What is Asher's assignment in The Giver?

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Asher is assigned to be Assistant Director of Recreation.

In the community, each child is given a job for life at the Ceremony of Twelve when they turn twelve years old.  Jonas is concerned about his friend Asher, who mixes his words up and can be immature.

"I worry a little about Asher's Assignment," Jonas confessed. "Asher's such fun. But he doesn't really have any serious interests. He makes a game out of everything." (ch 2, p. 17)

Jonas’s parents assure him that good-natured Asher will surely get the right assignment, because all children are carefully watched and evaluated by the elders before their assignments are doled out.

Jonas is concerned for Asher because he does not ever seem to get anything done.  He even sometimes avoids Asher during volunteer work because “Asher frequently fooled around and made serious work a little difficult” (ch 4, p. 26).

When Asher is chosen Assistant Director of Recreation, it means that he will be in charge of developing games and playing.  Jonas thinks the assignment is perfect, because it is what Asher does naturally.

When Jonas is selected Receiver of Memory, he notices a change in Asher.  His parents warned him that he and his friends would drift apart as they each began their training, but with Asher Jonas had not thought it possible.  He realized that Asher was giving him space, because of the unusual job of Receiver.

Jonas soon learns things about the world that no one else in the community knows, except The Giver.  When he sees Asher playing war games, it disturbs him deeply because he now knows what war really is.  He tries to tell Asher to stop, but it only offends his old friend.

"I'm the one who's training for Assistant Recreation Director," Asher pointed out angrily. "Games aren't your area of expertness." (ch 17, p. 134)

Asher is annoyed that Jonas is encroaching on his job.  Jonas tries to explain, but Asher does not listen.  Asher apologizes for not giving Jonas the respect he deserves, but that makes Jonas feel even worse.  He realizes that Asher does not and cannot understand.  The gulf between them has widened, and they have gone their separate ways.

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

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