What are the character traits of Jonas's father in The Giver?

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Jonas’s father is compassionate, but just as clueless as the rest of the citizens in the community.

Jonas’s father and mother were assigned to his family unit by the elders, like every other family unit.  Jonas’s father was a Nurturer, meaning he takes care of the babies.  This was a profession given to individuals who were playful and compassionate.  This generally describes Jonas’s father.

Father was listening with interest. "I'm thinking, Lily," he said, "about the boy who didn't obey the rules today. Do you think it's possible that he felt strange and stupid, being in a new place with rules that he didn't know about?" (Ch. 1)

Jonas listens carefully to Lily, even though she is young.  Like all others in the community, he has been trained to help diffuse feelings, and he is able to make Lily feel better.  He is also able to help Jonas feel better about his apprehension for the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve.

Jonas’s father demonstrates compassion when he looks up Gabriel’s name and gets himself special permission to bring Gabriel home with him for extra nurturing.  He does not want Gabriel to be released.  It is very unusual for anyone in the community to try to prevent a release.  Most of them just accept it as a matter of course.

Unfortunately, Jonas’s father is not that special. While he may have extra compassion and resourcefulness, he is still a citizen of the community.  While he does not want to be the one to release the newborn twin, he does it without question.  When Jonas learns of this, he can’t believe it. 

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)

Jonas’s father acts as if he is not aware of what the baby’s death means.  He says goodbye to it and dumps it down a garbage chute.  Later, Jonas learns that he agreed to release Gabriel when he still could not sleep through the night.  He may be a little different from the other citizens in the community, but in the end he is just like all of them.

Jonas has no idea what is really happening in his community until he learns the real meaning of release from watching his father kill the newborn.  It is at that point that he understands that his father is not the man he thought he was.  He is just like everyone else.  This is one of the hardest things to accept.  He has no idea that his father is a coldblooded murderer until he sees the video.

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