and that changes in varying situations, is therefore a word and concept that has been abandoned by the community.
Jonas encounters the concept of love as he receives memories from the Giver. His question to his parents reflects the struggle he has reconciling what he is learning as the Receiver-to-be with the attitudes of the others in the community.
"Do you love me?" There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. "Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!" "What do you mean?" Jonas asked. Amusement was not at all what he had anticipated."Your father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it has become almost obsolete," his mother explained carefully.
Jonas's parents go on to confirm that they take pride in observing him succeeding in activities and that they enjoy his presence. But because of the way in which they have learned to think of human relationships, they do not have a concept of "love" as it is known in our society and, therefore, do not love Jonas in the sense that human family members love each other.