1. The first important event is when Jonas’s father brings home a baby named Gabriel. We learn that the baby was not developing fast enough, and Jonas’s father got special permission to take him home for extra nurturing. Babies are not kept in the household until they are a year old. This is one of the reader’s first exposure’s to the unusual family structure. We also learn that Jonas and the baby have pale eyes, which is our first hint that they are connected, and that Jonas is different.
2. The second important event in The Giver is when Jonas notices something unusual about an apple.
It had changed in mid-air, he remembered. Then it was in his hand, and he looked at it carefully, but it was the same apple. Unchanged. (Ch. 3)
This is important because it is when Jonas first notices something else different about himself. He is beginning to see the color red, but he doesn’t realize it at the time. It does demonstrate something unusual about him for the reader.
3. At the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is skipped. He is very nervous, but it turns out he has been given a special honor. He has been chosen Receiver of Memory. He has no idea what that means, but is nervous when he finds out it involves pain, and confused when he learns he can lie.
4. Jonas begins his training with the old man who is known as the Receiver, who becomes the Giver. Jonas learns that he will receive memories of back and back and back, of the history of the community. His first memory is of a sled, and snow. He is amazed and thrilled. At night, Jonas transmits memories to Gabe, who also has the gift.
5. Jonas begins receiving more and more memories, and learns about colors, and music, and feelings. He stops taking pills for Stirrings (which stop sexual feelings). He learns about the world when there was war, famine, and pain, but also love. At first, the Giver only gives him good memories, but he adds pain in slowly.
6. Jonas accosts Asher over war games, telling him that they should not be playing them. Asher is upset, believing it is his area of expertise. Jonas has seen real war, and does not know how to explain the concept of death to Asher, who has no idea what pain or suffering is. Asher apologizes for not giving Jonas the respect he deserves, and Jonas knows their relationship will never be the same.
7. Jonas asks the Giver what would happen if he fell into a river and drowned. The Giver tells him the memories would return to the community. This happened when the former Receiver of Memory was released. At first, The Giver just tells Jonas there was a failure.
8. Jonas finds out what release means. The Giver shows him a video of a release. He watches his father euthanize a newborn baby, the smaller of the twins. He is so devastated he can’t leave, and stays the night.
He killed it! My father killed it! Jonas said to himself, stunned at what he was realizing. He continued to stare at the screen numbly. (Ch. 19)
9. Jonas has changed his view of society. He decides that people do have the right to make choices, and they should feel love. It is not right to give up pain and suffering, because people can commit atrocious acts—like his father has done, without even realizing they have done it.
10. Jonas and the Giver make a plan to escape on the day of next Ceremonies. Unfortunately, the plan has to change when Jonas learns that Gabe is going to be released, because he did not grow enough in his extra year. Jonas takes the baby and escapes. He realizes that he has committed three infractions and can be released if he is caught. If he is seen, he will be killed.
11. Jonas and Gabe flee the community, and are sought by search planes. Jonas uses memories of cold to avoid heat sensors. He transmits memories to Gabe to keep him calm. When they run out of food, they use memories to sustain them.
12. The ending is ambiguous. Jonas finds a sled in the snow, and hears singing. Does he find Elsewhere and live, or is he losing consciousness and die? Since there are sequels, it is later revealed that he does live, but in this book the ending is unclear.